My buying frenzy usually ends once my Catholic guilt kicks in and I begin to worry about how much I just spent. That $50 I just plunked down for a unit of beautifully painted lizardmen could feed a homeless person for a week you know! But damn... There just aren't many material things that fire off the excitement center in my brain like the beauty of well-painted toy soldiers or the allure of a well-designed, richly themed, and thought provoking board game. Everyone has their guilty pleasures. Games, especially those with a high toy factor and artistic flair, really hit my soft spot.
Recently, I succumbed to the Siren's Call of games as I was browsing through the voluminous pages of goodies that are sold on eBay every day. I've got roughly 80 games on my wishlist of boardgames, card games, and wargames to acquire. So there are plenty of games to hunt for. While it's true that you can buy just about anything on eBay, where it really shines is in the hard to find, lesser-known, and older games that have gone out of print or have been relegated to the backshelves in most game stores.
Of the 4 games I bought recently, only 2 of them really fall into the hard-to-find or lesser-known categories. These games included:
Monkeys On the Moon (by Eight Foot Llama) is a humorous card game involving, you guessed it, monkeys in space. How can a game with that theme NOT be fun? This is one of those games that I would buy just for the title alone!
Battleball (by Hasbro) is a game of futuristic, sci-fi football with cool looking pre-painted plastic models representing your players. It's kind of a "Blood Bowl Light" in some respects. It should go over quite well with some of the younger folks in our game group.
The other 2 games I purchased are much more well-known, but are still a few years old and thus, good targets for bargain hunters. They are:
Attack! is a World War II era wargame of world conquest by the now defunct Eagle Games. Proponents of this game often describe it as a better alternative to Risk and Axis & Allies, especially when played with the Expansion set which provides for a meatier game. So I'll definitely be looking to buy the expansion for this one. The components look pretty darn neat and sure beat the old wooden cubes that we played with when playing Risk "back in the day".
Nexus Ops is a sci-fi wargame from the new incarnation of Avalon Hill. It's a very highly rated game on BoardGame Geek, with attractive components (glow in the dark, bug-like aliens) and a modular hex board. Although "heroic fantasy" is my favorite theme for a game, I also enjoy sci-fi and this game should scratch that itch.
It should be quite obvious from these 4 purchases that theme is a critical aspect of any board game for me. That's where scores of "Euro" style board games fall short for me; they usually offer quick play and elegant mechanics, but the theme is often an afterthought or exceedingly boring.
Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of really good Euros out there which mix good design with a good theme. I'm not anti-Euro by any means. Games like Tikal, El Grande, Through the Desert, Blue Moon, Manhattan, and Modern Art are all on my wishlist because they merge cool themes with elegant game play. But when push comes to shove, I'm probably an American gamer at heart. The lure of immersing myself in a theme and the "game as storytelling" is something that I crave and which American style games and wargames typically do better than Euros.
Thanks eBay... I'll be seeing you again soon!