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Subject: What "old" games are better than they might look? (e.g. SdJ titles) rss

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Lucas Smith
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Hi everyone!

You probably know the situation:
When looking through games to buy (on ebay, local flea markets,...), you find many old games and few new ones. (What a surprise, the flea market seller does indeed not sell this year's Essen releases!!). Being located in Germany, the omnipresence of the Spiel des Jahres winner games is an example for this phenomenon.
Now comes the question: Obviously, most of these old games are bad, however, there must be some "hidden gems", well, say titles that might be worth buying if available for cheap. So, which ones can you name??


What I am not looking for:
a) the "ancient" classics: chess, Go,...
b) Monopoly, Risk, Clue


Here's a list of all SdJ winners: http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/167296/all-spiel-des-jahre...
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Lucas Smith
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According to the comments to the geeklist the following titles could qualify:
Auf Achse (1987)
Heimlich & Co. (1984, Wolfgang Kramer!)
Manhattan (1994)

I've not played any of these, so you tell me!
 
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matt tweedt
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Don't overlook the timeless classic: Acquire

This gem is easy to learn, plays fairly quickly and has a remarkable amount of strategy for such a simple game. Although rudimentary and somwhat abstract, this old game has a surprising realism that still translates to today's concepts of stocks and mergers & acquisitions. No game ever seems to play the same.

P.S. I live in southern California and our trio of game cons feature a memorial tournament that always attracts veterans to play this favorite.
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The One
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Hare & Tortoise has always been well received when I've produced it at our game nights.
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Louise McCully
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I liked Billabong so much that I tracked it down at Essen this year.
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David Debien
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El Grande 1995

Samurai 1998

Manhattan 1994

Medici 1995

Chinatown 1999

Acquire 1964!

Tigris & Euphrates 1997

Survive: Escape from Atlantis! 1982

Ra 1999

Torres 1999

Bohnanza 1997

Hoity Toity 1990

Are all excellent games. I classify modern euros in 3 categories separated by age. Era 1 = 1900-1999, Era 2 2000-2008 and Era 3 2009-present.

Not sure how much this list will help you as many of the games on this list go for a lot in the after market and are unlikely to be found in thrift sales.

Each newer age adds more mechanisms and complexity without necessarily adding more strategy or decisions. I love the stark simplicity of the era 1 games, but tend to find the era 2 games are my sweet spot and that is where most of my favorite games come from. If I had to choose though I would say era 2> era 1> era 3.
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Lucas Smith
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Matt Tweedt wrote:
Don't overlook the timeless classic: Acquire

This gem is easy to learn, plays fairly quickly and has a remarkable amount of strategy for such a simple game. Although rudimentary and somwhat abstract, this old game has a surprising realism that still translates to today's concepts of stocks and mergers & acquisitions. No game ever seems to play the same.

P.S. I live in southern California and our trio of game cons feature a memorial tournament that always attracts veterans to play this favorite.

I do in fact own a copy! Unbelievable that it's from 1964!
 
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(ɹnʎʞ)
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smithlucas wrote:
Matt Tweedt wrote:
Don't overlook the timeless classic: Acquire

This gem is easy to learn, plays fairly quickly and has a remarkable amount of strategy for such a simple game. Although rudimentary and somwhat abstract, this old game has a surprising realism that still translates to today's concepts of stocks and mergers & acquisitions. No game ever seems to play the same.

P.S. I live in southern California and our trio of game cons feature a memorial tournament that always attracts veterans to play this favorite.

I do in fact own a copy! Unbelievable that it's from 1964!

Yes, absolutely.
Acquire was way ahead of its time and is still a very solid and good game. I absolutely remember the old 3M bookshelf version as one of my father's top favourite games.


I was very lucky to get the 1993 Schmidt Spiele version of this game back then to my birthday, which was my top priority wish for that year.


Still an excellent game. I taught my girlfriend this game, expecting that she would find it too dry, but she really liked it and even asked to play again from time to time.

Alright, enough nostalgia for now.





E Café International (1989) is a light family game with humorous illustrations. Still played from time to time, as it is enjoyably light but has just the right amount of strategy at the same time. The purposely clichée-ridden illustrations of the various nations just add to the game's light-hearted charme. Hello, my French, Turkish and American table neighbours - whatcha drinking ?





E Inkognito (1988) is still one of my favourite deduction games with great components and a nice theme. The only big con about this game is, that you absolutely need exactly 4 players in order to play this game, as it is a 2 versus 2 team game. Rules for 3 players do exist, but it's just not the same.
I am really glad that this game is now reprinted and discovered by a new generation of players.





E Starship Catan (2001) is still a great 2 player game, loosely based on Starfarers of Catan. Like its big brother, it's hopelessly out of print.




E Caesar & Cleopatra (1997) is still one of my top favourite 2 player games, as it provides a nice mix of bluffing, player interaction and area control. This game flies under the radar of way too many people, in my opinion, and is one of my most-recommended 2-player games here on BGG.




E Barbarossa (1988) is a funny party game, which requires quite some creativity and a few lines to explain: each player has to model 2 relatively abstract sculptures out of clay without telling the other players what they are actually supposed to be. At the same time, each player has to figure out what the other players modelled. The clou here is: the sculptures must not be too easy to recognise/be figured out, nor should they be too abstract and hard to solve, as the game dishes out victory point penalties to the creators of the sculptures which were figured out first and last.
One action allows players to ask Yes/No questions until they get 2nd "No" as an answer, while another action gives players the opportunity to ask for specific letter of the object's name (for example: "Write down and show me the 2nd letter of this sculpture of yours !" - in secret, obviously). It's roll and move here, yes, but the game counteracts this to some degree as players can collect and spend "crystals", allowing them to not roll and move the according amount of spaces.

It may sound and look silly, but it's unique and still very funny with the right group of people. And yes, it's from the creator of Catan, Klaus Teuber.




E Wettstreit der Baumeister (1994) is a great auction/tile laying/bluffing/pattern building game I still very much enjoy. The only possible con people can have with this game is the typical auction/bidding phase, which could feel long or dry to some people, although I personally never had that problem here, simply because players are allowed to lie at bidding, pushing up the auction price for others into expensive heights.
There obviously is a bad penalty when a player gets caught lying, which makes this game unexpectedly exciting and gives it a nice push-your-luck element. The saboteur adds another element of that risk, as players can send him out to attack and destroy other players' buildings - but it can also backfire pretty badly if the wrong number on a die gets rolled. The saboteur rule can be ignored, if players want to eleminate this high-conflict and luck-dependent element.

To my own knowledge, only very few players know this game, which is pretty sad, as even the components look and work great.




Other games I should test again nowadays, as I have not played them in ages are: El Grande (1995, the grandfather of area control games), Hare & Tortoise (1973), Hoity Toity (1990) and Playboss (1969).

I think I would not really enjoy HeroQuest (1989) or Space Crusade (1990) nowadays besides the nostalgic charme they have, sorry.

I am very happy that Hart an der Grenze (2006) is now reprinted as Sheriff of Nottingham ! Excellent game.

The reprint of Tales of the Arabian Nights (original version: 1985, reprint: 2009) is also something I am very thankful for.
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Morten K
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casualgod wrote:
El Grande 1995

Samurai 1998

Manhattan 1994

Medici 1995

Chinatown 1999

Acquire 1964!

Tigris & Euphrates 1997

Survive: Escape from Atlantis! 1982

Ra 1999

Torres 1999

Bohnanza 1997

Hoity Toity 1990

Are all excellent games. I classify modern euros in 3 categories separated by age. Era 1 = 1900-1999, Era 2 2000-2008 and Era 3 2009-present.

Not sure how much this list will help you as many of the games on this list go for a lot in the after market and are unlikely to be found in thrift sales.

Each newer age adds more mechanisms and complexity without necessarily adding more strategy or decisions. I love the stark simplicity of the era 1 games, but tend to find the era 2 games are my sweet spot and that is where most of my favorite games come from. If I had to choose though I would say era 2> era 1> era 3.


Definitely these. Some other ideas could be In the Shadow of the Emperor, Meuterer, Hey, That's My Fish!, Byzantium and Hansa Teutonica
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Lucas Smith
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casualgod wrote:

Yes, definitely.

Kyur wrote:

Caesar & Cleopatra (1997) is still one of my top favourite 2 player games, as it provides a nice mix of bluffing, player interaction and area control. This game flies under the radar of way too many people, in my opinion, and is one of my most-recommend 2-player games here on BGG.

Agreed! A very nice bluffing element, I think you can compare it to Android: Netrunner; it's of course much simpler though.

(I have recently bought both of these games at a flea market, these are exactly the things I am looking for!)
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Volker S.
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Kyur wrote:

:arrowE: Wettstreit der Baumeister (1994) is a great auction/tile laying/bluffing/pattern building game I still very much enjoy.


This is also one of my hidden gems.

Der Feuersalamander (1988) is also an interesting game with a Cluedo-like mechanism.

Shark (1987) is something more on the economy side with buying and selling shares.
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Imtiaz
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Time for me to put in a good word on Scotland Yard.



I knew of this game long before I turned into a gamer, but never played it. Finally got it to the table last month, and I was mind-blown. Puts many recent titles to shame, really. Go and grab it NOW!


[Edit: I must say I wish to live in a country where El Grande is available in the flea market! That's outrageous! surprise]
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(ɹnʎʞ)
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sine_square_x wrote:
Time for me to put in a good word on Scotland Yard.



I knew of this game long before I turned into a gamer, but never played it. Finally got it to the table last month, and I was mind-blown. Puts many recent titles to shame, really. Go and grab it NOW!

No offense, but I absolutely disagree.

I played it a few months ago after a very long time, and was actually looking forward to it, having fond and nostalgic memories. Well, it was quite disappointing and I was glad when it was over.

Letters from Whitechapel is a modernised version of Scotland Yard and - in my opinion, obviously - better in every aspect (although the theme is quite dark).

I won't disagree that Scotland Yard had its time and could be considered as an important influence to the hobby, but the game did not age very well, especially when compared to similar recent games.
 
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Kathleen Nugent
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Kyur wrote:
I absolutely remember the old 3M bookshelf version as one of my father's top favourite games.



That's the exact version I own and play. I'm glad I didn't have to buy one of the newer, more cheaply produced versions. And I like that the rules fit on one page, including the 2-player variant.
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(ɹnʎʞ)
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EllenCaroline wrote:
That's the exact version I own and play. I'm glad I didn't have to buy one of the newer, more cheaply produced versions. And I like that the rules fit on one page, including the 2-player variant.

I think I never actually played that version of Acquire, as I was way too young for this game at that time.

It's funny and a quite weird that I still remember how the board felt under my fingertips and that the 7 coloured hotel blocks looked actually quite delicious to me back then, somehow reminding me of candy, at that very young age... whistle

...no, I didn't.
 
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navajas
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Not only is Basari better than it looks, it's straight up one of the better mostly abstract combo games there is. When you can find one it costs < $5, comes with a bunch of little glass beads, neato wooden pawns, etc...

At 1998 it was just too early for its time.
 
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Lucas Smith
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Merchants of the Middle Ages (1999) (W. Kramer) turned out to be quite a nice pick-up-and-deliver/auction/economy game! Glad I bought it at a flea market.
 
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Tobias R.
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I really like the SdJ-winner of 1990: Hoity Toity (Adel verpflichtet), although you have to play it with at least 4 players. It's a fun simultaneous action-selection and bluffing game. Maybe I would even buy a reprint if they would make a new artwork - cause the original one really looks old.

When playing with kids (age 6-10), I think Heimlich & Co. (SdJ 1986) still is a terrific secret identity-game.

...and I totally love the odd SdJ-winner of 1985: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases, which is much more like an interactive crime story than an actual board game.
 
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Yours Truly,
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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Lowpass wrote:

...and I totally love the odd SdJ-winner of 1985: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases, which is much more like an interactive crime story than an actual board game.


and it's so good, they did a nice re-release a few years ago with new art.
 
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Yours Truly,
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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No love for Tikal?
Old.
Won SdJ.
Still as good as ever.
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River Song
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I'd also recommend SdJ winners:
1991 - Drunter und Druber (published in English as Wacky Wacky West)
1992 - Um Reifenbreite
1993 - Perudo (aka Liar's Dice)

Other older titles that are still good fun include:

Can't Stop (1980)
Ave Caesar (1989)
Streetcar (1995)
Metro (1997)
Through the Desert (1998)
Cartagena (2000)

 
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Quantum Jack
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Escape from the Hidden Castle
a surprisingly good childrens game. I found it at a thrift store for a coupla bucks. Excellent gameplay, with enough chance that even the best laid plans can go awry.

Magic Realm
Wonderful old game with unparalleled and innovative mechanics. Takes some effort to learn, but worth the effort for the deep gameplay.
 
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Tobias R.
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JohnnyDollar wrote:
Lowpass wrote:

...and I totally love the odd SdJ-winner of 1985: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases, which is much more like an interactive crime story than an actual board game.


and it's so good, they did a nice re-release a few years ago with new art.


Unfortunately not in german. :-(
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Geoff Graham CheeseViking Games
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For the SDJ winners, I own

Cafe International
Manhattan
Wacky Wacky West
Hare and Tortoise
Tikal

I rate Hare and Tortoise a 10 and Tikal a 9. Both top notch games. Cafe and Manhattan are solid enough and fun. Manhattan has a cool 3D look when you play the game, since pieces stack on top of each other.
Wacky Wacky West is just OK.

I play Scotland Yard on the Android App and really enjoy it, but I haven't played it physically.
 
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Rob Doupe
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Classics that hold up:

El Grande
Puerto Rico
Medici
Through the Desert
Ra
Taj Mahal

Some lesser known gems from 12+ years ago:

La Città
Santiago
Koalition
Capitol
Mexica
Stephenson's Rocket

Many euros from that era have an elegance that is missing from modern designs.
 
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