Games not technically in a box in this short round-up. These are the hot games of the day, as things go around here, anyway. These three games are sitting loose in the office for various reasons.
HellRail, third perdition
Mayfair Games, 2001
One of my later acquisition by far, I picked this up around the time my brother met his wife and we were playing Empire Builder occasionally. I thought a different take on the railway-building game might be fun, but we didn’t ever get a chance to play. The structure of Hell is defined in the rule book, but you build different routes depending on which types of sinners the deck gives you for hauling. I did finally drag it out for a couple of sessions with GameNephew, who found it fun, but you imagine explaining what adulterers or the lustful are to a ten-year-old under the watchful eye of his parents before you make the same decision.
Cosmic Encounter & Expansion Sets 1–9
Eon Products, Inc., 1978–1983
It’s a testament to how much I loved this game that it’s one of the few I don’t have the box for any longer, in any state. It broke down so long ago (and also couldn’t accommodate the expansions) that the box it’s in was a shipping box for Commodore 64 computer software. I feel lucky to still have this, because many yeas ago, I lent it to the guy who was the best man at our wedding, then he got divorced, I moved away from Eugene, and we mostly fell out of touch, but one of the last times we talked—after a period of years—I remembered to ask about it and retrieved the game. The game and expansions span my time working in a game shop, so it captures that period for me perfectly. I haven’t counted everything to see if it’s there, but there should be 75 alien race cards, there are 6 hexes (planetary systems, partially under the manuals), LUCRE (the yellow squares mostly covered by manuals, sorry), Flare cards (next to the Space Warp and Hyper Space Cone), Destiny discs, tokens, Moons, alternate planetary systems and the Praw (on the backs of the systems), and the manuals, including the combined rulebook released with Expansion Set 9. Only played this one time since then, but GameNephew loved reading all of the histories of the various alien races, as well as the fact that he won the game we played, as the Parasite.
Frank Herbert’s Dune
The Avalon Hill Game Company, 1979
To say that I was unaware of this game’s status would be an understatement. It was actually one of the games that seemed like Avalon Hill trying to cash in on the late-70s upswing in science-fiction and fantasy games, it sat on the shelves for years, and—if you click on the photo and look at the player screens—you’ll notice there isn’t a crease on them, because it’s never been played. Some of the number chits are still stuck together. But Richard—who first contacted me a few months back on Facebook because he remembered me from Gandalf’s Den—asked about it a couple months back, because there was a Kickstarter campaign to revive it this year. I was pretty sure I’d seen it not long before, and when I went looking, there it was. Copies of the old game are available on eBay for as much as $200 for a mint copy, but my plan is to play it sometime this month when Richard comes up to Portland on a visit (send him good thoughts because he’s living in the fire zones in Northern Cal!) along with a couple of other interested folk. The 40-year-old virgin game! What I wasn’t aware of until I watched this extremely well-done video linked from BoardGameGeek was that the team behind Cosmic Encounter were the developers.