• Where did everything go?

    After a long delay the Game Pile is updating to a new version of the site. It may be a bit before I get everything converted to the new format. In the meantime, if you are looking for the old site you can find it here. Thanks for bearing with us!

    I will be moving comments over as well though that may take a bit longer. If you have commented in the past you will now have an account on the site, but you will have to do a “password reset” before you can comment again. Sorry about that, but I don’t want to take responsibility for assigning passwords to a few hundred people. :)

  • Go – The Legendary Oriental Game of Skill

    Go

    The Legendary Oriental Game of skill

    3M Company – 1973 – 2 Players

    Go is a game which originated in China over 4000 years ago. (The oldest known reference is from 2356 BC.) The game is played on a grid and the playing pieces (or “stones”) are placed on the intersections of the grid lines. Players alternate placing stones on the intersections. The object of the game is to surround the most territory with stones of your color.

    Stones can also be captured. When one player completely surrounds the stones of another player, the second player’s stones are captured. When stones will be captured on the next turn the player warns their opponent by saying “atari” which means (roughly) the same thing as “check” in Chess. (The name of the video game company Atari comes from the use of the word in Go.)

    Go is an amazingly deep game. It looks simple; the rules are much simpler than those of chess for example. Don’t be fooled. Any game which has lasted for more than 4000 years is not something that can be mastered overnight. A very complex game that can take years to learn how to play well.

  • Foil – A Challenging Game of Words and Wits

    Foil

    A Challenging Game of Words and Wits

    3M Company – 1967 – 2-4 Players

    Foil is a word game. Players are dealt cards, each of which has a letter on it. Without showing their cards to the other players each player attempts to form their cards into as many words as possible. Each player, in turn, draws additional cards and discards cards until one player is able to form all of the cards in their hand into words. The players then scramble the cards they were able to use and place them in their racks. The players then have five minutes to determine what words the other players have formed. The players score points for forming words, for determining what the other player’s words are and for forming additional words from the other player’s cards that the other players missed. After three rounds the player with the highest score is the winner.

    This is another game which sounds easy until you try to do it with the timer running. During the first part of the round when cards are being drawn it is easy to get too focused on trying to form one particular word and miss several others. It is amazing how many words that other players will come up with that you missed. An interesting word game.

    (There is also a gamette version of this game.)

  • Feudal – The Game of Siege and Conquest

    Feudal

    The Game of Siege and conquest

    3M Company – 1967 – 2-6 Players

    Feudal is a variant on chess. Like chess, the players maneuver pieces in an attempt to capture their opponent’s. Feudal replaces the pieces from chess with the King, Prince, Duke, Knights, Sergeants, Pikemen, Squires and Archers. Also as in Chess, each piece has a particular manner in which it is allowed to move.

    Unlike chess however, the board for Feudal contains terrain. There are forests and mountains on the board which affect the movement of pieces. The Archer is able to attack from a distance and can “slay” a piece from far away.

    Setup is random. A divider is placed across the center of the board to prevent the players from seeing what each other are doing and pieces can be set up anywhere on a player’s side of the board.

    There is also a castle, which is a specific piece. To win the game a player must either capture their opponents castle or slay all of their royalty (The King, Prince and Duke).

    Feudal is an attempt to create a version of chess which plays more like a war game. It falls somewhere into the middle ground which I think would cause it to lose most of its audience. The game is still too abstract to attract many avid war gamers and the variations are unlikely to appeal to hardcore chess players. Still the game can be fun, the pieces are very nice and there are provisions for up to six players. A fun game for a change of pace.

  • Facts in Five – The Game of Knowledge

    Facts in Five

    The Game of Knowledge

    3M Company – 1967 – 1-5 Players

    Facts in Five is a trivia game. Five cards are drawn. Each card contains a “class” (such as “Living Celebrated Persons” or “Product Trade names”) and a list of “categories” (for the examples above some categories are American, Foreign, Male or Female and Soap, Candy, Wine or Beer). A category is selected for each class and the players note the five classes/categories on their score pads. Then, five letter tiles are drawn and the players note the letters on their pads as well.

    A sand timer is then turned over and the players have five minutes to come up with a list of twenty five names or items. For each class/category that was selected they must come up with an example which starts with each of the letters which was chosen. After five minutes are up the score pads are checked and the player receives one point for each valid answer. Another five classes and letters are chosen and another round begins. After a pre-determined number of rounds the player with the highest total is the winner.

    This is an interesting variant of a trivia game. It sounds easy but it can be surprisingly difficult to come up with answers, especially when the timer is running. What is even more fun is when the answers are reviewed; some people will come up with the most bizarre answers (which they will then try to defend). This is a good party game.

  • Executive Decision – The Business Management Game

    Executive Decision

    The Business Management Game

    3M Company – 1971 – 2-6 Players

    Executive Decision is another of the 3M company’s business simulation games. In it, the players represent the heads of large corporations. On each turn, the players make bids for quantities of “raw materials” (Standard, Fine and Extra Fine) and determine how many units of each “product” (A, B and C) they intend to produce. The price they pay for raw materials and the amount they receive for their products fluctuates according to rules of supply and demand. After a predetermined number of turns the game ends and the player who has made the most profit wins.

    As a business simulation the game is quite abstract and simplified. Different products require different combinations of raw materials but the number of types of raw materials and possible products are limited. The only factor which affects price is supply and demand and the only influences there are the players themselves. No outside influences or competition exist. By leaving out the question of customer acceptance (for example) the game model is simplified but as any business knows it is possible to produce a product that no one wants to buy even with no competition. The game is a fairly interesting economic simulation as it is but the simplifications made make it less realistic than it would like you to believe.

  • Events – The What, Where, and When Game

    Events

    The What, Where, and When Game

    3M Company – 1974 – 4-8 Players

    Events is a historical trivia game. One player is the “historian” and selects a specific event from history. The event can be something the historian knows about or it can be one of the 300 events in the included booklet (which range from the crowning of David as king of Israel in around 1000 BC to the withdrawal of US troops from Viet Nam in 1972 (remember, the game was published in 1974)). The historian then gives the other players “clues” about the event, starting with the general category of the Event (such as “Natural” or “Political”) and the general location of the event on the map using the “locale indicator”. (The game uses a world map as the game board.) The round then proceeds through 9 additional clues which alternate between allowing one player to ask one yes/no question and the historian giving out additional information such as the date, sub-category, specific location and the final “Telltale clue”.

    After each clue the players record their guess as to what the event is. The fewer clues it takes a player to guess an event the more points they score. After the historian has given all 10 clues the exact event is revealed and the next player becomes historian.

    As much as I like the 3M games this is one of their weakest offerings. Once the game is described you don’t even need the game in order to play. The only special components the game has is the locale indicator (which is simply a square of plastic) and the score pad showing the points received for guessing the event after each clue. The bookshelf box is even cheaper and flimsier than the other 3M games. Shortly after this game came out 3M sold their game line to Avalon Hill so maybe they rushed this one out. It has slight interest as a trivia game but nothing that other games have not done much better.

  • Contigo – The Strategic Game of Programmed Moves

    Contigo

    The Strategic Game of Programmed Moves

    3M Company – 1974 – 2 or 4 Players

    Contigo is an alignment game for two players or a capture game for four players. The object of the two player game is for a player to get four pawns in a row (horizontally, vertically or diagonally) without any opposing pawns between them. The object of the capture game is to capture the key pawn of your opponents by landing on it with one of your own pawns.

    Pawns can move vertically or horizontally but not diagonally. What makes the game tricky is that the pawns are limited in the moves they can make. Around the edge of the board are a series of pits that contain pebbles. A pawn must move a number of spaces equal to the number of pebbles in the pit it is moving towards.

    A player moves the pebbles in the pits after they move a pawn. The player picks up one or more pebbles from a pit then drops them in one or more pits. The maximum distance a pebble can be moved is limited by the number of pebbles picked up. (If three pebbles are picked up then the pebbles can be moved up to three pits.)

    This is an interesting strategy game that combines both peg puzzles and mancala-style pit and pebble games into a single game. It is harder than it looks as players are really playing two games at once; trying to maneuver both their pawns and arrange pebbles. What happens is that a player starts concentrating too much on one half of the game and fails on the other half.

    The only downside to this game is that the components leave a bit to be desired. The pawns and pebbles are nice (though some of the pebbles in my set are fused together into a large mass) but the game board is quite flimsy and doesn’t look like it would hold up long under serious play. A stiffer board like that used for the earlier 3M games would be nice. Still, this is an interesting variant on several other games.

  • Chess – The Classic Game

    Chess

    The Classic Game

    3M Company – 1970 – 2 Players

    Chess is believed to have originated in India in around the year 600. From there it spread to Persia and onward to Europe. It is considered by many to be the origin of the modern war game.

    Chess is played on an 8 x 8 grid of alternating squares. Each player starts with 16 pieces of differing types. There are eight Pawns, two each of Rooks, Knights and Bishops, and a King and Queen.

    Each piece has a particular way in which it may move. For example, Rooks may move any distance but only horizontally or vertically (not diagonally) and Knights move in an “L” shaped pattern (two spaces horizontally or vertically then one space at right angles to the original move. A player “captures” an opponent’s piece by moving one of their own pieces onto the same square. The captured piece is removed from the board.

    The object of the game is “Checkmate” which is achieved by being in a position to capture the opponent’s King. (The King, ironically, is the weakest piece in the game; it can move in any direction but only one space.) Whenever a player has moved a piece into a position where the opponent’s King may be captured, they announce this by saying “Check”. Their opponent must attempt to move the King out of check (or block or capture the piece causing check). If the player is unable to make a move which will prevent the King from being in check then the player calls “Checkmate” and the game is over.


    Chess is a pure strategy game. There is no luck involved, only the skill of the players. It has always been considered by many as a sign of intelligence and has long been a favorite of people researching Artificial Intelligence. Literally thousands of books have been written about the game and it (along with Go) is most certainly one of the most popular games in the world.

    The 3M version is actually quite nice. The board is wooden and the pieces are wooden looking (they say “simulated wood” which I assume means “plastic” but they are well done), look nice (what is known as the “Staunton” design) and are nicely weighted with felt bases. Chess is an obvious member of the 3M Bookshelf Classics line.

  • Challenge Golf At Pebble Beach – Par 72; 6,815 Yards

    Challenge Golf at Pebble Beach

    Par 72; 6,815 Yards

    3M Company – 1972 – 1-4 Players

    Challenge Golf is another board game representation of the game of golf. This one is set on a replica of the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course in California.

    Play is quite simple. The course holes are printed on plastic coated boards and the location of the ball is noted by making a mark on the board with a special pencil. The player announces which club they are using and how far they want to hit the ball. (A chart gives the possible ranges for each club.) The player then takes the “Distance Finder”, a T-shaped piece of transparent plastic and place it on the board in the direction they wish the ball to travel with the ball location at the point corresponding to the distance they chose.

    The player then rolls dice and consults the chart for the chosen club to see if they hit the ball short or long and adjust the Distance Finder accordingly. They then make a second roll to see if the ball went straight or drifted to the left or right. Finally, the effect of wind is factored in and the ball location noted on the board.

    When the ball is on the green, a putting chart is consulted to determine the number of strokes necessary to complete the hole. Play continues through all 18 holes. There are several possible types of play, including both Match and Stroke play and Sides, Singles, Twosomes, Threesomes, Foursomes, Three-Ball and Best-Ball. The actual winning conditions vary slightly based on the type of game chosen but in general the lowest score wins (as in real golf).

    There are a wide variety of special rules dealing with trees, sand traps, water hazards, hitting from the rough and so on.

    One interesting aspect of the game is that the players select a specific golfer that they are playing. “Old Smoothy” ignores extreme die rolls, “Ironsides” is more accurate with irons, “Boomer” gets more distance with woods and “The Blade” is better at putting.

    Challenge Golf has a split personality. It is a sports game but is packaged like part of the Bookshelf games. It uses a very similar system to that used in Thinking Man’s Golf with the main difference being the way in which shot distance is determined. Players familiar with Thinking Man’s Golf should have no problem with this game. The different golfers which can be played actually improve the system by creating some differentiation between the players and by adding an additional challenge in that the players must consider how to use each golfer’s special ability to their advantage. Another very good game in the 3M line.

    As an interesting note, Pebble Beach was the site of the 1972 US Open Golf Tournament (the same year this game was released) and the four golfers from the game match the characteristics of the top players from that tournament.