Remember the time when boardgames were the pinnacle of fun? Maybe it was the days before Atari, and certainly the days before NES. Or maybe you’re one of those people who still has a family game night, in which case, boardgames? Pinnacle of fun? Sure, why not.
For the most part, I enjoy kickin’ it nostalgic when it comes to my boardgame days, and I partook in more than my fair share of old school geeky gaming in my day. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m one of those people. I still enjoy geek boardgames today.
Here’s a short list of games worth a second look for any fellow board gamer, or any geek looking for an old school alternative to high tech fun.
This 50s classic has encouraged children and adults for decades to develop unhealthy competitive streaks and, if unsuccessful in play, inferiority complexes. A game of global domination, Risk is a nerd’s true delight – but it’s taken a distinctly geek turn with some of its many spin-offs, including the futuristic Risk 2210 A.D., Risk: Star Wars, and Risk: The Lord of the Rings. The Lord of the Rings version even spawned an expansion set and and a game just for the Siege of Minas Tirith. What’s more, Sean Astin and other actors and crew of the film trilogy played Risk between takes. It may be a perfect marriage, but I don’t think I’d want to go a few rounds with Tom Bombadil.
This was Space Camp‘s answer to boardgames (ignoring the fact that Space Camp came out a year after the game). For a girl who always wanted to be an astronaut, Solarquest, like Monopoly set in space, was a dream come true. Unfortunately because this game truly was so much like Monopoly – only involving buying celestial bodies instead of mundane property – there’s not a lot more to say about it. Just one more detail that is, in fact, totally epic: going bankrupt was only one way to lose. Another? Getting blown to smithereens in a laser battle. Oh, yeah, it’s on.
The Princess Bride: Storming the Castle
A relatively new offering (2008), this game disappoints only in that it’s not based solely around the Sicilian battle of wits. You can, however, perform dashing deeds of heroism battling mano a mano with opponents and surmounting obstacles between you and Humperdink’s castle where, despite the fact that she’s really just a stuck up priss, your beloved Buttercup awaits you. It features all the settings we’ve come to know and love – like the Fire Swamp and the Cliffs of Insanity. All it’s missing is Mandy Patinkin sitting across the table with rapier ready to slice a face or two if he loses. Don’t put it past him.
It feels like cheating including this game here, because the losing mechanism is yet again laser beams. But really, is there such thing as too much laser action? And it was created by the man who developed Magic: The Gathering, which gives it geek cred even if you shelf it. In a nutshell, you play a robot who has to maneuver his way through various arenas filled with traps and obstacles, which you overcome by arranging the robot’s progress along the board according to a series of action cards that dictate how you should move, turn, etc. your piece. So depending on the cards you’re given, and the obstacles you face, you have to out-plan the arena’s maze and employ some serious strategy to survive. A boardgame that makes you really think. That’s geeky, alright.