Posted by Rick, gamura regulis legisperitum.
There is nothing as limitless as a young child’s imagination. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I started my gaming hobby in the early 1980s, and sometimes the rules weren’t always as clear to a 10-year-old as they are to an adult. But as long as everyone is playing by the same rules, all is good.
Sometimes after playing a game over and over again, it loses some of its charm and starts to become a little stale. Game publishers’ answer to this today is the ever popular expansion kit. Back in the day, most games didn’t have expansions, although some had additional figures or toys you could add on. What we would typically do back then was change or add to the rules of the game.
As a kid, to inject some freshness back into the games we had played literally hundreds of times, I remember creating my own mega game. A few friends of mine and I sat down in my unfinished basement and pulled together all sorts of different games and toys and made our own epic adventure game. I don’t remember that we had a name for it, or even what the actual goal was, but we would play it fairly regularly. The main components were taken from Crossbows & Catapults, He-man toys, Godzilla, and a few others, and were mashed into one massive battle game. Not only did we have complete control over the game play, but we had a sense of ownership of the combatants; they were ours to command, control, and destroy at our will.
Each team was based at one end of the basement. The main troops were the Viking and Barbarian miniatures that came with the Crossbows & Catapults set, the king and wizard being marked with their appropriate caroms. The Vikings had Castle Grayskull as their base of operations. The Barbarians had a cliffside dwelling from a dinosaur/caveman set as their home. Around the battlefield were scattered red, white, and blue poker chips representing power tokens of differing values.
My friends and I made up a list of spells that each team’s wizard could cast. They would have various effects such as teleporting troops, blasting enemies, summoning demons (He-man action figures), raising the dead, or other such effects. The spells had varying cost in power tokens, depending on how powerful it was. Wizards were obviously very important in this game and protecting them from harm was essential.
While the victory conditions varied, most of the game consisted of Vikings and Barbarians roaming the battlefield collecting power tokens to fuel their wizard’s spells. Caroms could be fired from catapults to try and destroy enemy troops or defenses. The miniatures could move three or four inches a turn and could combat each other by rolling a six-sided die with the high number winning. The king enjoyed a bonus to his die roll. Demons were fiercer in combat and could roll an eight- or ten-sided die.
Warfare was not limited to mortal men and demons from another plane of existence: Each team also had their own god to pray to for guidance and enemy-smiting. The Vikings had the Shogun Warrior, Mazinga, as their deity. When activated, he fired three shots from his hand, picking off enemy troops with expert precision. The Barbarians worshiped Godzilla as their god and champion. He only had one shot, but could do far greater damage with his mighty fist. In my opinion, the Barbarians had the advantage when it came to their god.
Though war games were nothing new at that point in time (though I had never played one), it sometimes amazes me how far ahead we were in terms of game scope and development. We had elements from many future games (such as Mage Knight) decades before they would be published. I’m sure our game was far from balanced and only offered as much strategy and nuance as a 10-year-old can endure, but we had a blast playing this game.
What sort of game creations or modifications have you had over the years? Please feel free to comment below.