Here are photos and brief descriptions of some of the more obscure items from my Sackson collection. Funagain Games sometimes has some of these in stock, so you might try clicking on the photos if you're interested in getting a copy for yourself.
Since this section is in no particular order, let's start with a pair of very rare Sackson games, manufactured by Hoyle in 1971. They're called TEMPO and INTERPLAY. As you can see, they're each a simple block of wood with holes drilled into it, and pegs in each of two colors. Not only do I now finally have the rules to TEMPO, but I'm making them available to you now, since in order to play, all you need is some sort of board with a 6x5 grid, and 15 pegs (or checkers) in each of two colors. Download them here: Page One, Page Two, Page Three. Thanks to Daniel Roth of Skokie, IL for this! And thanks to Ron Hale-Evans, here are the rules in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.
Next, here's another curious (and very hard to find) item... THE 6 PACK OF PAPER AND PENCIL GAMES, as published by a company called Gamut Of Games in 1974. Though the company bore the same name as Sackson's book, he was not an owner of the company. This company is best known for a wonderful financial game by Philip Orbanes called CARTEL, a great word game called MY WORD, and a delightful unique partnership/crossword/tic-tac-toe thing called MONTAGE. But they also put out the 6 PACK, and the credit inside the box says "Games created by Sid Sackson and Philip Orbanes." I know that the latter name is the one credited with CARTEL, and my hat's off to him, because it's a great game. But that's off our topic here. I'm assuming that these games were written by one OR the other man, rather than together, since all but two of them later appeared under the solo Sackson byline in Games Magazine. The six games in the set are PAYOFF (unknown, probably Orbanes), THE GREAT RACES which later evolved into CAN'T STOP (Sackson - Games Magazine Jan/Feb 1978), OIL STRIKE (GM May/Jun 1978), WORDS TIMES THREE (unknown, probably Orbanes), FINANCIER (published in Games Magazine as A STOCK MARKET GAME in Nov/Dec 1977), and SPY (GM Jul/Aug 1978).
These are two games that only came out in Germany, QUINTO (a card game published by ASS) and DIE CHINESISCHE MAUER, (a tile-laying game from Piatnik). QUINTO is a real puzzlement for me. The game looks like it should be very cool, with a slightly UNO-like mechanism. However, for some reason, the game just doesn't work. The conclusion seems fairly foregone before it's actually reached, and most of the game play seems automatic. But what's puzzling is that it seems as if it probably is a good game that we're just playing wrong. I found an article (in German) that expresses similar feelings. The author of the article contacted Sackson and found that ASS had changed some of the rules, and the author's feeling is that these original rules help immensely, and that the game is terrific once played with them. We tried that, and felt it didn't help much. Sigh. We haven't gotten to DIE CHINESISCHE MAUER yet, but it's at the top of the list!
These are two adaptations of stories into games by Sackson. There's CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (a game in book form published by Knopf in 1978), and the "ALF" game, published by Coleco Games in 1987. (There is some dispute over whether the "ALF" game Sackson created is this one, or one given away as a premium at Burger King, or even whether there's any difference between the two. Anyone with definitive information on this should email me about it!)
Here's SLY, a set of six abstract strategy games published by Amway in 1975, and BLOCKADE (a German reissue of the same set published by Hexagames).
DOORWAYS TO ADVENTURE & DOORWAYS TO HORROR, two VCR games published by Pressman. When the whole VCR Game Craze hit, there were dozens of them, most of them awful. Pressman had the good sense to hire Sackson to devise theirs, and so these two are the exceptions. (The Nightmare/Atmosfear games are also a lot of fun, though you can't really play them more than a few times). Of course, Sackson didn't overemphasize the role of the videotape in the games, and there's an actual game going on in both cases.
HOLIDAY was a game published by a company called Research Games in 1973. The company was small and the game never had much of a chance. However, years later, Ravensburger made some small changes in the game and re-released it as MALONEY'S INHERITANCE. Most who are familiar with both games prefer the original. Then, a few years ago, they tried again, turning the same game into SHANGHAI. Of the two HOLIDAY adaptations, MALONEY'S is the better game, though SHANGHAI certainly deserves points for production value, as it's a beautifully produced game. I'll be writing about these three games next, and they'll move out of the "Odds & Ends" section and into a section of their own!
I don't really know the story behind these three, but MASSAI, FLOTTE KRABBE, and CAMP are simple and elegant little two-player games published by Abacus in Germany. My son, Max, and I are particularly fond of FLOTTE KRABBE.
UPTHRUST is another abstract strategy game, published in 1995 by the Great American Trading Company, and is an expansion of the mechanism used in FLOTTE KRABBE to make it playable by up to 4 players. It first appeared in the pages of the April/May 1987 issue of Games Magazine, as SCORE UP, though the magazine version only describes the solitaire version.
Here are two American Sackson games. First is THE WINNING TICKET, from Ideal in the '70s. It's a slight but quite amusing game about lotteries. It's got a cool little lottery machine, too. Not one of Sackson's essential games, but still, if you can find a copy, you'll have fun with it. And then there's TEMPTATION POKER from Whitman (1982). This is a fascinating poker variant, in which players add chips to the pot for each additional card they draw.
These are games that Sackson did for the Aladdin company in the mid-1970's. They tended to be more puzzle-like than game-like. They are, from left to right, PUSHOVER, TOTALLY, and INTERSECTION. INTERSECTION was later reissued by Ravensburger in 1980 under the name of CORNER, and is a nice little abstract game for two players (it can be played by 4, but seems unwieldy).
Here are DA CAPO from Piatnik, and BUSINESS, published by Relaxx. DA CAPO is a clever game based on the concept of big fish swallowing little fish. It's also one of the few games I can think of that's best for three players. Here's a Word file containing the English translation of the rules. As for BUSINESS, I know nothing about it, and haven't gotten around to trying it yet. It's on the list, though, and I'll duly report here when we play it.
These are the two Sackson wargames, THE MAJOR CAMPAIGNS OF GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR, and THE MAJOR BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS OF GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON. They were issued by Research Games here in the US and WADDINGTON'S HOUSE OF GAMES in Canada, both in 1974. The Macarthur game pictured above is the Research Games edition, and the Patton is the Waddington's.
And finally, here are RIGHT CONNECTIONS, TAM-BIT, NUMMERUS ZAHLUS, and THE HARRY LORAYNE MEMORY GAME. RIGHT CONNECTIONS is a small puzzle-game that Sackson published through Springbok, a division of Hallmark Cards in 1973. TAM-BIT was published in 1969 by Gamescience, a division of Renwal, and is a 2-player dice game. I've only played it once, but found it quite interesting. It was recently reissued in Germany under the name of SAXUM. NUMMERUS ZAHLUS was published by ASS in Germany, and first appeared as STRING OF PEARLS in GAMES MAGAZINE in February, 1996. THE HARRY LORAYNE MEMORY GAME was published by Reiss in 1976, and was based on the famous memory expert's tricks.
And finally, as a special reward to all of you for going through all of this, here's an obscure little Sackson game for two players (or two partnerships) that you can actually download, print out and play, called TRANSFORMATION. You'll need to make 25 large circles about 2" in diameter, 5 each in 5 different colors, and 25 small circles (about ½" in diameter), 4 each in the same 5 colors. The board is very simple and easy to make. Download it here. It's in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, in two pages. Very special thanks to Robbie Smith for the translation.
Special thanks to Norbert Kuska, Ulrich Bösch, and Dave Arnott for helping me track down some of the more obscure items you see above.
Let's meet the man himself, shall we?