Games I Loved as a Child

Everyone plays Risk, but I had this nagging memory from early childhood that I had played a similar game that wasn’t quite the same. All I remembered about it were these little “I-beams” that were used as some sort of currency. Thanks to the Internet, I was able to refresh my memory.

Summit

Summit is a Cold War board game introduced in 1961 by Milton Bradley as “The Top Level Game of Global Strategy,” and it was about this era that my cousin and I used to play it. I’m surprised that even at my tender age of 10 or 11, I was able to grasp the ins and outs of this purported “adult-level” game.

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The board

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Playing pieces

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Instruction Manual Cover

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Alliance flags

A good description of the game is found at Gamepile:

Summit is an early “war game” of the Cold War era. There is no outright conflict involved, the players try to influence their opponents through economic strength and military threat.

Each player represents one of the major powers of the world (of 1961); the United States, the Soviet Union, China, Europe, South America and India. There are three basic units; “mills”, “factories” and “bases”. Mills produce “I-Beams” which are used to build more mills, factories and bases as well as providing “Economic Pressure” chips. Factories produce consumer goods which produce “Popular Support” chips and bases protect mills and factories and produce “Military Threat” chips.

What drives the game is that mills and factories in “foreign” countries produce more than those in a player’s home country. A player can build in any foreign country in which no other player has a base. If a player builds a base in a country, all mills and factories belonging to other players in that country must be removed. So, a player must build bases in the foreign country to protect their mills and factories there.

To force another player to remove a base from a foreign country a player must play one of their chips (either Economic, Social or Military). The second player must either remove the base or counter with a chip of the same type. If they counter, the first player may play a second chip. This continues until one player or the other decides to stop playing chips. A player must be careful, because spending too many chips can leave them very vulnerable in one of the three areas.

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This game is surprisingly simple yet surprisingly deep at the same time. Players can ally with each other and can use their allies chips (with their allies permission) in a challenge. The game forces the player to try to maintain a balance of economic, social and military development. A very good game and one that stands up surprisingly well even after over 40 years.

I find this actual quote from the rules book amusing…Compare some of the plays you are making with the international news of the day. Quite often it will coincide with the play of the game.

I’ve found a couple of copies of this game on eBay, but the ones I’ve seen are either incomplete or too expensive. I’ll keep my eye out, because this was one of our favorite games to play when I would visit my “country cousins.”

Now my memory is on a roll. I might as well put a few others here, some of which are no longer available.

Teeko

Teeko is an abstract strategy game invented by John Scarne.

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Each player had four wooden pieces; the game was played by placing one’s markers on the board, and then sliding them around with the object of being the first one to line up his or her pieces in a straight line, either horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. Notice the “Scarne on Teeko” volume in this photo.

Blue Chip

I really enjoyed this game – it predated Bookshelf Games “Stocks and Bonds”, and gave me a feel for how the stock market worked.

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A description from boardgamegeek.com:

Blue Chip (also published as Dow Jones) is a very simplistic stock market game with an interesting twist (sliding pegboards). There are 12 companies divided into Industrials (such as GM), Railroads (such as Union Pacific), and Utilities (such as AT&T). There are four of each type, and each type has a peg board of a different primary color.

On your turn you may take one and only one action. An action is either buying or selling stock in one company. (You don’t have to sell all when you sell.)

When you buy stock in a company, you move its individual peg up one, two or three spaces depending on how many shares you buy. Likewise when you sell: you move the stock price down one, two, or three spaces.

After each action, draw a card and see what happens. Many of the cards refer to the stock just transacted: a split, or all players holding the stock collect a dividend, or are assessed a fine, or the company goes bankrupt, etc. (Yes, it’s as fierce as the dot.coms a few years ago: five of the twelve companies will be bankrupt by the game’s end!)

Other cards are general and refer to the whole board. Sometimes you roll dice which affect all industrials or railroads or utilities. In that case, you slide the whole peg board for that particular color up or down as necessary. There are dice in three colors with sides of +2, +4, +6, -2, -4, -6 on them.

I was always so excited when my stock would split…

Tactics II (1958) – Avalon Hill

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The hobby of wargaming was born in the 1950s with the publication of the game Tactics. TACTICS II is a direct descendant of this original board wargame.

TACTICS II is sort of like military chess. Different pieces, called “units” in wargames, have different capabilities just like chess pieces. The major difference is that a player can move all his pieces each turn, and after all his pieces are moved, battles are resolved against the enemy units his pieces are next to (adjacent to).

The other major difference between wargames and chess is that wargames have a mapboard, divided into squares or hexagons for movement purposes. TACTICS II has a 22″ x 28″ mapboard portraying a fictional continent with two countries, Blue and Red. Terrain includes roads, rivers, woods, mountains, beaches, and cities. The Blue Capital can only be reached over a vast plain, bordered on the left by mountains and on the right by woods. The Red Capital is on an island and can only be reached across one of several bridges or by an amphibious invasion.

Game features include special functions for headquarters units, terrain effects, invasions, airborne assaults, weather effects, replacements, isolation, and even nuclear weapons. Units represent infantry, armor, mountain, airborne, headquarters, and amphibious troops. Over 100 counters in all.

TACTICS II was almost always part of the Avalon Hill game line, primarily because it was sold as an introductory wargame for a number of reasons. The rules introduced many basic board wargaming concepts and were relatively low in complexity. The rulebook is divided into a basic game and a tournament game (advanced game). Both are balanced and relatively quick playing. As the opposing armies are identical in size and composition, victory is gained by a combination of logic, foresight, luck, common sense, and skill in military strategy and tactics. (from boardgamegeek.com)

I’m astonished that I would play this game as a child… I don’t think I’d have the patience for it now.

Careers

I still have a copy of this game, and I love it.

Careers is a game where the players set their own victory conditions. A player may choose to pursue Fame, Happiness, Money, or a combination of all three. The limitation being that the total number of “points” earned in the 3 categories must total 60. eg. 60 Happiness, 0 Fame, 0 Money; 20 of each; or any other combination. The players endeavor to fulfill their goal by going through any number of different “occupation paths”. All paths have some prerequisite for entry, and benefits accrue from going through any of the paths more than once. The different occupations are designed to be suited to different strategies, eg. Hollywood is good for fame points, while “Going to Sea” is good for happiness. In the end it is the player (or team of players) who gets to their pre-set goal first who will be the winner, and achieve everything they ever wanted in life. (from boardgamegeek.com)

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Game board

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Score pad

The early versions of the game came with those lift-to-erase re-usable score pads, but those tended to wear out after a while as the wax backing dried out.

I loved the squares you could land on… “Breathless view of the Andes… 4 ♥ s“, or “Scandal… score 10 ★ s, but lose ALL your happiness.”

This game has been re-issued in updated editions, but as with all my favorite games, I prefer the older versions best.

Monopoly, with Stock Exchange Add-on

From Wikipedia:

The original Stock Exchange add-on was published by Capitol Novelty Co. of Rensselaer, New York in early 1936. It was marketed as an add-on for MonopolyFinance, or Easy Money games. Shortly after Capitol Novelty introduced Stock Exchange, Parker Brothers bought it from them then marketed their own, slightly redesigned, version as an add-on specifically for their “new” Monopoly game; the Parker Brothers version was available in June 1936. The Free Parking square is covered over by a new Stock Exchange space and the add-on included three Chance and three Community Chest cards directing the player to “Advance to Stock Exchange”. The Stock Exchange add-on was later redesigned and rereleased in 1992 under license by Chessex, this time including a larger number of new Chance and Community Chest cards. This version included ten new Chance cards (five “Advance to Stock Exchange” and five other related cards) and eleven new Community Chest cards (five “Advance to Stock Exchange” and six other related cards; the regular Community Chest card “From sale of stock you get $45” is removed from play when using these cards). Many of the original rules applied to this new version (in fact, one optional play choice allows for playing in the original form by only adding the “Advance to Stock Exchange” cards to each deck).

My cousin had the original Capitol Novelty version… I wonder if someone in the family still owns it, since it’s quite a rarity.

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Add-on cover

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Playing pieces

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Free Parking becomes the Stock Exchange

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Stock cards

This add-0n brought quite a bit of additional excitement to the game, and a way to generate significant cash above and beyond passing “Go.” As a result, my cousin and I would play games that would span days, breaking the bank, having to borrow money from the game of “Life”, allowing multiple hotels on properties, and generally turning the normally peaceful game of destroying your rivals into an absolute feeding frenzy  of wealth acquisition worthy of today’s Wall Street brokerage companies and scumbag banks like BoA.

There were other games we played as well, like Stratego (wooden pieces) and Blitzkrieg (again Avalon Hill), Candy Land (hated those black dots!),  Go to the Head of the Class, and Chutes and Ladders, but the ones I mentioned above were most frequently brought out and played.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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4 responses to “Games I Loved as a Child

  1. I remember Summit and Careers! I loved Careers, and I still love Monopoly, though I don’t know anybody else who does. I’ve never seen the stock market option. Looks like fun!

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