#847 Old, classic board games

Musty fun

[digg=http://digg.com/arts_culture/13_Greatest_Old_School_Board_Games] Wedged tightly into dark corners in dusty attics are piles of old, worn out board games from years ago.

The corners of these old boxes are cracked and split open, the flashy prints on top long worn away, leaving only the dusty, corrugated bones behind. Pencils with broken leads, yellowed instructions, faded homemade scorecards, and assorted sub-ins for lost game pieces litter the box and make it look like that clattery kitchen drawer of assorted knick-knacks. Take a deep breath and you may sniff up a familiar musty scent that takes you way, way back.

For old time’s sake, let’s look fondly on thirteen of the greatest board games of all time:

hungry-hungry-hippo13. Hungry Hungry Hippos. This game was invented for all the kids who were shooed into the basement to calm down and go play a board game. That’s when us sugar-rushing rugrats caused havoc by pulling out Hungry Hungry Hippos and started smacking plastic hippo mouths at a hundred marbles flying in all directions. Just what mom had in mind.

mouse_trap12. Mouse Trap. This game taught us the meaning of the slow, tantric crescendo. That’s because the first 99% of the game was a boring, play-by-numbers hopscotch. But then it got to mousetrap time, and it was allllllll worth it.

connect-four11. Connect Four. Despite the quick set up time, easy rules, and fun gameplay, Connect Four always seemed suspiciously educational. And now, be honest — did you ever realize your kid sister was just about to deliver a four-in-a-row knockout punch and then release the trap on the bottom, spilling all the pieces on the table and denying them their big crowning moment? Hey, I’m not proud of it, either.

battleship10. Battleship. The best part of Battleship was those hard, plastic cases the game came in. It was like its own luggage set and it was hard not to feel important when you flipped one open and began fiddling with all the pieces inside. Kids, those are what we used to call laptops. Sure, no RAM, no hard drive, but check out the 3D graphics.

uno9. Uno. Now, Uno wasn’t really a board game, but whenever it was Board Game Time there was always that one whiny kid who begged everyone to play Uno instead. But no one would. That’s why it’s called Uno.

mastermind8. Mastermind. Was it just me or did that box cover look like an ad for exotic high-stakes infidelity? Either that or the people you final-round interview with to become a political assassin.

risk7. Risk. Turns out you can’t dominate the world in an hour. As a result, committing to a game of Risk was commiting to giving up your entire evening. Games could go until three, four, five in the morning, with the first person out at 9:00 pm sitting bored on the couch flipping channels for six hours. Too bad, man. Shouldn’t have challenged Siam.

candyland-board6. Candyland. This game required no reading, no writing, no strategy, and no decision-making at all. You just flipped over a card, looked at the color, and moved your piece to that color. That’s it, really. Candyland ranks high because it’s a gateway board game and gets people interested in the harder stuff.

trivial-pursuit-original5. Trivial Pursuit. The hardest stuff of all. I’m talking about the original, heavy box Genus Edition here. You know you’re playing that one when the questions are impossible and everybody feels like an idiot without any pie pieces. Props to the first person who proposes ditching the board and just asking questions.

game-of-life4. The Game of Life. If you can believe it, Milton Bradley himself created The Game of Life way back in 1861. Now, the game is more than a little preachy — I mean, if you don’t go to college, have lots of kids, and drive around in your station wagon buying insurance and suing for damages, then you probably won’t be able to end up a millionaire and buy that beautiful, white plastic mansion at the end. But there was something pretty cool about Life, too. There was the fact that you got to spin the big wheel on your turn, that every space had a little story to go with it, and that kids got to act grown up for an hour.

scrabble3. Scrabble. So apparently they’ve sold over 100 million copies of Scrabble in 29 languages. They sell dictionaries, they have tournaments, the factories are still pumping them out. Not bad for a handful of cheap wood tiles.

clue2. Clue. This dark and bloody board game about mansion murder was always a winner with happy-go-lucky kids on Saturday afternoon. Yes, Clue was a tense and quiet hour of private note-taking, raised eyebrows, and suspicious glances. A nice break from running around the backyard with untied shoelaces and runny noses, anyway.

monopoly1. Monopoly. There were some classic moments in most Monopoly games. First off, who’s going to be the banker? Either you have an excited kid around who wants to do it or somebody caves in and reluctantly does the job. Reluctant Bankers are no good, though. You’ll be reminding them to pay you $200 for passing GO the whole time. Next, what’s the rule with Free Parking? We going with the official rules where it means nothing, popping a big $500 in there, or doing something completely different? Also, every game has the late-inning game-changing trade at some point. It’s the three-way deal that gives the richest player all the railroads to seal everybody’s fate or the tired person who gives up at midnight and just trades away Boardwalk for $100 to meet the rent on Park Place. Whatever your Monopoly quirks, there’s no denying that it’s a classic.

Huddled around the kitchen table waiting on a long pause in Scrabble, sitting in a friend’s basement late at night waging merciless war in Risk, or gathering the family together for a classic Saturday night game of Monopoly, whatever your style — there’s just something about those old, classic board games. They bring us together for some laughs, some ups, some downs, and some plain old good times.


Incredible Candyland Photo Credit: Peggy Dembicer


Photos from: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here

192 thoughts on “#847 Old, classic board games

  1. Any game involving marbles was definitely awesome. Kerplunk, HHHippos, Chinese checkers, Aggravation – remember that one??

    A couple more old-school games we used to play are Parcheesi and Steeplechase. But my favourite was PayDay. Getting that stack of cash every payday was awesome!

  2. Looking at these in terms of challenge and strategy, Monopoly has to be #1 for me as well, but I’d put Risk up there at #2 for popularity and fun, because it rocked. Either game could be drawn out for days, but Monopoly at least had a short game, and fast-paced shortcuts to quicker games. Scrabble is hugely popular still, with clubs and tournaments, so I’d put that at #3. I’m glad to see someone else liked Mastermind – I found that it wasn’t too hard to set up unlikely codes, and the challenge of breaking the other person’s code was fantastic. It was mostly a game of elimination of possible codes, but the mental exercise was always rewarding. I could break anyone’s code in less than ten moves. Likewise, Battleship was both challenging and aggravating, because no matter how good you were at eliminating where your opponents ships were or weren’t, you could still have all your ships sunk before you could finish your attacks, just through your opponent’s random choices.
    I also liked Connect Four, for the exercise it provided in being observant of more than one direction at once. With a little work, this one could be expanded to three dimensions, and make a challenging adult game.

    1. That is the most fabulous and oddest bragging point I’ve heard in a long time, “I could break anyone’s code in less than 10 moves.” Love it. That’s real talent. My Mastermind success was very hit or miss.

  3. All of those games are awesome in their own right.

    If we’re counting Kerplunk, then we can surely allow the placement of Apples To Apples!

    The unbeatable cards: Anne Frank, AIDS, Hitler. The best part is when all of them are played at the same time. Shouting match ensues, fists fly, cops are called, court dates are ignored, repeat cycle.

  4. All of those games are awesome in their own right.

    If we’re counting Kerplunk, then we can surely allow the placement of Apples To Apples!

    The unbeatable cards: Helen Keller, AIDS, Hitler. The best part is when all of them are played at the same time. Shouting match ensues, fists fly, cops are called, court dates are ignored, repeat cycle.

  5. Popping in for a not-so-fun-fact about Battleship. Take a look at the box art you have posted. The boys are playing, but what are the girls doing?
    Ah, stereotypes.

  6. Checkers, chess, Backgammon and Chutes and ladders have been around longer than some of the ones mentioned. Interesting topic though.

  7. I play Parcheesi all the time. It is a great game. Hungry Hungry Hippos, Scrabble, and Monopoly are great. I use to get too excited playin Hungry Hungry Hippos as a kid. Monopoly is just a classic timeless game.

  8. I can remember passing many a rainy day with my best friend, playing Monopoly for hours! He had his grandparents’ set, with the houses made out of wood. Wonderful times….

    I love Scrabble as well….gotta love a game that makes you think…

    And how about Mystery Date? :D

  9. Does anyone remember a boardgame from the mid 80’s called “Mystery Mansion”?
    It was pretty cool. I actually just googled it and there it was staring back at me. Man how time flys huh?
    I loved Clue, Monoploly, Connect Four, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders…..so much fun.
    I say we all just forget the so called life of today and be kids again! Anyone…game? ;)

  10. Спасибо за ответы на все вопросы :) Действительно узнал много нового. Правда до конца так и не разобрался что и откуда.

  11. While taking a gander in my basement the other night, I spotted a box covered in dust and dirt.

    I wiped that baby off and there laid…

    The “MR. T” Board game. Uhuh.

  12. Some of the games could be better picks. Stratego, can easily replace Trivia Pursuit, even operations was more of a classic in most sense of the word. But not counting Pit is definitely wrong!

  13. Mousetrap and Candy Land! good times! no… AWESOME times! i dont think ive ever actually played Mousetrap. but ive set it up and tripped more times than i can count.

    and i hate to pull one of these, but wheres Chutes And Ladders?!

    and i dont expect it to be on the list as it was fairly unknown, but there was a game a friend had that i was so jealous of. the premise was almost exactly like Dont Wake Daddy, only it was penguins instead of kids, and a dragon instead of daddy.

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  15. This is most definitely awesome. Even better when you find old board games in some dusty corner of your grandparents’ house. =)

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  17. I do love Monopoly, but I also have the one annoying friend who thinks he knows everything there is to know about finance and tries to bring that into the game every time. He will start by proposing interest rates and concessions and etc. and the rest of us will just ignore him. He is usually the first one out because he tries to overcomplicate the game and no one will ever make any deals with him. Silly, crazy “I take Monopoly way too seriously” people.

  18. I have a suggestion

    listening to your children talk about a video game or a tv show, and you add something that is actually relavent to the conversation, and your kids are impressed.

  19. This weekend I just bought Connect 4 and almost bought Hungry Hungry Hippos. I’ll go back for that one. As well as Mr. Mouth. Love old school board games and their smell.

  20. I was an RA at a college. I brought a family guy Monopoly for the house, and the guys spent weeks on end playing until like 4am. They were super wheeler, txting deals to each other on the side, writing contracts, using collateral, it was a riot to watch. They were 100% serious too.

  21. Word games are the best. I am glad to have seen Scrabble on this list, but would have moved it up higher. How about Boggle??? Love that one. I guess I love most word games. I also have been enjoying a new word game (though it certainly isn’t a classic at this point) called 5 To Close. http://www.5toclose.com/word-unscrambler-game.html It’s a good variation because it is a word game played in teams. I also haven’t played Jumble yet, but I have heard great things about it and it has been recommended to me by others.

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  23. I still have a lot of these and play with my grandsons the one loves mastermind I think because he is good at it

  24. Too bad you never finish a game of monopoly

    When I was a kid I used to use the little risk men, Calvary, and cannons as army men and have wars. Good times.

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