The Opinionated Gamers opine about the classics

Recently, thinking about the question of classic boardgames, I wondered – what do the other Opinionated Gamers think about such games?  Are they beloved? Warmly remembered? Or barely tolerated?

So, I asked.  And – the answers run the gamut.  But there was a strong response, so I decided to put together this article, allowing folks to share their memories of various games.  Not all of the games I asked about are included here; only those with some reasonable measure of support.

Oh, and before anyone asks: no games first published after 1975 are included, no public domain games are included, and only games from major mass-market publishers are included.  And, unfortunately, there is a US-centric tone to the list; that’s my fault.

Boggle

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Joe Huber: My wife is not a big fan of games, playing some party games on occasion, but not many others.  But we have been playing an online implementation of Boggle for many years now; it’s particularly fun when one or the other of us is traveling, as another way to feel in touch.

Melissa: This was a great game to play with our kids when they were younger. I enjoy word puzzles, and this one is fun. Easy to handicap for early readers.

Brandon K: We’ve always enjoyed a game of Boggle now and then. It’s a simple word game that is easy for everyone to understand, with time constraints, but even in the simplicity it will always reward the player with the larger vocabulary. 

Tery: I usually love word games, but I just don’t love Boggle. It’s fine, but to me it feels like it is more about pattern recognition and less about the words. 

Mark Jackson: Tery’s right – it is pattern recognition. But I still have fun with it.

Larry:  Boggle and Upwords are the two word games that I frequently played with my wife for many years.  I was never a fan of Scrabble, as it seems too artificial, but both of these classics were big favorites of ours and would both get dozens of plays a year.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! Dale Y., Dan B., John P, Craig M., Frank B., Karen M.
I like it.  James Nathan, Larry L., Jonathan F., Mario P., Mark J., Melissa R., Brandon K., Tery N., Michael W., Greg S., Eric E., Erik A., Ted C., John P, Patrick Brennan
Neutral. Joe H., Alan H., Fraser, Simon N., Matt C., Tery
Not for me…

Rook

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Matt Carlson: I can’t remove thoughts of this game with my interactions with my grandparents and their generation.  In the midwest, standard playing cards were still somewhat suspect and Rook got around that by using just numbers and colors.  It was the game that taught me trick-taking – I still remember “fondly” when my grandpa took every single trick in the round. I was born loving games (pretty much) and Rook was the most substantive game my grandparents enjoyed so I played many games at reunions while I was younger.

Removing myself from the nostalgia, I think the game still has a lot to offer.  There are points for high cards, but also some available for the middle and low ones (5’s and 10’s.)  Sometimes sloughing off a few low ones to your partner was just enough to set a particularly high opponent’s bid.  It reminds me of Hearts (technically, Hearts reminds me of Rook) but whereas I dislike Hearts as it is sort of a take-that, pick on someone game, Rook has that same gameplay but here it is a positive thing (try to slough off cards for positive gain rather than slough off cards for someone else’s negative gain.)

Ted C:  My original go to card game.  No spades, no hearts, Rook. As time progressed, no one had heard of it and you needed a special deck.  Hearts and Spades just took over. I have not played this game for 30 years….and don’t own a copy. I did really like it.

Jeff Allers: I learned this game as an adult from my wife and some retired friends who had become unofficial “adopted parents” to her, back when she had her first job out of college. I would choose this over their other favorites–Nerts and Mexican Train Dominoes–any day. But after one of them died a few years ago, it’s been difficult to find a replacement player for the partnership game, and it also just wouldn’t be the same.

Tery: I learned this game at camp and I loved it. Like Matt, this is how I learned to play trick-taking games. I was pleasantly surprised when I played it again a few years ago that it held up really well; all this discussion about it has reminded me that I should pick up a copy.

Mark Jackson: Rook was the game my mom’s family played… and I have fond memories of playing not only the basic game but also I Doubt It and Tuxedo.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! Matt C., Ted C, Tery
I like it.  Dale Y., Chris W., James Nathan, Jonathan F., Mark J., Tery N., Greg S., Erik A., Ted C., Jeff Allers
Neutral. Joe H., Larry L., Craig M., Brandon K.
Not for me… Frank B.

Clue / Cluedo

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Fraser: Similar to a number of games on this list that I grew up playing, this mostly disappeared off my radar for a while and then came back into rotation when we started playing games with our children.  In our Cluedo set, Reverend Green is the murderer much more often than he should be. Including the time where in a three player game I was playing Reverend Green and made a triple blind guess on my first turn in a room and was correct!  Our shortest Cluedo game ever. Unlike Larry’s mother, I still haven’t finalised my notation scheme.

Melissa: Not only is this the only game to spawn a successful movie, it’s also still great fun to play. Love the more complex variants too, but I’m not a fan of the new edition with cards and random events.

Brandon K: I’ll still say it to this day, Clue is a better game than most deduction games on the market, with an easier rule set that plays most of the time in a fraction of the time of others. We’ve only been playing recently with the new version and the random cards and events that Melissa speaks of and while they can make the game a bit swingy and speed it up, they really aren’t that bad. 

Greg S:  A true favorite from my childhood.  I enjoyed the deduction aspects of it, even though I now find myself terrible at such tasks.  I also enjoyed the theme and nifty little miniatures. The dice rolling always bothered me, as luck played too important of a rule.  Perhaps one day I will try it again with some of the more strategic variants.

Ted C:  Yes used to play this a lot as well.  Expanded to other deduction style games over time.  I must tell the story….two player game set up. I took my first turn and said something like, “Colonel Mustard in the dining room with the lead pipe” I won.  The other person did not even get a turn. And, no….I was not cheating. It was one of those monkeys typing shakespeare episodes. I have not played the base game since.

Tery: One of all-time favorite childhood games. I loved the theme and the components, and at the time wasn’t bothered by the random elements. I’ve played it again as an adult and it didn’t hold up well, but it was still fun and I felt that same satisfaction checking boxes off my sheet.

Mark Jackson: Clue was a game I loved growing up… but has faded over time. The dice-rolling movement is especially irritating in a deduction game.

Larry:  Clue is a classic and a game we played quite a bit as a family when I was growing up.  My brother and I would dutifully mark down the information we had learned, but my mother played the game at an entirely different level.  She noted who had asked what, who had passed a card, and all sorts of other data. The notes on her sheet would have required a Egyptian archaeologist to decipher, but they all made sense to her.  She regularly smoked us at the game and we could never figure out why. Guess my love of deduction games comes totally from her ability at them!

Clue is remarkable in that it succeeds in getting families to enjoy a fairly challenging deduction game.  However, as the others have noted, the dice rolling that makes it more acceptable to families, reduces the enjoyment for serious deduction fans.  There are better options out there, but none of them would have been designed were it not for good old Clue.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! Fraser, Melissa R., Craig M., Brandon K., Michael W., Karen M.
I like it.  Jonathan F., John P., Mario P., Tery N., Greg S., Ted C., Frank B.. Tery
Neutral. Dale Y., Joe H., Dan B., James Nathan, Larry L., Mark J., Simon N., Eric E., Erik A., Matt C., Jeff L., Jeff Allers, Patrick Brennan
Not for me… Chris W., Alan H.

Yahtzee

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Joe Huber: A coworker once set up Yahtzee in his cube, with a competition as to who could manage the best game; folks were welcome to play as often as they liked.  This was quite fun – particularly when I took the lead, and then when someone else topped it with a really impressive score.

Brandon K: The original Roll and Write game, and you could make the argument that it’s still better than modern designs that use it as a crutch, I mean as a design inspiration. 

Tery: This is still a fun game. It’s simple to teach, it’s fun to play and it’s quick. You don’t even need the game as long as you have 6 dice. Yahtzee and the many games it inspired  are perfect pub games.

Mark Jackson: I’m so-so on basic Yahtzee… but I’m still happy to play Triple Yahtzee.

Larry:  I don’t consider Yahtzee to be a Roll and Write game, but it’s still reasonably fun to play.  I prefer the slightly more involved variants–Kismet (which gave “suits” to the dice faces by coloring them) is my favorite.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! 
I like it.  Dale Y., Chris W., John P., Mario P., Craig M., Brandon K., Tery N., Greg S., Erik A., Ted C., Jeff L., Frank B., Tery
Neutral.  Joe H., Dan B., James Nathan, Larry L., Alan H., Jonathan F., Mark J., Melissa R., Simon N., Michael W., Matt C., Karen M.
Not for me… Patrick Brennan

Buccaneer

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Joe Huber: When I was growing up, my mother re-connected with her pen-pal in England from when she was growing up.  And as a result we ended up getting a couple of games from the U.K. Most were fairly standard games – the U.K. edition of Monopoly, for example – but Buccaneer was unique – and rather fun.

Simon Neale: I spent many hours of my youth playing this game, and I still really enjoy a good pirate themed game now with my favourite being Merchants and Marauders. Buccaneer was ahead of its time with the use of cards in combat instead of just rolling dice. The gameplay itself allowed for two main strategies: collect gems and gold or build up a fighting force and plunder the riches of your opponents.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! 
I like it.  Simon N., Frank B.
Neutral. Joe H., Ted C.
Not for me…

Pit

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Joe Huber: One of my favorite memories in gaming comes from a play of Pit with Greg S.  We were playing with nine players – the 1983 edition of the game handles as many as 10 players – and I can still hear Greg yelling “Three!  Three! For the love of God, three!”. It was – beautiful.

Matt Carlson: I come from a loud family (of 6) and it didn’t get much louder than when we’d all play Pit together (sometimes with guests to up the number further.)  Nowadays when I see the game, I instantly picture us all playing the game in our dining room – one of the few non-holiday times we would be in there using the table.  Probably my first introduction to a real-time game, the thrill of the hunt for those wanted cards kept your heart beating. And, of course, just when you were about to get that last needed card, someone else would hit the bell.  Other great memories: When it was clear all someone had was corn and no one wanted corn, they just seemed to be put on the blacklist. It was also a great feeling if you could regroup mid-game… when the only thing that people were passing was wheat, so then you ditch your current goal and switch mid-stream to wheat… and still win the round.

Greg S:  I, too, remember the game Joe Huber mentions.  It was my first exposure to Pit (never played it in my childhood) and I was left extremely frustrated.  Three? Three what? What are you trying to trade? The lack of information was enraging and the game was, for me, little more than a shouting match.  I just don’t see the appeal, although that one playing with Joe was certainly memorable!

Jeff Allers: I actually just learned Pit, as it is a popular closer at an Asheville boardgame group I am visiting while in the U.S.  If I didn’t already know how old it was, I would not have guessed–it’s aged that well…at least in the category of “loud, hectic games you can play with a lot of people in a short time” (for which Happy Salmon is the most recent entry).

Tery: One of my favorite memories from the Gathering is a game of Pit where we had 8 players, one of whom had never played and got really into it. We were already laughing as his request for 1 card got louder and involved more epithets. Everyone completely fell apart in laughter when the round ended and he apparently only needed one card – “where is my hecking wheat?? Who is holding my wheat?”  So, the game is a little random for my tastes, but you can certainly have a fun party game experience with it, and I am happy to play it with a fun group of people.

Mark Jackson: I played a lot of this growing up… and have had some wonderful adult experiences with the game, including managing to have hotel security called on us late one night at Gulf Games IV.

Larry:  We played Pit growing up and it had its charms.  But after a while, it all seemed pretty pointless–either won by the player who could scream the loudest or, eventually, locked in a stalemate when the players were too savvy to make risky trades.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had any desire to play it.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! Joe H., Mark J.
I like it.  Dale Y., Lorna, Alan H., John P., Mario P., Brandon K., Tery N., Erik A., Matt C., Frank B., Jeff Allers, Patrick Brennan
Neutral. Dan B., Jonathan F., Craig M., Jeff L.
Not for me… Larry L., Michael W., Greg S., Ted C.

Scrabble

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Dale Y: I am by no means a Scrabble expert; in fact I think I”m probably just average.  But this game kept me sane in college. Before we had things like phones and Words with Friends, we had three magnetic boards in my dorm room that were constantly in use between us three roomies.

Simon Neale: my interest in Scrabble grew during a few years of playing in a Scrabble league at work. But once discovering the wider range of boardgames, I don’t think I could cope with the thinking downtime now.

Melissa: My interest in Scrabble sinks when I realise that so many people are professionals – or at least experts. I’d be happy to play with other non-regulars.

Greg S:  I used to really enjoy Scrabble until my wife and I discovered Upwords.  While we still play Upwords 40 or more times per year, Scrabble hasn’t been played in years.  Like Melissa, I was turned off by the “professional” players as the game became one of who knows the most obscure and unusual words.  I’m happy to play with regular folks!

Matt C: I never appreciated the game until I started playing Words with Friends.  Then I saw how much board placement trumped actual word-making. (Of course, wordsmithing then comes into play once everyone knows how to play the board.)  Doesn’t change my neutral rating, though.

Tery: I love Scrabble, but don’t enjoy playing with people who study the word lists and play it competitively. 

Mark Jackson: Reading Word Freak both fascinated me and pretty much killed my interest in actually playing Scrabble.

Larry:  As I mentioned earlier, Scrabble was never a favorite, even though I love word games.  It never seemed to reward a good vocabulary, but instead favored those who could memorize highly obscure 2 and 3 letter words.  It just seems very artificial and I much prefer Upwords, where cleverness and a good imagination seems to win the day much more often than Scrabble.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! Dale Y., Eric E., Patrick Brennan
I like it.  Chris W., Dan B., Jonathan F., John P., Craig M., Tery N., Erik A., Jeff L., Frank B., Karen M.
Neutral. Lorna, James Nathan, Larry L., Alan H., Mark J., Fraser, Melissa R., Brandon K., Simon N., Michael W., Ted C., Matt C., Jeff Allers
Not for me… Joe H.

Careers

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Joe Huber: Playing this growing up, we ran out of the sheets for selecting our goals and tracking progress.  So my mother typed up more. Individually. On a typewriter…

Matt Carlson: Not one we owned, so didn’t play it often, but remember enjoying picking out the careers more than playing the game itself.  Kinda fun to try to see yourself in the future.

Simon Neale: Another game with some innovative ideas to offset a roll and move mechanic. The challenge of deciding your own victory conditions worked really well and you then had to set your strategy to meet those conditions. 

Mark Jackson: The ability to manipulate your die rolls with cards and the variable win conditions make Careers a game ahead of its time. We owned the 70s version where you could be an environmentalist or an astronaut. 

Larry:  Truly one of the most innovative games ever created, based on when it first appeared.  Even as a youngster, I recognized how much better it was than all the other Roll and Move games we played.  I continued to play it regularly as an adult, up until I discovered German games. As an illustration of how skillful it is, I once racked up something like 30 consecutive wins against the same two opponents.  Just a remarkable game for its time.

Fraser: Never owned this, so rarely played but I do remember liking it.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! Mark J., Frank B.
I like it.  Dale Y., Larry L., John P., Fraser, Simon N., Michael W.
Neutral. Joe H., Dan B., Mario P., Craig M., Tery N., Greg S., Ted C., Matt C.
Not for me… Alan H., Eric A., Patrick Brennan

Rack-O

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

James Nathan (22 plays): Playing games with my family has proven difficult.  Rather, teaching my family games has proven difficult. We also didn’t play much growing up, though we had Monopoly, Life, Scrabble, etc.; had them, yes, but they weren’t actually played. Rack-O is one that my grandmother had and aside from Rummikub, also hers, was the closest we ever came to having a game we played as a family at gatherings.

My grandmother passed away in the last few years and now we still occasionally play Rack-O as a sort of way to remember her, and it’s one we don’t need to teach the rules to. 

That said, the last 5 or 6 plays, um, I have taught them new rules. I love the process of ordering of the cards, but I’ve grown weary of the card selection process, so each time we play, I crib a card selection mechanic from another game (e.g. a Ticket to Ride style face up selection; 7 Wonders style drafting; Small World/Majesty like payments for a face up row) and it retains the accessibility for my family while adding a bit of whimsy and keeping me entertained.

(I haven’t played the “10 Days…” series, but did once buy the game Mad Dash! from a used bookstore in Syracuse that does a similar thing, and while I’m a sucker for maps and geography, I prefer the number ordering of Rack-O.)

Jeff Allers: Just as with Nathan, Rack-O was one of the few games my grandmother had, and she taught me the game at an early age. I have several games in the 10 Days… series and they remind me of her, just as much as original Rack-O does. Shortly before she died, I had the chance to return the favor, finally teaching her a new game.  It was Ticket to Ride, and she actually pulled off a surprise victory in a 5-player game, thanks to accidentally building the longest rail. We all cheered and she just smiled and turned a little red. It reminded me how much more important the people are than the games.

Mark Jackson: In our house, this has pretty much been fired by 10 Days in the USA.

Larry:  A nice game, that we played fairly often during my childhood.  The luck element is pretty high and it seems as if it could benefit from a little more refinement.  Still, we had fun with it for an extended period of time.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! 
I like it.  Dale Y., James Nathan, Mario P., Mark J., Tery N., Greg S., Erik A., Jeff Allers
Neutral. Joe H., Dan B., Larry L., Jonathan F., John P., Craig M., Brandon K., Ted C., Matt C.
Not for me…

Mastermind

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Simon Neale: This puzzle of a game has now been superseded by various electronic implementations which work well as effectively it is a solo game. I even had a version called Mastermind 44 – a four player version!

Melissa: I remember this so very fondly – and used to have a real strategy for playing it. I feel I should get back into training. Definitely scratches that puzzle itch.

Larry:  Challenging, but also very bare bones.  I always preferred Jotto, which is superior, since the goal and the questions all had to be words, which reduced the number of possibilities and gave it an additional dimension.  My mom and I played Jotto together for well over 40 years and it was always great fun.

Patrick Brennan: Well it doesn’t get much more repetitive in a game than what it does here, but this is a super game to teach kids the process of elimination. You can obviously ramp up the difficulty so that the black/white markers are not space specific, add more colours, etc, as needed, and then it becomes quite challenging and that’s what I’m basing my rating on. It’s still fairly one dimensional though, and not very interesting at the basic level which is usually where you play it with kids.

Fraser: One that I played with my parents and then many years later was played again with our children.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! 
I like it.  Alan H., Jonathan F., Fraser, Melissa R., Craig M., Simon N., Michael W., Erik A., Matt C., Frank B.
Neutral. Dale Y., Joe H., Dan B., James Nathan, Larry L., John P., Brandon K., Tery N., Ted C., Jeff L., Karen M., Jeff Allers, Patrick Brennan
Not for me… Mark J.

Stay Alive

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Jeff Allers: We had a decent collection of mass market games that we played as a family, and this was one of our favorites, for a time. I don’t remember the elimination aspect bothering any of us at the time.  In fact, we were often overly dramatic with each drop of the marble–especially when a player’s last marble fell into the plastic tray. It started to lose its luster when we discovered that the game was usually decided in the initial placement rounds, where the safest spaces were fairly obvious. But I’m sure that we got enough plays–and laughs–out of the game to justify the purchase.

Patrick Brennan: A memory game, memorising where all the holes are and moving the sliders so as to sink opponent’s marbles. There ain’t much you can do to protect your own, so it’s a race to sink ’em faster. Nothing too clever, and not a lot of fun. 

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! 
I like it.  Jonathan F., Mark J., Frank B., Jeff Allers
Neutral. Dale Y., Joe H., John P., Craig M., Ted C.
Not for me… Erik A., Patrick Brennan

Stratego

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Joe Huber: While it’s been a while since I did much looking at thrift stores – and a much longer time since I found much of interest – I did, many years ago, find two copies of Stratego with wooden pieces.  I don’t play two player games enough to play this regularly any more, but I do still enjoy it when it does come out.

Greg S:  Another game I adored in my childhood.  There was some deduction and logical thinking involved, as well as strategy and bluffing.  Still, there was always that horror when a piece was unexpectedly destroyed by a bomb … or glee if your unsuspecting opponent was the victim!  I have played the more strategic Lord of the Rings: Confrontation several times since its release, but haven’t played a good, old-fashioned game of Stratego in probably 25+ years.

Ted C:  My son Doug played this at a Gulf Games and had to have a copy.  I scoured the internet and ebay to finally get a copy for him. He loved it when he was younger.

Jeff Allers: My parents had lots of high school and college friends they would visit as I was growing up. We would all pile into the car for a weekend with a family my sister and I did not really know, and we’d have to find some way to bond with the other children while our parents were visiting. One of those children taught me Stratego, and we played it the whole weekend. It wasn’t long before I received my own copy as a birthday present, and I taught the game to my own friends and family.

Larry:  Meh.  Probably a better game than I gave it credit for, as I’m sure there are strategies I was too impatient to implement.  But it always felt like an extended guessing game and even as a youngster, I never cared for games like that.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! 
I like it.  Dale Y., Chris W., Joe H., Craig M., Michael W., Erik A., Frank B., Jeff Allers
Neutral. Dan B., Larry L., Alan H., John P, Mario P., Mark J., Brandon K., Simon N., Greg S., Ted C., Matt C.
Not for me… James Nathan, Jonathan F., Tery N.

Masterpiece

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Karen M:  I still have my copy of this game from my childhood and pull it out every once in a while to play it. It’s purely nostalgia, but I love this game. The actual game play is very straightforward, but the forgeries make it interesting. I love the paintings. I give this game (and Clue) credit for turning me into the boardgamer I am today.

Ted C:  This was a family classic.  One of the few games I remember (Landslide was another) that we still talk about at family reunions today.  So many fond memories. The bluffing element for the paintings and passing around forgeries just had us all laughing.

Patrick Brennan: Once you get past the attractive theme, you have a roll and move game followed by auctions for goods where the value is a complete lottery, somewhere between 0 and a million. The question being how high over the “remaining likely average” will you be prepared to pay. That’s not a lot of interest or fun. Then remember the cards and their values as best you can and hope that you land on good spaces to take advantage of it. Too much luck to warrant replay except with the kids occasionally.

Fraser: Another one I didn’t own.  I remember playing it a few times as a youngster and enjoying even though I knew the values of the paintings were completely random.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! Karen M.
I like it.  Jonathan F., Mark J., Erik A., Ted C.
Neutral. Joe H., Alan H., Mario P., Fraser, Craig M., Tery N., Frank B.
Not for me… Dale Y., James Nathan, Patrick Brennan

Othello

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Melissa:  I remember my dad teaching me Othello on the old green folding case board. For someone who doesn’t like abstracts now, I have really fond memories of this.

Ted C: This is my first real absract (after chess and checkers of course) that I remember playing.  Solid game that I still own but have not played in years. Another story….Went to a board game meet up years ago that got cancelled and I did not get the word.  I showed up and no one was around. However, across the hall was a “GO” group and I wandered in. The marvelous group took me in and taught me “GO” which I played for the evening.  I think GO could replace this one.

Tery: My dad and I would often play games on Saturday mornings, and he bought a copy for us to try. It was okay and it was a nice break from Monopoly and Rummikub,  but it was apparently a good predictor of my adult taste in board games, because I still don’t really like most abstracts.

Larry:  Like Tery, I’m not a big fan of abstracts, but this one interested me more than many.  Still, my enjoyment was limited because I’m not very good at it. It’s actually quite a skillful game, but I never really mastered the “grab side spaces, then corners, then crush” strategy required to do well.

Fraser: I used to play this a lot as a teenager.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! Fraser
I like it.  Melissa R., Brandon K., Michael W., Ted C., Jeff Allers
Neutral. Joe H., Dan B., James Nathan, Larry L., Jonathan F., Mark J., Craig M., Simon N., Tery N., Erik A., Jeff L., Frank B., Patrick Brennan
Not for me… Dale Y., Alan H., John P., Matt C.

Pay Day

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Joe Huber: I have very fond memories of playing this growing up.  We would typically play either six months or a year. And, for some reason – I really have no idea exactly why – _sing_ “Sweet Sunday” when landing on that space…

Matt Carlson: My brother and I would play this without end.  We would get to the end of a typical game, and then keep going but just multiply all the game numbers by 10.  We had to raid the monopoly money more than a few times to keep the bank flush.

Tery: I cannot count the number of times I played this game with my cousins. We all loved it. I played it again when I was in my early 20’s and the nostalgia wasn’t enough to make it good; we abandoned the game part-way through.  If I’d been writing this when I was 10 I would have been extolling its virtues, though.

Mark Jackson: As a kid, this was fascinating to have a board that went through a month… and getting mail was awesome. As an adult, the theme (mail contains mostly junk mail and bills) cuts a little too close to home.

Fraser: Like Careers and Life we didn’t own this, but I remember liking it.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! 
I like it.  Fraser, Michael W.
Neutral. Dale Y., Joe H., Mark J., Craig M., Tery N., Ted C., Matt C., Jeff Allers
Not for me…Frank B.

Uno

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Matt Carlson: I respect the game, but it’s typically not for me.  My personal favorite variation (that I might even put down as “I Love It” would be double-deck real-time Uno.  Take two decks, deal out plenty of cards, and play as normal. However, any player that has an exact (number and color) card as the one played, can jump in and play it instantly.  Play then resumes, going right or left from that new player (skips or double or triple skips excepted.) All hell would break loose when someone played a “Draw 4” – if you played on top of a Draw 2 or Draw 4, the cards would accumulate and all be drawn by the next person after the last card was played.  In reflection, one thing I like about this version is that the more cards you have, the more likely you are going to get to play one (as long as you’re fast enough.)

Melissa: I like this for its ubiquity. Every time I talk about games on radio, someone calls in with a Uno anecdote. And is it You-know or (italian) uno? We used to play it with a double deck late into the night.

Jeff Allers:  My favorite memory is playing this with my family together with my German host family (half of whom could not speak English).  We used a German deck, and called out the German names and numbers (zieh zwei, aussetzen, etc.). They taught us Matt’s real-time variant. There was also wine. And Schnapps. My father tried to read out everyone’s score in German between hands, and his mispronunciation was even more hysterical than the actual game.

Tery: I like it fine as a card game that can be played by many ages. Well, unless you make me play Uno: Card Attack because that game takes HOURS.  However, there are so many other better games out there that have the same ability to cross ages that I am not really interested in playing it.

Larry:  OMG, I still bear the scars!  My first job was in 1980 and I thought it might be fun to introduce some lunch-time games.  But before I could do that, someone brought in a copy of Uno and we were soon playing 8 person games, to the delight of all and the utter boredom of me.  It would take quite a while before interesting gaming would appear at my workplace…

Fraser: Another of those inter-generational games.  I remember comparing rules over the decades and the published rules have got “nicer” or “friendlier” than the rules from the 70s.  Mainly around the multiple draw 2 or draw 4s.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! Patrick Brennan
I like it.  Dale Y., John P., Fraser, Melissa R., Tery N., Eric E., Ted C., Jeff Allers
Neutral. Chris W., James Nathan, Alan H., Jonathan F., Craig M., Brandon K., Simon N., Greg S., Erik A., Matt C., Jeff L., Frank B.
Not for me… Joe H., Dan B., Larry L., Mark J., Michael W., Karen M.

Battleship

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Simon Neale: You only needed a pencil and paper to play this game, so it became a favourite for wet lunchtimes at school. Such a simple idea of placing your ships where you thought your opponent would not think to look for them. We even invented super attacks such as a bombing run which hit every other location in a row or column! Great fun but soon outgrown as a game.

Melissa: Another problem-solving game. I wouldn’t choose to play it, but I wouldn’t run screaming.

Greg S:  Again, a game of simple logic and deduction, but I had a ton of fun with it as a child.  I played it a few times when my daughter was young, but haven’t played in 25+ years. Probably wouldn’t hold up very well, but I still have fond memories.

Larry:  Again, even as a kid, I recognized how trivial and luck-ridden this game was.  Just a way for bored children to pass the time.

Patrick Brennan: Classic kid favourite that’s 20 minutes of systematic guesswork. The only fun really is going boom and splash, but at kid level that’s all that’s needed and it works just fine; better than fine if some luck based gaming within the family is needed. If you want a stretch, it at least offers some meta-game potential between the same 2 opponents when changing your placement patterns from game to game.

Fraser: Used to play this quite a bit at school with pen and paper.

Joe H.: I _did_ enjoy watching the game of this played on The Grand Tour…

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! 
I like it.  Dale Y., John P., Fraser, Michael W., Ted C.
Neutral. Chris W., Dan B., James Nathan, Alan H., Jonathan F., Mario P., Mark J., Melissa R., Craig M., Simon N., Tery N., Greg S., Eric E., Erik A., Matt C., Frank B., Jeff Allers
Not for me… Joe H., Larry L., Brandon K., Jeff L., Patrick Brennan

Monopoly

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Joe Huber: For many years, Bruce Linsey kept track of all of the games played at The Gathering of Friends.  And while many classics were played – there were no recorded plays of Monopoly. So – I decided that there really should be at least one game of Monopoly played there.  To make it more German-looking, we used the Perry Rhodan edition; otherwise, however, we simply set out to play by the rules, and play quickly. And so we finished the whole four player game- to all but one player going bankrupt – in 45 minutes.

Dale Y: The game is actually fairly interesting when played with all the rules – including auctions for un-purchased properties.  It’s not the sort of game that I’d play with families though; it’s really quite cut-throat.

Simon Neale: Despite Dale’s comment above, many a family evening years ago would be spent playing boardgames of which Monopoly was one. The game is quite random in that even with the best properties you can be bankrupted by unlucky dice rolling.

Melissa: Please, no.

Greg S:  Played many, many, many times as a child, but probably never played using the correct rules back then.  My daughter went through a thankfully brief Monopoly phase in her youth, and I did play once with nephews and nieces about 15 years ago using the correct rules.  It is better with the correct rules, but nothing I would seek out.

Jeff Allers: As was already mentioned, this game really is too cut-throat for families. During family game nights while growing up, my baby sister always pleaded for a loan from the bank to keep from going bankrupt early, and she would never get out of that hole, which also meant that I never finished a game of Monopoly during my childhood.  It didn’t help that we played with incorrect rules, only allowing you to buy what you land on (instead of auctioning it off). My son was taught the game recently, and my wife wanted us to play with him, so I insisted on finally playing by the correct rules. I won that game, thanks to my 2 opponents always landing on the 3 matching properties I had, which I quickly developed and used to bankrupt them. They haven’t asked to play that game again, so “mission accomplished.”

Mark Jackson: Yep, I’m the guy in love with Monopoly… as long as we play by the rules (for crying out loud). (I posted about this years ago – https://akapastorguy.blogspot.com/2007/12/giving-away-your-own-monopoly-money.html). For those of you who don’t mind weird DVD-augmented games, Rob Daviau did a wonderful take on Monopoly with his Tropical Tycoon version.

Larry:  It’s not as bad as many make it out to be, but it’s still not very good.  The main skill is in trading properties, but the rules make that unnecessarily difficult, so even that’s unsatisfying.  Of course, my family played it a ton when I was growing up, but it was soon replaced by more interesting (and a bit more rules-heavy) clones from other publishers.  But I had to wait until I discovered Tom Lehmann’s Fast Food Franchise before I found a property game I could actually enjoy.

Fraser: Starting money is 2*$500, 2*$100, 2*$50, 6*$20, 5*$10, 5*$5, 5*$1.  I still remember this, thus I know I played this a lot as a child!

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! Mark J.
I like it.  Dale Y., John P., Craig M., Eric E.
Neutral. Dale Y., Joe H., Dan B., James Nathan, Mario P., Fraser, Tery N., Michael W., Greg S., Ted C., Matt C., Frank B., Jeff Allers
Not for me… Larry L., Alan H., Melissa R., Brandon K., Simon N., Erik A., Jeff L, Karen M., Patrick Brennan

Risk

Thoughts from Opinionated Gamers:

Matt Carlson: I used to love this game, up until a computer version came out.  Once I knew I could play the game in under 5 minutes (or less), sitting down for an hour or two just didn’t sound that fun.  (Even a multiplayer game on the computer would be under 10 minutes.)

Simon Neale: Another game from my youth, where a group of school friends and I would bash our way across the map seeking world domination. We even developed our own unbalanced way of stopping a player turtling in Australasia by removing it from the world map! Ah, school children and their ideas!

Greg S:  Oh, my.  This is THE game that was the stepping stone into more sophisticated games.  I spent many, many weekend nights with friends attempting to conquer the rules.  We experimented with a variety of house rules to help improve the game, some of which helped, while most didn’t.  Still, we had some amazing times around the Risk board. Now, I am sure I would find the game very basic and luck-driven, but, oh, the memories …

Ted C:  I have played a lot of risk and never really cared for it. The whole hunker down in Kamchackta thing and the varied armies by the cards, etc.  Later versions that added time tracks and mission points were more to my liking.

Jeff Allers: When I was in elementary school, my architect father designed and built a new home for us at the edge of town in the middle of a beautiful forest.  But I was suddenly separated from my school friends and felt very lonely, until a family with 3 sons from the East Coast moved in just up the hill. They were sci-fi geeks, and they also taught me Risk. Together with their uncle, who lived with them for a time, we spent many nights in their basement rolling dice, playfully trash talking, and pretending to conquer the world (as well as listening to Devo, looking at Star Wars trading cards and discussing the science and engineering behind Star Trek). It was Geek Heaven. And even then, I had an affinity for Europe, though I never won a game of Risk by making that my base.

Larry:  Much like Stratego, this is a game that I probably didn’t have the patience to play well.  But like so many games based on elimination, it just takes too freaking long to finish. Plus, there’s the whole “I turn in a valuable set of cards, go on the attack, and control half the world, then you turn in an even more valuable set and counter-attack to control two thirds of the world, and so on, until someone finally finishes does the job”.  Plus, I hated the fact that a single army could hold off a much bigger force as long as it kept rolling 6’s. I still love the idea of games of conquest (Eon’s Borderlands is one of my all-time favorite games), but Risk always kept me wanting something better.

Fraser: Playing this in Australia, most people wanted to start in Australia, so competition to control Australia was always fierce.  A relatively simple wargame that escalated somewhat as the values of sets of cards increases over time. The games usually tended to turn into a big ebb and flow between the last two surviving players.  A tad long for what it is.

Joe H.: Fraser, we always fought fiercely for Australia as well, so that focus wasn’t just based upon where one resided…

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it! Erik A.
I like it.  Mario P., Mark J., Fraser, Craig M., Greg S., Eric E., Jeff Allers
Neutral. Chris W., Alan H., John P., Brandon K., Simon N., Michael W.
Not for me… Dale Y., Joe H., Dan B., James Nathan, Larry L., Jonathan F., Tery N., Ted C., Matt C., Frank B., Patrick Brennan

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2 Responses to The Opinionated Gamers opine about the classics

  1. Pingback: The Opinionated Gamers opine about the classics – Herman Watts

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