• magisterrex Retro Games


    I've been gaming since the days of Pong and still own a working Atari 2600. I tend to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games. Sometimes I digress. Decades after earning it, I'm finally putting the skills I learned while completing my history degree from the University of Victoria to good use. Or so I think. If you're into classic old school gaming, this blog is for you!

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    Got a game or product you want reviewed? Send me an email! Will review board games, PC games, video games and accessories (Xbox 360 or Wii, but also new releases for classic systems - you know who you are!)
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What’s In That Game Box? – Land Grab (1974/1981)

Ever scoured the Internet looking for what exactly you were missing from the old board game you pulled from your closet, only to find no one who could give you the answer?  Well, stop that fruitless searching through endless google results, as this featured this week on What’s In That Game Box? is Waddingtons‘ game of land speculation and development, the real estate game, Land Grab.

Box front of the 1981 Waddingtons game, Land Grab.

The contents of Land Grab are as follows:

The game box (there are two versions of the box lid, the 1981 version, which features a deep green background with a few buildings and the orange logo streaking outward like the the titles of the 1970s Superman movies; and the 1974 version with a cartoon aerial view of a city as the background with a white logo in large letters).

The game board, featuring three zones of undeveloped real estate lots.

80 player marker tokens (20 each of blue, green, red, and yellow)

A green six-sided die

A deck of 16 CROWN LAND cards, consisting of:

LOT NO. 1 – 20,000
LOT NO. 2 – 20,000
LOT NO. 3 – 30,000
LOT NO. 4 – 30,000
LOT NO. 5 – 30,000
LOT NO. 6 – 40,000
LOT NO. 7 – 10,000
LOT NO. 8 – 10,000
LOT NO. 9 – 20,000
LOT NO. 10 – 20,000
LOT NO. 11 – 20,000
LOT NO. 12 – 10,000
LOT NO. 13 – 20,000
LOT NO. 14 – 20,000
LOT NO. 15 – 10,000
LOT NO. 16 – 10,000

A deck of 16 VENTURE CARDS, consisting of:

  • A strike hits your construction company. You may not build or demolish on this turn.
  • Capital Investment Return: Receive an amount equal to one-half your total revenue on this turn.
  • Capital Investment Return: Receive an amount equal to twice your total revenue on this turn.
  • Capital Investment Return: Receive an amount equal to your total revenue on this turn.
  • On your next turn, you may buy land in any zone of your choice (Do not roll the die.) [x3]
  • On your next turn, you may force any opponent to sell you one lot of undeveloped land he owns – at the original market price. (You may do this in addition to your regular die throw) [x3]
  • TAXES: Pay 10,000 on every acre of undeveloped land you own. [x3]
  • TAXES: Pay an amount equal to your total revenue on this turn from buildings in Zone 1.
  • TAXES: Pay an amount equal to your total revenue on this turn from buildings in Zone 2.
  • TAXES: Pay an amount equal to your total revenue on this turn from buildings in Zone 3.

49 diecut building tokens, each with a different cartoonish looking art of a building property, consisting of:

2.5 cm x 2.5 cm: PRICE 30,000; INCOME 10,000 [x12]
2.5 cm x 7.5 cm: PRICE 100,000; INCOME 40,000 [x9]
5 cm x 2.5 cm: PRICE 50,000; INCOME 20,000 [x12]
5 cm x 5 cm: PRICE 200,000; INCOME 80,000 [x9]
5 cm x 7.5 cm: PRICE 400,000; INCOME 160,000 [x6]
7.5 cm x 7.5 cm: PRICE 800,000; INCOME 400,000 [x1]

A supply of play money in the following denominations: $5,000 (yellow); $50,000 (pink); and $100,000 (light blue)

The Rules sheet.

Aside from the inner cardboard filler to help hold all the pieces in an orderly fashion, that’s it.  Land Grab is a decent simulation of property development and speculation, but is certainly in the “More Obscure” category of board games.

Game board for Land Grab

Die cut property tokens for Land Grab

Game parts for Waddingtons Land Grab

Sample Venture and Crown Land Cards for Land Grab

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The Best Classic Board Games – The Inventors (1974)

This blog has featured many classic board games from the 1970s, an era that was truly the golden age for the genre.  The Inventors, a 1974 game from Parker Brothers, is yet another memorable family game that deserves a closer look.

Box cover for the 1974 game The Inventors

The object of playing The Inventors was to make the most money from buying a series of inventions and cashing on their royalties.  These inventions were based on some of the more bizarre patents submitted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including such classics as, the Dimple Maker (U.S. Patent #560351), the Eye Protector For Chickens (U.S Patent #730918), the Automatic Hat Tipper (U.S. Patent #556248), the Bird Powered Flying Machine (U.S. Patent #363037), and so forth.

A few inventions from The Inventors (1974)

Players accessed these inventions by using The Incredible Patent Picker Move Maker Machine, a plastic device that automatically rolled the dice and dispensed the patent clips (which gave the value of the invention patents).  These clips had a number (0, 1, or 2), and this number indicated the value that the patent had.  An interesting aspect of The Incredible Patent Picker Move Maker Machine was that it sometimes did not fit together properly as its two component pieces were sometimes slightly mismatched, making the fit extremely tight.  Many a finger was pinched in an effort to make The Incredible Patent Picker Move Maker Machine have a perfect fit!

The Incredible Patent Picker Move Maker Machine

The game board had two tracks, the Royalty Track and the Invention Track.  Players normally played on the Invention Track where they could access the inventions, lay claim to a patent, pay legal fees, or even steal an invention from another player.  By landing on special squares players could move their token to the Royalty Track, wherein they could get royalties on those inventions, up to seven times the amount.

Box contents for the 1974 game The Inventors

Of course, The Inventors wouldn’t be a true Parker Brothers game if it didn’t have additional random elements that influenced play, which in this game are the Eureka cards.   Players are dealt three of these cards at the beginning of the game, and can choose to play them while on the Invention Track, replacing them from the deck as they are used.  These cards could help a player become a “Silent Partner” in another player’s patent, cards that eliminate that “Silent Partner”, card that advance the player around the game board, cards that allow the player to collect patents or inventions, and more.

All in all, The Inventors is an interesting game with some unique quirks, meant for 3 to 4 players ages 9 and up.  It’s yet another enduring 1970s board game that deserves a little gameplay time, even today!

The Best Classic Board Games – Payday

One of my favorite board games growing up was Payday.  Not the later versions (dreck!), but the original Parker Brothers 1974 release, with the green box and little dollar signs for playing pieces, invented by Paul J. Gruen (who also invented other classic games like Bonkers!, as well as games based on TV properties, such as Battlestar Galactica, and The Six Million Dollar Man: Bionic Crisis.

Payday from Parker Brothers, 1974

Payday from Parker Brothers, 1974

The game is pretty straightforward.  The game board is in the shape of a calendar month. You roll the die and move your token throughout the month.  And just like reality, you’ve got to roll with the punches.  You get Mail – sometimes bills, sometimes junk, and – rarely! – a little bit of cash.  Every so often you get access to a Deal, some which might make you a little extra spending money, some that might make you wealthy – but the deal might go sour, too.  And all the while, you’ve got to manage your money.

Payday 1974 Parker Brothers Game Pieces

Payday 1974 Parker Brothers Game Pieces

It’s a perfect game to play with teens and tweens to help them visualize a typical month of paying bills, collecting a paycheque, and trying to get ahead just a little bit more than the month before.  And it’s all done with a healthy dose of clean, family-friendly humor.  You can play it with as little as two people, and up to six, ages 8 and up.

Payday is a classic board game, and certainly one of the best.  Highly recommended!