GREENE COUNTY — For many sports fans, the coronavirus, COVID-19 has caused many a hardship. But for some of us sports fans, who double as board game geeks as well, our sports events haven’t ended.
Yep, I’m a sports board game geek, and I don’t mind saying it.
Collecting statistics-based board games became a hobby when I was in high school, and it’s continued on to today. If you look in the right places, you can find a sports board game pertaining to just about anything.
My current collection has games in football, baseball, basketball, hockey, horse racing, auto racing, drag racing, tennis, boxing, mixed martial arts, golf, and even tractor pulls!
Presently, while everyone else is scrambling to find something sports related on the television, I’ve been rolling dice and replaying the 2007 ATP Tour’s men’s Australian Open tennis tournament. And it turns out that Roger Federer is as good on paper as he was during that 2007 season.
Player of the Game Tennis is one of many sports games offered by an Indiana-based company known as Downey Games (downeygames.com). My favorite games offered at Downey Games are their Ultra Quick series of games, where you can quite conceivably play an entire sports season in one day’s time. Usually one or two dice rolls will determine the entire outcome of a head-to-head matchup, and so it makes it pretty easy to play an entire season in one sitting.
Some of the older games I have in my collection are from an older board game company known as Avalon Hill, which is no longer around. The games were first made in the 1960s and ’70s, and many of them are collector’s item rarities today.
College Basketball fans are saddened by the loss of the 2020 NCAA men’s college basketball tourney. Well, with a few hours of numbers crunching, my March Madness Avalon Hill game could replay the entire tournament! The game came with team ratings of several of the great NCAA men’s basketball teams of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. It also has a ratings formula that can be used to rate future teams … like the probable ones who would’ve played in this year’s March tournament.
The USAC Indy 500 Avalon Hill game was my first purchase, because of my love for Indycar racing. Complete with a three-panel playing board race track, I’ve collected individual driver cards for six Indy 500s from the late 1970s to mid 1980s.
One Avalon Hill game that is sports related but not stats based is Regatta, a three-panel board game about yacht racing. I learned about lufting and beating through playing that game. It’s fun setting up the course, and then planning out your race according to the wind’s direction and your opponent’s location on the board.
Avalon Hill games can still be found online on Ebay and other sites.
And more recently, I’ve discovered the world of independent board gaming, from such makers as Forbidden Games (forbiddengames.net) and Renegade Game Studios (renegadegamestudios.com). I have a game called Flip Ships from Renegade, where you flip spaceships at an invading fleet of alien star fighters in order to save the planet from being destroyed. If you liked the Space Invaders video game as a kid, you’ll enjoy Flip Ships.
I’m also a bit of a railroad nerd, and so Forbidden’s Railroad Rivals is also in my collection. Each player tries to earn the most valuable railroad stocks by linking U.S. cities together with actual railroads of the early days of railroading, and then increasing your stocks’ values by delivering goods from city to city.
Each of these games can be played head-to-head, or they can be played in solitaire fashion.
To many of us sports and board game nerds, we’d take a night of rolling dice to watching an old TV rerun any time.
Here’s hoping that you’ll find a game to enjoy, too!