Vintage Board Games – The Cult of the Old (7/26/19)

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 . . .

La Isla

La Isla Cover

La Isla was published in 2014 by alea. The game was designed by Stefan Feld and the artwork for the game was provided by Alexander Jung. This game was a nominee for the Golden Geek Best Family Board Game.

La Isla is a game in which the players are exploring an island in an attempt to study animals supposed to have been extinct or near extinction. The game is a programming game in which the players place cards in their holders – one for bonus actions, one for the resource they need, and one for the animals they want to move up on their respective scoring tracks. In order to trap the animals, the players have to place workers on the board and surround their prey. The aim of the game is to collect sets of each of the animals in order to score points.

What We Like about this Game: Worker placement is one of our favorite game mechanisms. Stefan Feld is one of our favorite designers, although this is not a typical game of his – at least in our experience. This is a family weight game and we appreciate that about it. There are some tough decisions to be made in the game, despite its weight. We enjoy the programming aspect of the game. We do not have that many programming games, so this one is a nice addition to our collection.

What We Dislike about this Game: The components for this game are almost at the terrible level. There is exactly one player aid for this game, which is a royal pain as there are a lot of symbols in the game, so unless you want to pass the player aid around the table a lot, you have to make copies of the player aid yourself. In addition to that complaint, the natural and yellow cubes are almost impossible for me to tell apart. The same problem exists on the cards which feature these colors. The cards are thin and the cardboard for the island tiles could be thicker. The card holder for each of the players is also made of thin cardboard, although that may have had to be the way they are constructed since they have to fold.

Caverna: The Cave Farmers

Caverna Cover

Caverna: The Cave Farmers was published in 2013 by Lookout Games. The game was designed by one of our favorite designers, Uwe Rosenberg. The game’s artwork was provided by Klemens Franz.

Caverna: The Cave Farmers is a worker placement game in which the players are dwarves working on the land, in the caves, and go adventuring. You can furnish the caverns that you did out, place animals on the land you are cultivating and bring back treasures from your adventures. There are 48 furnishing tiles in this game that will help you get extra resources during the game or score extra points at the end of the game.

What We Like about this Game: This is yet another worker placement game in our collection. One of the things that we like most about the game is that both of us can go our separate ways in the game and still have a viable chance to win the game. We were discussing it the other day – how different our player boards look at the end of the game despite being identical at the beginning of the game. The components for this game are great and the rule book is well put together. As is typical with most Uwe games, there is an appendix giving additional information on the building tiles.

What We Dislike about this Game: When we first bought the game, setup time was long. We bought a Broken Token organizer here and that fixed the problem for good. The game can run a little long, depending on the AP of the players – that tends to be me unfortunately. I wish there were not so many rules on the animals as I am constantly having to look them up to make sure I am playing them correctly.

The Palaces of Carrara

Palaces of Carrara Cover

The Palaces of Carrara was published in 2012 by Z-Man Games. The game was designed by Michael Kiesling and Wolfgang Kramer. The artwork for the game was provided by Franz Vohwinkel. This game was a 2013 Kennerspiel des Jahres nominee.

In The Palaces of Carrara, the players are attempting to build buildings in the various cities of the Carrara region of Italy. They have to decide when to buy the marble they need though. Do they buy the marble when the price is the highest or hope that they can buy it before anyone else does when the price is low? Do they go for the city that provides them victory points or the one that gives them victory points? And, in that case, which city? The ones that take the cheapest marble or the ones that require the most expensive?

What We Like about this Game: One of the best things about this game to us is the variable scoring at the end of the game. There are 3 different objective cards and one bonus card every game, although there is a base game with fixed objective cards and no bonus cards. Of course, the game being designed by Kramer and Kiesling does not hurt either. The decisions that you have to make throughout the game are tough ones and the race to score a city before someone else does can be neck-and-neck.

What We Dislike about this Game: Honestly, we could not think of anything. The theme is pretty much meaningless, but we do not mind that.

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

6 Replies to “Vintage Board Games – The Cult of the Old (7/26/19)”

  1. Kathy

    Palaces of Carrera is one we haven’t played in a long time. I really love the rondel. It’s so unique the way it’s implemented here.

    La Isla is one I like a lot. I love the multi-use cards and, like you, wish the production was a lot better. I don’t know why they even bothered. It cost me $27 and should have been $15 IMO. I did see it at Tuesday Morning for $17 the other day, interestingly.

    I have played Caverna but not The Cave Farmers one. It is a fun one but, yeah, there is a lot to set up!

    Reply
    1. The full title of Caverna is Caverna: The Cave Farmers. I think you are referring to the 2-player game, Caverna: Cave vs Cave. I have not played that either and honestly, have no interest in doing so, from what I know of the game.

      Palaces of Carrara is a game I really like, but rarely win 🙂 The same with La Isla, for that matter!

      Stasia

      Reply
  2. Kathy

    Caverna (which one it is!) is my friend’s game so when he gets back from his vacation I’ll have to find out which one it is. I think it can be played with more than 2, but I am unsure. I like it though, whichever one it is.

    Reply
  3. Charlotte

    There is a Dutch 2nd-hand copy of Palaces of Carrara in my FLGS that I’ve already noticed several times because it’s a game that many people recommend. I should check how much it costs; if it’s a bargain I might pick it up.
    (It’s probably not a bargain, though. Dutch versions of games are generally more expensive because of the small print runs, and to me buying the Dutch version is a detriment, not a plus.)

    Reply
    1. Charlotte, I hope the copy of Palaces is a steal! It really is a good game.

      Stasia

      Reply

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