New Acquisitions for June 2016 + Must-Have Games for a 1976 Christmas Shopper

It is June 2016. The weather here is best described as wet and warm. Warm enough to sit in my Strandkorb and watch Helga mowing the lawn (Helga has a terrific work ethic and who am I to stop such leanings?). Whilst sitting there a couple of days ago, my thoughts naturally led me to Christmas. I blame Global Warming for Summer = Winter and vice versa these days. I remembered my Christmas of 1976, 40 years ago (Forty!!!!!) to the origins of my highway to game-heaven where I now live. I was not in the business back then. I worked for a building society but a passion was growing inside me. Like others, I made pilgrimages to a shop called Games Centre, located in a back alley that branched of from the eastern end of Oxford Street in London. I got to know the owner, Graeme Levin, and I started writing brief notes about the world of games from my viewpoint as a consumer you-might say. One of my early efforts was a list of recommendations for Christmas presents in 1976. I must now admit that I was only allowed to choose from the shelves of Graeme's shop and I was not allowed to say anything negative. So comments such as 'A Stinker' or ' A Waste of Money' or 'Do yourself a favour and shoot yourself before buying this', were verboten. However, the games that follow were ones I thought readers might like for themselves and their families. Each game has a very brief comment plus the cost of the games at that time. I hope you find it interesting......

WRAP UP THAT GIFT PROBLEM

As the Christmas dinner is cleared away and the table begins to groan under the weight of the newly-given games piled upon it, it becomes very apparent that the old adage 'It is better to give than to receive’ was never less true than when applied to games. To receive a game which is for whatever reason dull to play may be a disappointment but, as the game earn be stashed away and never played again, it is rarely a disaster. To give a dull game however can be to condemn oneself to a Christmas of dice-throwing or counter-moving tedium, as it is of course traditional for the donor of a game to play it with the recipient.

Unless you are buying presents for your long lost cousins in Tibet (and even then if postal variants are possible) it is important to choose games which you will enjoy at least as much as the recipient. The games described below are categorised in their game types but they are all games which can be enjoyed by anyone with a competitive spirit. Whether you choose a game from a section in which you are yourself interested or one that seems to suit the interests of the receiver depends on your own sufferance threshold, but in either event the Christmas post-dinner games sessions should be something to look forward to.

FAMILY GAMES

BERMUDA TRIANGLE (Milton Bradley) £4.85

One of the more effective of the games that utilise a gimmick, Bermuda Triangle features a large magnetic plas­tic ‘cloud’ which hovers randomly over the map-board swallowing up players' ships as they race from port to port col­lecting cargo. Although hardly a game requiring deep analytical thought, there is a degree of skill in attempting to plot the movement of ships to avoid their magnetic oblivion. Essentially however, Bermuda Triangle is a fun game which can certainly be enjoyed by every member of the family. (2-4 players).

MAGNIFICENT RACE (Palitoy) £4.95

  A surprisingly successful amalgam of roulette and a traditional board game. Players move around a board collecting cash and cards which enable them to increase their odds in the roulette game which governs movement over the game’s race track by increasing the number of coloured balls they enter in the roulette wheel. The idea of a board game which affects a roulette game which affects a race game works amaz­ingly well and the game generates con­siderable excitement in children and adults alike. (3-6 players).

FORMULA ONE (Waddingtons) £4.25

Although by no means a new game, this motor racing board game remains one of the best of the many race games on the market. The elements of chance and skill are well-balanced and the game components well-designed. If you don’t already have a copy of Formula One in the family, then this should certainly be a serious contender for the Christmas stocking stakes (2-6 players).

 

HARE AND TORTOISE (Intellect) £4.45

A race game for all ages where chance is minimised, in Hare and Tortoise players can move as far as they wish, paying for their moves in carrots which are replenished in the course of the race. At one level the game allows con­siderable scope for skilful strategic play, but equally it is a fun game which can be enjoyed at face value. Hare and Tortoise is beautifully presented in a mock-Victorian style which should make it an attractive gift for the more aesthetically-minded child or adult. (2-6 players).

TREASURE OF THE PHAROAHS (Palitoy) £5.95

A fairly simple dice game owing at least as much to Snakes & Ladders as to the legends of Ancient Egypt, Treasure of the Pharoahs is aimed primarily at the lower end of the family game age range, although, as with all of the games in this section it can be played and enjoyed in the family setting by almost anyone. Players take on the roles of explorers racing each other round a three- dimensional pyramid and through a var­iety of hazards for a chance to open the sarcophagus at the centre and reach the treasure hidden inside. (2-6 players).

WORD GAMES

MONTAGE (Gamut of Games) £2.95

A novel game in that the tokens do not bear letters. Instead, different colours represent different ranges of letters. The tokens are set up on the board in one of various starting patterns. Players act in partnership, and on a turn, devise a word on the board that fits the relev­ant coloured tokens. Its position and length are indicated and a clue is then given, the aim being for one’s partner to guess it before the opponents do, so there is no benefit from being familiar with obscure words. There is ample scope for bluffing and the scoring is on a territory captured basis. All these fea­tures make Montage not only enjoyable, but the most unusual word game on the market. (4 players).

ON-WORDS (Wff’n’Proof) £3.25

Another letter dice game, On-Words'is based on similar principles to Wff’n’Proof’s Equations and On-Sets games. A target number is set and players must avoid selecting letters which make it possible to complete on the next turn a word or words contain­ing the target number of letters. The level of analysis in On-Words can be very demanding but it can be played, if not fully appreciated, by every member of the family. (2 or more players).

BLOCKWORD (Waddingtons) £2.00

Rather than dice, letters in Blockword are printed on four sides of a block and players take turns in laying blocks in a grid so that a letter faces both the player and his opponent. The object of the game is of course to make as many words as possible on your own side of the grid whilst attempting to block the opponent’s words by giving him useless letters. This punningly-titled game is intended mainly for children but is suit­able for any age. (2 players).

 

 

TRAVEL SCRABBLE (Spears) £2.43

Few word game players will not have their own Scrabble sets, but a Travel Scrabble, with letters which pin into place on a miniaturised board, may still be a welcome gift to the keen Scrabbler who uses a full-size set. This is not a game to give if you are not yourself an addict however; with a Travel Scrabble set there is no escape from the Himalayan hybrid cattle and three-toed sloths which will be able to follow you almost anywhere. (2 players).

ACTION GAMES

SQUASP (Action GT) £1.75

Each player is issued with a plastic fly swat which is used to capture one or more of the six plastic wasp-like crea­tures whose spikes stick to the swat when hit. With swats frantically flaying about a great time is guaranteed to all (except the wasps) and the game can be highly recommended. (2-4 players).

OPERATION (Milton Bradley) £4.85

Players take turns in removing organs from a patient whose nose flashes and buzzes (loudly) if a player’s hand falters. The game itself is less effective than the equipment provided, but it should cer­tainly help to pass some amusing if noisy afternoons. (2-4 players).

 

 

SNIFTY SNAKES (Action GT)  £2.50

The object is to manoeuvre a set of plas­tic cones into position touching them only with the snake’s head which prot­rudes from the end of the false nose on the mask each player wears (!). This is a game which can be particularly recom­mended for parties (both children’s and adults’) providing as much amusement for the observers as it provides embar­rassment for the participants. (2-4 players).

KARA-A-ATE MEN (Aurora) —£9.95

Presumably designed to cash in on the current Kung-Fu craze, Kara-a-ate Men is a surprisingly addictive game compris­ing two twelve-inch plastic figures con­trolled by units which make them punch, chop and kick. Each figure is designed so that if hit in a certain posi­tion it will collapse backwards and the game merely consists of pointing these two characters at one another and mak­ing them punch, chop and kick away until the other is knocked out/over. Vio­lent it may be, but it’s great fun, although you’ll probably find the adults hogging the game themselves most of the time. (2 players).

ABSTRACT GAMES

GUERILLA (Philmar) £2.50

Superficially similar to the classic game of Go, in Guerilla the formation and movement of groups of stones is impor­tant. In spite of the poorly presented rulebook, this is one of the most origi­nal abstract games to have appeared in recent years. (2 players).

THOUGHTWAVE (Intellect) £2.45

One of the best of the path-making games, Thoughtwave is well-designed and attractively packaged. The number of each type of piece available to a player is limited and as players attempt to build lines in different directions across the board there is ample oppor­tunity to strategically force an opponent into using up the valuable pieces he needs to prevent your victory. (2 players).

TRIPPPLES (Aladdin) £2.00 and £3.49

A race game in which every move made dictates the move of the opponent, Trippples is again an extremely attrac­tively presented game available in both a plastic and a wooden (deluxe) ver­sion. Trippples appeals to a very wide age range. It particularly lends itself to the development of variations and so provides fertile ground for budding games inventors. (2 players).

CUL-DE-SAC (Lazy Days)  £3.50

This is a cross between a race game and a path-making game. The object is to move a counter from a start to a finish square but the game is played by laying fences and creating paths (or cul-de- sacs) to delay an opponent in reaching his finish square. Well produced it will appeal to child and adult alike. As a bonus the game can be used by Dungeons and Dragons afficionados to simulate the rooms and passages in a Dungeon. (2 players).

HOPPIT (Waddingtons) £2.95

As a Halma variant using frogs and toadstools, this is something of a novelty among abstract games which works surprisingly well. The game is attractively and amusingly presented and would be particularly suitable as a gift for younger children as an introduc­tion to abstract games. Although theoretically Hoppit is playable with up to four players it works most effectively as a two player game. (2 players).

STRATEGIC GAMES

PLEASE NOTE - Unless a specific title has been requested, serious war games in the SPI/Avalon Hill tradition do not make good gifts as they are often a very per­sonal choice and they are of course generally of a prohibitively complex level making casual play quite impos­sible. Frustrated war gamers, trying to generate interest in the hobby and cul­tivate future serious wargaming oppo­nents, might however consider some of the more accessible strategy games as good introductions to the genre. All the games in this section are suitable for adults and older children of a meglomaniacal disposition.

RISK Parker) £4.95

A simple but attractively produced abstract war game, playable at family level, where players compete to elimi­nate opposing forces and take over the world. In Risk much depends on the throw of the dice; the chance element being reduced only by sheer weight of numbers where an overwhelmingly superior force attacks in order to secure an almost certain victory. The design of Risk lends itself to the easy develop­ment of interesting variants. (2- 6 players).

SIGMA FILE (Condor) £3.95

An espionage game of bluff and counter-bluff where players manoeuvre pieces representing secret agents from city to city to capture the Sigma File of the title. Players make secret bids for agents, which are controlled by the highest bidder. Apart from being an excellent game in its own right, Sigma File can be a useful introduction to devious games such as Diplomacy, and indeed Intimate Diplomacy (the two- player Diplomacy variant) has many similarities to Sigma File. (2-4 players).

 

QUEBEC 1759 (Gamma Two) £7.95

A fairly simple campaign war game but very much in the tradition of the more complex serious war games for which it might well whet a recipient’s appetite. Quebec is a beautifully produced game with chunky wooden army units which can be stepped down in value after combat. It makes up in playability what it loses in realism or complexity. (2 players).

TACTICS II (Avalon Hill) £5.95

Much criticised, this abstract war game is a useful tool in teaching the rudi­ments of serious board wargaming. Its main shortcoming is the squared grid over the playing area which compares unfavourably with the hexagonal grids used in most serious war games. Never­theless the game allows experi­mentation with a large number of war game techniques and is in itself an interesting strategic game which is easier to play than most of the games from its stable. (2 players).

KINGMAKER (Philmar) £4.20 : (Avalon Hill) £7.95

Probably the best new game to reach the market in the last few years, King­maker is one of those rare games which is as playable with two as it is with up to six (or more). Set during the Wars of the Roses, the game combines elements of intrigue and diplomacy with strategic movement and combat, and the ran­domised allocation of titles and offices to noblemen makes every game differ­ent. Kingmaker is very colourfully pro­duced and is now also available in an Avalon Hill bookcase edition with new optional advanced (more complicated) rules. (2 or more players).

 

 

 

 

Now to new games received in June this year. Many thanks to Knut for his generosity......

3-A-Side

Spears

1984

Pi mal Pflaumen

Pegasus

2015

Cartes Catalanes

Veritemas

2000

Atlantic City

Noris

2013

Tomb Raider - Trapped in the Tombs

Precedence

1999

Tarot de la Nueva Vision

Lo Scarabeo

2006

Manga Manga

Kosmos

2004

New Empires

Companion Games

1994

Liber T

Lo Scarabeo

2006

Blindes Huhn

Kosmos

2007

Flick Werk

2F-Spiele

2000

Tarot Universal

Lo Scarabeo

2005

Kreuz & Quer

Kosmos

2006

Affenzahn

2003

Nürnberger

Tarot Pagano

Lo Scarabeo

2006

Oh, Pharao!

Kosmos

2004

Oriente

Da Vinci

2004

Tarot del Libro de Thoth

Lo Scarabeo

2006

Spy

Kosmos

2004

Mücke mit Tucke!

Nürmberger

2003

Nuevo Terot de las Hadas

Lo Scarabeo

2006

Saga

Kosmos

2004

Gang of Four

Days of Wonder

2002

Tarot Medieval

Lo Scarabeo

2006

TF22 Load!

TF Verlag UG

2012

Vintage Racers

FX Schmid

1975

Tarot de las 78 Puertas

Lo Scarabeo

2006

Nosferatu

Kosmos

2014

Zoff am Herd!

Nürnberger

2008

Rarot Egipcio

Lo Scarabeo

2005

Chinesische Mauer

Kosmos

2006

Gold Rausch

Nürnberger

2008

Tarot del Zar

Lo Scarabeo

2006

Flash 10

Amigo

2013

Kecke Schneke

Nürnberger

2008

Tarot de los Nativos Americanos

Lo Scarabeo

2006

Frog Juice

Gamewright

1995

 

Klaumau!

Nürnberger

2008

El Tarot de Marsella

Edaf

1996

Minestrone

Piatnik

2003

Ochsen Soxen

Nürmberger

2008

Tarot de las Sirenas

Lo Scarabeo

2006

Haggis

Indie Boards & Cards

2010

Helicopters

Waddingtons

1978

Tarot de los Dragones

Lo Scarabeo

2006

Harbour

Frosted Games

2015

Lost Legacy

One Draw

2013

Tarot Celta

Lo Scarabeo

2006

Mancala

University Games

1995

Das illustrierte Frage- und Antwort-Spiel

Beate Uhse

1995

Tarot de Gustav Klimt

Lo Scarabeo

2006

Quatrogammon

The Quatro Company

1982

International Cars

Waddingtons

1978

Buenaventura Gitana

Lady Lorelei

1988

Od

Avalon Hill

1985

Make 'n' Break

Ravensburger

2010

Der Rat von Verona

Ferd

2014

Lucky Loop

Queen Games

2003

Pirates of Gold Cove

MYNDzei

2011

Monster Parade

Nürnberger

2003

Schreck Licht

Kosmos

2006

7 - Ein Spiel mit Sieben Regeln

Nürnberger

2008

Kampf der Kulturen

Sphinx

2003

Ketch Up

Piatnik

2003

Mosaix

Schmidt

2009

Port Royal

Pegasus

2014

 

Sonne und Mond

Drei Hasen in der Abendsonne

2012

 

 

 

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