The history of retro board games is a long and interesting story, a mixture of established facts and reasonable conjectures, and a mix of myth and legend. It includes civilizations and cultures from different parts of the world, from the medieval Italy to Ancient Egypt. Now, retro board games have become big business online, with online casino companies creating slot games based on their board game counterparts, and offering free spins to attract sentimental players who are allured by the combination of nostalgia and excitement at the prospect of winning real cash.
Make no mistake about this: the retro games aren’t just games, sometimes they were used to settle serious conflicts or resolve problems within the society. For example, in 1903, Maryland famous actress invented the Landlord’s game, which consisted of a game board constituting of a square track, with different properties arranged in a row around the outside for players to purchase them.
The game further constituted a jail, two utilities, four railroads and the notorious corner that enabled players to earn up to $100 every time they successfully passed it.
This might all sound familiar: and it should because it’s what we refer to as Monopoly. But this Landlord game was first patented almost three decades before the ‘original’ owner, Charles Darrow sold the patent to the Parker Brothers.
Back to the point, this game was first invented to help show the social injustices brought about by ‘rent poverty’ and land ownership. It also was the perfect solution to the injustices in that players were allowed to opt to have the rent collected from the properties they owned into a shared plot, which would then be distributed, making everyone happy.
Top Recommended Retro Board Games
This is the first game in our top 10 retro board games. As already mentioned, you’ll be playing against other players – usually, a maximum of 10 players is recommended – where each one of you will be a landlord. Your main objective is to buy and develop as much land as possible so that every time a player visits your piece of land or property, they pay some tax, which you can use to develop more land. In the end, the player who succeeds to buy everyone out is the winner.
2. Ghost Castle
Also known as Which Witch, is a popular board game that was published in 1970 by MB, though Joseph M. Burck invented it. The whole board was a representation of a haunted castle, and your main objective was to make your way through the four different sections filled with deadly traps, which were bound to go off at any time, successfully.
Just recently, Wizards of the Coast decided they are going to reprint one of the most sought-after game in the 1970’s – Dungeon! Millions of players enjoyed this game, and if you ask any avid Dungeon players, they’ll mention the main objective of being the first of your friends to collect enough goodies and successfully escape the dungeon to be the winner!
Another popular production of MB, Dragster was released in 1976 and emulated the excitement of drag racing. The drag race takes place in a 3D racing track in which you are meant to compete against other players by being the first person to lead 4 cars to victory, which is pushed by a marble, which is also shot by a trigger.
As one of the most popular arcade video games of the 80’s, it’s no surprise MB Giochi turned it into a board game. As described by Life’s A Game With Chuckles, Pac-Man constitutes of two ghost pieces, two dice, four Pac Man player pieces, marbles that represent ‘energized pellets’ and ‘power pellets’ as well as the game board itself. Your main objective is to send the ghosts back to their home by eating the energized pellets.
6. Crossbows and Catapults: Grand Battleset
Some of us would like to think of Rampart, or modern day Clash of the Clans every time we heard of Crossbows and Catapults board game. While playing Crossbows and Catapults, your main goal is to defend your territory from enemy’s attacks. You shall be playing the commander of the Vikings while your opponent shall be playing the commander of the Barbarians. This is, however, an upgrade of the original Crossbows and Catapults, released in 1983.
7. Lost Valley of The Dinosaurs
Older gamers will have fond memories of this retro board game that was released in 1985. I first saw it when one of my friends brought it to school after the teacher requested anyone who had toys at home to bring them to school.
Anyway, the game went something like this – each player becomes part of a team of treasure hunters or explorers. The main objective of the team is to reach a top of the valley, where an extinct native tribe has hidden treasure. However, they had different protections including T-Rex dinosaurs that you have to fight on your way up the hill.
8. Survive – Escape From Atlantis
The Island around you is sinking – fast! And in the waters, there are sea monsters and sharks that are waiting to devour you! Secure a spot in the lifeboat and paddle fast towards the closest beach to become the winner! This is what Survive – Escape from Atlantis is all about – surviving the chase of sharks and whales after they’ve capsized your lifeboat.
9. Hero Quest
This just it – the retro board game that most of you remember. This game was so popular that GameZone Miniatures decided to develop two versions – the American and European version. In Hero Quest, you shall be controlling a Hero, who shall enter a dungeon and fight monsters controlled by your opponents.
10. Magic: The Gathering – Arena of the Planeswalkers
Even before you open the game’s box, you won’t fail to notice the effort Hasbro has made to ensure this game is appealing to the eye. When you finally open the box, the Planeswalkers minis are pre-painted, and while the army figures aren’t painted, they have this unique look from each other.
It’s a game that’s still going strong 21 years later, and your main objective will be to reduce your opponent’s life from 20 to 0, or you deck them by ensuring they run out of cards!
The online casino takes off
The most recent and thrilling development in the history of retro board games is the invention of the online casino scene. With the introduction, development and widespread of the computer games, smartphones and internet connection, some of the mentioned retro board games have not become easily accessible.
In fact, it’s approximated between the years 2011 – 2016, the online casino and iGaming industry at large has grown from 8 – 12% – with this figure set to increase to larger figures in 2030.
Consumers are inundated with choice now – with hundreds of video slot games, including retro board games such as Monopoly, Monopoly II, and Snake & Ladders, special jackpot games, a handful of table games and professional live dealer games, with real live dealers!
Generally, retro board games have come a long way from the days of the Landlord’s game to the modern Monopoly game. Just a few years ago, it was hard to convenience anyone that it would be very easy to play the slot machine and retro board games from the comfort of their home. But with the fast internet, powerful devices and new online casino games being developed monthly, it seems certain we are yet to see the best!