Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Thrift Store Games - Stranded / Isolation / Cliffs of Insanity

As each new month begins, One Zillion Games takes a look back to the games of yore (or, at the very least, the games of the Breakfast Club-era). One of our favorite games - Can't Stop - is a game that we were lucky enough to discover at a thrift store. Who knows what other treasures are hidden in the mysterious world of thrift stores and garage sales? Let's take a look...


This month, we will actually feature a set of games made by different publishers, but are essentially the same game found in 2 different thrift stores in the same week: Stranded and Isolation.

Publisher: Hallmark Games(1976)
Players: 2
Ages: 8 +
Thrift Store Price: $0.50

Publisher: Lakeside Games (1978)
Players: 2
Ages: 8 +
Thrift Store Price: $1.50

How the games work

You control a pawn that moves on a grid of tiles, one tile at a time. Here is the problem: Your choices of tile paths keep disappearing. On your turn, you move your pawn to an adjacent tile and then remove a tile currently adjacent to your opponent. Then your opponent moves their pawn and then removes one of YOUR adjacent tiles. And so on. The goal is to keep moving longer than your opponent. Do you use your limited amount of moves to try and play it safe? Or do you go on the offensive and try to trap/strand your opponent?

What makes them different?

The rules are the same, the number and layout of the tiles are the same, the strategies are the same.
So how are they different? Flare. 

In Stranded, you simply remove the old tiles from the game by picking them up. In Isolation you push them through the board, leaving you with an Indiana Jones-esque playing board where your pawns are elevated while trying to navigate through treacherous dangling tiles. 

Why don't you see these games around any more?

I like these games. They are simple, quick, and fun. Here is my guess of what the main problem is, as stated in a rudimentary mathematical equation:

Set up time > play time  worth it

The key element of the game - the disappearing tiles - take too much time to set up compared to how long it takes to play a round.

Was it worth the thrift store price?

Absolutely.  If you can find either of these games in a thrift store and you are willing to take the time before purchase to count out all the tiles to make sure they are all there, then I would recommend either (Isolation before Stranded).  Or you can just play with this printout that One Zillion Games has whipped up that we like to call THE CLIFFS OF INSANITY. Grab a pair of tokens and use a pencil to cross off tiles. The only setup required is printing it off.

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