Our tiny group has taken a bit of a turn lately. Dave has been plagued with various problems, including working 7 days a week! so Mike has brought his nieces (Sabrina, age 10 and Samantha, age 13) along with him. He has been honing their gaming skills for years and they enjoy a variety of games including Caylus and Power Grid.
Sunday Mike brought Talisman and Cosmic Encounter with him. These are two older games, Talisman being around since 1983 and Cosmic Encounter since 1977. Both of these games have been reprinted by various publishers to keep them available for the fans.
I brought out Cartagena (2000), Tsuro (2004) and Bohnanza (1997). Again, these games have been around for a fair number of years, Tsuro being the baby of the bunch at only 8 years old. I also had to play my current favorite, Kingdom Builder, just today nominated for the 2012 Spiel des Jahres (German board game of the year award).
So what keeps some of these older games in the forefront of people’s imaginations? What makes them classics, worth reprinting years after they were first introduced even with the plethora of games coming out each year? Sometimes, I think, it may just be nostalgia. Talisman and Cosmic Encounter were many gamer’s introduction to board games; their Monopoly, as it were. And that seems an apt comparison to me because the amount of randomness and lack of control, not to mention the time it takes to play Talisman, is very similar.
As for Cartagena, its cleverness surprises me every time I pull it out. Play a card to move forward; move backwards to receive more cards. Simple. But managing your cards and where you leave your playing pieces at the end of your turn are the goals to succeeding in this game. People who figure out these two points will enjoy this game, people who can’t be bothered will never understand.
Bohnanza is a great game for a group of rowdy, extroverted people ready to haggle and trade. Again, a simple concept– you must not rearrange your cards in hand– results in a fun and memorable game unlike anything else. I can understand this being a classic; it’s great for families, serious gamers looking for something light, kids playing something without supervision, and drunks out for some laughs. Those last two are quite a bit alike, actually, aren’t they?
Personally, I’d rather play a lot of these older games in my collection than almost anything released in the last 3 or 4 years. How many games being released this year will become the new classics in 10-15 years? Will Kingdom Builder have a cult following, yearning for another expansion or a fancier version with better bits?
As far as game day went, we had a great time. Well, except for Cosmic Encounter, which I just do NOT get. I’d rather play The Farming Game!