Quick Bits: Holy Grail games

 Author ianoble    Category Board Games, Quick Bits     Tags , ,

As I get more and more involved with the board game hobby, I get a better appreciation for some of the games that laid the foundation for all of the great games that are available today. Because of this I have been starting to come across a few older titles that would really be special additions to my ever growing collection. Either because they finish a set of similar games, they are actually better than the newer version or simply because there has been nothing like it since. Here are a couple of those games that I would love to have in my collection.


One of the first “gamer games” I played was Tikal. Even though I had major Analysis Paralysis (AP), I really enjoyed the game and most of all the action point system. Many plays later, mostly online, I found out Tikal was one game in a trilogy of games by Michael Keisling and Woflgang Kramer. I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of Mexica, the third game in the trilogy, but Java turned out to be much harder to acquire. So, to this day, I have yet to find a reasonably priced copy to purchase. I did, however, get to play my buddy’s copy!

Obviously there are similarities to Tikal because of the action point system, but other than that Java really stands on it’s own as a completely different game. Each player starts out with a certain number of 3 hex, 2 hex and 1 hex tiles. They use those tiles to build towns and create pathways on the map. Once a village is built a player with the highest (vertically) explorer meeple can build a city based on the size (in hexes) of the city. The very last option a player has on their turn is to “throw a party”. This was a little silly at first, but because a very interesting element in the game. So what happens is each player with presence in the city participates in the party. One by one you can play cards from your hand that match the one face-up card in the discard pile. The person(s) who have played the most cards matching the master card get points based on the size of the city. If more than one player tie or just decide to share the points (because they don’t want to give up any more cards), then the point values are reduced.

I had a really good time with Java. There was definitely a number of important micro-decisions throughout the game, which is why I really love the action point system. Using all of your actions to accomplish one big turn is just so gratifying.

One day I will own a copy of this!

Heroscape: Ticalla Jungle

Heroscape is pretty new to my board game world. Only after getting recruited into playing an epic 8 player game at Kublacon did I realize that this is not just a kid’s game. Later that weekend I watched my friend and his son play in a 1 vs. 1, round robin style tournament. That really gave me a good perspective on how many different maps could be created and the seemingly endless army combinations. I wanted in!

I was able to find Marvel Heroscape online for pretty cheap, so I figured that would be a good intro to the series. While it did a good job of wetting my appetite, I wanted more. This is the point where I went a little crazy. I picked up the other 3 base sets plus the castle expansion. Unfortunately the coolest, in my opinion, expansion was out of print and going for crazy prices on eBay. Ticalla Jungle includes just way too cool trees that fit right on top of the normal hexes along with some brush and spiders. At Kublacon I was able to see just how much they enhanced the terrain when added to a map.

Not sure how I’ll be able to pick up this expansion, but maybe I’ll get lucky some day. But right now I’m not spending $220 for this set!

I’m sure most other gamers have much more epic games as their “holy grail” games, so let me know which games are on the top of your all-time wishlist.

2 Comments to “Quick Bits: Holy Grail games”

  • Board Game Josh July 11, 2011 at 7:13 am

    Holy crap! The jungle set is going for $220?? I owned that once upon a time, and didn’t really get to play Heroscape as much as I’d like, so I sold it for a decent amount on eBay (far more than I had paid)… but $220??? That’s ridiculous!!

  • irongamer August 9, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Yeah, this set especially jumped in price when Heroscape was canceled. It jumped almost to ~$100 instantly. It is one of the few sets I’m missing from my Heroscape collection and appears it will stay that way, unless the price ever becomes reasonable.

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