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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Most highly-rated out-of-print games

I was listening to The Geek All-stars Episode 87, in which Dan Patriss and his band of merry geeks list their Top 11 Stefan Feld designs, and someone mentioned in passing that a few of these well-regarded games are relatively unknown by game hobby newcomers because they have been out of print for some time.  That got me to thinking about how many excellent games are difficult or impossible to obtain because no publisher is printing them.  Hence the inspiration for today's post - a survey of the most highly-rated out-of-print games on boardgamegeek.com.

This list wasn't as easy to compile as the reader might think.  Publishers' websites sometimes describe a game as "unavailable" even while retailers have dozens or more in stock.  I decided that if a game is just as available to the consumer from a major retailer as any other game, then it didn't make sense to call it "out of print."  I guess the category might more properly be called, "largely unavailable through normal retail channels."  And even that's an imprecise definition, but it serves to help me focus on the games that may be difficult for newer gamers to obtain.

So before I get to the "largely unavailable" list, here's a sample of games whose publishers called "unavailable" but which major on-line retailers still have in stock:

So now, here are the five most highly-rated games (by boardgame rank #) on boardgamegeek that are truly out of print and not (according to my quick assessment) widely available among major online retailers:

(c) Rio Grande Games
Used by permission
#21.  El Grande (designers Wolfgang Kramer and Robert Ulrich, artist Doris Matthäus, publisher Rio Grande):  There are recent Portuguese and Spanish editions in print, but the English 1996 edition is no longer carried by Rio Grande.

#31.  Tigris and Euphrates (designer Reiner Knizia, artist Stephen Graham Walsh, publisher Mayfair) originally came out in 1997.  The latest English language edition was in 2008.

#40.  Paths of Glory (designer Ted Raicer, artists Roger B. MacGowan and Mark Simonitch, publisher GMT) last had an English printing in 2010.

(c) GMT Games
Used by permission
#41.  Command and Colors: Ancients (designer Richard Borg, artist Rodger B. MacGowan, publisher GMT) fifth printing came out as recently as 2012, but GMT shows it out of stock and has started P500 pre-orders for the next one.

#48.  Troyes (designers Sébastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges, and Alain Orban; artist Alexandre Roche; publisher Z-man) fourth edition (English) also came out in 2012, but Z-man shows it out of stock, and Cool Stuff has only a few copies left.

If there's any good news to glean from this list, it's the fact that all of the Top 20 and most of the Top 50 games on boardgamegeek are generally available, so there's plenty of alternatives to the five excellent games identified here.


  1. El Grande Big Box is coming in the autumn (2015), Tigris has just been rereleased via the FFG Euro classics line (Samurai to follow)

  2. That's really good news, on both counts. Thanks for the update!