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Next: THE 1995 BRITISH TOY Up: No Title Previous: PEG POKER



The 90s have provided many edifying moments, not least of which is the re-release of The Beatles ``Baby, It's You'' which should put those young whippersnappers Take That to flight. For those who ask ``What are Beatles?'', I will move swiftly to the general point of this article, and the reason the 90s were mentioned in the first place. My conviction is that boardgaming is enjoying halcyon days, and an overview of games released during the past five years or so seemed fitting. Given that this issue of Sumo will be publshed in late Spring, the original intention of ignoring titles released at Essen in 1994 has been abandoned. As Spiel '95 approaches, I deemed it proper to embrace the class of '94.

The criteria for inclusion is: (a) games I have played or (b) those I know enough about to provide an evaluation. The breakdown for each game is: summary of play mechanics, an overall rating (0-6) reflecting general opinion -- reviews, etc -- upon release and an assessment as to longevity. In other words, will it be around at the turn of the century? A `*' indicates potential classics. Mainstream wargames were ignored. In order to guarantee my employment with Sumo for at least one more edition, your esteemed editor may cut this piece in half. (SWD: A threat which leaves me with no alternative other than to print it in full!)

ADEL VERPFLICHTET (FX Schmid/Avalon Hill). This neat auction game split the camp equally between those who loved or loathed it. In fact, it became quite trendy to disparage its workings as trivial. Trivial it isn't. 5. I suspect it will still get the odd airing somewhere.

AIRLINES (Abacus Spiele). Alan Moon's homage to Sid Sackson. Excellent business/route building game, which many rate his best work. 5. Business games appear in terminal decline, and Airlines will (unjustly) suffer accordingly.

ASSASSIN (Avalon Hill). In its original guise (Eurohit), it was a club favourite. However, something went wrong in the handover to AH, and this chase around Europe fell foul of the intelligentsia. 1. The ``tweak'' in a recent General helps the play action enormously, although it may see little action outside of Basildon.

AUF HELLER AND PFENNIG (Hans Im Glück). Reiner Knizia's mathematical puzzle dressed up as a commodity selling game. 3. It has its supporters, but they remain anonymous.

AUSGEMBREMST * (ASS). Brilliant F1 racing game based on Ave Caeser's card movement modus operandi. 6. Guaranteed ``Hall Of Fame''. It will be around longer than I am.

AVALON (Fun Connection). Simple card game (plus superfluous board) featuring knights and jousting. 3. Already history.

ALI BABA (Abacus). Ian Livingstone's re-working of Calamity, utilising the original grid system. 3. Finito.

APBA BASKETBALL (APBA). A disastrous statistical game from the company who can usually do no wrong. 0. And the Cleveland Indians will win the World Series (what World Series?).

APBA HOCKEY (APBA). In contrast to their hopeless basketball game, this easy-to-play simulation is first-rate. 5. A stayer.

AUTOMANIA (Livingstone Games). Much maligned motor trading game. As I've told you all before, remove a couple of the silly cards, and the action is transformed. 2. Sadly, I don't think so.

BACKPACKS AND BLISTERS (Ragnar Brothers). Railway Rivals with boots on. I didn't like it, others did. Shall we say a 4? I have a feeling that this will endure.

BANANA REPUBLIC (Doris & Frank). Beautifully illustrated (as you would expect) card game of South American government mayhem. A decent memory is required. 5. This has gone the way of the peseta.

BLACKBEARD (Avalon Hill). Richard Berg's multi-player piracy game which stutters with more than 3 players. 4. This does not appear to be a convention favourite, which was its only hope.

BOOMTOWN (Livingstone Games). Dirty deeds in ``Brookside''. Positive or negative businesses affect the standard of living in Livvo's excellent ``closer''. As good an hour's worth as there is. 4. Well, we still play it, so there's hope.

CANDIDATE (Avalon Hill). Apart from the cop-out end game, a solid effort based on the US elections. 4. Will go the way of Bill Clinton.

DAYS OF DECISION * (Australian Design Group). I was enamoured by version one, but, as is his wont, Harry Rowland is now on the second edition of this origins of WW II. 5. A brilliantly conceived idea which few have any knowledge of. The positive whispers will ensure its survival.

DIXIE (Columbia Games). The ``block game'' specalists entry in the card collecting games market. At least it's a proper game (American civil war). 5. Beautiful graphics, but will the battles run out?

DRUNTER AND DRUBER (Hans Im Glück). Tile laying in old Bavaria. We all liked it, but didn't play it that much. 5. A possible ``sleeper''.

ELFENGOLD (White Wind). Alan Moon's entry into DIY publishing never really caught on, despite the attractive package and theme (gold mining). 4. The seam's run dry.

ELFENROADS * (White Wind). Classic race game. Superlative graphics and components, terrific bidding system, unlimited options. 6. A design His Royal Moonness can be justifiably proud of.

EN GARDE * (Abacus). A Knizia special, which works both as a simulation (fencing) and game (card-based). Some early confusion with the rules did not hinder its progress. 6. I will be playing it on ``Millenium Night''.

EXTRABLATT (Moskito). The design deemed ``too good'' by Don Greenwood. A demanding but surprisingly accomodating game based on newspaper layout. 5. Too cerebral for most.

FALSCHE FUFFZIGER (Friese). A novel game of counterfeit money which must be `printed' and then exchanged for the real thing. 5. Not likely, but it's early days.

FAST FOOD FRANCHISE (TimJim). Monopoly-styled trading game which ``escaped'' without much fanfare. 4. It didn't last a year.

FISHY (White Wind). The least successful of the White Wind set. It seemed to confirm the maxim ``avoid games with fish''. 3. It peaked twenty minutes after release.

FIVE ALIVE (Waddingtons). The Magic fans like it for the counting contraption included, but it's a solid card game from Eamon ``He Who Knows'' Bloomfield. 4. Should see out the decade.

DER FLIEGENDE HOLLANDER (Ban Dai/Parker). Shenanigans on the high seas. Faded swiftly despite a bright start and subsequent re-release from Parker. Too difficult for the family, though. 5. A fading memory.

FORMULE DE * (Ludodelire). Exceptional F1 race game, with the pace dictated by a 20-sided die. Ludodelire intend to publish all grand prix tracks. 6. The Formula 1 of the 90s.

FOOTMANIA (Ludodelire). A combination of Soccer Boss and the Striker Board Game. Lengthy, but good interaction and tons of play options. 5. A likely survivor.

FREIGHT TRAIN (White Wind). Alan Moon's novel card game dressed up in 6-8-6 formation. Pricey, but worth it. 4. Tough competition in the railway stakes should preclude a lengthy run.

GUERILLA * (Avalon Hill). How do they come up with this stuff? Outstanding strategic card game à la Up Front, but far more easily assimilated. 6. A potential classic.

HACKER (Fanfor Verlag). Probably rates as the most underrated game of the decade. Crack the computer code via office politics, ingenuity and no little luck. 4. A stiff, despite designer Valentin ``Vlad'' Hermin's winning personality

HACKER (Steve Jackson Games). An Illuminati variant which provided easier access to the system. Practically ignored in the UK. 4. Adieu!

HISTORY OF THE WORLD * (Ragnar Brothers/Avalon Hill/Gibsons Games). A revelation. 3000BC to the 20th century compressed into a Risk-type format. 6. With both AH and Gibsons involved, its future is assured.

INSIDER (Piatnik). This never found favour with the hard-core gamers despite a myriad of tactical options and colourful presentation. 4. Even the people at Piatnik can't remember it!

INTRIGE (FX Schmid). Best avoided if you have limited negotiation skills. The original theme requires placement of your personnel in the most prestigious jobs in the kingdom. 3. Grab it while you can.

KARRIERE POKER (Hexagames). Work your way up the hierarchy in this straightforward trick collecting card game. 5. John ``Magic'' Garfield has assured its future under the title The Great Dalmuti.

KOALITION (Salagames). The Hartmut Witt classic card game of party politics. 6. There are those who would die for it, so if the streets are full of blood, you know it's kaput.

LONG DISTANCE DOUBLE * (Lambourne Games). A fine complement to Terry Goodchild's classic Metric Mile, with strategy galore for the solitaire gamer or multi-player crowd. 6. Still a convention favourite, so the signs are favourable.

LORDS OF CREATION (Warfrog). Very good territorial game now resplendent in a boxed version. 4. Enthusiastic management will maintain impetus for at least the next 12 months.

MAHARAJA (Avalon Hill). The Britannia Indian option. It didn't do anything for me, but neither does Sharon Stone. 4. Requires the support of AH.

MANHATTAN (Hans Im Glück). Superb game from designer Andreas Seyfarth of tile (skyscaper) placement, with subtle limitations dictated by card play. A runaway success. 6. Will survive longer than Mickey Mouse.

MAGIC (Wizards Of The Coast). Let's face it, this would have died a death without the collecting element. Still, let's don't depress those who have spent thousands on redundant cards. 5. By the year 2000, Magic will have produced a ``Thatcher -- The Early Years'' set.

MINE! (Rostherne Games). Although David Watts could have rested his laurels on Railway Rivals, the old juices still turn out the odd goodie. This business game is presentable and playable. 4. A commercial release would help.

MODERN ART * (Hans Im Glück). Certainly one of the best games ever published. Breathtaking concept -- art sales/collection which even has the corduroy brigade scrabbling around for the perfect game plan. Reiner Knizia will be stretched to top this. 6. The Citizen Kane of games.

MUSH (White Wind). Alan Moon's race game of the frozen north. Very ``gamey'', and it lacks only the ``ole Yeller'' option. 4. Like Alan's black t-shirt, it has a limited future.

THE MOB (Gibsons Games ). This game is, apparently, very popular in Germany. Straightforward acquisition/shoot 'em up game. 4. Gibson's Roger Heywood is not a mug, so it still has some shelf life.

NEW WORLD (Avalon Hill). Absorbing game depicting the discovery of the Americas. The theme is now well represented, but Derek Carver's epic is a worthy addition. 5. Mr. Carver's diligence will guarantee its presence.

OLYMPIA 2000 (Hans Im Glück). The muted response to this card game based on the early Olympics was surprising. Our sophisticated brethren require more in the brain-taxing department. 3. The only likely association with ``2000'' is the title.

DIE OSTER INSEL (Blatz). Madcap race game requiring a sense of humour and a set of scales to measure different weights of statues as they cross the finish line. 5. A little too daft.

OSTINDINSKA KOMPANIET (G&RRR). Good but lengthy trading game based on the glory days of merchant mariners. There is a tweak to speed matters up (simply double the movement allowed) but the tile element saw off the less than doughty. 4. I have a sneaking feeling that this will attain Homas Tour status.

OUTPOST (TimJim). Bland space race stuff that left me cold. The gloomy graphics didn't help matters, either. 4. No way, José.

PALERMO (Piatnik). Eamon Bloomfield put the mockers on this interesting tile laying/race game, suggesting that once in front, always in front. That hasn't been my experience, but my analysis skills are very limited. 2. Ciao!!

PONY EXPRESS (Abacus Spiele). This race system based on the old West, can, apparently, be broken. Which is more than can be said of the game's designer Alan Moon. 3. If it was any good, White Wind would re-publish (and don't give me any nonsense about contracts).

QUO VADIS * (Hans Im Glück). Hans Im Glück seem to have the franchise for excellence. Another Reiner Knizia classic, as players attain laurel wreath points in their rush for a position in the Senate. 6. This has drifted out of favour, but only because you are all playing Manhattan.

RAZZIA (Ravensburger). Better than average bidding game involving control of drinking establishments. 4. An early exit, despite the pedigree.

DAS REGELN WIR SCHON (Moskito). Hands up those who have been conned by this silly piece of nonsense. It's more like a Lear soliloquy than a game. 5. Please God, no!!

REPUBLIC OF ROME * (Avalon Hill). Another breathtaking card game from Avalon Hill detailing our favourite Empire. 6. The lengthy rule book somewhat clouded the reasonably straightforward mechanics. In the lap of the Gods.

RETTE SICH WER KANN (Walter Müller). The game Flusspiraten should have been. A loud voice and thick skin are imperative. 6. Surprisingly, this has taken a tumble. Too much of a good thing?

RHEINGOLD (Jumbo). A '93 Essen favourite, the theme of Knights and Sieges beautifully captured in this nicely designed package. 5. Oblivion-bound, but for no good reason.

ROAD TO THE WHITE HOUSE (Mayfair). This has elements of every US presidential election game you have ever played, and it is an effective if overlong simulation. 5. Far too time-consuming for the great unwashed.

SANTA FE (White Wind). Easy-on-the-eye railway game from the king of building games Alan Moon. Good player interaction, with plenty of opportunity for comments like ``You b******, I was going there!''. 5. Every chance of immortality.

DIE SCHLACHT DER DINOSAURIER (Schmidt Spiel). Games Workshop styled action game revolving around armies of dinosaurs. Equally as good for 2, 3 or 4 players. 5. A high price and limited personal endorsement have made it extinct.

SHERLOCK HOLMES CARD GAME (Gibsons Games). David Parlett's strategic adventure game, which requires clever card play and a sharp memory. 5. Now indelibly marked in the Gibson catalogue, and with the tourist option ensuring longevity.

SILVERTON (Two Wolf). A scaled-down 18?? with a good share system and decent track-laying mechanics. 5. Sadly, inventor Phillip Smith is no longer with us, so the inevitable spin-offs -- Goldton, CD-Romton are unlikely to materialise.

SIX NIMMT (Amigo Spiele). Overrated card game which has had them screeching in the aisles. ``Them'' should be taken out and shot. 6. The corduroy trouser brigade will determine its future.

SPORT OF KINGS * (Lambourne Games). One of the finest multi-player sports games around, and certainly a match for Win, Place & Show in the horsey stakes. 5. A certain stayer.

STAMP (Amigo Spiele). Card-collecting game resplendent with little bell to hurry-along the bidding element. 4. Too many detractors (those that like Six Nimmt?)

STAR TREK (Decipher). Collecting card game which works very well, although, unlike Magic, you do need a LOT of cards to satisfactorily prompt the system. 5. It will peak in a year's time.

SUZERAIN (TimJim). Card game based on succession to the royal throne. The clever mechanics, however, soon palled. 4. Suzerain, schmoozerain.

TAL DER KÖNIG (Franckh). Outstanding block building game aided and abetted by the player's manipulaton of his cast of surveyors and builders. 5. Too pricey. We are awaiting for the Milton Bradley version. Mr Gray?

TYRANNO EX (Moskito/Avalon Hill). Very good evolution game, but an odd choice, I would have thought, for Avalon Hill. Still, at least the masses get an opportunity to see something half decent. 5. Too esoteric for the family gamer.

TUTANCHAMUN (Amigo Spiele). Brilliant tile laying/collecting game which quickly assumed cult status. 6. It will always have potential has a favoured ``closer''.

VERNISSAGE (TM). Difficult (impossible?) to master game of manipulation featuring artists falling in and out of favour. 5. Too much analysis gave it the moniker ``exacting''.

WALDFRUST (Fanfor Verlag). Ole Vlad's forestry game, whose grid system attracted a degree of vitriol. 2. Better than you think, but not good enough. Chop it down!!

WAS STICHT * (Moskito). Suit collecting game with a matchless piece of trickery requiring players to nominate their likely acquisitions. 6. I wish I had a piece.

WE THE PEOPLE * (Avalon Hill). Exceptional and accessible war game based on the American Revolution. If they come any better than this, I have yet to play them. 6. A universal thumbs up hopefully ensures a minimum five-year tenure.

WORLD CUP TOURNAMENT FOOTBALL GAME (ADG). Terrific Aussie designed soccer game (reminiscent of Wembley) which has swiftly found a loyal following. 6. A cert!

WORLD OF MOTOR RACING (Lambourne Games). An overall system which covers F1, Indy 500 and British Touring Cars. Effective and realistic. 5. Very little from the Lambourne stable dies a swift death. This will be no exception.

WUCHERER (Friese). Tiresome card game involving the placement of residents in various styles of accomodation. The end game revolves around ``attacking'' the current leader. 4. Add-on packs show a degree of confidence.

WURMELN (Blatz). Alex Randolph's super little guessing game, involving segmented ``worms'' which wiggle their way to the ever-changing finish line. 5. This might find its way to a major player.

ZANKAPFEL (YSK). Enchanting accumulation game with gridded board representing an orchard. 5. A low-profile release did not help its cause.

Mike Clifford

SWD: OK, now it is your turn. How about sending me a list of those games from this era that you have played, together with a rating (on a scale of 1-10) for each? Mike's list is clearly not comprehensive -- nobody plays everything -- and so you can feel free to add titles that he has missed, just as you will omit those that he mentions but you never got round to. And while you are at it you can also nominate which are your ``Hall of Fame'' nominees. Eligible are any games that were either first published or relaunched in the period 1990-94. The relaunches include both Demarrage and Bluff and I am including them on the grounds that this would have been when I and most of you first met them.

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Next: THE 1995 BRITISH TOY Up: No Title Previous: PEG POKER
Stuart Dagger