Growing up, winter break meant candy and soda-fueled all-nighters at my cousins’ house in Marin playing Nintendo, reading comics, and covering every available surface with gameboards, cards, and plastic tokens. Today I have boardgame boxes occupying major real estate in three different closets, and I’ve spent significant time of late burning the midnight oil over lengthy Descent and Talisman sessions. But you never forget your first… Or your fifth, for that matter. Mom cleans out closets like nobody’s business, and if it seemed old, underused, or even slightly neglected, out it went.
Before I set up another fleet of Rebel starships in an Armada showdown, I feel the need to reflect upon five games that I haven’t owned or even seen in decades… but that still tug at my heart.
Kings & Things ca. 1987
I was a Games Workshop junkie in middle school. I bought White Dwarf regularly, cut-and-pasting together my own Warhammer cards from its glossy pages, and maintaining a tackle box full of (poorly) painted lead miniatures. I wanted to play every new boardgame that hit the shelves of Gamemasters on Clement St., but after blowing most of my saved allowance on comics and baseball cards, I was too often relegated to the back-of-the-store sale section. This turned over some turds like Judge Dredd and Blood Royale (which may have been fun, in retrospect, but far too complex for a teenager). Then came the day when this little gem fell into my lap.
Kings & Things declared itself a “Fantasy Boardgame with Everything,” and it wasn’t kidding. This box was FULL of cards, pieces, board tiles, and those tiny square pain-in-the-ass cardstock tokens that GW used to love. But the greatest thing about the game, for me, was discovering the ever-changing playing surface generated from random hexagonal tiles. I don’t know if this was the first time this mechanic was employed, but it was certainly my first experience. And I loved it.
Current fate: Unknown, presumably disposed of during one of the off-to-college purges.
Play it again: There are a few sellers on eBay, including this bloke in Delaware who has a near-mint copy for fifty bucks.
Similar current game: Although Kings & Things was reprinted by a European publisher, that version is also out of print. Luckily there are many fine modern games that employ the random tile-generated board. My favorite? Carcassone. Continue reading Board Games I Have Loved and Lost