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Subject: Favorite Mechanisms from games before 1990 rss

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Isaac Shalev
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Thinking back to before the Euro-game revolution, what are some great or interesting mechanisms that you enjoy from those games? Bonus points for naming mechanisms that haven't really been developed further since 1990.

I'll start with the doubling cube in Backgammon. What are some of yours?
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David Larkin
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Astron
The playing pieces are on a cellulose film on a roll. Players play cards to move their ship or move the film (and hence everyone bits). The aim is to avoid hazards and make planet falls

Not seen any scrolling boards recently



p.s. from 1951
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Jerry Schippa
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Battle dials from Dune and variable player powers from Cosmic Encounter
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Thomas K
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I quite like Cluedo's deduction side, where you're slicing between what you know for sure, and why people are asking certain things. Though, roll and move can take a long dive into a shallow pool.

And, of course,

dukane wrote:
Cosmic Encounter
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Pete
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Digital devices, such as the Pocket Organizer from Mystery Mansion or the Electronic Crime Scanner in Stop Thief. This was the dawn of the electronic "gamemaster" in board gaming. My absolute favorite was Lost Treasure.

Everyone is complaining (or cheering) about app-integration in today's world, but in the 1980s gamers were already experimenting with primitive electronic devices in games, primarily as automated "gamemasters." Unlike app support, the devices in those games were integral to the game and required no updates or maintenance. Most of mine still work today.

By the 1990s, these devices were dying off, mostly because they were replaced by actual video games (although Clue FX happened in 2003). Over 20 years later the concept has come full circle and now you've got "New and Exciting" games coming out with your phones and tablets essentially doing essentially the same things that these devices were doing in the 80s, though natuarally today's devices are able to do it much better.

Pete (played Mystery Mansion with his daughter just yesterday)
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Steve B
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There's a great pre-1990 game called Monopoly which is a real estate simulator, but it uses an ingenious mechanic that you don't see much of these days known as "roll and move".

The idea is that you roll a die similar to a die found in modern day games - 6 sided, with each side consisting of a number of dots, where you then count the dots to determine the number.

Then you "move" your character the number of spaces corresponding to the number that was the total of the number of dots on the die. Hence the "roll and move" name for this mechanism. If you haven't tried it I suggest checking it out.
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Quantum Jack
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Magic Realm:
bypasses the "hp problem" representing fatigue/wounds with chits that define the character's abilities. Closest thing to this I have seen since is fatigue/wounds in Gloomhaven by discarding cards. Really feels natural, characters get weaker, and have fewer options as they get wounded and/or tired.

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Geoffrey Burrell
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Hit pegs from Battleship. On the grid.
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K S
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Paragraph-based games were never very numerous or popular, but I find Tales of the Arabian Nights amazing. I understand that Agents of SMERSH developed this a little, and that Above and Below and the upcoming Near and Far have a bit of a stripped-down version of the mechanic, but I've unfortunately not been able to give any of them a shot yet.
 
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Larry L
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dukane wrote:
Battle dials from Dune and variable player powers from Cosmic Encounter


I was just going to mention the Dune combat system.
 
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M Smith
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Firstly I liked how they made a game from a novel in War of the Ring .
I played the game just to be in or as the Fellowship and they had variable powers in the game too. I got my dad to buy it and we played it quite a few times , epic games were had.
Some weekends we had to have dinner on our laps because the game was still on the table.
The simple event deck and area control was awesome and unrecognised by my youth at the time.
It had these cool search cards too for loot or trouble.
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Nick Henning
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The timed trading phase in civilization where you are trying to collect sets and must tell the truth about two of the cards you are trading but can lie about the third. Combined with nasty events mixed in with the cards it's always a high tension phase!
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Kyle
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dukane wrote:
Battle dials from Dune and variable player powers from Cosmic Encounter


Both my immediate thoughts.
 
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Freelance Police
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Chill's Blackborn Manor (1985) had a gamemaster who made a deck of cards based on the boss monster from a pool of numbered cards. The boss monster's deckbuilding card told you which numbered cards to put into the deck. This simple and, imo, brain dead, mechanic is also used Warhammer Quest (the quest specifies which cards to put in the monster and other decks), but I'm surprised this premade deck isn't used more often in other dungeoncrawlers. To some extent, Mansions of Madness 1e does this with its custom setups, as does Dark Sun's AI.
 
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David Buckley
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I'm quite partial to the sowing mechanic, used in all mancala games I know of and more recently, Trajan and Five Tribes.
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Chris L
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I remember turn gauges from the Starline miniatures version of Star Fleet Battles from way back to at least 1983. It was a great mechanism for handling maneuvers with gridless space ship combat. I thought it was really cool when Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game came out and they used almost the same template based turning mechanism.
 
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lampeter
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While growing up, my family had Advance to Boardwalk, which was an area control game that had nothing to do with Monopoly besides some artwork. I liked the way you built the little buildings with your tiles; the person with the most tiles on the space had control, but being on the first floor gave you the tiebreaker.
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james collins
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small wax records

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Isaac Shalev
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lampeter wrote:
While growing up, my family had Advance to Boardwalk, which was an area control game that had nothing to do with Monopoly besides some artwork. I liked the way you built the little buildings with your tiles; the person with the most tiles on the space had control, but being on the first floor gave you the tiebreaker.


We had that too! I honestly don't remember it well enough to say whether it would hold up today, but it was a real game!
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Larry L
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I like Shogun/Ikusa/Samurai Swords hidden resource allocation including bidding for turn order.
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Wim van Gruisen
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Comparing scores with fellow players who held the same hand in Duplicate Bridge.

That is, in duplicate bridge the same game (the same card distribution) is played on different tables. If you and your partner played a game in the North-South positions, you compare your score with all the other players who played that same game as North-South, and get more points in the final ranking depending on how well hou scored that game compared to others. It eliminates virtually all 'luck of the draw' and makes Bridge truly a game of skill.
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I had some fun at school in the seventies with Twixt.
There was nothing like it at the time. Also, it was made of plastic, the fancy material that stood for a glorious future in the 60s and 70s.
And it is still available.

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Jason
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Using marbles on a molded plastic board a la Fireball Island. Honestly, I remember thinking the game was only OK to play. But, launching the fireballs was always fun.
 
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VaultBoy wrote:
Using marbles on a molded plastic board a la Fireball Island. Honestly, I remember thinking the game was only OK to play. But, launching the fireballs was always fun.

Speaking of fun and marbles:

Avalanche
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Barry Harvey
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The cloud in Bermuda Triangle. There was something deliciously 'organic' about its randomness.

There was nothing more sublime than to have the cloud sweep across a convoy, snatch the ships ahead of you and behind you, yet leave your only ship completely unscathed.
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