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 . . .
Ancient Terrible Things
Ancient Terrible Things was published in 2014 by Pleasant Company Games. The game was designed by Simon McGregor. The artwork was provided by Rob van Zyl. This game is billed as a “pulp horror dice game.”
Ancient Terrible Things is one of the games in our collection that I like a lot, but do not love. Despite its being billed as a horror game, the horror here is of the “Scooby Doo” variety, not the Stephen King kind, and that is just fine with me as I hate horror in general. One of the things I really like about the game is that all of the dice are useful even if the player fails a roll. Each player has a scenario card (which are double-sided, by the way) that shows what they can do with the dice that are not needed for the goal on the cards. They can get additional Feat, Fate, Courage, and Money tokens with the leftover dice.
Another one of the things that I really like about the game is that it does not take the traditional “Yahtzee” style rolling. In Yahtzee, the players roll 5 dice, choose one or more of them to set aside, and then get to roll the other dice two more times. In Ancient Terrible Things, the players are still rolling 5 dice, but have to make the roll in one shot. They get 3 tries to make the roll on the card they have chosen. Even if the player fails, they will still get the rewards from the scenario cards (as mentioned above) to make rolls later in the game easier.
Ancient Terrible Things is a game you play just for fun. It is not a game that you take seriously. There is a little more to the game than your average dice rolling game. If you like dice games, you might want to check this one out!
Junk Art was published in 2016 by Pretzel Games. The game was designed by Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim, who are also responsible for Akrotiri, one of my all-time favorite 2-player only games. The artwork for the game was provided by Philippe Guérin and Chris Qwilliams.
I think that this may be the only dexterity game in our collection. We are not very dexterous people at our house – especially since Beth is still nursing a broken elbow and I have issues with my right arm so of course, Beth decided we needed to play this one last week. One of the things about this game that I really like is the pieces. They are of different colors and shapes. We have the version of the game with the wooden components and I cannot imagine playing it with any other kind, although there is a version of the game that has plastic components. Board gaming is a very tactile hobby and this game satisfies that tactile itch on all levels.
In Junk Art, there are various challenges that the players are trying to achieve each game. There are numerous cities that the players will visit in their worldwide art tour. Each city represents a different challenge. Some of them are to have the highest sculpture, some of them are cooperative, others have the players switching spots and continuing to build another players artwork, among other challenges. It is just generally all-around silly fun and highly recommended!
Ora et Labora was published in 2011 by Lookout Games. The game was designed by one of my all-time favorite board game designers, Uwe Rosenberg. Klemens Franz did the artwork for the game.
Want to be a monk in medieval times? Yeah, neither do I, but Ora et Labora allows the players to build up the cloister that they live in and its environs to make the most prosperous villages that will produce such goods as beer and whiskey (in the Ireland variant), wine (in the France variant), books, ceramics, and other goods.
One of the reasons that I enjoy this game so much is the sense of accomplishment at the end. My little cloister has now grown to include a coast, a mountain, more heartland. I now have a distillery, a malthouse, and various other settlement buildings. There are a lot of meaningful choices every round of the game, including wanting to hire the monks from other players in order to use their buildings. If you are a worker placement fan, this is an excellent game. If you are a Uwe Rosenberg fan and have not played Ora et Labora, you need to give it a try.
Bruges was published in 2013 Hans im Gluck and later in the United States by Z-Man Games. The game was designed by Stefan Feld, another of my all-time favorite designers. The artwork was provided by Michael Menzel.
Bruges is one of the Feld games that has been described as a “point salad” game – a game in which the players will score points for doing just about anything. The players are merchants of the city who are trying to gain influence at city hall, fight threats such as fire, flood, and riots that threaten the city, and hire craftsmen, nobleman, and people from the church to gain their abilities.
Another large part of the game is building the canals that encircle the city. In the base game, building the canals is one of the lesser things that the players do, but in the expansion Bruges: The City on the Zwin, the canals become more important. As the canals were one of Beth’s favorite things to do even in the base game, we always play with the expansion now.
Bruges does not need the expansion to shine and I recommend it on its own merits. If you can get the expansion, so much the better, but Bruges on its own is a fine game, one I greatly enjoy.
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.
As always, for information on these and thousands of other games, be sure and check out Boardgame Geek here.
Thanks for reading and commenting!
Stasia and Beth