It seems like everyone these days is concentrating on “the cult of the new” where board games are concerned. We are guilty of doing the same thing, come to that, but we do not want to ignore games that are older. Defining “old” in board game terms is hard to do and feels very arbitrary. Hold old is “old”?
For our purposes, we are going to declare any game published in the United States before or during 2017 to be “old”. Games published elsewhere but not brought over to the U.S. until recently will not count as old for our purposes so Kashgar, for example, will count as a recent game because, although it was published in Germany in 2013, it was not published in the U.S. until this year.
So here are our recently played “vintage” board games . . .
Dark Gothic & Dark Gothic: Colonial Horror
Dark Gothic was published in 2014 by Flying Frog Productions. Its follow up game/expansion, Dark Gothic: Colonial Horror, which is also included here, was published in 2015 by Flying Frog. Both games are deck builders, hearkening back to the game that they are derived from, Flying Frog’s A Touch of Evil. We play this game cooperatively, which is a cool thing, as the game can also be played competitively. I cannot speak to the competitive game experience as we have only ever played the game as a cooperative one.
The amount of variability in this game, especially when the base game is combined with the expansion, is off the charts. The game can be very swingy depending on the minions, villains and events that come out. The game involves a great deal of luck because of the luck of the draw and dice rolling. The length of the game can vary depending on what cards come out.
We like the fact that each character starts with their own unique set of cards, so the cards for Brother Marcus, for example, are different from the cards for Charlotte Dubois. All the characters have their own unique special ability, and most of them have more than one special ability. We now have over a hundred of plays of this game under our belts and do not foresee getting rid of it any time soon. Note that we have only ever played Dark Gothic as a cooperative game. It can be played competitively as well.
Fantastiqa was published in 2012 by Eagle-Gryphon Games and was designed by Alf Seegert. Fantastiqa is a deck builder with a whimsical theme – ordinary objects such as toothbrushes are transformed into magic wands, which will help you recruit fairies into your hand. There are peaceful dragons who want to do nothing other than drink tea – and gum up your deck. You can pursue additional quests, recruit powerful allies, and buy artifacts that can help you out too.
Another deck builder, you say? You bet! Both Beth and I enjoy deck building games and Fantastiqa could not be more different from Dark Gothic if it tried. Fantastiqa is set in a whimsical world with beautiful artwork from classic paintings by artists such as Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh. The game also has a board with locations that the characters can travel to and encounter statues that allow them to purchase additional cards for their decks. These statues feature artifacts, creatures, and more quests that the players can pick up on their turns. Fantastiqa is a quest-based deck building game that features tongue-in-cheek humor and inside jokes that will appeal to board gamers.
There are two editions of Fantasiqa, the original “Enchanted” edition and the newer “Rucksack” edition. We have only ever played the original edition of the game. The newer “Rucksack” edition has eliminated the player board and some of the cards. I think we would find it difficult to play the newer edition of the game because we have played the original for so long. We have every expansion for the original game, I believe, and although they are not necessary to play it, we enjoy the luxury of begin able to throw in those expansions should we choose to do so.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle was published in 2016 by The OP. The game’s designer are Forrest-Pruzan Creative, Kami Mandell, and Andrew Wolf. The artwork for the game is supplied by Joe Van Wetering, although most of the pictures on the cards are screenshots from the various Harry Potter movies.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is another cooperative deck building game like Dark Gothic (Fantastiqa is not cooperative.) One of the best things about HP: HB is that it can be used for people who have never played a deck building in their lives. Because the game features all the “books” in the Harry Potter series, beginners can start playing with Book 1 and work their way entirely through the series. For more experienced gamers, you can begin the game in Book 3 and go through the remainder of the series. My husband, K, had never played a deck builder before this one and he loves the game.
There are numerous villains, events, items, allies, etc in this game, so the variability is high. Everyone knows from the outset of the game, the ultimate goal is to be He Who Must Not Be Named. There are a few instances where cards come out and they may not be from that specific book, but these are few and far between. They certainly do not detract from our enjoyment of this fun deck builder. One of the best things about HP: HB is the component quality. From the game box that looks like Harry’s suitcase to the metal Dark Influence tokens, the production is top-notch.
A Touch of Evil
A Touch of Evil was published in 2008 by Flying Frog Productions. It was soon followed by hero packs and the big box expansions Something Wicked (2009) and The Coast (2012). All were designed by Jason C. Hill with artwork supplied by Gael Goumon, Jack Scott Hill, Jason C. Hill, James Ma, and Matthew Morgaine. I would say that the artwork is not one of the best things about this game. It is very much personal taste, in this case.
This is another game that features a lot of variability even if the players own only the base game. There are multiple heroes in the game, all with their own special abilities. The same goes for the bad guys – they have their own abilities as well. In addition, the game can be played with advanced rules that make the game play more difficult.
This is a long game for the most part. We generally spend between 2.5 and 3 hours every time we play. The game has been called “Arkham Horror Light,” but we think it stands on its own merits. The game is pure Ameritrash and there is a ton of luck in it between dice rolling and card playing.
Old Does Not Mean Bad
Just because a game is not cult of the new does not mean it is a bad game. We hope that these looks back into “vintage” board games helps reacquaint both us and you as to just how good older games can be. For these and thousands of other games, be sure and check out Boardgame Geek (www.boardgamegeek.com). Thanks for reading and commenting!