Many of my experiences with games from the 80’s actually happened in the 90’s. There are a few deeper stories to tell but these are the games that need just a blurb:
Scotland Yard: My first hidden movement. I think I played it in an RV, on the highway somewhere in Arizona or New Mexico (this would have been the 90’s but the game is from the 80’s). I remember being intrigued but also it was all too new to me and, for the experienced players, too familiar. We only played it once and I didn’t get to grasp all the nuances of ticket flow from the cops to the perp and all that. It was interesting but it wouldn’t be until later, with Nuns on the Run, that hidden movement really grabbed me. I’ve revisited Ravensburger’s bad app but Ravensburger doesn’t seem to understand board games and all their apps obscure the best parts of the game.
Abalone: Purchased passing through an old toy or game store. It was so neat as it was so new. It wouldn’t be until years later I realized there was a turtling issue with the game and it would become one of the first games I would sell. But it did it’s job, opening my eyes to a wider world of games outside the Sorry and Risk paradigms.
Talisman: Oh boy. San Diego Comicon in the 90’s, back when it was a comic / TCG / game convention and before it became an international nerd juggernaut. Bought a couple of Veteran Bodyguards and Shiva Dragons somewhere between Revised and 4th, for Magic. Played The Great Dalmuti with the Wizards of the Coast folks (verdict: Yes). Somehow we ended up upstairs for the afternoon at a Talisman table. I was a halfling. The rest of the day was spent rolling and going in circles. I didn’t have lunch. I missed the rest of the convention. Somehow I felt like I was having fun but when I stood up I felt so strung out and dirty and lost.
I think this was a valuable life lesson, as the feeling and regret I had that day led me to avoid computer programming (it puts me in a similar obsessive state; Excel in the end gave me the good bits without taking me so deep I couldn’t stand up) and social media.
I later would play the Talisman app and have a similar experience that only lasted about 45 minutes. Never again.
Heroquest: No other mentions of this yet? I think I stumbled on a computer adaptation in the 00’s and played it obsessively for about a month. Kept thinking I could out-strategize it but in the end I always died. (oh there I see it in @COMaestro’s list)
Space Hulk: Another one for later, digital exposure. It was no fun digitally as the excitement of rolling and rerolling as a wave of aliens come at you was automated in milliseconds, while the boring stuff of moving around and positioning took up most of the digital experience. I can see where it would have been exciting. It also reminds me of older days when we had more patience for long, punishing experiences. I would never have the patience to play through King’s Quest these days either. The zeitgeist has changed.
Ikusa: OK, never played this one. Shogun / Samurai Swords / Ikusa. It was this holy grail of the Gamemaster series that by theme and reputation we all wanted to play, but no one had it. I’d still like to play it. It still has that aura.
Samarkand: OK, actually have zero exposure to this. But as a fan of both Genghis Khan and Final Fantasy X, the existence of this game has always tugged on me. It’s on BGA somehow. Should we? It’s going to be bad and I’m not sure I care. We are explorers!
Edit addition: Play Samarkand online from your browser • Board Game Arena
And the blurb: “Samarkand is an entertaining exercise with no especially brain-taxing strategies to figure out.” Who could resist?
Fortress America: It seems this was revised and re-released to be a much more popular game. Played it once, with a wild imbalance of experience and rules-knowledge, as only two 10 year olds will tolerate. It had the ameritrash excitement but I got destroyed and never got to try it again.
Buck Rogers: The Battle for the 25th Century: Hey same friend as the Fortress America experience. Same experience. His dad was/is a radiologist so he had a lot of cool toys I didn’t. I don’t think we finished the one game we played but it’s always stuck in my mind as one of those things I’d like to go back and do right, for some reason.