Today I wanted to bring up the topic of the “collector” and how this has now inspired some game titles. We all know that one person who is an avid collector of something whether it be stamps,rocks, old Elvis paraphernalia, Superman, Star Trek or even Hello Kitty. The list could go on forever.
There are many theories as to why people do this and I really don’t want to get into the psychology of why here in this post but I just want to bring attention to the fact that if someone finds something that features a character, band, tv show etc. that they really like they will want that item even if it’s not something they normally use.
The idea of branding items with loved characters has been something that has fuelled retail for decades. No one ever “needed” that Chewbacca bobble head but he is really cool and if you like Chewbacca you just might buy it because it’s Chewbacca.
This concept has certainly spilled over into the table top game world too. I would love to mention our Classic Monopoly again. It was a major success and paved the way for table top games as we know it and it still sells today. Have a think for a minute about how many Monopoly sets there are. They are constantly re-released with a new theme, artwork and new figures based on a brand. I have seen everything from Super Mario Monopoly to Monopoly Bass Fishing Edition and yes of course there is an Elvis Monopoly Edition. The new pieces and art does not change how the core game plays at all it just is done to appeal to the individual who likes the theme. It works people buy them and collect them and sometimes even play them.
Risk is also a great and classic game that has done this very successfully. There are some really good versions of Risk that have been cross branded and are a lot of fun. Risk:Star Wars Edition is a good example. This game lets players re-create the dramatic final moments of Star Wars Episode VI, players can determine the fate of the Star Wars universe through the three battles featured in the movie. Choose to play as either the Rebel Alliance or the Galactic Empire, and use the classic Risk dice to control characters and ships. The object of the game is to defend or destroy the Death Star depending on which side you have chosen.
Sometimes though it seems that a game is just branded with a character to make a sale and it is a total let down because there is nothing about the game that seems to have anything to do with how the character would behave or the narrative of the story. This was not just true of tabletop games but also video games. I can recall an old Star Wars title from the early 90’s that was a run and gun platform game. In it you played Luke Skywalker who ran around attacking everything in his way with a light sabre including Jawas. Of course it sold based on it’s title and characters but it was not true to the morality and narrative that fans appreciated about the character of Luke Skywalker. That can be very disappointing to a fan.
When table top games use a brand to sell a game it is very enjoyable if the narrative allows the players to feel like they are part of the world or character they have grown to love. I wanted to talk about some really excellent games that are actually branded and allow fans to enjoy the narrative of the stories. Some of these may not be well known but if you happen to know a collector that is into any of these, they would love you for bringing it to their attention or gifting it to them. They are good games so you will enjoy playing them too.
The first one is the Legenday Series. Legendary has managed to create a semi cooperative deck building game that is based on branded characters and the narrative is always true to the characters. It is challenging and a lot of fun and although there are many games in the Legendary series. They are all unique and true to their characters. The original was set in the Marvel Universe with characters like the Hulk and Spiderman and many editions followed and they all stayed true to their characters. Each one of them would really appeal to any fan of the featured characters. Legendary Buffy is a great example: There are many references in the game that refer directly to the TV series. The character cards do not do things that would have been out of character in the show. It allows the players to work together and slay the “big bad” before chaos comes to Sunnydale. This title belongs in the collection of any Buffy fan. Legendary has an Alien Edition, Predator Edition, Firefly Edition and more are being released including James Bond in 2019.
Jim Henson’s Labryinth: The Board Game. At the sight of this game you will be humming the songs we all know. “You remind me of the babe..” This game is a beautiful exploration of the movie for 1-5 players in which Sarah, Ludo, Sir Didymus and Hoggle must adventure through the labyrinth and make their way to the goblin city to save Toby from Jareth, the goblin king! The models in the box are very well cast and if you are a fan of the movie or know someone who is this game will be well loved and it has been written in such a way that it lends itself to a lot of replay ability. The art work in the game is very nice and features pictures of the movie. This is a must for any Labryrinth lover.
I should also mention Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: The Board Game is also a visually stunning rendition brought to us by the same makers of Labyrinth. Dark Horse Miniatures. If you know a Dark Crystal fan they will love it and want it immediately on sight.
One of my personal favourites is the Walking Dead: All Out War! This one is based on the Comic Series rather than the TV show but still features all the well loved characters. This game is a tactical head-to-head game,which can be played co operatively or competitively, set in the walker-strewn Georgia countryside, a survival miniatures game from Mantic Games. Your group will be pitted against other groups in a bitter fight for supplies, but the Walkers react to your every move. In this game, everyone and everything is trying to kill you. In more detail, each player controls their own group of survivors made up of popular characters from The WalkingDead storyline, such as Rick, Shane, Michonne and many more. Each survivor is represented by a finely-detailed plastic miniature,which can be painted in your colour scheme of choice. It comes with a character card highlighting their game stats and unique abilities,and it can be upgraded with a selection of weapon and equipment cards. This game belongs in the collection of every Walking Dead fan whether they follow the comics, TV series or both.
Mantic games recently released The Walking Dead: Here’s Negan as a sequel to All Out War. This game is a must for all Negan comic book fans. It gives players the opportunity to play through a portion of Negan’s background that’s never been seen before. Work together to clear the claustrophobic corridors of the abandoned factory, but that’s only part of the mission. You must also do whatever it takes to gain Negan’s respect and players “win” by earning the most Reputation Points. Impress Negan and reap the rewards. Fail and face Lucille’s wrath. Here’s Negan is a co-operative yet competitive board game for up to five players as you will compete with your fellow Survivors to earn the most Reputation Points. The amount of Reputation accrued will determine a group’s success at the end of a mission, plus the player with the most Reputation Points will be declared Negan’s favourite! Twelve scenarios tell the story of how Negan cleared the “Sanctuary” and went on to become the tyrannical leader of the Saviours. In these scenarios, players will clear the Sanctuary and each scenario features its own unique map layout, special rules, and objectives. It comes with 19incredibly detailed, pre-assembled plastic miniatures, 16double-sided game tiles, plus all the dice and tokens required to play.
Doctor Who: Exterminate! The Miniatures Game The first thing I want to talk about regarding this title is how great the miniatures are. I have had collectors buy up most of my stock who have no interest in playing the game but want all the miniatures. They are very well cast and could easily be used in other games or just as display pieces. This is a skirmish game set in the Doctor Who universe, where you can play any of the currently released factions including Daleks, Cybermen, Judoon as well as the many incarnations of the Doctor and companions. If you love Doctor Who this title and it’s miniatures belong in your collection!
I am sure there are others I have missed in this article including The Expanse and some really great Star Wars titles. When it comes to buying a game just based on it’s branded character it really depends on if you are looking just to add it to a collection, never open it, keep it locked away and sell it on for way more than you paid for it 25 years later or if you are wanting to be part of a narrative and play out a great story in a world you already love. Maybe sometimes it’s best to buy 2 copies so you can do both those things. With the above titles buying 2 wouldn’t hurt.