Vintage Board Games – The Cult of the Old (7/12/19)

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 . . .


Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island Cover

Forbidden Island was published in 2010 by Gamewright. The game was designed by Matt Leacock, most famously known as the designer of Pandemic. The artwork for the game was C.B. Canga.

Forbidden Island is a cooperative game in which the players each have unique roles as they are trying to rescue 4 treasures off an island that is sinking. To do so, they must maximize their special abilities, collect cards to turn in for treasures, and gain equipment that will help them out throughout the game. Every turn the island sinks a little further, so time is of the essence. I have to mention the artwork for this game, which is very pretty. The tiles are all illustrated well and the four treasures are all well realized.

This is a cooperative game that I would not hesitate to play with new gamers. The mechanics of the game are straightforward and easy to teach and learn. I would not say that this is a game for hard core gamers, but for families and new board gamers, this is a terrific pick. The theme is appealing, the art work is great, and the idea of working together to win is a winner.


Cottage Garden

Cottage Garden

Cottage Garden was published in 2016 by Edition Spielewiese and then later in the United States by Stronghold Games. The game was designed by Uwe Rosenberg with artwork provided by Andrea Boekhoff.

Cottage Garden is a game in which players use Tetris-like pieces to fill their garden tiles. They can use cats and pots to fill any small holes that are empty before they score a tile. There are plant covers that score twice what the pots do, but are not nearly as prevalent in the game. This is another game that I feel is uplifted by the artwork and the components. The artwork is pretty, just as a flower garden should be.

I enjoy this game more than I do the recently played Barenpark, and I think part of the reason that is true is because this game, while still light, does not feel as light to me as the other game does. Now, I have only played Barenpark twice, so that may change in time as I still have not played the game with the advanced variant, which may add more depth to it. I also like the fact that Cottage Garden can be played solo.

At the Gates of Loyang

Loyang Cover

At the Gates of Loyang was published originally in 2009 by Z-Man Games and recently republished by Tasty Minstrel Games. The game was designed by Uwe Rosenberg (yes, him again) and the artwork was done by Klemens Franz.

At the Gates of Loyang finds players as merchants with a small vegetable shop and multiple fields on which to grow the multiple crops that the game contains. As they grow their shop, the players will climb the Path to Prosperity. There are a variety of actions that players can play on their turns including sowing to their fields, delivering to both their regular and casual customers, trade vegetables in the market.

This is one of my favorite Uwe Rosenberg games, primarily because I love playing the solo mode despite the fact that I am absolutely terrible at it. Beth prefers the recently published Reykholt to this game because it is more streamlined than this one is. I am just the opposite – I love the card play, trying to figure out which helpers might be beneficial, which customers they can serve, and how to plan for the future rounds.

Lord of the Rings

LotR Cover

Lord of the Rings was originally published in 2000 by Hasbro and later reprinted by Fantasy Flight Games. I have the Hasbro edition of the game.  The game was designed by the good doctor himself, Reiner Knizia. The artwork for the game was provided by John Howe.

Lord of the Rings is the granddaddy of cooperative board games and, unfortunately, it is no longer in print, although copies can be obtained through the secondary market. I owned this game long before Pandemic was published. In the game, the players represent the hobbits going from Bag End all the way to Mordor. In the meantime, they have to overcome becoming corrupt, the events that the game throws at them, and the advancing Sauron. The artwork on the game boards (the game comes with 1 main board and 4 location boards) is wonderful, although I do not really care for the artwork on the cards.

This is a fun cooperative game, although I do not think that the theme really comes through. The game play, however, is easy to teach and learn. My husband, who had never played it before, picked up the mechanics within a few minutes and he loved the game, which he chose to play. He did not seem to mind that the theme was lacking.

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


2 Replies to “Vintage Board Games – The Cult of the Old (7/12/19)”


    Still on the fence re: Rosenberg games, Loyang and Reykholt. Non-gamer wife (who wins 50% on brains alone) doesn’t want complicated games. Stupid but fanatical partner (guess who) likes a new toy but also has a complexity limit. With 100 games in house, its hard to justify a borderline addition. Streamlined vs. more card play…hmmm…for now, I guess we’ll just play Patchwork but keep our ears open!

    1. Cottage Garden would probably work for your non-gamer wife, Gary. The components are beautiful, which certainly helps, but the game play is also solid. I have never played Patchwork and cannot speak to how close the two games are in game play.

      Regarding the number of games in the house, I can certainly relate! I probably have 3 times as many 🙂



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