Thrift Treasure: British Square
It’s been nearly a year since we found a complete 80’s-era abstract game made by Gabriel at Stuff Etc. in Iowa City. Gabriel issued a number of games throughout the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, but when we come across them at thrift they seems to always be missing a few pieces. This week’s find, British Square, was in the same condition. All of the player pieces and game board were intact, but the two player markers for keeping score were nowhere to be found.
Since the store was only asking $1.88, I went ahead and took the chance that maybe I’d find a suitable replacement in my 15-gallon bin of extra game parts. Whenever we visit a Goodwill Outlet, we empty out all the pieces from unwanted games and save them for crafts, replacement parts or whatever fits our fancy. Since those stores charge by the pound, we can get a large bag full of tiles, dice and pawns for very little investment.
Sure enough, we found a couple player pawns from a travel version of Sorry that would suffice. They were the correct color and almost fit into the designated slots. If it weren’t for the photo on the front of the box, one might never know they weren’t the original pieces.
Sadly, I think I had more fun searching for the replacement parts than actually playing the game. That’s a disappointment, because I really liked the previous Gabriel game, Chinese Chess. British Square isn’t nearly as strategic and justifiably has a rather weak rating on BoardGameGeek.
Each player receives a stack of eleven playing pieces meant to resemble part of a castle wall. The first player places one of their pieces anywhere on the board except for the very middle spot. The other player then places one piece anywhere except orthogonal to an opponent’s piece.
That’s it! Players take turns putting one piece on the board at a time until no more can be legally played (you can never put a piece right next to an opponent’s piece). Diagonal is fine, but the faces may not “touch”. If one player cannot place their piece, the other player gets to continue until the board is full.
That ends the round and whomever has the most pieces on the board wins and receives points equal to the difference in pieces between the two players (eg. one person has nine, the other has six – they receive three points). A new round begins in the same manner, with the first person to accumulate seven points winning British Square.
I guess I shouldn’t harp too much on the game – it reminds me of some of the pencil-and-paper games I used to play as a child. Very easy to learn and I’m sure there’s an ultimate strategy for winning if studied long enough. If you must have a copy in your collection, they’re readily available on eBay for around $5 plus shipping.
What’s your favorite 80’s-era board game?
9 thoughts on “Thrift Treasure: British Square”
Any clue why its supposed to be British? Also, until I read I didn’t realize that was a replacement part, nice match!
Each piece has a tiny British flag on top of it molded into the plastic. From the back of the box:
“When Napoleon met Wellington at Waterloo, he faced regiments of British soldiers drawn up in virtually impenetrable squares, 50 men across. Front line soldiers fired, then withdrew; second line followed suit, then the third line. Officers controlled and directed the unit from the square’s center. You know the rest of the story. Napoleon lost
Now you can be a battlefield strategist and deploy your regiments in classic British squares. Mass your manpower to win the day, using the same tactics that forged the British Empire in teh white heat of 19th Century history.”
Considering the actual game play, I think they spent more time on the description than on the mechanics!
We love discovering new games as a family – this one sounds interesting and looks fun too!
I can’t place it, but this game looks familiar to me! I guess I must have played it as a kid. It reminds me of simple games like Connect 4, so I’m sure my son would enjoy.
I played British Square in college. There is a really cool bar in Oxford that has thousands of board games to play. This was a favorite of mine.
I never have heard of this game, but it seems rather simple to play.
I think it’s cool that you go to the thrift shop to get games, even if it’s just for pieces, much cheaper than buying everything new. And hey, you might find a gem in there one day.
This reminds me of Castle Wars or Blokus. I love the games you find!
I always love the games you find. I’m not really happy when you put the time to understand a new game and it turns out to be disappointing. I feel like I would rather play the games that I like.
This looks like a fun game. Looks quite similar to the game I’m playing “Gobble”.