Sunday, January 9, 2011

Board Games of my youth revisited

Everyone from the last 20-35 years has grown up primarily with video games being the main source for gaming fun. For me an almost equal part of my gaming life was gathered around a board game of some sort with a group of friends. Nothing could beat the sheer rivalry and pride we took when we would win a board game.  

Today I'm going to go over five of my favorites from my childhood. I've still yet to add a few of these to my collection, but the memories are definitely there after all these years.

5. Battle Ship (Classic Edition)
 We all remember this classic. I still love brewin' up a cup of coffee and playing this one with family or friends.  I think it's the sheer excitement of isolating your enemy's ships and eventually sinking the battleship.  Seems like the playing field with this one is always level with my friends and family to this day.  There's a lot of skill and a lot of chance involved with this one.  

The game has been published since the 30's in different paper and pencil versions. Counting these there have been 100's of different variations put out through the years. The one pictured above was the first clam-shell style released by Milton Bradly in 1967. I liked the "Electronic Talking..." flavor of the game in the 80's/90's, but I always have owned the classic version. The original isn't as gimmicky, and doesn't get on your nerves as much.  No matter what version you like, Battleship is a timeless classic that always deserves a mention.

4. Crossfire
  This game was the favorite of my friend Aaron and I back in the late 80's. Our lives at that time consisted of Nintendo (8-bit NES), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, visiting the neighborhood arcade and... Crossfire!!! In all actuality the game didn't always go as smooth as the commercial led you to believe. You had to know how to fix a jammed gun in mid battle and know how to shoot accurately.  Once mastered by a few friends the game was amazing.  I remember distinctly doing best 3 out of 5 on a regular basis. 

Fast forward to today and I can rarely convince anyone to play this. Although the cats really enjoy it, so I set it up for the day, just for fun every now and then.  One of those days was today. As I completed putting the board together I felt an instant sense of nostalgia and wished my buddy Aaron was still in town. My friends will usually play a few rounds if I have it ready to go, but it's not as easy these days to find a worthy Crossfire competitor. As you can see I'm diligently training my cat.

3. Zaxxon (MB board game)
This is just a brutal game.  Lots of battles through the years on this board. I generally played this with my best friend from elementary school. You control 2 ships through the board with a number of checkpoints that you have to shoot with your laser.  Eventually getting to Zaxxon who you have to shoot with both ships.  Pretty basic but the theme is what really mattered back then.
I was lucky enough to find this one complete a few years ago with all of the stickers intact.  I even have the old sticker paper that came with the game.  Nowadays I'll occasionally play this one with a friend and it's still just as fun as it was before. The thing about board games (and role playing games) is that it requires imagination to make it that much better. Playing the arcade to board game adaptations really transport me back to the 80's.

2. Terrace (Featured on Star Trek TNG!)

 This game is outstanding in every way.  As a kid I played it in the early 90's with a friend who was obsessed with Star Trek in every way.  He mainly got it because it was on Star Trek but it turned out to be a great game. We would play for hours on end and never get bored of it.  We tried to invite other kids to play, but Terrace had a scourge on it for being a "nerdy Star Trek game".  Not even as generically nerdy as Dungeons and Dragons, or Magic Cards, Terrace had a following all it's own. 
I very recently found a complete boxed copy of the same game that I played as a kid. There have been a few released through the years in different colors. My wife quickly learned the game and beat me best 2 out of 3.  It still has the same simple fun that it did when I was a kid.  Rules are very similar to Chess, but movement is instead based on ascent/descent moves, rather than rank. Makes it fun for beginners, but adds the same type of skill set needed for chess when it comes to strategy. If you find this game get it. You won't regret it.  Credit to my wife for the nerdy picture :)

1. Fireball Island
Oh the greatness that is Fireball Island.  You have adventure, intrigue and greed all packaged into one flaming ball of action. For those who've never played, this is the quintessential board game of the late 1980's. I played this all the time with my friend Jon and it never got old. I think it was the art and the 3D board that really made it more than just a board game. I never got this game myself but definitely should have.

Now you can expect to spend two-hundred dollars or more on this classic. The nice thing is all you need is all the cards and bigger game pieces to play. The marbles and even the small figures are easy to replace. An incomplete set still goes for about a hundred dollars though. I will probably never break down to pay this much for the game, but it's a sign I'm not the only one who really liked this one. I still hope each time I go thrifting that I'll come across a minty complete Fireball Island for only three or four bucks. Hope this post brought some memories.  I'm going to try and post on here more often.

*Bonus Round* - Pac-Man Card Game
I had to throw this one on the pile. Not necessarily a board game so I saved it for last. I first purchased this on a whim being a classic gaming fan. After counting all the cards to make sure it was complete, it only cost me two dollars. It turned out to be a very fun card game.  You just use number cards and picture cards in combination to score points. It has more than paid for itself since I've bought it and enjoy it almost as much as some of my favorite board games.  I'll have to get together with my buddy who has the Pac-Man board game and really make a day of it.

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