You guys know how much I love video games but today I am going to switch it up by talking about a different type of game.
Before video games, board games were the go-to source of fun for friends and family for generations. And they are experiencing a bit of a renewed renaissance of late, as new generations discover the fun and magic of getting together with a group of people and playing a game that is a mixture of imagination and structured play.
That is why I would like to share with you some of my favorite classic board games to give you some ideas of not only what is out there but also what you should probably try out if you have not played it before.
Here are my top five retro board games:
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5. Monopoly (Parker Brothers 1935)
Is there a person on the planet that does not know about Monopoly? From having a relatively simple premise – make more money than everyone else – to its iconic set pieces, Monopoly is the quintessential family and friends board game.
It is totally amazing to watch the houses and hotels sprout up all over the board and watch how intensely competitive people get about the game. Whether you play by the traditional rules or have your own house rules, Monopoly is a game meant to be enjoyed in long play sessions and that is what makes it somewhat intense.
It is even reported that the British royal family has banned the game because it is too competitive. If you are looking for the perfect starter board game, Monopoly is it.
4. Battleship (Starex Company 1931)
Group board games can be intense and sometimes take way too much time to set up. For those moments, a game like Battleship is absolutely perfect for you and a friend or a loved one to play during an evening at home.
Each player board has a fleet of ships and a coordinate grid. You fire your shots over at your opponent’s fleet by picking out coordinates and hoping that you hit one of the ships on the other side. Once you do land a hit, you will want to keep hitting the ship on a vertical or horizontal line until you sink it with battleships taking the most direct hits to sink.
What really makes Battleship so addictively fun is that it works on an element of the unknown that makes it much more challenging than you might imagine.
3. Scrabble (James Brunot 1938)
Scrabble is another board game that has grown into more of a culture than anything else, in the past couple of decades. From hosting competitions, to pumping out electronic versions of the game, Scrabble is not going anywhere soon – and for good reason.
This game tests your vocabulary but also your ability to strategize and think two or three moves ahead of your opponent. How so, you might ask? Certain letters have higher point values than others and stringing together words by using those already placed on the board is an art and a science. You want to not only get rid of all of your tiles, but also you want to shoot for the highest score possible.
While it is a game that probably favors those with better vocabularies, you can even out the odds by mastering how to use the board and your opponents’ moves against them.
2. Risk/Risiko (Parker Brothers 1959, Giochiclub 1968)
Two names, same game, different rules – welcome to the world domination game that is Risk. Played out on a map of the globe divided into regions, players build up their armies and wage endless battles against one another until one side triumphs over the other.
Because there are rule variants, a total conquest victory is not always the name of the game. And if you have ever played Risk, then you know how long that type of game can take. No matter what ruleset you are using, Risk relies upon many of the same mechanics that Monopoly does but it is a very different game in mood and feel.
Equally competitive, though not as equally beloved by families and friends because of how long it can take to play one game, Risk is the perfect game for people that want to try more serious fare like Axis and Allies but do not have the time or the energy to memorize endless rules.
For the record, Risiko – which is the Italian variant – appeals to me over its North American counterpart. Its ruleset just makes the game more fun.
Connect Four (Milton Bradley 1974)
A true game for everyone, Connect Four is the perfect diversion for kids and parents looking to keep it light and fun but with a little bit of competition and good, old-fashioned fun in terms of friendly antagonism.
A simple conceit, like many of the best games on here, Connect Four is leisurely and charming. You need to line up four yellow or four red markers either horizontally or vertically in a vertical standing grid, into which you drop your colored tokens.
It is hard to think of a better game to play with your child than Connect Four and it is probably one of the reasons it is a special game for many families.
Alright, below is my last entry, but it is also the number 1 on this list…
1. Clue/Cluedo (Waddingtons NA, Parker Brothers UK 1949)
Like Monopoly, Clue is a veritable pop culture phenomenon, spawning everything from a film to electronic versions of the classic board game. You are tasked with solving a mystery and, in the classic vein of whodunnits, you and a motley cast of suspects have to narrow it down until you find the murderer and win the game.
What most fans really love about this game is how it requires strategy, role-playing, and a little bit of luck. For me, personally, this game was a revelation and woke me up to the huge world of role-playing games and action titles out there. Before Clue, I was mainly a sports video gamer but, after my first game, I was hooked on the complex, multilayered gameplay mechanics on offer.
If you want a board game that is most like a modern video game, Clue should do the trick. I promise you will not find a game more engaging on so many levels outside of a video game.
What about you retro folks? Do you have any board games you think should be on this list? How about memories with family and friends? Tell me your opinions and best memories in the comments section below.
Till next retro ranking!