Wednesday 14 October 2009

The Worst Games I Have Ever Played

As has been established in these pages before, I am a massive advocate of Unplugged Gaming over electronic gaming. This isn’t for any big political, philosophical or sociological reason – it’s simply because I prefer board games, card games, RPGs and war/sport simulations over electronic games. If those are your bag, fine – but these are mine.

Back in 1991, Milton Bradley Games teamed up with the figurine manufacturer Citadel Miniatures, and one of the greatest games manufacturers of all time, Games Workshop, to forge what must have been the greatest “Gateway Game” (a relatively mainstream board game that is responsible to getting people into other forms of gaming) of all time: Hero Quest. With its Conanesque action and heroes, facing down against the evil forces of the Warhammer universe, Hero Quest is responsible for so many lost evenings in my youth, that I don’t want to even think about it.

Around the same time, Waddingtons – The Uwe Boll of boardgames – purely by accident also released an epic fantasy board game by the name of The Key to the Kingdom. And what fantastic bollocks it was.

The idea was that there was an Evil Wizard, who looked copyright infringingly like the the bad guy from Time Bandits, had stolen The Key to the Kingdom, and hidden it at one of six locations across the board. Each adventurer had several bits of kit – a sword, an axe, torch, rope, etc; and they had to wander across the board, getting past traps, and trying to find the Key to the Kingdom. Oh, they had to find one other treasure, too. Because just turning up with the Key to the Kingdom on its own would look rather cheap, I guess.

Anyway, you set off along the board, on your merry quest. At some point, someone jumps into the central “warp” space, and the board folds either in or outwards, resulting in everyone running for their life, and then finding themselves in a new part of the Magic Realm.

That was the gimmick, I hope you enjoyed it.

“So”, you’re thinking to yourself, “what makes this game so ball bag burningly awful? It sounds okay, the way you tell it – kind of like a kiddy Talisman!”

Well, the main fault with the game is that the encounters you will find yourself in make absolutely no cocking sense whatsoever. Here, for your consideration, are some of the encounters you’d have – be they locations (by looking in the Hazard Handbook), or monsters (drawn from a deck of cards):

Close your eyes, roll the d8, and guess what number you rolled. If you get it right you win. You have four chances. If you fail lose one equipment and move away.

So, I’m in the Citadel of Chaos here, and they only way in is to guess what number the architect was thinking of? And if after four tries at guessing one of the eight possible ones, I get so annoyed that I throw my axe in the bin and storm off?

If you have a shield and fire, roll the dice twice. To win, the second roll must be higher than the first. If you fail, roll the die and move away.

Wait, so I have to effectively fight myself? And if I fail, I calmly pack up my things and go? If I know me, and I think I do, I would never do that to myself!

Leave the Odious Orc your food and take the treasure. Otherwise, move away.

What? You mean we had to guess random numbers, fight myself, and sacrifice babes; and all Steve had to do was to leave his stinking food behind, and he walks off with the Key to the Kingdom? Fuck you, Waddingtons!

“Do you have any Rope?”
“The the Ogre has sex with you.”
“Can’t I escape?”
“Yes, you just need to roll a nine or a ten.”
“But it’s a d8...”

But here’s the thing that galls most. Not only did you have to get the treasure, and the Key to the Kingdom, but you also had to make it all the way home again. And this then unlocked the “Fucking Mugging Him” rule, so you could just keep trying to land on other player’s squares, and steal their shit!

That’s right, you’d have worked hard, killing monsters and fighting past traps...slowly dragging your tired and Ogre semen covered body back home...and then your fucking little brother would have jumped from out of nowhere, having only had to sacrifice his food to claim the Crown of Courage, or whatever...donkey punch you into submission one space from winning and then run home.

Good lord, I hate this game.

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