My first take on the question was “Oh yeah, the Grail games…” These are the games that are often high-dollar, hard to find and yet by all accounts are still excellent games. For the most part they are out of print, often not in English.
When I first started getting excited about board games in the early 90’s, I was talking to the staff at Funagain Games one afternoon. I asked them what hard to find games I should look for, and their top list included 6 Tage Rennen, Fresh Fisch (original edition), McMulti, Kohle Kies Knete, Roads and Boats and Elfenroads. So there’s a start of a Grail List. Turned out some of them I love (Fresh Fish), some I didn’t at all (Elfenroads).
Here are some more, or at least they were Grail games when I put them on my original “must have” lists. Die Macher, Tal der Konig, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Carabande (with Action Set), Roborally/Expansions, Cosmic Encounter/Expansions.
And there are a few American grails: early Magic the Gathering sets, Broadsides and Boarding Parties (that whole series actually), Dark Tower, Fireball Island, Star Wars Queen’s Gambit.
So been there, done that. Lately collecting grails has been less of a draw to me, and I’ve spent more time trying to figure games that my wife will play, next games that friends will readily play. What the kids will play is so changeable that it doesn’t enter into my thinking much!
So here’s the current list for me – what I don’t have, because of money or accessibility or both.
Full Métal Planète – it’s outer space, it’s cool, it’s … stupidly expensive, yeah that’s why it’s good! I mostly just want to play it and admire the cool bits before selling it to the next junkie.
3D Settlers is very cool to look at, if you’re going to play Settlers, might as well have the coolest set on the block.
Deflexion – the game with live lasers! We saw this played at at BGG.con in Dallas but didn’t get to play it. It’s a science project for the kids, it could defend your house from burglars, there must be lots of reasons to have it …
Big Boss – Wolfgang Kramer’s tribute to Acquire I’ve heard, and incredibly cool bits. Don’t need much else for this one to be on the list.
Crokinole – I would like to have a very nice Croke board at some point, but you really a way to have it out in the living room but not taking space until you want to play.
Zopp – same space issues as Croke, but this has the coolness factor of speed added to it.
Antiquity – another big box Splotter game, I’m hoping I’ll end up trading for it since having played it I liked it a lot. Funny that the Splotter guys at Essen wouldn’t trade straight across for a couple copies of Havoc – dang it!
Sunda to Sahul – the first Sagacity game by friend Don Bone. Beautiful puzzle style game on nice tiles. Another one I at least want to play!
Warhammer Fantasy Battle – of the various miniatures games, I think a full set of these puppies would be cool for those days you just want to play with heavy cool stuff and do the adult version of green army men in the dirthills behind the house.
Titan – just one I’ve never played, but think I want to. Maybe someone I know actually has this but I’ve just never asked at the key moment to play!
And a few things just off the top of the list: Ave Caesar, Black Vienna, Code 777 . The great thing about the Grails is that you learn patience and persistence. Both worthy in today's fast paced life. The games will be there tomorrow, somewhere.