Friday, December 4, 2009

Board Games I used to play

Continuing with my retrospective on games that I've played or wished I had played or even thought about playing...today's topic, boys and girls, is board games. Not your typical board games mind you, these are gamer-related board (and table top) games. I won't include Monopoly or Chutes & Ladders, but those that you would typically find in a hobby store or on the forgotten bottom shelves at Toys 'r Us in the 80's.

And speaking of Toys r' Us in the 80's...

Dungeon!

I remember buying this game with my own money when I was about 12 years old. I saved my allowance for a couple of weeks and (with a small advance on future earnings from my dad) was able to secure my copy of the only D&D related board game that I knew of at the time. This is back in the good ol' days when you could still but AD&D modules at Toys r' Us or other fine toy and game retailers. It was an enjoyable game of dungeon crawling for fun and profit. I would meticulously travel from one room to the next engaging in life or death combat and collecting loot.


The object of the game was that simple, traverse the dungeon fighting monsters and collecting their treasures. It was broken down into different color coded section representing the varying levels of monster difficulty. The greater the difficulty, the greater the reward. In the end, the winner was the bold adventurer that collected a set amount of treasure first.

Having an extensive 3 year history in D&D at the time, I knew that you must start with the 1st level rooms 1st. That was to ensure the maximum chance of survival. However, at the time I didn't realize that there was no level system for characters like there is in D&D, so it didn't really matter where you went first. My epiphany came while I was playing against my best friend. I rolled first and immediately set off into the dark depths of the dungeon towards the first level section. My friend, however, took a hard left and headed straight for the 6th level region! What? You can't do that? It's certain death for a neophyte adventurer to attempt such a risky undertaking! are you mad? (I had a very advanced vocabulary at 12 apparently). He just looked at me and said "Why not?" I scanned the rules frantically and quickly came to the conclusion "why not?" Damn it, I was defeated at my own game! By the time I had doubled back to follow him, it was too late and the game was all but over. I think that was the last time I ever played Dungeon!.

Space Hulk

My first foray into the world of Warhammer 40k. This is a very fun game that my gaming group would play on occasion, in between RPG adventures. It requires two player, but you could conceivably play with up to 4 people if you agree to share duties and work as two teams. One player plays the valiant and honorable Space Marines as they infiltrate a derelict hunk of junk floating through space called a Space Hulk. The other player takes on the role of the vile and insidious Genestealers. There grotesque, four-armed creatures are straight our of a nightmare (or an Alien movie that was released just a few years earlier but are clearly NOT a direct rip-off).

The Space Marine is given an objective that his has to complete and a limited number of soldiers with which to complete it. The scenario also dictates how the map pieces are laid out to form a game board.

The Genestealer player's job is to stop the marines...period. The genestealers are plentiful and continue to arrive each round to try and eliminate the marine player. While this seems like a HUGE advantage (and it is), the marines are tough and well armed. It's a fairly well balanced game and quite a bit of fun to play. I recently saw that they revamped and re-released Space Hulk, but at $99, the price tag is as hefty as the game itself.

Warhammer 40k

The natural progression for a Space Hulk player is to begin a Warhammer 40k army. There were several to choose from and once you come to grips with having your paycheck signed directly over to Games Workshop, its a rather fun game.

My gaming group all decided to try this game in the early 90's and we all chose armies to start collecting. I chose Eldar because they had the coolest looking vehicles at the time.

We knew nothing about the game really which made all the choosing of armies fair. Can't really pick the cheesiest army (read: space marines) if you know nothing about the game itself. So one player chose Dark Angels (space marines), another chose Ultramarines (space marines) and a third chose Chaos (evil space marines), the last member chose Orc (not space marines). When we started playing, we were playing second edition rules and I did fairly well with my Eldar host. I had good tactics and the army was decent in a fight. Soon after we started, maybe a year later, the next edition was released and suddenly Eldar sucked and Space Marines could defeat anything. For some reason I lost interest after that.

While it's a fun game, it is VERY expensive and Games Workshop is notorious for overcharging for miniatures (although they are very good quality), skewing rules to favor whatever new army they are releasing at the time and making old armies obsolete and ineffective once a new edition of the game comes out.

Zombies!!!

This is the latest board game that I've tried. I wanted to get something that was quick to learn and quick to play while we were waiting for all members of our gaming group to arrive for some good old fashioned RPGing. This seemed to be a popular choice and the person at the game store where I purchased it told me that every time they get a supply in, it flies off the shelf. I bought it, brought it to our next game session and it sat on a shelf for weeks before we actually tried it.

It took us all of 15 minutes to learn the game and set up our first match. It is VERY easy to learn and to play and it's quite a bit of fun too. I'm a sucker for a good zombie story and this had the right feel. The objective is for each player to wander through a zombie infested city in search of a heli-port so he/ she can escape. Sounds simple enough, until the zombies start appearing. For each city tile that is laid down, a number of zombies is also laid down. Let me tell you this...they give you 100 zombies to start with and you'll be looking for more before the game is over. You are quickly surrounded and fighting for your board game life in this thrilling little time waster. I definitely recommend this one and its...how many are there now?...14, 15 expansions?

There were other board-like games that I played a few times, but I'm not sure if they qualify for this list. Heck, I might as well list them here too.

Dark Tower

I played this briefly when I was younger. Didn't have many people to play against and I was 11 years old at the time so I think I had a hard time understanding the rules. The pretty flashing lights and pictures were fun to look at tho.

Dungeons & Dragons Electronic Labyrinth

This is another electronic D&D game that was short lived in my board game career. At the time that these games were coming out, I was obsessive about anything D&D so my parents got this for me one Christmas. I had to pass on new Star Wars action figures to get it, but it was D&D related, so it was worth it. Unfortunately my brother didn't really want to play it, and it's not as much fun alone, so the miniatures that came with it wound up in my D&D mini collection and the wall pieces wound up in the carpet and the back yard. I like to think it would have been a fun game though.

That's all the RPG related board games I can remember off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are others locked away in my brain somewhere. Next time on As the Gaming World Turns, we'll discuss computer games of days gone by.

3 comments:

  1. I miss playing Dungeon.

    For what it was, it was a lot of fun.

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  2. it was a nice temporary fix for d&d addicts until they could get together with their regular group :)

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