Thursday, 9 October 2014

Nostalgia time: the boardgames that got me started

It seems to me that, when I was a kid, we spent quite a bit of time playing boardgames in my family and a new one usually turned up for my birthday, my brother's birthday or Christmas. Obviously this influenced how I enjoy spending my relaxation time these days...

The games I look back on most fondly, in no particular order after the first, are:

The Alley Cats Game - on balance this was probably my favourite boardgame as a kid (as opposed to stuff like Subbuteo and Pass the Pigs). Moving the pirate cat around the board - I always had to be the pirate cat as he had a sword and eyepatch - opening those plastic dustbins up with the expectation of a fish skeleton but discovering a bulldog instead. Compared to games like Monopoly, it seemed so freeform as you could move around the board wherever you wished, could control a dog to chase other cats with, and plan where to hide your dog ambush. Pretty simple compared to what i play now, but it certainly showed me the scope of boardgames.

Subbuteo - for a good period of my life between the ages of 8 and 13, if I wasn't outside kicking a ball around dreaming of winning the FA Cup, I was indoors dreaming of winning it with miniature plastic players. I still regret squashing Kenny Dalglish running around the room once, he was never the same again.

Tank Command - not much to this one, but I liked tanks and was prepared to slide that clear plastic template up and down the board for hours.

Tank Commander - I blame my dad for this one! My first wargame, albeit very abstract. Those mini tanks came in handy for all sorts of other games over the years.

Star Wars: Escape From Death Star Game - don't remember much about the game play, but the BGG entry reminded me what it looked like. I was pretty young when I got this, but some the the pieces were still kicking around many years later. Probably my first piece of film merchandise...

Zaxxon - looking back this was pretty terrible but it had some great plastic pieces (for the time), and captured the excitement of a computer game in my non-computer household!

Pass the Pigs - I used to play this at school at every given opportunity. I like pigs, I like rolling dice, so this seemed to combine my interests...


From here, I stumbled via rpgs and gamebooks into Richthofen's War, WW1 aircraft being a major interest for me as a kid, and Britannia, which started a massive new interest in the Dark Ages, and led onto miniatures gaming, and writing games of my own. So, if for whatever reason you're not a fan of the (very minor) games I've created, look back and blame Alley Cats...