The Games Journal | A Magazine About Boardgames

Spielus Obscurus 3

Ray Smith

August, 2001

Here are a few more gaming non-hits that definitely warrant more attention than they have been given. Although all of these are long out of print, you should have no trouble finding some of them on the cheap at various auctions. I would still gladly play any of these at any time, so for me, they have stood the test of time.

ASSASSIN - THE FINAL GAME
Southold, 1980
Min Players: 2
Max Players: 4
Complexity: 1
Length: 2 hours
A very well produced game with typical mechanics - Roll the dice, move along the outside track, buy and sell commodities. The kicker for this game is that the commodities are all illegal and the money to be made is for the sole purpose of knocking off the other players by hiring assassins! The best part of the game is that each assassin has their own photo dossier with a full description showing their proficiency with a variety of weapons. A great starter game since it's played until there is only one survivor, so those that are bumped off early can start some other game. The only detriment to the game is that if you cannot also get the separately sold pack of expansion dossiers, the assassins get repetitive.

ATLANTIS - 12500 BC
Excaliber, 1977
Min Players: 2
Max Players: 2
Complexity: 3
Length: 2 hours
A visually uninspiring release within a very simple hex-based wargame mechanism, but with an incredible theme of Atlantis versus the rest of the world. Where else can you play with tribes, god totems, space ships, and an Armageddon device?!

CARRIER STRIKE
Milton Bradley, 1977
Min Players: 2
Max Players: 4
Complexity: 2
Length: 1 hours
This, along with its sister game Chopper Strike, were produced in the grand old style of gaming we all grew up with in the States - Large and well made plastic components, dice, cards, and things to blow up, using an equal amount of luck, strategy, and fun. Players maneuver their aircraft carrier and launch their planes which drop their torpedoes to sink the enemy carrier. As was usual, destroy your opponent to win.

DEMONS
Simulations Publications Incorporated, 1979 Photo courtesy Joe Scoleri
Min Players: 1
Max Players: 4
Complexity: 3
Length: 2 hours
I've included this little gem for the main reason that it is one of the very few games that truly plays equally as well solo as it does multiplayer. Originally released as part of the SPI Game Capsules (in essence, small ziplock folio games), but also re-released in a boxed format. Players are magicians traveling to various sites to find treasure, and raise demons to fend off the mere mortals.

FIELD COMMAND
Walter Johnston, 1990
Min. Players: 2
Max Players: 2
Complexity: 2
Length: 2 hours
A cross between Stratego and scissors-rock-paper that looks and plays great, but got a major knock for its inaccuracy of troop capabilities. A three dimensional board showing levels of terrain and very nice plastic miniatures (larger and nicer than the new Battle Cry) make for a very showy game. The troop inaccuracies do not effect play at all, but when infantry defeats cavalry on the plains, and cavalry defeats infantry in the forest, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. So, just change them, of course! It is very easy to revamp the supremacy hierarchy to make the game more palatable and an extremely worthwhile play.

SITUATION 4
Parker Brothers, 1968 Photo courtesy Dennis Matheson
Min Players: 2
Max. Players: 4
Complexity: 2
Length: 1 hour
What incredible design team came up with this one?! Complete the majority of a jigsaw puzzle board as fast as possible, while concentrating on completing certain sections which will give you special units (tanks, paratroopers, etc.) to use against your opponent. A competitive, strategic, and simultaneous puzzle with top notch components. Awesome. There is also an identical sister game with a space theme called Situation 7. (What the 4 or the 7 have to do with anything, is beyond me.)

- Ray Smith

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