"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 2 June 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Before there were frags and BFGs, before the vast expanses of Ultima Underworld and Everquest were opened to vicarious human exploration, people amused themselves by moving tokens about on two-dimensional, colorful pieces of cardboard. Retroficionados still enjoy such endeavors as they chase the fleeting pleasures of childhood. Aside from their nostalgia value, board games allow the players to enter a ritual space with its own rules of conduct. Obviously that's fun when Crisco and a Twister board are involved, but it can be a mentally and socially limbering experience in other cases, too.

No doubt this is why Hasbro plans to offer the thrill of play-money IPO fever with its "Monopoly: Internet Edition." The game, a regular old board game floated at the February toy fair in New York City, hasn't hit shelves yet. Even the names of the "properties" have yet to be decided, and it's not known how high the bidding has gone for the on-board banner-ad that would occupy what used to be Park Place. Rumors that Hasbro has withdrawn plans for the game at the Justice Department's request, by the way, are completely groundless.

The most compelling games actually on the Web today are, sadly, the ones sponsored by dictionary-makers. But smart shoppers can still find a host of low-budget American indy board games. And independent board games offer something that the independent cinema, for example, doesn't. The audience views a typical indy film in a docile, semi-recumbent manner, while board gamers actually make choices, like in Timecode. As a result, while movies spoon-feed the viewer with insipid imagery and dialogue, board games actually allow the player to seize the spoon.

With all this in mind, Suck dispatched its official game tester to sample some of today's newest board-based entertainments. All of the following are certified real games. Play at your own risk.

[Next Page]

Next: Are your stools watery, massive,
enormous or all three?