These are the games I selected in an afternoon of thrifting. Overall, I went to 11 stores, looked at hundreds of games, and these were the items that were worthwhile. Here are my quick thoughts about each game, and why I picked them up. These are generally in chronological order.
Treasure Quest ($2) – This is a Ravensburger title from 1996. At first glance it didn’t look like much, but a quick parts check showed that everything was complete and in good condition. A quick glance at the rules showed this to be a two-player game, but one where players would use spatial reasoning to determine the best moves. I played it with a friend, and the game is o.k., but nothing spectacular. This will go on the sale pile.
Shuttles ($2) – Nothing about Shuttles really jumps out and grabs me — it’s sort of a 2-player Quoridor, but one where the walls and blocks are already in place, but a player can move a piece multiple spaces in one direction before stopping at a block or another player-figure. At any rate, at $2 and in very good condition, I figured that I could turn it for $5-7 at a convention.
Liar’s Dice ($1) – This was actually an incomplete copy that is missing one of the dice cups, the red die, and seventeen of the dice, but I bought it purely to have the extra parts to complete the next part-shorted copy that I will inevitably find. Even $1 is a worthwhile price just to have some back-up dice. I could also ostensibly expand my collection-copy to eight players with the extra parts.
Slide 5 ($2) – This was an easy choice. Slide 5 is a version of one of my favorite card games, 6 Nimmt! / Category 5. Though I think that the design team did a less-than-good job on the graphics of Slide 5, including font choices that make the 6s and 9s hard to distinguish, it’s still the same game. Honestly, I don’t know what is wrong with the marketing of 6 Nimmt! in the U.S. market — Amigo has had wild success with 6 Nimmt! in Germany and other countries, and Wolfgang Kramer has had success with other games that have spun off of 6 Nimmt!, but the two big U.S. implementations, ‘Category 5’ and ‘Slide 5’ have fizzled with little success. I saw recently that Mayfair is now distributing 6 Nimmt! as 6 Nimmt! in the U.S., so maybe there is hope for it yet. 6 Nimmt! is a family favorite and comes out for a couple of hands at most family holidays. My 70-year-old mother wanted her own copy of 6 Nimmt! because she enjoyed playing it so much, and the only other game she plays with regularity is Bunco. I’m not sure what I will do with this Slide 5 deck, but I will at least hold on to it to see if someone else can enjoy the game.
Quirks ($10) – This was a substantial find. I found this at a Half-Price Books in Westport. I’d played the game once and enjoyed it a fair bit, but I also was aware that this fit into a niche of games that are expensive because people have great nostalgia for them, but that aren’t nearly popular enough to get a re-print. Quirks is a special game that is a little like the children’s activity where you draw an animal head on one section of a piece of paper, then fold it over so the next person can only see the connecting lines; that person draws a body and folds the paper over for the next person who draws the tail, and you have all made a creature that has three sections that are probably not from the same animal. Quirks works on a similar principle, and each player is building animals with different head, body, and tail sections, and are also building plants with different leaves, stalks, and roots. The key with the game is that the climate is cycling and each animal or plant does better in certain environments, so players are trying to make their creatures match with survival traits.
The Squirrel Game ($3) – I was really on the fence about picking this one up, mostly because I was rationalizing that I was only considering it because I had not already bought many games. This is a really cute and simple pick-up-and-deliver game for children from 5-10. Each player has a little cardboard squirrel that has a little plastic wheelbarrow. Players roll the die to move around the play area where they try to pick up pine cones to bring back to their home spaces. I picked this one up partly because of the cuteness of it, but also because this is a novel game that I can pass on to friends who have young children, and it actually involves decisions, unlike some other children’s gaming stalwarts (*cough* *cough* *Candyland* *cough*).
Mille Bornes ($1.50) – I don’t have much interest in this one personally, but I thought I could at least turn it for a couple of bucks. Mille Bornes gets a little play in the U.S., though it is a fairly consistent seller for Winning Moves. If it came down to the choice of playing Mille Bornes, Uno, Skip-Bo, or Rack-O, I would choose Mille Bornes every single time. Though I don’t care that much for the “take-that” aspect of the game, there is some satisfaction in having the right safety card to play as a counter when someone tries to saddle you with a roadblock, just to yell “Coup fourre!” and rake in those sweet-sweet bonus points. But, in light of other card games that I would rather play first, this was just a buy-to-sell game, and I’ll take it along to the next convention.
Sharp Shooters ($1.50) – Despite that I have bought and sold a lot of copies of Sharp Shooters over the years, I do actually enjoy the game. Sure, it’s a dice-fest that has a good amount of luck, but there is still a sliver of strategy and tactics in the game by deciding when to risk it on good payouts and when to hang out and let someone else do the dirty work for you. While I have the space, I will probably hold onto this for the short-term as something I can bring out as a light filler.
Prize Property ($3) – This is actually something I had been hoping to find for a while. I have another Milton Bradley property development game, called Square Mile, and I saw Prize Property as having some elements in common with that game while still exploring another avenue of property development. It looks like all the parts were included and in good condition, so this might hit the gaming table the next time I have four players.
Sorry Sliders x2 – ($3 , $1.50) – Sorry Sliders is always a good performer at convention flea markets, but I also think that it shows a rare moment were Hasbro went outside of its usual game structures and created a game that was something more than that traditional license they glued to it. The only real resemblance that Sorry Sliders has to Sorry is that it uses pawns that are the same shape, and that the Sorry variant of Pachisi used a “slide” mechanism if a player could hit certain spaces exactly. Sorry Sliders is a fun little collection of dexterity games that make good use of the pawns with ball-bearings. With variety games similar to shuffleboard, curling, and crokinole, it’s a worthwhile item to pick up while leaving most of the other over-smeared Hasbro licenses behind. Though I do like these, I find them with fair regularity and I will probably sell these at an upcoming convention.
Ribbit ($2) – Ribbit is a SimplyFun re-print of Reiner Knizia’s Schildkroetenrennen (Turtle Race). The game is marketed as a children’s game, but it employs some basic ideas that have been spread into other games (including the ride-along mechanism that pops up in the Game of the Year winner, Camel Up). In the game, each player is secretly assigned one of the frogs, and is trying to get that frog across the finish line. A deck that has cards for moving all of the frog colors is distributed, but each player wants to keep their frog color a secret because other players might help out in moving a frog without knowing that they are helping another player. Though the game is targeted at younger players and uses a very simple system for handling movement, the deduction element and the planning elements of the game make it accessible by adults and children. I’m debating about what to do with this one, but it will probably go to the game library of a friend’s child.
Screwball Scramble ($3) – Screwball Scramble fits right in that slot of single-player games that used a timer and a somewhat novel mechanism, but never quite rose to the plastic madness of Ideal games. I’d read about this one in the past, but I’d never come across one. I tinkered with it a little bit, but it’s sadly going to wait in the Parts Department for a little while. It seems that the game originally came with a steel ball that you took through the obstacle course, but a previous owner lost the ball and replaced it with a cat’s-eye marble. Unfortunately, glass is not magnetic, and the second obstacle on the course is a small crane that uses a magnet to move the ball from one platform to another. Additionally, the marble seems like it is a little a larger in diameter than what the original ball must have been, because it will fit through the movable labyrinth, but it will not fit within the cup of the final catapult to complete the game. I’ll keep a look out and see if I have anything that might be a suitable replacement for the original bearing.