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Board Games From The Collection

16341.jpgWith a backdrop of sand dunes, palm trees and a tank, it seems this is going to be a board game like no other.

The bleached cardboard box boldly proclaims the words “Three fascinating new games!” and what games they are. ‘Through Desert Sands to Tunis’, ‘Shepherd to King’, and ‘The Tower of Babel’ are a strange mix of titles, but they are all tucked away together inside the old cardboard box.

In an age of wireless controllers, and where even monopoly is a Playstation game, it’s a thrill to unearth this charming set in the Museum collection. Complete with a wooden spinner, the board is in great condition, even if the box is a little tattered.

The rules for ‘Through Desert Sands’ are fairly simple. Flick the spinner to determine how many spaces you move. Beware though; land on one of the highlighted numbers and you could be stopped in your tracks. Refer back to the rules for what your number means. “Run out of arms – score a 6 before moving again”. “Wounded while on reconnaissance. Go back one”. Of course there are some perks too – “You have dispatched two German Scouts. You may now have one more turn”.

On the reverse of the board is printed “From Shepherd to King” – a quirky number that sees you moving around the Star of David.

‘The Tower of Babel’ is on a separate sheet, and requires you to cut up one copy of the tower into sections, to use as play pieces on the other tower. The instructions note: “Do not take any notice of the little men; just cut right through them if they happen to stand across one of the lines”.

The Museum has a host of other board games, puzzles and toys. Included is the Ranfurly Shield game, with little men slotted into plastic bases, a Formula 1 number, and a 1940s edition of Monopoly. A fantastic 3D puzzle is still in its original box, and would keep anyone going longer than a Rubik’s Cube.

Mention of a spelling game isn’t likely to cause great excitement, but ‘Black Out’ promises that it is the “newest of spelling games” and “a great brain brightener for young and old”. Reading through the rules one discovers that numerous games can be played with this small board and little black out ‘shutters’, and suddenly a spelling game doesn’t seem so bad.

One of the earliest games in the collection is titled ‘The laughable game of WHAT D’YE BUY?’ by Professor Punch, of London. One person is selected to be the Conductor, whilst other players are one of six trades such as a pastry cook, doctor, butcher or publican, each with their own cards. The conductor reads out a story and as he looks at a player, they have 3 seconds to fill in the gap with one of the items mentioned on their cards. The ridiculous nature of the story, with the odd inserts of players ‘wares’ make for a ‘laughable game’, and as the instructions note, one that “cannot fail to provoke mirth”. One section of the story reads, “The monkey, seeing how funny I looked snatched off my wig and clapped on my head…”. Depending on who the conductor looked at, the answer could range from “A lambs fry” (butcher), “A warm poultice” (doctor), or “A Yorkshire cake” (pastry chef). Children were not likely to be playing this game whilst under the influence, but I imagine the combination could certainly ‘provoke mirth’.

If the impending school holidays have already sunk you into the depths of despair, try fossicking around for your old Cluedo set. Just be prepared for kids like nephew Ryan, who looked at his newly unwrapped board game at Christmas and asked “But what does it do?”