Vintage Board Games – The Cult of the Old (8/2/19)

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 . . .

Saint Malo

Saint Malo Cover

Saint Malo was published in 2012 by alea.  The game was designed by the husband and wife designer duo of Inka and Markus Brand.   The artists for the game were Julien Delval and Harald Lieske.

Saint Malo is a euro game that features dice, unusual for a euro.  In the game, the players are building the city of Saint Malo and trying to protect the city by building walls and hiring soldiers.  To build up their city, the players roll 5 dice, Yahtzee-style.  The faces of the dice feature several icons: lumber, citizens, walls, goods crates, crosses, and of course, pirates.  All of the faces help the player do different things: Use the lumber to build houses once you have an Architect; use the citizens to place priests, jesters, noblemen, soldiers, architects, merchants and citizens; use the walls to protect the city; use the goods crates to help the merchants earn money; use the crosses to build churches.

Why I like this game: This is a kind of roll-and-write game since the players are writing on their individual player boards, creating their city the way they want it to be.  I love that set up for the game is so quick – you give everyone a player board, a pen, put out the dice and the pirate board – and you are done.  No pools of resources, no stacks of coins or victory points.  The game is quick to play and is just plain fun!


Simurgh Cover

Simurgh was published in 2015 by NSKN Games.  The game was designed by Pierluca Zizzi, the man who also designed a personal favorite of mine, Hyperborea.  The artwork for the game was provided by several artists including Odysseus Stamoglou, Agnieszka Kopera, and Enggar Adirasa.

Simurgh is a worker placement game in which the players will build a part of the board by placing tiles out in the Wilds.  The players begin the game with a Dragonrider and a Spearman, so initially the number of actions they can take is limited before they have to recall their workers from the board.  When the players go out into the Wilds, they can explore to gather further resources, some not available out in the city.  The players can get more dragons, choose objectives, gather resources, and gain more tiles to help do more actions in the Wilds.

Why I like this game:  The first plus for this game is the artwork – the dragons are absolutely beautiful and the city is gorgeous.   Beth and I both like worker placement games and a worker placement game with dragons? That is terrific!  I love that the players get to build a part of the board, so the actions available each game will vary on that part of the board.  The replayability is off the charts with this one.  There is an expansion available for the game as well, Simurgh: Call of the Dragonlord, but we do not play with it very often.


Troyes Cover

Troyes was published in 2010 by Pearl Games and later in the United States by Z-Man Games.  The game was designed by Sebastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges, and Alain Orban.  The artwork for the game was provided by Alexandre Roche.  The game was nominated for a couple of the Golden Geek awards in 2011, iincluding Best Strategy Board Game and Most Innovative Board Game.

In Troyes, the domains of the city are represented by dice, which the players use to counter the events that come out every round and activate the multiple actions that are available on the board.  The quirk in this game is that the players can buy each other’s dice and, depending on the number of workers being used for a particular action, the cost goes up.  At the beginning of the game, each player is given a character card – a nobleman or woman that they want to please – so paying that extra cost may be worth it to the player.  In addition, the players need to help build the cathedral and if they do, they can earn both influence and victory points.

What I like about this game:  Troyes is in my top 20 games of all time.  I really like this one – more than Beth does.  I love that you can buy the other player’s dice and use them for your own actions.  I love how the mechanisms of the game work together.  The theme could have been anything, but the artwork helps draw you into the medieval period in which the game is set.  The activity cards also help reinforce that theme – activities such as the viticulturist, the catapult, and scribe, for example.  There is an expansion for the game, The Ladies of Troyes, that we do not play without.    The expansion features several modules all of which can be incorporated into the base game, or you can pick them out individually.

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

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