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On to the list. Here’s ten tabletop games that tried to incorporate electronic elements into their design.
1. Code Name: Sector
Released in 1977, Code Name: Sector is usually seen as the first electronic game. It's essentially a hidden information/deduction game, similar to Clue and Battleship. Players are destroyer's hunting an enemy sub, and by taking sonar readings and shooting missiles players attempt to be the first to destroy it.
The game's electronic component keeps track of the location of the submarine and moves it across the board. Additionally it lets players take a shot without revealing whether it was a hit or miss to opponents.
Code Name: Sector isn't a very good game, and since its initial release in 1977, no one has bothered to release a 2nd edition of the game. Code Name: Sector isn't even remembered by most people, let alone fondly remembered. It's only really significant because it came first.
Also released in '77, Electronic Battleship is usually the game most people remember as the first Electronic board game, and an updated version is still made and sold today. It's the same hidden information game as regular Battleship. Players put ships on a hidden board, and then see who can be first to correctly guess where their opponent's ships are. It does solve the two main issues with Battleship, cheaters who move their ship instead of scoring the hit, and the fact that B4, C4, and E4 sound an awful lot alike.
Taking cues from more successful games like Clue and especially Scotland Yard, Stop Thief has players trying to earn reward money by figuring out the hidden location of a thief and reporting it to the police. The game comes with a battery operated electronic keypad it calls an electronic crime scanner, and the keypad keeps track of the thief's hidden location and also gives players clues.
Stop Thief is a deduction game, and for a late 70s deduction game aimed at kids, it's not that bad. It's not that great either. Overall its mediocre.
Dungeons & Dragons Computer Labyrinth Game
Finally we get a game on this list that a lot of people actually have some nostalgia for. D&D Computer Labyrinth Game is related to the Dungeons & Dragons family of games only by its name, and by virtue of including both a dungeon and a dragon (but not multiple dungeons or dragons, both of which are implied by calling something Dungeons and Dragons).
In the game one or two players are warriors who enter a dungeon labyrinth and have to find the dragon's treasure and then get it back to their base without getting killed by the dragon, or having the treasure stolen by the other player. Also the labyrinth is apparently pitch black, since the only way to find a wall or door is by running into it full speed.
The spaces on the board are buttons, and players push down on them as they move. The game then determines if the player hits a door or wall or makes an illegal move. The game also figures out the dragon's movement as it chases after the players.
It's a very simple game, and its love, and price tag, is almost entirely because of the nostalgia and the D&D branding.
Released in 1981, Dark Tower is actually pretty impressive for its time. The game's main piece is the Dark Tower, which houses a small computer that runs the game. Players are warriors traveling through a fantasy land seeking out three keys to open the Tower and retrieve a scepter or something.
The players move across the board and the Tower keeps track of turns, player armies, equipment, and how far along each is on their quest, and also handles random encounters, buying supplies, and tracking if you're keeping your army fed.
Compared to modern board games and modern video games Dark Tower doesn't hold up to0 well, but at the time of its release it was pretty cool, if a bit simple compared to similar board games like Magic Realm. One of the big problems with the game is after about a dozen or so years a lot of copies started having issues with the tower that caused battery acid to leak all over the inside. Because so many have been destroyed, a working copy sells for a lot of money today.
Quest for the Rings
Released in 1981, Quest for the Rings is a board game for the Magnavox Odyssey 2 console. It's meant as a generic 'unofficial' continuation of the Lord of the Rings story. One player is the evil Ringmaster who has hidden rings across the board, and the other players are trying to find the rings to stop them. Most of the game is handled on the game board, but combat is done through the Magnavox Odyssey 2 game console.
The game might not be as heavy as some of the other fantasy board games of the era, but with a board, a huge instruction booklet, a ton of pieces, and a cartridge for a major video game console, it's probably the only game that isn't a video game with some board game pieces, or a board game with some electronic component, but a true combination of both gaming mediums.
Mr Gameshow's battery operated podium allows players to buzz in and input answers, but the real centerpiece of the game is Mr Gameshow himself, a glib talking gameshow host that stands at the podium and has some limited movement.
The gameplay is very derivative of Wheel of Fortune, and its not bad, but nothing special. Today the game doesn't really have much to offer anyone that doesn't fondly remember it from their childhood, but when it was released Mr Gameshow was a pretty cool concept for a board game.
Eye of Judgement
Eye of Judgement was an attempt to combine a CCG with internet play through Sony's Playstation 3 console. Prior to its release, there was a lot of hype surrounding the game. Sony developed the game with WoTC, the publishers of Magic the Gathering, and the game was in development for three years before being released.
However once it was released, the game had issues with cheating. By cheating we mean that some players figured out how to forge the cards and play with proxies. What's the point of even playing a CCG if you can't buy at least a few wins from players with a smaller disposable income? Attempts to circumvent the cheating just made it more of a pain to register legit cards to play them, and didn't do much to stop the forgeries.
Two expansions were released before Sony discontinued the game and never looked back. WoTC however eventually figured out the secret to online CCGs. Now they just sell people digital Magic the Gathering cards, because a rare card's real value has never been owning the physical card, but in the opportunity to own other players with it.
Released in 2014, Alchemists is a deduction game about trying to figure out how to make potions, and the methods of making potions are randomized each game. Although Alchemists can be played with a referee, the game is intended to be played with a phone app acting as the referee so everyone gets to play.
Alchemists was the first major game to use a phone app as its ref. When it first released there was a lot of buzz about the game. Some players were really excited about the sorts of games that could be made by including phone apps as part of the game, but others were wary of games that needed smart phones to play them, and didn't want to add anything resembling video games into the hobby.
Ultimately Alchemists turned out to be a really well designed game and it cracked the Board Game Geek top 100. Several other board games have come out since that use phone apps in creative ways, and although some are good none have been as well liked as Alchemists, and phone apps still haven't picked up as a major trend in board gaming.
The Electronic Chess Board
People have been trying to get computers to play chess well since the 60s, and by the late 70s computers had gotten really good at chess with some computers winning major tournaments against human players. Today there are computers that are so good they can beat even the best human players.
As the name implies, Electronic Chess Boards are Chess boards with computers in them that allow people to play solitaire chess. The first electronic Chess board was Chess Challenger released in 1977. Since then the computers have gotten better and newer boards have offered more options and higher quality components.
Some of the best boards today can cost thousands of dollars, and in addition to being able to play the game at a very high level, they're also able to connect to PCs for additional features and some even have wifi so you can play with other players anywhere in the world.