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.
Beth fell last Saturday and broke her left elbow and, although her left is not her predominate arm, it is still painful and cumbersome. Because of her injury and her inability to work for a few days, we have been able to get more games to the table than normal. Our “vintage” board games list is going to be in two parts this week, one with lighter games and one with heavier ones.
So here are our recently played lighter “vintage” board games . . .
Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters was published in 2013 by Mattel. The game was designed by Brian Yu with artwork provided by Piero. This game won the Kinderspiel des Jahres award in 2014.
This is the perfect cooperative family game as far as we are concerned. Everyone in my family enjoys it including my casual gamer husband and two gamer daughters. The premise of the game is simple – the players must go through the haunted mansion, retrieve the treasures and get them out before the house is overrun with Haunters. The players will have to fight the ghosts inhabiting the house in order to get all of the treasures out!
Of course, the game fights back. The players roll a movement die and, unless the number is a 6, they must flip a card that adds more ghosts to the board. If any of the rooms gets 3 ghosts in it, the room is taken over by a Haunter. If all 6 Haunters are on the board before the players get all of the treasures out, the players lose.
There are advanced rules, which we generally use, that add more cards to the deck. These cards tend to lock the doors more often as well as cards that add even more ghosts to the board. In addition, in the advanced version the players have to get the treasures out in numerical order. We really enjoy playing this one as a light cooperative game.
SOS Titanic was published in 2013 by Ludonaute. The game was designed by Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc. The artwork was provided by Sandra Fesquet. This game is based on the classic solitaire game Klondike. Sadly, SOS Titanic is now out of print.
SOS Titanic takes the classic solitaire game Klondike and puts a neat twist on it. The columns of cards in the game represent passengers that the players must get of the Titanic before it sinks. The players represent crew members on the ship – based on the actual ship crew members – each of whom has a special ability. There are only 2 suits in this game, rather than the regulation 4, representing the first class passengers (purple) and second/third class passengers (yellow).
This is a game that can either be played solo or cooperatively. On each turn, the players will attempt to rescue a number of passengers depending on their characters’ abilities. If a player fails, they will likely be able to take an Action card – again this depends on the ability of the character that they are playing. The other thing that happens when a player fails a rescue is that a page in the book, which represents the ship, gets turned. The Titanic is now closer to sinking.
As the Titanic begins to sink, the passengers start to panic – the first column of cards gets shuffled into the next column over. If all of the pages in the book are flipped before all the passengers are off the ship, the players have lost. If the players rescue all of the passengers, they win.
Yes, this is solitaire with bells and whistles, but they are great bells and whistles and I think the theme is well-used here. The game can be played by just one player, but we prefer to play this game cooperatively.
Elder Sign was published in 2011 by Fantasy Flight Games. The game was designed by Richard Launius and Kevin Wilson. The artwork of the base game was provided by Dallas Melhoff. This was the game that made Beth into a board gamer and is her number one game of all-time. You can check out the two parts of her top ten list here and here. Elder Sign is set in the Arkham universe (like Stasia’s all-time favorite game, Arkham Horror) that was brought to life by writer H.P. Lovecraft.
This is a game that we find the base game too easy. The second expansion, Unseen Forces (published 2013), basically added more stuff to the game – more cards, more Ancient Ones and more characters – but the third expansion, The Gates of Arkham is what made the game for us.
The Gates of Arkham (published 2015) takes the characters outside of the museum in which the base game is set and moves them out onto the streets of Arkham, allowing them the freedom to explore other locations. These locations are denoted on the cards as having an easy, medium, or hard encounter at the locations. There are now also events in the game, which can either help or harm the investigators. This is Beth’s favorite cooperative game!
Leo Goes to the Barber was published in 2016 by Abacusspiele. The game was designed by Leo Colovini with artwork done by Michael Menzel. Leo was nominated for the Kinderspiel des Jahres award in 2016.
Leo Goes to the Barber is a children’s game for kids aged 6 and older. Yes, we know that. Yes, we still like to play it. This is another cooperative game. If you cannot tell, we love cooperative games at our house.
Basically in this game, the players are trying to get Leo to the barber before the barber (Bobo) closes shop for the day. Unfortunately, Leo has a tendency to stop and talk to the animals he meets along the way. He really likes to talk to lady lions – they cost him 5 hours of the day. The players are flipping over the tiles on the way to Bobo’s and hoping that the card they played matches the color of the tile so that they do not lose any time.
The players must get from Leo’s bed to Bobo’s barbershop in 5 days to win the game. Each day they go through provides them with more information as to the path that they need to take. We have won this game in 1 day and lost it in 5. The cards that the play reveal the tiles and the players need to remember which tile is where. This is T.I.M.E Stories for kids – and kids at heart!
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.