Popular board games released the year you were born
As people all over the U.S. and world practice social distancing in response to the COVID-19 crisis, many people are looking for activities to fill the time. Sales of board games and puzzles have skyrocketed amid the pandemic, demonstrating the demand for family-friendly activities while homebound.
Even with the popularity of video games in the past several decades, board games maintain a strong presence in the games market: In 2017, the global board game market was worth an estimated $7.2 billion. Research before the outbreak of COVID-19 indicated the market will be valued at $12 billion by 2023—a number almost certain to climb amidst the pandemic. The internet has made it easier than ever to not only find new, creative board games but to find communities and individuals with whom to play those games.
Mainstays like Monopoly, Sorry!, and Life have stood the test of time, while new ones for virtually every niche are created every year. Now is the perfect time to revisit your old collection of classic board games, or perhaps to introduce new ones into your rotation.
With that in mind, Stacker compiled a list of some of the most popular board games, arranging them chronologically from 1930 to 2019 by the year in which they were introduced. The years 1931, 1933, 1944, 1945, and 1946 are excluded as they did not have popular board games introduced during those years. Read on for some ideas and inspiration of which games to play with your extended time at home with family.
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1930: Sannin shogi
Essentially a “three-person chess” variant, Sannin shogi is a version of a classic Japanese strategy board game. Invented by Tanigasaki Jisuke, Sannin shogi is played on a 127-cell hexagonal board. Like chess, this game involves players attempting to gridlock their opponent into a state of checkmate, but this variation is unique for having two of the three players form an alliance against the third.
Based on The Landlord's Game, Finance was created by Dan Layman, eventually evolving into the familiar Monopoly game. Like its spiritual successor, Finance had players navigating through a board, purchasing and trading properties found on the board. Sometime after the introduction of Monopoly, Parker Brothers purchased Finance, changing some of its rules to distinguish it from their own game.
Invented and patented by William Henry Storey, Sorry! has two to four players attempting to get their pawn pieces around the board and to their home space. Players draw cards, which instruct players how to move through the board, but two different players cannot occupy the same space. If one were to land on the other, the latter would be sent back to the start—hence, the Sorry!
Perhaps the most famous board game is Monopoly, which has its origins in a game created by anti-monopolist Lizzie Magie in 1903, which eventually became The Landlord's Game in 1906. The basis of Monopoly has players go around a board, buying and trading properties and collecting rent from their opponents, driving them into bankruptcy until one player remains. With fake money bills, a mascot in Pennybags, and the Get Out of Jail Free card, Monopoly is undoubtedly an important part of the American cultural lexicon.
1936: Go to the Head of the Class
Published originally by the Milton Bradley Company, now a subsidiary of Hasbro, Go to the Head of the Class has an unmistakable classroom and school theme. The board resembles a classroom, and players move from desk to desk by answering quiz questions. Chance cards will allow players to progress, or perhaps will bring bad luck and send them back in the classroom.
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1937: Stock Ticker
Now out of print, Stock Ticker from Copp-Clark Publishing has players buying and selling stock on commodities like oil and grain, attempting to accumulate more money than their opponents. Rather than depending on players going bankrupt of fake dollar bills, like in Monopoly, Stock Ticker depends on a set time limit; the player with the most money by the end of the time limit emerges victorious.
Scrabble is the most famous word game of all, designed by architect Alfred Mosher Butts in 1938 as a variation of his word game Lexiko. Players have a number of letter tiles and must take turns forming words on a 15x15 board in order to accumulate points, with each different letter having a certain number of points attached to it. Other variations of Scrabble continued in the years that came after, including the mobile game Words With Friends.
1939: Hexagonal chess
Soviet geologist Isaak Grigorevich Shafran came up with his own variant of hexagonal chess, although it was not registered until 1956. The board is an irregular hexagon, with nine files and 10 ranks to make 70 cells. In general, chess pieces move just like they do in regular chess.
Similar to Mancala, Kalah was brought to the United States by William Julius Champion, Jr. With six pits, or “houses” on each side of the two-rank board, with each player having one big pit called the endzone. Players attempt to capture more “seeds” than their opponent.
1941: All Star Baseball
Baseball player Ethan Allen invented this baseball board game aimed at young children. Naturally, the board resembles a baseball diamond, with two spinners for the batting player and the pitching player. The spinners determine the fate of the batter and pitcher, with the player cards displaying the statistics of real baseball players.
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