Board gaming is a wonderful hobby; a quick visit to Board Game Geek confirms the sheer magnitude of the world that we belong to. 73,124 games, 14,696 publishers, 20,447 designers. These are big numbers, and they keep going up. What's my point? Well, even those of a certain age who have been involved in board gaming for a few decades will encounter this unwelcome phenomenon: the out of print game. I have only started playing "proper" board games since late last year. My eyes have been opened to this wonderful world and I have had the privilege of playing some brilliant games already. One of my favourites so far is Drakon (third edition), published by Fantasy Flight Games back in 2006. That's 8 years ago; EIGHT. In the blink of an eye, this wonderful game is out of print and with no sign of a comeback.
What do I do? There's only one thing I can do: buy a used copy from someone who, for whatever reason, has decided to sell up. Here come 2 more problems: firstly, very few people in the UK want to sell their copy of Drakon; secondly, those who do want to sell feel they are justified in charging a small fortune for a game that retailed for something in the region of £15. Drakon is not a big complex game, made up of 70-odd tiles, a small bag of coins and a few plastic miniatures. So, in my book asking for £49.99 (+ shipping) for a game only in "good" condition is, in my opinion, opportunism bordering on disgusting exploitation. I'm looking at you offwater.
Enough ranting. Drakon is a game of fantastic fun and very little complexity and one that as soon as I've finished I want to play again. Each player has a 'hand' of 4 tiles and a miniature. All the miniatures start on the start tile and each player in turn chooses whether to place a tile or move. The aim of the game is to collect coins up to the value of 10 before your opponents manage it. However, you will encounter tiles that force you to lose a coin, or set lose the Drakon, or teleport onto a space of your choice. So many options, so little time.
With a short playing time this game is perfect for a filler or intro game. If you're lucky enough to own this game, treasure it: if you're not, good luck finding a copy.
This was it...the big night...the launch of Bromsgrove Board Gamers. My stomach was fluttering. Would the room be set out properly? Would anyone turn up? Would people have fun? I needn't have worried. The room was warm and perfectly set out and 5 people had a great time.
First up was Love Letter, a card game ranked a lofty 86th position on Board Game Geek and available on Amazon for a mere £7.51 brand new. Jon Gameson got his first win of the night by beating out fierce competition from Neil Curtis in the last round. If you're very lucky, I'll show you my Minister.
Next up we played Family Business, a lovely gentle-sounding game that is anything but. Edward Kendrick brought this cut-throat game that's all about wiping out the other "families" of mobsters before they eliminate yours. Contracts, family influence, vendettas and mob wars; these are the currency of a brutal but entertaining game of tactics and good timing. The last man standing was Jon who got his second victory of the night but sadly couldn't protect 'Pretty Boy' Floyd from the firing squad.
Cue Castle Panic, a game with 2 variants: fully co-operative and semi co-op. After the bloodthirsty nature of Family Business we decided to play full co-op to help set our new friendships back on track. An hour and dozens of dead monsters later we had successfully defended 4 out of 6 of our castle's towers and were victorious.
Lastly, Draughts master Tony Boyle from Bromsgrove Abstract Games showed us a thing or two about serious board games when he brought along a new game called Retsami. We nominated Neil as our champion and, with the combined brains trust of 4 vs 1, he beat the local master.
Maybe I'll win a game next week.....