Thursday, July 12, 2018

Silk screened boards and dice

I recently got out my copy of Knockabout/Warp 6 to show our four-year-old since they are pretty sturdy games. In addition to all the playing pieces being dice, the boards are silk screened on bandannas. Doodle still isn’t up to playing them but he liked the pieces and concepts.

Warp 6 is a race game with a spiral track where there are short cuts that cut down the loops but those short cuts are only open in another pawn is at the start of it. Knockabout is basically marbles as a board game. Both use dice as pawns and the number on the die determines their movement.
And it was a trip down nostalgia lane for me to get these games back out. Not only were they early acquisitions for me, I also have good memories of playing them, particularly Knockabout.

Really, they don’t make games like this any more. And by that, I mean  physically like them. (Except that, as near as I can tell, they do still make them like this since I’m pretty sure Pair-of-Dice is still in business.) If someone told me that Pair-of-Dice operated entirely out of someone’s garage, I’d believe them. One of their games that I don’t own was an altoid tin of two different colors of nuts!

In their case, I find it charming. Their games almost have a found art feel. However, all the components do their job. The games physically work and the ones I’ve played I’ve enjoyed so I think they work mechanically as well.

And just because something is old school and has some homemade-looking elements doesn’t make it automatically charming or endearing for me. The game has to actually work above all else. I remember, with horror, a game I bought called Blazing Camels that literally looked like it was made by raiding a preschool art closet. The game was bad and the cards (literally made out of construction paper) ripped when you tried to play the game. 

No, no matter what, a game has to be physically playable, not to mention fun and interesting. The ultimate measure of a game is how good it is as a game.

It’s been over ten years since I’ve actually played either Knockabout or Warp 6. I suspect Warp 6 is the better game but I have happier memories of Knockabout since it saw a brief period of heavy play as the game to play while waiting for D&D to start.

These are games from a different era. Not only do they have a very different aesthetic than anything I’ve heard about come out in the last several years, they are abstract/near abstracts. I don’t know when but I want to revisit them.

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