Watching Tabletop on Geek and Sundry today, I find myself missing tabletop gaming. Haven’t done that in ages. At least since I left California back in ’99.
My friends and I would play a lot of different games. Most popular were:
Set in feudal Japan, you were a Shogun trying to take control. You had daimyo (generals) who controlled your armies, which grew or shrank depending on what you did. I remember that you drew little samurai swords with numbers on them to determine the turn order (which we thought was cool). Your armies could be samurai swordsmen and bowmen, and ashigaru spearmen and gunners, depending on what you could afford. Koku was the money of the game, and the more territory you held, the more koku you had on hand, and the more you could grow your armies. Tossed into the mix for extra drama were mercenaries and ninja. Mercs could join your army for battles, the ninja could be hired to assassinate an opposing player’s daimyo. This game was a turned based strategy game, a blast to play and has been released under different names (Samurai Swords in 1995 and Ikusa in 2011) in the years since I played it.
2) Axis and Allies
Set in World War II, Axis and Allies had a similar concept as Shogun above, but set in a more recent timeframe. Your objective was to win WWII. Players choose between Germany, Japan, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, or the United States. True to the timeframe, each nation has different abilities/forces to draw from based on their size and GDP. IPC’s (“Industrial Production Certificates”) are the currency of the game and can be used to expand armies and add new technologies. Armies consisted of: Infantry, Tanks, Fighters, Bombers, Submarines, Transports, Aircraft Carriers, Battleships, Anti-Aircraft Guns and Industrial Complex (to make more stuff). The fact that you had land, air and sea all represented, lent a whole new layer of complexity and strategy to the game, making it one of the longer games to play (like, really, really long). It also meant that you had to balance your production with your combat or else suddenly find yourself staring at a board with very little of your color pieces on there and loads of enemies coming for you… (I still have this game)
3) Buck Rogers – Battle for the 25th Century
The 1st two games above were purchased by my friends. We all went in together to purchase Buck Rogers – Battle for the 25th Century. Like Axis & Allies, Buck Rogers was pretty complicated and had a lot going on (which was why we bought it!). Set in Earth’s solar system, you were fighting for control of planets, asteroids and territories. You picked a character (Buck, Wilma, Ardala, etc.) and formed armies consisting of Troopers, Gennies, Transports, Fighters, Battlers and Killer Satellites. You also maintained Factories to keep units flowing. Again, like A&A, the use of ground and space forces added levels of complexity to the game, plus you were dealing with being in space, having to move troops around until you could establish a factory in a new territory, so on and so forth. AND, your character, whoever you chose to be, had special abilities you could use to get a leg up… (I still have this game)
Less strategy, more Monopoly-like, Solarquest was loads of fun and (usually) quick to play. instead of battling for territories, you are buying them; 33 moons, 9 planets. There are also space stations and research labs which, I believe, were ‘safe’ for everyone to land on. If you landed on someone else’s property, you paid rent. Sometimes you could buy fuel from them, which you need to keep going. You could also get caught in a planet’s gravity well, forcing you to keep circling until you had enough fuel to break free. Whoever built the biggest empire won.
5) Magic: The Gathering
Does Magic: The Gathering qualify as a tabletop game? Sure – why not? I mean, you needed a table to play it on (mostly). I was introduced to this game on a trip to either Disneyland or Magic Mountain (can’t recall which we were headed to). My uncle was taking a large group of us, via his motorhome, and my cousin and her boyfriend were playing the game at the kitchen table. I was immediately hooked. When I got back home, I bought some cards and showed my friends; they were hooked. We left the house and went in search of cards for them, which turned out to be difficult (everyone was sold out) and comical (as my one friend REALLY WANTED SOME CARDS and couldn’t find any). Eventually, everyone in my little circle of friends was playing Magic and our massive chaos games were fairly epic in scope and scale. We never really got into the role playing aspect of the game, but enjoyed building decks with specific purposes in an attempt to one-up everyone else seated at the table. I once built a deck full of creatures who spawned 1/1 token creatures every turn. I used pennies to represent the tokens, which could attack or defend like a normal card/creature. Nobody paid me any attention until I had a couple dollars worth of pennies before me and could essentially wipe them all out…
Anyway, what started this trip down tabletop gaming memory lane, was watching an episode of Geek and Sundry’s TableTop, hosted by Wil Wheaton. Here’s the ep: