Favorite Board Games

I’ve played a lot of games in my life. Not as much as many other people I’ve known, but enough. Whether it was role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, card games like Rummy or Poker, action games like Airsoft or NERF war, Live Action Role Playing games like Vampire the masquerade, or miniature tabletop games like Warhammer 40K. But there’s always been something more appealing about a board game. Something that’s simple enough to learn and play in one day or even a couple of hours.

I have distinct recollections of the board games I had as a child. Many of them are well known. Games like Candyland, The Game of Life, Mousetrap etc. I liked those of course but there were other less well know games that didn’t stick around till today. There are of course several other board games throughout my life that have left an impression, and I’ll be listing and describing a few of my favorites below and hopefully you’ll bring up some of your favorites in the comments below. Help us all expand our board game horizons.

AbandonShipMainImageThe Sinking of the Titanic was the first really cool board game I ever had. My parents bought it for me probably some time around 1978, but I don’t know for certain how old I was when I got it. It was first published in the United States in 1975 and believe me, when I was a kid, the irony of having fun playing a board game, based on a tragic event that claimed over 1500 lives, was completely lost on me. And it was a very fun game. The board itself was ingenious, the ship was on a rotating pivot point, and each round you tipped the ship one more notch into the water until it sinks, all the while you’re trying to get your survivors off the sinking ship and to the rescue ship before your opponent does. As the ship finally begins to completely sink, the rescue ship appears on the horizon, because it’s attached to the bottom of the lever that’s been turning round to sink the big ship.

laserattack 009Laser Attack was a game I think was ahead of it’s time, even if it seems to steal ideas from a certain movie. First published in 1978, the game revolves around (literally) each player moving towards and trying to destroy a giant death star like machine as it sucks you in, trying to destroy you. This machine has a revolving “laser” that spins around the board. I didn’t actually have this game, but one of our neighbors did. It was quite fun, especially since it was best played in the dark (or at least low light) due to the “laser” not actually being a laser.

Star Wars Escape from the DeathstarStar Wars: Escape from the Deathstar… Oh how could I have forgotten you? I’m sorry my old friend. Until I started doing research for this blog post, I had completely forgotten about this game. Now that I’ve found it online, I completely remember how much I LOVED playing this game. Though it was likely just because I loved Star Wars so much already. This game was published. . . You guessed it, in 1977. The point of the game is what the title says: escape from the death star. You could be Luke, Leah, Chewie or Han. Rumor has it, there was another game, released at the same time called: “Destroy the Death Star”. Which you could play after winning this game, to complete the last half of the movie in it’s entirety. Alas I never got to play that second game. Maybe some day I’ll find it at a yard sale for a couple bucks, sold by someone who has no idea what it’s currently going for on ebay.

Well I’ve been spending too much time in the 70’s it seems. Who would have guessed that all my favorite games would be influenced by childhood nostalgia? Well don’t worry, that’s not true. While many of my favorite games were from the good old days, several of my favorites, indeed my favorite games, are from later. Let’s start off with a game that I once argued WASN’T a board game (I always considered it a tabletop miniatures battle game), but I’ve long since been set straight. I’m talking of course about:

space-hulk-boardgameSpace Hulk: I’ve likely played more Space Hulk than any other board game. I was first introduced to it in 1990, not long after it was first published by the British company Games Workshop/Citadel. It is a tabletop game based in the same universe as Warhammer 40K, but with a completely different set of simplified rules, and a storyline right out of the movie Aliens. It’s a two player game, but using house rules and several sets of the game, you can stretch it to as many as 6 players (That’s the most I’ve ever played it with). The plot is simple, there are a whole crapload of slick nimble aliens who always know where their enemy is, and often who never run out, and there are select few “Terminator” Marines with big guns and movement scanners, that are always vastly outnumbered. The game’s “board” is made up of thick card stock map sections that fit together with puzzle like interlocking ends. Hallways, corners, rooms, doors etc, with which you can build on the table, either pre-defined “missions” or build your own, to represent the innards of a big hulking death trap abandoned space ship. This is your killing fields/dying ground….depending on your luck. The first edition had two expansions, Genestealer (named after the alien race) which came with more alien models and larger room map pieces, as well as “psychic”alien human hybrid genestealer models and rules. Then there was the Deathwing expansion, which again came with more goodies. There was a 2nd edition of the game in the late 90’s, but it was changed enough from the original that it didn’t do well. Then in late 2009 a 3rd edition was released, one with dramatically more detailed and higher quality miniatures, and with a rules system nearly identical to the first edition. I bought 2 sets at the high price of 99 dollars each.

And lastly, I’ll tell you about another late 80’s era game that has recently had a new release:

Talisman the Magical Quest GameTalisman: the Magical Quest Game was first published by Games Workshop (there they are again) in 1983, but I didn’t get introduced to it until the early to mid 90’s, which I believe was 3rd edition. Talisman is a true board game in which each player is one of several character types, a Wizard, A fighter, A theif, etc. and the point is to travel around the board’s outer “region” gaining money, power, items and followers (represented by cards), then be the first to traverse the river to the inner region, gaining more power in the hopes of being able to survive the “Plane of Peril” who’s sole purpose is to try to kill you, before you can take the “Crown of Command” and use it to kill each and every other player on the board, before they can catch you. Like in the Princess Bride, by S Morgenstern, in Talisman there’s fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles. . . Well, maybe not true love (depending on who you’re playing with) But it has everything you need for a fun afternoon. The current edition has several expansion sets available as well which add more character types, more adventure cards, more boards. I hadn’t played Talisman in nearly a decade and a half until just last week, when I finally found a group to play the latest version with me, and just like that. POW… at the top of my list of favorite board games, maybe even above Space Hulk.

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