To briefly catch you up, a few weeks ago I rummaged through my parents’ shed and found a stack of old board games from the seventies and eighties, prompting me to write about some of my favorite childhood games. Then my husband and I played and rated all of the old games I rescued. In Blasts From the Past: Part 1, I rated Dungeon Dice, Isolation, Stay Alive, Sneaky Snake, Mostly Ghostly, and Even Elephants Forget. The rest of them are described below.
Star rating system is as follows:
1 star * = This game was not even fun to play once for nostalgia’s sake.
2 stars * * = This game was fun to play once, for nostalgia’s sake, but now it can go back to the shed.
3 stars * * * = This game was fun, but we probably won’t play it often. Either the instructions were weird or it needs more than two players to be fun, or it would get boring quickly.
4 stars * * * * = This game was fun! We can see ourselves playing it again.
5 stars * * * * * = This game was awesome! It was good for two players, and we either had a lot of laughs while playing, or it was a good strategic game that really made us think. There are definitely rematches in our future.
Dungeons & Dragons 3-Volume Set
Year Released: 1974
Comments: This isn’t something we actually played, but it needed to be included here. These D&D books and dice from 1974 are seriously old school. They were given to my brother by our uncle sometime in the eighties. Now that I’m finished photographing them and reveling in their vintage-ness, I need to give them back.
Year Released: 1978
Objective: The instruction booklet says it best: “Our galaxy has been invaded by an alien Space Station whose powerful laser beam is drawing vital energy pods away from your spaceships. Your mission is to attack and destroy this violator of the Inter-Galactic Peace Accord.”
Description: Move your piece around the board, gathering the pods of your same color. Then spin the laser. Wherever the light shines, the pieces in that row are pulled one space closer to the enemy space station. You have to collect all your pods and attack the aliens before they destroy you.
Rating: * * *
Comments: I was SO excited to get to play this game again! Because it takes batteries, I was skeptical. I was worried it wouldn’t work anymore or, worse, that we might have left the batteries inside it for thirty years and it would be a corroded mess. Luckily, that wasn’t the case. We put new batteries in and it worked! I don’t see us playing Laser Attack often, but it was fun to play once and would be even more fun with a group of people. As with Mostly Ghostly, this is a good game to play in a semi-dark room because, despite what the instructions say, the “powerful” laser is actually pretty faint.
Year Released: 1975
Objective: Have the most money at the end of the game.
Description: Move through the month by rolling the die, moving your piece, and following the instructions of the day where you land. While some spaces bring unexpected windfalls or offer deals, many bring bills and other fees. Throughout the game you have the option of taking out loans or putting money in a savings account, both of which require calculating interest at the end of the month.
Rating: * * *
Comments: I loved Pay Day as a kid, and I’m not really sure why, since it was obviously designed to teach me about life and finances. The bright colors and fun illustrations definitely helped. My favorite thing as a kid was landing on the mailboxes and getting mail because I loved the silly advertisements and clever postcards. But there are a lot more bills in the game (just like in real life) than there are pieces of friendly correspondence. I doubt we’ll play this again, but it was lots of fun reliving it.
Year Released: ?
Objective: Depending on which version you’re playing, the objective is to get a row (horizontally or vertically) OR to get a row with a hand better than the dealer’s.
Description: Poker meets bingo (and somehow the fun is taken out of both).
Comments: This game would need the addition of stakes of some kind (money, chocolate, something) in order to be fun. And if I’m playing for stakes, I’d rather just play poker.
All the King’s Men
Year Released: 1979
Objective: Capture the opposing player’s king.
Description: The arrows in each square show the directions a piece can move from that space. The archers and the king can move one space on a turn. The knights can move as many spaces in one direction as the arrows allow.
Rating: * * * * *
Comments: When I first started reading the rules for this, Hubby said dismissively, “Oh, it’s just baby chess.” And he was right, in a way. All the King’s Men is a strategy game similar to chess with simpler rules. But simpler doesn’t equal easy. This game made my head hurt, in a good way. It really makes you think. We’ve already played it a couple of times and I definitely see rematches in our future.
Year Released: 1978
Objective: Be the first player to circle the board three times and collect three rings.
Description: You roll the dice and move your playing piece counter-clockwise around Garfield, following the directions of the space where you land. However, you also have to follow the strange rules Garfield makes up, such as “Don’t move unless you roll odd.” This rule stays in place until someone lands on “Garfield changes his mind.” There are also player cards that alter the game, including one where you can blindfold Garfield and ignore his rules.
Rating: * * * *
Comments: This game was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. It looks simple, but there is just enough going on to keep things interesting. I doubt we’ll play it often, but I could see us breaking it out now and then. After all, who doesn’t like Garfield?
Year Released: 1979
Objective: Eliminate the other player’s color until only your own pieces remain on the board.
Description: This game is played like checkers except for two things. 1) If you have a jump, you have to take it. 2) No pieces ever leave the board. Instead, you stack your piece on top of the last one you jump. Pieces can only move forward until they reach the other side of the board. Then they flip to their alternate color and can move forward or backward.
Rating: * *
Comments: We liked most of the two-player strategy games we found, but Gomony didn’t hold our attention for some reason. It just wasn’t as much fun as Isolation or All the King’s Men, and the color scheme leaves a lot to be desired. We only played it once.
Uno Wild Tiles
Year Released: 1982
Objective: To unnecessarily complicate the game of Uno.
Description: This game was difficult to play several reasons. 1) The board is full of bright, multi-colored circles that, as far as we could tell, had no meaning. Only the colors on the tiles have meaning. 2) As with regular Uno, it’s not very fun with just two players because things like REVERSE don’t mean anything. 3) The cat kept trying to walk across the board. 4) Our dog’s name is Uno, so every time we said it, we confused him.
Comments: There was no need for Uno to ever be made into a board game. Just play it the regular way.
* * *
I had a great time playing through these old games. Not all of them were winners, but it was fun to relive them regardless, and my husband and I found a few that we really enjoyed and will continue to play from time to time. And it’s important to remember that this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are MANY more games lurking in the shadows of my parents’ shed. I plan to grab another stack next time I visit. So if there’s a game from your childhood that you’re dying to see again, let me know, and I’ll keep my eye out for it.
The “Blasts from the Past” Board Game Awards Go To:
* All the King’s Men – Best Strategy Game & Most Likely to be Played Again Soon
* Even Elephants Forget –Most Laughter-Inducing
* Pay Day & Stay Alive – Tie for Most Nostalgic
* Mostly Ghostly – Most Original
* Uno Wild Tiles & Sneaky Snake – Most Likely to End Up Back in the Shed