Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Unplayed games coming out of the closet

The more I read of Chris "GamerChris" Norwood's blog and the more I hear of his podcast, the more I appreciate his thoughtful take on boardgaming.  Most recently, he posted an admission of his "secret shame" - a list of unplayed games.  I recognized a number of games on his list, and was just about to chastise him for having neglected some particularly good ones ... and then I thought that perhaps I ought to see just how much glass there was in my own house before casting stones in his direction.

And, oh, my boardgame house is made of glass indeed.  We just reorganized our utility room, where we keep the games that aren't played so frequently.  So it was easy for me to take stock and see what games I've truly never played at all.

Gifts - games we've received but not actually cracked open and tried out

  • Sparta, a very recent birthday gift (really so recent as not to deserve being on this list)
  • Sushi Roll, a gift that our 12-year-old received one Christmas
  • 007 Scene It?
  • James Ernst's Totally Renamed Spy Game

Mysteries - games whose origin I simply can not recall

  • Rivets, a 1977 Metagaming Concepts microgame
  • Operation Grenade, a 1981 SPI folio game
  • Sequence, which I'm really interested in playing now since it I found it on a Board Game Family Top Ten list from last year
  • Beans, a card game with beans - really, no idea where this came from
  • Tripoley, which might actually have been my wife's before we got married

Good intentions - purchased games that I thought surely I would have played by now

  • Cowboys, picked up during a Worthington Games sale because my sons had expressed an interest in Western-themed gaming
  • Battle of Nations: Encirclement at Leipzig, an SPI folio game that I bought from the adjacent table when I was selling stuff at a Northern Virginia Gamers (NoVaG) game day flea market
  • Here Come the Rebels, the second game in Avalon Hill's Great Campaigns of the Civil War series, the first of which (Stonewall Jackson's Way) is the best ACW game I've ever played
  • Tech Bubble, a Worthington Games push-your-luck title that I'm still curious about, but somehow not enough to have torn open the shrink-wrap yet

Role-playing games - a genre that I keep thinking I'll get my sons involved in but never seem to have time to prepare for

  • Aces and Eights, that Western theme again;
  • Universe, picked up from a friend when I got a science-fiction RPG itch, along with...
  • Metamorphosis Alpha and
  • Traveller;
  • Top Secret, which previously belonged to my little brother

Played others', but not my own - games that I bought because I enjoyed playing other people's copies, then never got my own to the table

  • Viva Java
  • Axis and Allies: Pacific
  • Acquire

Kids games - the theory being, get something the kids will like so they will play

  • Name 5 
  • Square Shooters, a dice game where the faces of the dice represent playing cards
  • Sorry Revenge Card Game
  • Frag - not exactly a kid's game, but a skirmish game that I bought for my teenager at a Congress of Gamers bring-and-buy
  • Zombie Dice

Miniatures rules - the purpose of money being God's way of telling us that we need more miniatures.  I'll point out here that I am not listing all the unpainted miniatures that I have.  That would be just depressing.  Besides, this is a boardgaming blog.

  • Spearhead, which I picked up when I was on a micro-armor kick
  • Horse Foot Guns, a Phil Barker gunpowder-era rules set that I downloaded after I'd seen the Mel Gibson movie The Patriot and decided that I wanted to wargame the American War of Independence.  

What was I thinking - a category that speaks for itself (these being auction impulse buys)

  • Stock Market Guru, which I think I confused with Avalon Hill's 1970 title The Stock Market Game
  • 30-second Mysteries, which I assumed my wife the mystery writer would like, along with ...
  • 221B Baker Street
Game design research - games I bought because they were relevant to something I was working on, not necessarily because I wanted to play them
  • Successors, the Avalon Hill game on the Wars of the Diadochi, the subject of my first major game design (which I have since shelved), along with ...
  • Alexander's Generals;
  • High Frontier, Phil Eklund's 2010 ridiculously realistic space exploration game that essentially stopped my work on "Gold on Mars" dead in its tracks, at least until I rethemed it
Sentimental purchases - games I bought on eBay because I remembered liking them as a kid

  • Origins of World War II, which I played avidly as a teenager, then traded to a friend for PanzerBlitz
  • Masterpiece, the Parker Brothers art auction game, which my family played frequently as I recall
  • Stock Market Game, published by Whitman, which I really liked playing in junior high school with friends
One other unplayed game I have is "Senet," a home-made wooden version of the ancient Egyptian game that I assembled when I was on an ancient boardgame kick.

So there are 38 items on my list, almost as many as Chris's.  It's interesting to realize how much of my unplayed collection was acquired on impulse or in pursuit of a temporary fascination with a particular genre or interest.  Some of these might actually get to the table now that I've been reminded of them; others could show up in the WBC math trade if I get my act together.


  1. First, I cannot believe you still have Top Secret. I really liked it until I realized there isn't that much you can do with it. Kinda like Boot Hill.

    Second, I forgot about The Stock Market game and Masterpiece! I totally want to get them now!

    1. Brenden, the funny thing is that last year I actually tried to find Boot Hill when the boys said they wanted to play a Western RPG, but I must have unloaded it at a bring-and-buy. That's when I bought Aces and Eights.

  2. I can identify wholeheartedly with this post. We tend to be a last-in-first-out family with respect to games, so the oldies acqire a thick coat of dust. Time to dust, I'd say!

    1. Steve, yes indeed, there's nothing like going through deep storage to rediscover old treasures and find new inspiration.

  3. I appreciate you joining me in my unplayed shame! But just to be totally honest, if I was being as comprehensive as you are in lising every unplayed game, they would total something like 77, and that's not even including RPG's (which I don't necessarily track on BGG/RPGG).

    A lot of your games are obviously "wargames", so I don't know much about them. However, High Frontier is something that I've been very interested in before, but was at least honest enough with myself to admit that it would never get played, so I managed to resist buying it.

    1. Chris, thank you again for your inspiration. Confession is good for the soul. :-)

      High Frontier is kind of an odd duck in my mind. The few people I've heard mention it on podcasts have spoken highly of it, though they haven't made me feel any less intimidated by it. I have one friend who is deeply entrenched on the "realism" side of the "realism/playability" spectrum, so maybe he's the guy I should try it out on. But there are so many other games I'd rather play first, I can't say that it's likely to happen any time soon.

  4. I, too, bought 221B Baker Street on impulse when it was $1 at Half Price Books. (It was when I was watching the new BBC Sherlock series.) It has been sitting for around a year now...

    I'll have to make my own list and join in the shaming.

    1. Yes, join us. You'll find it cathartic, in a way. If necessary, we can form an Unplayed Games Support Group.

  5. During my euphoric years of discovering the hobby here in Germany, I collected way too many games at clearance sales and flea markets. There was a feeling of urgently needed to catch up. Now, however, I'm trying to get through all those unplayed games and start reducing the collection so that it's not so overwhelming for me (and, especially, the wife, kids and any guests!)

    I've been keeping track on my blog as well:


  6. Didn't know you have Spearhead rules. I have some WWII micro-armor and infantry support (painted), but no ruleset. Do you have figures?

  7. I seem to remember getting some U.S. microarmor and painting some of it, but other than a tank destroyer company, I have no memory of what kind of order of battle I could field.

    1. I have a disorganized set of 77 infantry stands (to include LMGs, MMGs, mortars, rockets), 51 armor (including SPA, TD, etc), and 20 infantry vehicles. So, 9-15 commands? Depending on the scale used, it could be 9-15 companies, up to 9-15 brigades? I will build a spreadsheet to organize them.

    2. FWIW (I have Dave C's old set) just > 1/2 of mine are British, just < 1/2 Germans. If we get into this, I'll get more Germans and start on Yanks. No plans at this time to make the leap to USSR.

  8. It would be fun to get back into microarmor.