Games That Deserve a Reprint: #15 to #11

This is the second installment in our series called Games That Deserve a Reprint.  This article walks through #15 to #11.  In short, this project aims to highlight 20 games that we think deserve a reprint.  To make the list, we had 17 Opinionated Gamers vote, with precisely 50 games receiving votes.  Our only criteria were that (1) the game had to be out of print for at least a couple of years, (2) the voter had to think that the game was good enough to be reprinted, and (3) preferably these games would be difficult to find on the secondary market, so that a reprint would be justified.   

The first article discussed the background behind the series and our methodology.  We have an additional article coming every day this week, plus a recap at the end with some interesting statistics and a “what we missed” discussion.

Without further ado, here are the games that we think deserve a reprint.  

— Chris Wray, March 2019

#15:  SPINBALL

Designed by Aaron Weissblum, Released 2001

Mini Review by Terry Noseworthy

I hate dexterity games. I am not good at them, and I generally find them stressful. However, there are a few exceptions and Spinball is a notable one because I absolutely love it. Is it because it is the one dexterity game I can beat my husband at? Well, yeah, that certainly does contribute, but it’s not the only reason; it’s an innovative design with interesting mechanics.

Each player has a device that they use to spin a ping pong ball and try to get it into the goal at the opposite end of the board. You have 5 tries to do this, as long as the ball comes back to your side of the board at the end of its movement.  You have to be careful, though, because there is no backstop and ping pong balls do not always behave the way you think they should. When you get the ball into the goal you can choose to either take a point, put up a blocker to make it harder for your opponent to get into your goal or remove a blocker your opponent has put in place. First to five points wins.  

Since designer Aaron Weissblum was self-publishing the game and at one point declared he was done I am not sure how likely this is to be reprinted. When our game group met at Aaron’s studio I was lucky to see them being made, and he put a lot of work into each one, so it would be a lot of work to start producing them again.

Spinball – Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!  Tery Noseworthy
  • I like it.  Erik Arneson, Larry, John P, Craig M., Mark Jackson
  • Neutral.  James Nathan
  • Not for me…

#14:  PUEBLO

Designed by Michael Kiesling & Wolfgang Kramer, Released 2002

Mini Review by Brandon Kempf

What is Pueblo? Well, to start, it’s an abstract game from the best design team around. The players will use building blocks of their color and a neutral color to build a home for the Chieftain. On a turn a player will place either a block of their color or a neutral block, then they get to move the Chieftain around the board one to three spaces. What the Chieftan is looking for is that he doesn’t want to see any blocks of color, only the blocks of neutral colors. If the Chieftain sees a player’s color, that player gains points based on how high the color is seen. You don’t want to score points here. When the Chieftan reaches a corner of the path, there will be an aerial scoring and the Chieftan notes any colors seen from above in a quadrant and penalizes those builders.

The game is wonderfully produced, even by 2002 standards, this holds up well today. With the love of polyomino style games at the moment, I really don’t know why this isn’t appearing on a reprint list somewhere. If it does, I’ll be first in line to pick it up, and a Lazy Susan to go with it.

Pueblo – Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!  Chris Wray, Brandon Kempf
  • I like it.  
  • Neutral.  Erik Arneson, James Nathan, Larry, John P, Mark Jackson
  • Not for me… Tery Noseworthy

#13:  BASKETBOSS

Designed by Corné van Moorsel, Released 2009

Mini Review by James Nathan

BasketBoss is a not a basketball game.  Rather, it’s a game about assembling a basketball team.  You’re the GM putting together the roster with players who are steady throughout their career; players with early peaks but a precipitous fall; players who get better after they’ve put in 10,000 hours; and players who, well, come to work every day and do their best. Sometimes they might get injured. You compete over 6 “seasons” which involve an auction for new players; a yearly championship; ticket receipts and TV revenue; and the ability to hire agents, bribe referees, etc.

But it’s not some sort of deep sports simulation.  It’s a Cwali. A svelte rule set with colorful art and good development.

BasketBoss – Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!  James Nathan, Larry
  • I like it.  Erik Arneson, John P, Mark Jackson
  • Neutral.  
  • Not for me…

#12:  HEROQUEST

Designed by Stephen Baker, Released 1989

Mini Review by Erik Arneson

HeroQuest features a band of adventurers (barbarian, dwarf, elf, wizard) exploring a variety of dungeons on quests with different victory conditions. The gamemaster has a collection of orcs, goblins, skeletons, zombies, mummies and other monsters — along with hidden traps and secret doors — to help complicate things for the adventurers. As is likely obvious, it’s one of the first board game versions of Dungeons & Dragons (though not officially so).

My first experience playing HeroQuest came earlier this year, exactly 30 years after it was first published by Milton Bradley. I had purchased two copies of the base game and two expansions in thrift stores several years ago. The two base sets, combined, had enough pieces to form a complete game. For years they sat in my collection unplayed. In February, I sold them to a friend for a song and a promise that he would be the gamemaster when we got together the following month. Not only did he make good on that promise, but his wife had painted all the plastic figures. One of the best deals I ever made.

Back to the game: Designer Stephen Baker (Heroscape, Battleball, Battle Masters) created a world in which players experienced thrilling adventures (the Quest Book includes 14 quests plus instructions on how to create your own) and advanced from quest to quest with improved gear (by finding treasure in the dungeons and spending it between quests) and amazing stories.

HeroQuest is the obvious ancestor of games like Descent, but the far simpler rules and gameplay make it much more accessible. A new edition would certainly benefit from the great advances in modern gameplay over the past three decades, and HeroQuest deserves that kind of treatment. If you don’t believe me, just ask YouTuber BardicBroadcasts.

HeroQuest – Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!  Erik Arneson
  • I like it.  Fraser
  • Neutral.  
  • Not for me…

#11:  CONTROL NUT

Designed by James Miller, Released 2005

Mini Review by Chris Wray

Control Nut is an amazing partnership trick-taking game. The twist here is that there are “control cards” that modify the normal rules of the game, and these are auctioned off, with them being paid for via cards from your hand. The control cards change the game in different ways, leading gameplay to be different between hands, and really ramping up the strategy.

Designer James Miller released this in a self-published version, but the artwork was fun, and the gameplay is fantastic.  Last year, I put the game in my 20 favorite trick taking games, and I often vow to get it to the table more often!  Given the growing popularity of trick taking in recent years, I’m surprised somebody hasn’t picked up this hidden gem.  

Control Nut – Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!  Chris Wray, Erik Arneson, Tery Noseworthy, Mark Jackson
  • I like it.  Larry, John P
  • Neutral.  
  • Not for me…

—–

Fraser: Of these five I have only heard of HeroQuest, which a group of us played all day one day many, many years ago.  It was a lot of fun and I picked up a copy that weekend which has probably not been played since! It is staying in the collection though.

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