I have been enjoying all the Essen Spiel haul pictures on my social networks this week. I find it interesting to see what games show up in pictures from lots of people. The pictures hint to me what new games I might want to be looking into. With all these new games coming out each year, it is easy to overlook all the incredible games that are already available. The “cult of the new” can shade our eyes from some other wonderful games that have been available for years. That is where some new podcast segments that started recently really intrigue me. These new segments are delving into classic games that are often unknown to new gamers, and sometimes forgotten by long time gamers in the rush for the new shiny games. I direct you to Archive Dive on the Game Store Prophets podcast and Shelf Staple on the The Dice Tower podcast (the every other podcast with with Suzanne Sheldon and Mandi Hutchinson as hosts).
While listening to these podcast segments and reflecting on the upcoming holidays, I thought I would share my Top Ten favorite games over Ten years old that are still in my collection and I would gladly play if you asked. Perhaps some of these older games are new to you and might provide you some new gaming experiences even though they are older games. This might even help you find some unique Christmas gifts for your gaming friends and family.
Carcassonne (2000) – The second board game of the modern hobby era that I purchased and really pulled me into the hobby. I still enjoy the simple yet strategic game play of the core game even without any of its many expansions. This game truly started my love of meeples and many other gamers as well. Target stores and most online stores keep this evergreen in stock.
Dune (1979) – This was a grail game for me that finally made it into my collection. I played this back in high school and was so happy to finally acquire my own copy. I never got into Diplomacy, and though I find Risk fun as an area control game, Dune really got my attention as a blended political, bluffing, negotiation, and area control game with its unique rules for alliances and the amazing theme of the Dune novels from Frank Herbert. While you cannot easily find Dune these days, you can pick up Rex: Final Days of an Empire which has the same rules just a different theme.
Fluxx (1997) – The game that saved our marriage. Ok, not so dramatic as that, but a significant game to my wife and I nonetheless. Early in our marriage, when I was younger and way too competitive still, we were struggling to find a game we could enjoy together. Our FLGS recommended we try Fluxx, and it was an instant hit. We love the randomness of the rules, and they don’t destroy the strategies or fun competitiveness of the game. We currently have ten different versions of Fluxx and enjoy them all with family and friends. Fluxx and its many theme variants can be found online and in stores.
Gloom (2005) – I had not realized this game was this old already. Such a darkly humorous storytelling game that tickles a darker side of my family. If you love Adam’s Family, Nightmare Before Christmas, and other dark humor themes, then this game might be for you. We still crack each other up when we play this game and come up with the stories for each card we play. Like Fluxx, Gloom now has other themed versions available in stores that are just as fun.
Gold Digger (2006) – This was a random find in a local Goodwill. The hilarious art of John Kovalic meets a simple and fun card game. A good filler between more serious games. I am hopeful this game might see a reprint someday so others can enjoy this predecessor to Munchkin.
Mississippi Queen (1997) – For its time, this game has some amazing components with its hex river tiles and riverboat player pieces. I picked this up in a trade and have really enjoyed the unique strategies of the river race. It holds up quite well with modern racing games and I love the riverboat theme. Thought out of print it can still be found online for a decent price and can sometimes be picked up in trade.
Quarto (1991) – Having grown up on Chess, Backgammon, and Pente, I have a love for abstract strategy games. Quarto jumped off the shelf for me with its beautiful wooden pieces and board, then the love only grew as we played the game. I find its “opponent chooses the piece you play” mechanic quite challenging and unique. Gigamic publishes so many amazing and beautiful abstract games that you cannot go wrong with one as a gift for a gamer.
Quiddler (1998) – My wife really enjoys word games (Scrabble, Upwards, Lexigo, Words with Friends, etc). Quiddler combines a quick card game with a word game, and it excels at both. The art on the cards really adds to the joy of playing this game. There are now miniature card versions of this that are super portable.
Settlers of Catan (1995) – This game reintroduced us to our love of board games. Except for party games or trivia games and some classics like Risk, Pay Day, Scrabble, and Upwords, my wife and I hadn’t played many other board games for a while. Then we were introduced to Settlers of Catan (now just called Catan) by friends. We were both hooked instantly on this unique game and its gameplay. That was the beginnings that would lead to the large collection of games I have now. But, I still have my original Settlers box which comes out on rare occasions to play the classic game.
Shogun/Samurai Swords/Ikusa (1986) – Back in my college days, Risk and Shogun were our most popular games when we were not playing roleplaying games. Shogun quickly overtook Risk as our strategy game of choice. By the time I purchased it, a copyright issue had forced the name change to Samurai Sword (which I still have). Today, the game is called Ikusa, but it still has the same great components and rules from back in my Shogun-playing days. This is a massive game of area control, combat, alliances, and intrigue with a Japaneses alternate history theme. If I could find the time and the right players, I would pull this game out again for a few empire building evenings.
I hope you have enjoyed my nostalgic walk through my favorite older games that are still in my collection and get played. I would love to see your list, even if just a quick list with no explanations. You might have some classic gaming gems that I should be looking into.
Check back next week when I discuss My #TopTenOverTen RPGs.