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 . . .
Castle Panic was published in 2009 by Fireside Games. The Wizard’s Tower expansion soon followed in 2011. Both the original game and the expansion were designed by Justin DeWitt. The base game features the artwork of Justin DeWitt. The expansion’s artwork was done by Justin DeWitt, Yoann Boissonnet, Eric Kemphfer, Anne Woods, and James Zuniga. This game is a classic “castle defense” cooperative game, but the base game was a bit too easy. The Wizard’s Tower expansion upped the difficulty level.
Beth absolutely loves this game – it is on her top 10 games of all time list, coming in at number 6. This is a classic “tower defense” game as the players are cooperatively fending off monster after monster as they are trying to invade the castle. We no longer play just the base game. We add in both the Wizard’s Tower and Dark Titan expansions regularly. There is another expansion, Engines of War, but we rarely play with that one. Castle Panic is a great family game that can be played with even younger children (around age 8 or so) if played with the base game only.
There is a semi-cooperative way in which to play the game. If the game is played that way, the players gather up the monsters they killed and at the end of the game, each player collects those trophies, calculates the victory points they earned for each – there is a chart in the rule book giving the points earned – and the player with the most victory points is the “Master Slayer.” We have never played the game this way. We prefer to win or lose together.
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small was originally published in 2012 by Lookout Games. A “big box” edition was released in 2018. The new edition includes both the More Buildings Big and Small (published 2012) and Even More Buildings Big and Small (published 2013) expansions. The base game and the expansions were designed by Uwe Rosenberg. The artwork for all was provided by Klemens Franz.
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is a 2-player incarnation of the classic game Agricola. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small concentrates on the animal husbandry aspect of the larger game. In Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, the players start with a large pasture that they are trying to fill with outbuildings and a variety of animals. They can gather resources to build, buy animals to breed, and expand their opening pastures.
We really enjoy this two-player implementation of Agricola, which neither Beth nor I have ever played. It is a challenge getting the correct number of animals to score them. If you do not have enough cows, sheep, pigs, or horses, they will not even score for the player. In some cases, they may even cost the player points. We own both of the expansions too and love the variety of buildings that can be chosen for each game as all of them are never in the game, so no two games will likely ever have the same buildings in it. Even without either of the expansions, there is a lot of game play in that little box. If you are an exclusively 2-player group, we highly recommend this worker placement game.
Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu was published in 2016 by Z-Man Games. The game was designed by Matt Leacock, who designed the original Pandemic game, and Chuck D. Yager. The artwork for the game was provided by Fred Jordan, Atha Kanaani, Paul Kluka, and Chris Qwilliams.
Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu was the first board game reimplementation of Pandemic that was issued. There were several expansions for the base game of Pandemic, but this was the first game that put a new theme on it. There are now a few more reimplementations including Pandemic: Iberia, Pandemic: Rising Tide, and Pandemic: Fall of Rome. Each game, while using Pandemic as its base, adds its own spin to the base game.
In Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, the players cooperatively work together to kill off the cultists and Shoggoths that are loose in Arkham. Each player chooses a character that has its own special ability. The players are in a race to close the gates before all of the Old Ones wake up. If the Cthulhu wakes up, the game is over. Of course, that is only one of the ways that the players can lose. We really like this implementation of Pandemic even if it does make the game a bit easier.
Peloponnes was published in 2009 by Iron Games. The game was designed by Bernd Eisenstein. The artwork for the game was provided by Matthias Cathrein.
Peloponnes is a civilization-building game that can be played by 2 players in about 30 minutes, which is one of the things that we really like about it. In the game, the players each start with a civilization that begins with some population and income. The players, through a series of auctions, will bid on either land tiles or building tiles to add to their respective civilizations. They must also plan for the salary rounds and disasters that they know are coming.
It is a rare auction game that works well for 2 and Peloponnes is one of those rare ones. If a player bids on a tile and then gets outbid, they do not lose their original bid money, they can bid on something else. If a player chooses not to bid at all, they can take 3 coins instead. Once the tiles are won, they are placed into the players’ civilizations. They are trying to make their civilization the best by scoring prestige points. The game uses a Renier Knizia type scoring – the players score both their population and prestige. Whichever is the lower of the two is the player’s score.
There are now several expansions to the board game available as well as a card game version. We have not played any of them yet.
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!