Gambler

Gamble by parker bros

A little known classic board game that deserves more attention than it gets is the 1974 version of Gambler, by Parker Brothers.  This game plays very much like its title implies: forget about strategy; throw the dice and let Lady Luck be your copilot.  And since you don’t need to puzzle out your victory, any group of players can jump right into the game with a brief scan of the rules.

Since this is a Parker Brothers board game, the game play is similar to others of the period: you take turns throwing the dice, moving your token and experience the joy of whatever you’re required to do on the square you landed on (like “Making Enemies” –Roll one die and all other players pay the Jackpot 10 times the number rolled or “Win a Few…Lose a Few” – Place bet. Roll Dice. Even total wins amount bet from Jackpot. Odd total, Jackpot gets amount bet.  Sometimes you draw a card, like, “Good News/Bad News” – Platinum Discovered Beneath Alberta Tar Sands!! (But you traded your stocks last week. Nosedive. Pay the Jackpot $40 or “Good News/Bad News –Hot Tip From Your Stock Broker!! Roll doubles and cop $250 from the Jackpot.  With each play, sometimes you come out a winner, sometimes you’re penalized; and it’s always a gamble.

Gamble by parker bros

This is not a game for the anti-gambling crowd.  When playing this game you gamble at every opportunity, and often entice your opponents to gamble with you.  You bet on the horses. You visit casinos. You play bingo. You play the lottery. If there’s a way for you to gamble in this game, the designers’ thought of it and you’re part of it.  There is even a special “Sweepstakes” dice shaker that you use to try to win big.  Mind you, my sister and I played a lot of this game in our younger days, and the biggest gamble I make these days is taking a chance on a new brand of coffee at the grocery store, so it doesn’t seem to have corrupted our psyches with its wicked ways.

If you’re looking for a retro game that you can enjoy without having to take a course in the understanding the rules, Gambler is the game for you.  It’s suitable for 2-6 players, ages 8 and up.  The more the merrier in this game, though!  Have fun!

WHOSIT?

WHOSIT

A little known classic board game that’s fun for the whole family is WHOSIT? by Parker Brothers.  Released in 1976, WHOSIT? is a game where players begin by randomly taking one of 20 Character cards, keep it hidden from other players’ eyes, and then try to guess who has which card based upon the questions they draw from the Question Card deck.  Players answer YES or NO depending on the question, such as, “Are you holding something?”, “Do you have glasses?”, “Are you male?”, or “Do you smoke?“ Lucky players can draw a “Ask ANY Question” card, which contains all the questions in the deck on one card.

WHOSIT

The characteristics vary from card to card, such as the Genius (White / Male / Child / Glasses / Tie / Gold Room), the Vampire (White / Female / Adult / Blue Room), or theHero (Black / Male / Adult / Moustache / Smoking / Jewellery / Gold Room).  Players pick up Question cards that give them the opportunity to see who has what feature. But it’s not as easy as you might think, because there are a few curveballs thrown in.  Some characters may not answer truthfully, no matter what the question is, such as the Spy (Always LIES / Oriental / Female / Holding Cigarette / Adult / Hat / Smoking / Glasses / Red Room), the Censor (Always Says NO), or the Director (Says YES or NO / White / Male / Adult / Moustache / Gold Room / Scarf / Holding Riding Crop).

The game board helps in identifying players as it shows each of the characters as they are shown on their Character Cards.  This is darn right necessary when you start trying to remember all the different answers to match up who might be whom. There are no player tokens or dice; the game board is provided just for a place to store the Question cards and as a visual reference.

Once a player is ready to make a guess on the identities of all their opponents, a special box, divided in two (one side for YES and one side for NO), is handed around the room.  If their character card has been identified, then they put their chip into the YES side, if not, into the NO side.  If all the chips are on the YES side when the box is opened, the game is over.

This is a fun family game that can be played in less than an hour.  There is nothing risqué about the characters or the questions, so even the younger members of the household can play (though they will need to be able to read their Character card).  Although as little as two and as many as six players can play WHOSIT?, more players make for a more challenging game.  WHOSIT? is yet another wonderful Parker Brothers classic game.  Highly recommended!

Stop Thief

Stop Thief - Parker Brothers

Another one of my all-time favorite board games is Stop Thief!, produced by Parker Brothers in 1979.  This was one of the first electronic board games: players used a handheld device called the Electronic Crime Scanner to hear clues, like the sound of the thief walking across the floor, running down the street, breaking a window, or opening a door. Players move little private detective tokens around the game board, using the Electronic Crime Scanner to check out buildings and search for the thief.  But every turn the thief moves, too, so you have to keep up!

It’s a game of deductive reasoning, meaning random guesses won’t help you.  The Electronic Crime Scanner can replay the clues to aid you in your quest to locate the thief.  Once you think you know where he is, you call the police, and hope to hear the sounds of the thief being taken away to jail.  But if you’re mistaken, you’ll hear the sound of the thief escaping, and a big raspberry for your trouble. That sound still makes me cringe as it represents the same thing today as it did over 20 years ago: the utter failure of my detective skills.  And I still smile when I hear the thief being taken away by the boys in blue, all courtesy of the Electronic Crime Scanner.

Stop Thief - Parker Brothers

The game play is fairly straight-forward: there are 19 possible locations (marked in red on the game board) that the thief may have committed the crime.  Detectives chase down the thief as quickly as possible, trying to arrest the thief first.  There are 10 WANTED cards for a total of ten thieves to be hunted down, and the first player to earn $2,500 in Reward Money wins the game.  Along the way players draw STOP THIEF SLEUTH cards which can send them to different locations on the game board, earn free turns, lose turns, or even get extra clues.  Between the cards and the dice rolls, there is enough random elements to make games fresh each time they are played.

A quick note on the box colors in the images you see above and those you see in the original TV spot below: Stop Thief was sold in Canada and the United States with different box designs.  The Canadian version of the game had to be in both English and French, so the box had to be altered to show this (and there are extra French-only game cards in addition to the English once, also).  The American version was only in English.  Though they have different box covers, they are otherwise the same game with the same game play.

Stop Thief! is yet another classic board game.  It may be older, but it still has what it takes to be hilarious family fun, and is recommended for 2 to 4 players ages 10 and up.