Name a truly great board game from before 2008

@tomchick we used to play a ton of Ra and Tigris. Do you count all Knizia games as post revolution or is this 2008 divider working for you?

The point is to have fun playing, and these two games were crazy in a fun way.

Cool combat system redesigned into oblivion. The latest rules are unplayable, incomprehensible 300 page monstrosities.

Boy, that brings me back, Gordo!

I would say Ra is pretty obsoleted as far as bidding games go, and maybe even as far as Knizia bidding games? But I would still totally play Tigris and Euphrates, so long as I was playing with other people who sucked at it. For instance, I played a videogame implementation of Tigris with @Jason_McMaster in the last five years or so. Maybe on the iOS? I won, of course.

But they’re definitely examples of games that might be accidentally good despite being from before good boardgame design was invented. Knizia had a knack for that, even if I do demand good theming, and that was never his strong point. Or even something he seemed to care about, frankly. But Tigris is probably just unique enough that it hasn’t been entirely obsoleted.

When’s the last time you played either of those? Did you feel they held up?


Ha, who needs graphics!


I always liked Lost Cities as a quick little card game. And it’s a Knizia!

What obsoletes Ra? I don’t know of many pure auction games that come out nowadays, so I’m really curious what you’re thinking. Maybe QE?

Your theory on there being a time when board game design improved dramatically in a short period of time is correct, it’s just that you have the time wrong. Basically anything posted to this thread that’s about 1995 or later will be indistinguishable from something published today in terms of design quality. (Production quality has improved since then, of course). There’s a ton of games of similar quality as E&T from the same time period, and from a lot of designers rather than just Knizia.

While if you look at the stuff posted in this thread that’s from before that, most of it is really rough and won’t survive a group that doesn’t have nostalgia for a specific game.

Some of my favorites as a teenager in the 80s:

Speed Circuit
The Fantasy Trip (Melee/Wizard) RPGs, but really tactical boardgames
And the aforementioned Car Wars, Illuminati, GEV, Ogre, Panzer Leader, Diplomacy, Axis and Allies

All bought at Dibbles Arts and Hobbies - still serving San Antonio today.

This gets rave reviews on the board game podcast I listen to (So Very Wrong About Games):

OOPS: @Baconsoda beat me to it.

I haven’t played them since shoot club. I never really understood Tigris but I imagine it’s probably the more interesting design.

To be honest, I don’t think auctions are the defining part of Ra. (And I’d take Zavandor or Amun Re or Homesteaders over Ra any day as an auction game). The defining part of Ra is the push your luck part, which is also the kind of thing that doesn’t get used a lot these days.

Doe this count?

I don’t agree at all! The combo of variable round length and fixed bidding values are to me the defining cool parts of Ra. The push your luck towards the end of the round is not that interesting and done better by other pure push your luck games. (Zavandor is pretty great but I do not like Amun Re. I’ll give Homesteaders a look!)

Aw, that stinks. And it’s what happens when a company doesn’t understand what made the original design so good.

BTW, if you’re at all interested in the board game and comics business and especially how it impacts retailers and FLGS, Dave has done two great podcast interviews in 2020 for Why We Game.

Here’s episode 1, from June of 2020 (And hear Dave totally shut me down and totally endorse @tomchick by saying that games today are SO MUCH BETTER than they ever have been.)

And December, 2020:

I still have my copy. was a great writeup of the competitive scene for electric football.

I agree with Tom in a general sense – board games have gotten a lot better since we were kids. Especially non-wargames. I still have friends and family who think “board game” means roll-and-move games like The Game of Life, Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly, etc. I don’t find those games interesting.

That said, I’m currently playing a wargame that debuted in 1985, World in Flames. It’s a terrific strategic-level treatment of WW2 on a global scale. And a couple years ago I was back into Advanced Squad Leader, another creature of the 1980s. These games still have obsessive audiences today.

I feel like board games got out of the Monopoly/hardcore-wargame duality after D&D blew up in the early '80s. There were a lot of designs after that which may not have been great but were at least aspirationally staking out new territory. I refer mainly to the US/UK markets as I don’t know what continental Europe was doing pre-Knizia. Much less Japan (are boardgames big in Japan?).