Back when I was a kid my older brothers and sisters had a boardgame called Squatter, which was themed on running a sheep station in the Australian Outback. There was a board with a track around the edge and central areas representing tracts of land. There was play money marked in £ (so probably published before 1966). There were little creamy plastic tokens with sheep’s heads. Game play included accumulating money to buy sheep, pasture improvement, and bores to anticipate random events such as droughts, floods, and high or low wool prices.
Does anyone know anything about it? Is it something I ought to buy a copy of to play with my great-nephews and great-niece to instil Australian culture into them, or is it as boring as all heck?
There must be very few games that have been ‘commended by Woolmark, […] by the Royal Agriculture Society, [and] The Minister of Agriculture’ as recounted in the About section of the squatter.com.au website.
After reading all of this stuff I think we need to be careful calling it an ‘obscure’ game. It may be obscure in the UK and USA but I really don’t think it is in Australia
As for playing it with the younger children, as my new favourite comment on states:
“Poison fumigate rabbits” and a charming picture in case you are unable to visualise what that might look like. A fabulous game to play with your children, if you are a psychopath.
In the colonisation of the Australian interior during the Nineteenth century, the largest and wealthiest stations were establish by well-capitalised graziers who simply went out into the hinterland and seized large tracts of the best grazing land. Lacking formal tenure of what was legally Crown land (and which they had effectually conquered by private war) these wealthy land-owners were called “squatters”. They were contrasted with “selectors”, who had taken up limited tracts in accordance with colonial law, though in many cases squatters secured title to critical resources such as water by selecting or getting their dependants to select critical areas “picking the eyes out of the country”, leaving the rest useless to other selectors.
The squatters became wealthy gentry (many of them started out as younger sons of English and Scottish wealthy families), and in the political development of New South Wales made an attempt to ensconce themselves as a “bunyip aristocracy”. That failed; nevertheless squatters up until about WWI ran the interiors of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland as an informal but effective squirearchy derided by critics as “the squattocracy”. Some squatter families are still prominent, and connected with the British aristocracy.
So in Australia until, say, the 1970s “squatter” meant something like “rancher” and something like “squire”. The term is archaic now.
I find that I can get Squatter from the manufacturer for A$69.95 delivered or from Milsims for A$62.95 delivered. I’m going over the the nearest metrollopis this afternoon on other business; I’ll drop in to the uFLGS (which is listed on the manufacturer’s website) and see if they have a copy in stock for under A$69.95, 10% being a premium that I am willing to pay to support local retailing.
Is there anything I ought to keep an eye out for while I’m there?
My Squatter set was delivered this morning. The colours of the board are a bit more garish than I remember, and the quality of the cards and pieces seems flimsier. The haystacks are cards now, not little moulded pieces. I think I’ll try filling the pawns with epoxy to make them a bit heavier.
I had a quick run through the mechanics just now, and there are some oddities. Sheep don’t breed. Transaction costs are negative. Shearing and income taxes are rare misfortunes instead of annual inevitabilities.