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Books About Games

Last updated June 27, 1995.

All games are in English unless otherwise noted. If you have the details for additional books please drop me a line. The emphasis here is on books that are still in print and readily available.

Some books listings feature a link to buy on Your support, as always, is appreciated.

cover Peter Arnold (1989) The Book of Card Games
Reed International Books Limited
ISBN 1-85152-684-6
45 cardgames for 2, 3 or 4 players, rules, comments, tactics, and two decks of cards are even included.
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R.C. Bell (1979) Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations (Revised Edition)
Dover Publications, Inc., New York, NY
ISBN 0-486-23855-5
"Mr. Bell's encyclopedic work provides the rules and methods of play for 182 different games." This is a single volume republication of R.C. Bells original two volumes published in 1960 and 1969 by Oxford University Press.
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R.C. Bell (1983) The Board Game Book
ISBN 0-671-06030-9
Beautifully illustrated, coffee table sized book of board games. Most of the games are taken from Bell's earlier book but full color, page size examples of all the boards are given, as well. The Klutz Press book does a much better job of providing boards that you can actually use to play the games but this book covers many more obscure board games.

cover Robbie (R.C.) Bell and Michael Cornelius (1988) Board Games Round the World
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
ISBN 0-521-35924-4
Fairly scattered math teacher's guide to using abstract games in the classroom. Most of the games are taken from the other R.C. Bell books but there are a few more gems, besides.
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Robbie (R.C.) Bell (1999) Discovering Dice and Dominoes
Shire Publications
ISBN 0-852-63532 X
Bell treatise on bones and bone derivatives.

Alastair Brotchie (1991) Surrealist Games
Redstone Press, London
ISBN 0-87773-875-0
A survey of games invented and played by artists involved in the surrealist and Dada movements. Does anyone know of a similar book of Fluxus games?

cover John Cassidy (1991) The Book of Classic Board Games
Klutz Press, Palo Alto, Ca, USA
ISBN 0-932592-94-5
Collection of 15 classic board games complete with very attractive boards and playing stones all in a sturdy spiral bound book. Sid Sackson served as games consultant and Wayne Schmittberger as primary reader on this work.
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Stewart Culin (1895) Korean Games : With Notes on the Corresponding Games of China and Japan
Dover Books, Mineola, NY, USA
ISBN 0-486-26593-5
A reproduction of a limited edition book from the late 19th century. Culin took an active interest in the anthropological study of games and published many works on the games of primitive cultures in Africa, Asia, and North America. The book suffers a bit from the rambling style of the academician, a state that is further exacerbated by the convolutions of nineteenth century grammar, but on the whole provides a rich, though somewhat obscure, treasure trove of ideas for modern game players and designers.
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cover Diagram Group (1992) Family Fun & Games
Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., New York, NY, USA
ISBN 0-8069-8776-6
A good survey of modern English games: abstract, card, word, and children's. Very nicely written rules and excellent diagrams.
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Manfred Eigen, R. Winkler (1981), Laws of the Game
Harper Colophon Books
ISBN 0 06 090971 4
Piet Notebaert writes:
The influence of classical natural laws on games. Explains how the laws of nature influence Go, Bridge, Backgammon... Very strange.

Rosemarie Geu (1995), Spiel '95
Friedhelm Merz Verlag (Pöppel Revue)
German language
ISBN 3 926108 30 4
Piet Notebaert writes:
All the information you ever needed about German games: Published annually. A must for all spielphreaks!

Caroline Goodfellow (1991) Collector's Guide to Games and Puzzles
Chartwell Books, Secaucus, New Jersey, USA
ISBN 1-55521-727-3
A survey of board games from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The book is dominated by beautiful, full color photographs of all of the games discussed. There is also a brief discussion of the care and storage of antique games.
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M.Jean-Marie Lhôote (1994) Histoire des Jeux de societe (History of Parlour Games)
Flammarion, 671 pages
French language
ISBN 2-08-010929-4 (795FF)
Two volume history and survey of games. Very complete and beautifully illustrated. Very expensive but reportedly worth it.

Musée d'Archéologie Méditerranée (1991-92), Jouer Dans L'Antiquité
Louvre, Paris
French language
ISBN 2 7118 2499 3
Piet Notebaert writes:
How and with what did the Ancient Greek and Romans play? Very good illustrations.

Merilyn Simonds Mohr (1993) The Games Treasury
Chapters Publishing, Ltd., Shelburne, Vermont 05482, USA
ISBN 1-881527-24-7 (US$29.95 hbk) 1-881527-23-8 (US$19.95 pbk)
Another excellent survey of modern games. A nice selection of board, card, word, and lawn games are covered. The writing style is enjoyable to read (not the least bit Avalon-Hillesque). There is also an excellent appendix listing games manufacturers and clubs (I've sampled a few but she lists many more).
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Piet Notebaert (1994), Gids Gezelschapsspellen
Brugeoisestraat 11, 8310 Brugge, Belgium, e-mail:
Dutch language
The only Dutch language review of board games of all kinds. Piet's club, "Hof van Watervliet," (with 140 members) plays, tests and then reports on games in this guide. Every game gets 1 to 4 hearts. Published every September. Latest edition reviews 400 games. You can mail order this guide: send 300 Bef or 15 DFL or 10 US$.

David Parlett (1990) A Dictionary of Card Games
Oxford University Press, Oxford, England
ISBN 0-19-214165-1
Companion to The Oxford Guide to Card Games, this volume details the rules of play for many of the games.
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David Parlett (1990) The Oxford Guide to Card Games
Oxford University Press, Oxford, England
ISBN 0-19-214165-1
Follows the development of European card games from their much disputed arrival in Europe during the Middle Ages (apparently, card games spread across the whole of Europe in amazingly short period of time, leaving both their point of entry and their point of origin shrouded in mystery and clouded by debate) to modern times. Includes many descriptions but even more tantalizing references to games unexplained. Parlett is an accomplished game designer in his own right and, as this book shows, a formidable scholar.

David Parlett (1999) Oxford History of Board Games
Oxford University Press, Oxford, England
ISBN 0-19-212998-8
Brief history of board games up through the middle part of the last century. Parlett is an accomplished game designer in his own right and, as this book shows, a formidable scholar.
Review by Mike Siggins
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Rick Polizzi & Fred Schaefer (1991), Spin Again
Chronicle Books, San Francisco
ISBN 0 87701 830 8
Basicly a coffee table book with many nice photographs of American boardgames from the 50s and 60s. Very little commentary or description of the games involved, however.

Asterie Provenzo and Eugene F. Provenzo, Jr. (1981) Play It Again
Prentice Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ
ISBN 0-13-683359-4
A small survey of classic strategy games. The intention was to provide patterns for the construction of the games presented. All of the games fall into the abstract strategy category and have simple geometric patterns for boards (squares or hexagons arranged in a set pattern of rows and columns) so the patterns supplied seem a bit over the top. If you've got one of the other survey books (such as the Game Treasury) then give this one a miss.

cover Sid Sackson (1992) Card Games Around the World (3rd Edition)
Dover Publications, Inc., New York
ISBN 0-486-27347-4
Great collection of card games from one of America's biggest game collectors and designers.
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Sid Sackson (1992) A Gamut of Games (3rd Edition)
Dover Publications, Inc., New York
ISBN 0-486-27347-4
Great collection of games from one of America's best strategy game designers. The book features complete instructions for the play of several games invented by Sackson and the clever people from his gaming group.
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R. Wayne Schmittberger (1992) New Rules for Classic Games
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY
ISBN 0-471-53621-0
An interesting collection of rule variants for many common American boardgames.

Horst Speichert, B. Gottwald (1992), Die Ausgezeichneten Spiele
Rowolt Taschenbuch Verlag, German language
ISBN 3 49 18927 5
A very good summary of all the great German games that have been nominated for "Spiel des Jahres" between 1979, when the prize was first awarded, till 1991, when the book was written.

J. D. Williams (1954) The Compleat Strategyst
McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., New York, NY
Early treatise on game theory that is very accessible to the layman.

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell