The Quest for Classics

I started playing modern designer board games back in the early days of the new millennium. Back then far fewer games were published annually, and the gap between a few quality games and a lot of really bad "games" was huge. Some speak of this era as a time when no good games were published, or if they were they are obsolete by now. To those people I would like to raise a gracious but steady middle finger.

It is true that a lot of bad games were published. It is also true that some of those games haven't stood the test of time. But the foundation for the board games published today was laid back then, and there are still games from the late 90's and early 00's that are unrivalled today. Amongst others designers like Reiner Knizia and Wolfgang Kramer (often with Michael Kiesling) were producing awesome games.

Back in the day you really didn't know which games were to be awesome. Sure we had BoardGameGeek but the userbase was quite small, so there were a lot of games being published that I remember looking at and wanting, but then never got, only to regret it when they went out-of-print. Also at this time my brother was living close by and if he happened to grab a great game, I felt it was redundant for me to also get it. But then he moved away to another town. So in this day and age of cult-of-the-new (which by the way was thing already in the early 00's), The New Hotness, and Kickstarter, we decided we wanted to hunt down the old classics.

We started off by getting Friedemann Friese's Power Grid. I hunted down a copy (still in shrink wrap, mind you!) of one of my favourite games ever; Wolfgang Kramer's Pueblo. I found second hand copies of three Ystari Games Originals (I've always loved Ystari's games and Ys as well as Mykerinos are priceless gems in our collection) in great condition; Yspahan, Metropolys, and Olympos. I found an almost mint condition second hand copy of Reiner Knizia's Samurai - and not the horrible overpriced Fantasy Flight reprint but Lautapelit.fi's Nordic version of Hans im Glück's original printing.

There are still a lot of classics that I am trying to hunt down, but it is such a rewarding journey to delve into the nostalgia, digging for copies of games I love but never got, or games I craved but never got to play. These are the games I'm looking forward to teaching to my son one day. Games that I probably will be playing with my wife at the retirement home. These are the Classics.

Comments

  1. Yes, I agree with you. It is true that modern boardgame designing has advanced a lot during 2010's, but that doesn't mean that some older games couldn't stand the test of time. Some of my favorites are also either from 90's or 00's. Yes, during those decades, some garbage was put out. But so is now. For every great game, there's at least two or three (if not even more) bad games. Of course another one's gem is another one's garbage and vice versa.

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    1. I'm sometimes surprised at how some games haven't been built upon and developed further. Reiner Knizia's Samurai and Wolfgang Kramer's Torres conec to mind as examples. At the same time I see a lot of development gone haywire nowadays were the dedignerd overcomplicate the game to make it "unique" while many of the games from 20 years ago strived to streamline and find elegance. Of course it is easy to be nostalgic though - many great games have been published recently too.

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    2. Damn auto-correct malfunctions! "Kramer's Torres COMES to mind", "were the DESIGNERS overcomplicate". I find myself corrected!

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  2. Great to see a new board game blog, and from a veteran gaming couple too. Welcome to the blogosphere!

    Best wishes,
    Puutyöläinen

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    1. Hi Puutyöläinen! I'm going to reply in English even though Finnish would probably be more appropriate 😄 Thank you for the warm welcome - we've tried to start blogging a few times before, but it never amounted to anything. Let's hope this works better.
      Even though I hear it all the time nowadays, it still feels strange to be called a veteran, but yes - I've been playing as a hobby for a long time, and sometimes I feel like a grumpy grandpa screaming at the kids! 😂
      Kiitos ja tervetuloa!

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  3. I've only started board gaming from 2017 , have never played any Reinier Knizia or Michael Kiesling games! it's great to read about the classics on your blog because everywhere else is about kickstarter previews and the latest games which then drowns 6 months later under newer avalanches of hype.

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    1. Nice to hear that it is of interest to someone. I'm having a hard time with - fir instance - the Instagram community for board gamers, as it's completely centered on the new and what's on Kickstarter. I also feel that a lot of new games (not all) are convoluted versions of older games, where the "classics" are pure and elegant - streamlined to perfection.
      Of course - there are a lot of great new games too!

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