YORKTON - You are probably wondering – unless you are a rather avid board game player – what a ‘meeple’ is.
Well it’s one of those created words of our world, meaning a small figure used as a playing piece in certain board games, having a stylized human form.
It just seemed like a good word to use for our little group as reviewing games evolved over the years – we’ve been at it for more than a decade – or more than 500 games – since it is produced weekly.
The guild is a loosely connected group of game players who recognized we might have to grow older but we could still be young in our hobbies.
The result is a couple of game rooms filled with board games – we never seem to sell any – role playing games, and literally boxes of dice and hundreds of gaming miniatures.
In the weeks ahead we’ll share our thoughts on some new games, some old favourites, touch base with game designers and champion players around the world, and hopefully inspire readers to rise up from their televisions, put their cellphones on mute and play some board games with friends.
If you are a dedicated board gamer favourite places to peruse are likely thrift stores and garage sales.
There are often some great finds to be had – albeit with a certain level of generally low cost risk involved.
You can find games such as Othello or Backgammon, as examples, at rather reasonable prices, but since games have a lot of pieces, you might find one or two missing, which may be why somebody sent them to the thrift store in the first place.
In the above mentioned games substitute pieces are pretty easy to fashion, or you can just use the games for pieces to bodger ‘do it yourself’ efforts, so it’s not the end of the world given the low cost.
But, there are some super finds too.
Our little group loves Blokus. The copy on the game room shelf was a thrift find for $2.99. The pieces were still in unopened bags. The game, which is a great four-player abstract strategy game, has probably cost us a penny per play per player since.
Another great find was a deluxe Scrabble game, one on a table that rotates. On Amazon it’s well over $200, and it was a thrift find for under $10.
Then there are games that are both great finds, and reminders that there is risk to such purchases.
The game in question is Pentago.
It has been on the radar for ages, never quite rising to the top of the list whenever mad money allowed for a game order, but still a game of interest.
So seeing it for $4.99 made it a quick purchase.
Pentago is an abstract strategy game for two players with four 3×3 grids arranged into a larger 6×6 grid.
The goal is to place marbles in turn on the board until someone manages five-in-a-row.
The marbles were the missing element in the thrift store buy, three black and a white. Fortunately, those are easy to borrow from other games in the collection, so it was not a huge issue.
The game has earned a bunch of accolades since it was first released in 2005 including;
2005 Game of the Year in Sweden
2006 Best Strategy Game France
2006 Game of the Year Finland
2007 Toy of the Year Belgium
2006 Mensa Select Winner
The awards might seem unusual for a five-in-a-row game – Pente being one of the best of the genre – but Pentago adds a rather interesting mechanic. After placing a marble, with a few early game exceptions, you must turn one of the four 3X3 sections 90 degrees. So the board is always changing requiring an understanding of what can happen with each twist as you work to create five-in-a-row.
The game, which has been published by a number of different companies with various editions, has sold more than one million copies worldwide. That speaks to Pentago’s popularity.
The thrift find is a very nice wooden board version, with great black and white marbles, so aesthetically it is very pleasing.
With simple to learn rules, and lots of depth to discover, this is a great find indeed.