When you sit down to play a game of Backgammon, do you realize you are playing a game that is over 3000 years old? Board games, in some cases, pre-date literature in cultures, and have stood the test of the ages as key learning tools, forms of entertainment and cultural advancement.
Today, board games are as diverse a form of fun and entertainment as you can find. Word games, strategy, puzzle games and the ever- present classics are among the types you can find on just about any major store’s shelves.
Not only are people still buying board games “over the counter,” but with the advent of the Internet, if you want to play board games on the computer or online, you will find good company. Collectors are also coming out of the woodwork to get their hands on vintage examples of early board games, and will pay considerable sums of money for rare examples good condition.
Board games and their online versions come in three basic forms: Dice based, educational and strategy.
Dice-based Board Games
Dice based games, such as Yahtzee, Backgammon, and a newer favorite, Bunco, all rely on using those most ancient of recognizable game tools, six-sided dice. Roll the dice, make your move or write down your score, rinse and repeat.
Using dice for basic game rules is an amazingly simple, but very effective method, and opens up too many game ideas to imagine – maybe that is why new dice based games pop up constantly. Even complex games, taking (in some cases) years to finish like Dungeons and Dragons, employ dice as their primary element.
Without the invention of the six-sided die, board games and their variations, would not have developed the way the same way in modern culture. D&D is a shining example of how dice games have converted to online and computer play. What was once a pure dice-rolling adventure game, has been turned into several highly successful computer and online based versions.
Dice based games are also seen in many hybrid board games, such as the popular games Monopoly, Candy Land and Shoots and Ladders. These games combine dice, cards, play money and in some cases, small toys to pack in the action turn after turn. They are superb entertainment, at the same time teaching math, cooperative play and even basic accounting.
Educational Board Games
The focus on these games is not only (sometimes) hilarious fun, but to challenge the mind and to encourage learning. Since its final conception in 1948, Scrabble has been an important and fabulously fun example of a game offers challenge and enjoyment for people of all ages.
Scrabble also has a large fan base of collector type players who “scramble for scrabble” on vintage boards. If you can lay your hands on a pristine example from the late 40’s or early 50’s, be prepared to shell out hundreds of dollars, perhaps more.
Trivial Pursuit’s popularity has also passed a more recent test, becoming one of the best selling games of the late 20th century. It’s focus on answering questions as the path to victory marks it as one of the great learning games.
Strategy Board Games
Strategy games, also including war games such as Risk and Stratego, teach odds calculation, mathematics, strategic thinking and cooperative play. They are considered the most challenging board games for many, and are a category where you find people who play both for fun, and as a career.
Chess and Checkers were the first two complex games that appeared on a computer, and helped to develop processing capabilities for the future. Chess may be the most played board game on the computer, and is certainly one of the most challenging to beat; however it is without question one of the most exciting games in the world.
If you are a true collector of vintage board games, Chess and Checkers are probably the easiest to find of all, and are certainly more common than early versions of games like Monopoly. Recently, a late 19th century Baseball board game was discovered in the attic of an old home, and sold for a staggering price of $27,000 – take that Chess!