Sunday, November 4, 2012

Shitty old board games you've probably never heard of

At one point in my life, I was particularly invested in creating board games. They weren't anything special, after all, I was still in Secondary School at that time, but they were fun. So today, I'd like to share with you two of my most successful entries in the genre. Note: If there's anybody out there who makes board games for a living, feel free to steal these, make 'em better and sell them.

The first one was called Horror. It was inspired by slasher movies and focuses on a group of people of indeterminate age, who are locked in a house and stalked by an unknown killer. What you need for this game is a floor plan of a house with highlighted rooms, a set of room cards (three cards per room) and a bunch of differently colored figures (two figures per player). At the start of the game, put all figures in the entrance hall (or its equivalent on your map), shuffle the cards and divide them into three decks, laid face down next to the board. Each turn, everybody moves their figures around the map and then one player draws a card. The room indicated by the card is visited by the killer - all figures in that room are considered dead and either laid down in that room or simply removed from the board. The game ends once all three cards of any one room have been drawn. Players gets a point for each figure of theirs that has made it to the end alive and the game is started over. The first one to reach five/ten/hundred points wins.

I realize now that this game was largely based on luck - you can't influence what room is going to be drawn in any way, except when it's your turn to draw, you can choose one of the three decks. Nevertheless, this was probably the most popular game among my friends. I think what made it so fun was, at least in part, the "art design" by a friend tasked with creating the board and cards. The house was shadowy and had a lot of neat little touches, like a bloodpool on the bathroom floor, and the cards had little illustrations on them, like a corpse in an armchair on the Living Room card or a jar of pickled eyeballs on the Pantry card. And yes, you could hide in the pantry in this game.

The second game was called Fortress. It takes place on a stone fortress in the middle of an ocean (yeah, I don't know either). You're going to need a number of building blocks - we used a set of 55 wooden cubes, but you can use anything you can get your hands on; a 0-9 set of domino blocks can work really well - and one figure for each player. At the beginning, pile the blocks into columns - our fortress had a rectandular 4x4 grid, but again, you are free to make your own; hexagonal grid may work just as well. Players then place their figures onto the fortress. One block is considered one space - multiple figures can stand on the same space, but one figure can't stand between spaces.

After all that is done, the game begins. The players take turns in a fixed order and a turn consists of two steps. The first step is moving - you can move your character to any adjacent space of the same height. Ascending or descending during moving is strictly prohibited. The second step is removing any top block from any column - you can remove the block under your figure under any circumstances, but you can remove any other block only if there's nobody there. Both steps are compulsory - if you can't perform any one of them, if you fall into the water by removing the very last block from under your feet or if you yield, you lose and your figure is removed from the game. The last person still in the game wins.

This was a more tactic-oriented game, and perhaps that's why it was so enjoyable. We loved to pit our minds against each other. Oh, and here's a freebie tactic: It was discovered by a friend, actually the same friend who made the board and cards for Horror, and we called it "kamikaze". It basically consisted of moving onto the space with every other player on it and trapping them all there. Since nobody could move after doing so, and since the player who performed the move was the last one to have to move again, he would stay in the game after everybody else had been eliminated and thus win. After the discovery of this tactic, our games devolved into everybody attempting to be the first one to pull it off.

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