Thrift Treasure: Inner Circle

Thrift Treasure: Inner Circle

We’ve had pretty good luck lately game hunting at our local thrift stores for our Thrift Treasure series. While we do like finding current games at deep-discount prices, we also really enjoy finding vintage issues that still play as well today as they did back then. This week’s submission falls into the latter, having been originally issued in 1981 by Milton Bradley.

If it were issued today, Inner Circle could be easily licensed and co-branded with the popular TV series Survivor. The instructions on the inside of the lid even uses phrasing that is nearly identical to the byline for the CBS show: “To win you must outmaneuver, outwit and outlast your opponents…” Because the object of the game is to be the last pawn standing, I have to wonder if they were decades ahead of their time!

Milton Bradley's Inner Circle was an early 80's favorite. A strategy game played on multiple levels, but easy enough for a wide range of ages. - SahmReviews.com

In the box you’ll find a six-sided plastic ‘island’ that holds four cardboard game boards. Four sets of pawns of different colors are also in there, and that’s it!

Designed for 2-4 players, the number of pawns you begin with is determined by the number of players. In our case with four players, each person places four of their pawns on the outer edge of the top-most playing board.

Milton Bradley's Inner Circle was an early 80's favorite. A strategy game played on multiple levels, but easy enough for a wide range of ages. - SahmReviews.comMuch like a game of musical chairs, each board has a number of safe spots that you are trying to move your pawns into. These safe areas are holes in the card that allows your pawn(s) to drop through and move on to the next board below. Play on a board continues until all of the holes are filled with pawns, then it is lifted from the island and set aside. Any pieces that weren’t safe are effectively eliminated from the game.

Milton Bradley's Inner Circle was an early 80's favorite. A strategy game played on multiple levels, but easy enough for a wide range of ages. - SahmReviews.comIf you look closely at the spaces on the cards, you’ll see that they have a number of dots on them. This dictates how many spaces that pawn may move in one direction, no more, no less. A twist is that you cannot look at the number of dots before deciding which piece to move – you have to remember what was underneath your pawn when you placed it there at the beginning or moved to it during a turn.

Milton Bradley's Inner Circle was an early 80's favorite. A strategy game played on multiple levels, but easy enough for a wide range of ages. - SahmReviews.comNow it may seem like it would be simple to memorize the pattern on each board so you knew the quickest route to the safe holes, but because the boards can be oriented differently each game by rotating them, no two games will be alike.

Milton Bradley's Inner Circle was an early 80's favorite. A strategy game played on multiple levels, but easy enough for a wide range of ages. - SahmReviews.comWe like the fact that Inner Circle requires you to plan your moves ahead a couple turns in order to get your pawn to the right position. Because you are fighting with your opponents for a limited number of spaces, you must sometimes sacrifice one piece to make sure another makes it to the next board. Without this planning, it is entirely possible to be eliminated early in the game just by not getting any pawns to the next level.

Inner Circle is a fun 20 minute game that will be easily enjoyed by anyone over the age of 6. You should be able to find a copy at your local thrift stores for a buck or two, or you can always pony up for an overpriced one on Amazon or eBay.

Milton Bradley's Inner Circle was an early 80's favorite. A strategy game played on multiple levels, but easy enough for a wide range of ages. - SahmReviews.com

Scott

About Scott

A former manufacturing executive, Scott now balances his family life with ownership and backend administration of websites such as SahmReviews.com, GiftCardCollector.com and a number of other online properties. He also is an occasional writer and full-time board game fanatic.

17 comments on «Thrift Treasure: Inner Circle»

  1. Holly S. says:

    I’ve never heard of this one. Looks like something the family would love to play together. I love games that require strategy, and now that my youngest is 7, it’s fun introducing her to these kinds of games.

  2. Nicole Dz says:

    I was born in 1983 so I never seen this one before, looks interesting. I love old games too, I actually prefer them over new ones. Great family game overall! Nice find!

  3. Michele says:

    Or maybe the Survivors took their wording from the game! Another one that would drive me bonkers I’m afraid. Not that I wouldn’t like to attempt it mind you–

  4. I love that you hunt for these classic games! They do still have life in them and they are some of my favorites!

  5. I have never heard of this game, but would definitely give it a whirl!

  6. This looks like a fun game my boys would love. What a great find!

  7. diane says:

    I’ve been doing a bit of thrift shopping myself the last few weeks! It’s always nice when you find something the whole family can enjoy!

  8. Wow, fun!! We love unique games, and that’s definitely one unique game! I’ll have to keep an eye out for it from now on. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Daisy says:

    This sounds like fun. It would be perfect for a family game night.

  10. Hmm. I’ve never seen this one before. I’ve played a ton of vintage games because my mom kept almost all her games from her youth. Looks like a great family game. Love that it is simple enough to start at age 6.

  11. Karen Glatt says:

    This looks like a lot of fun. I have played a lot of board games, but I have not played this game or even heard of it. It looks like a lot of fun and my sister and I and my nephew would love to play this game!!

  12. Ohhh this is an olde but GOLDY ,… I have not seen this one in AGES.. I used to love this game when I was younger… Can’t believe you found it, I bet you all had a blast… Thanks for taking me down memory lane… 🙂 Always love your game reviews I never know what to find here 🙂

  13. Wow! I love retro games and toys. I can only imagine how much fun this was.

  14. mary says:

    This looks wonderfully competitive. I can easily seeing my family getting into a very spirited game. And of course I will win. (insert evil laugh)

  15. LaVonne says:

    I LOVE getting games at our local thrift stores. It is one section that I always have to look in. If they tape the games up, I know that they are complete and they are such a great price. This one above looks fun. Thanks!

  16. What an interesting game. I’ve never seen one like it before. Great find!

  17. Daisy says:

    This looks like a lot of fun. I could use this for a family game night.

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