Collectible card games and computer games are hot this year. But there are also some surprise best-sellers of the old-fashioned board game variety. Here's what's hot in local stores and what the game gurus are picking as their favorites:
Magic: The Gathering - Produced by a little company called Wizards of the Coast, this is both a card game and a pack of collectible cards and is the biggest-selling game since Trivial Pursuit 10 years ago. Star Trek: The Next Generation Customizable Card Game is a very successful clone. Industry soothsayers are predicting that a whole new slew of collectible card games will hit the shelves next year - with versions that won't just appeal to the fantasy adventure game player.Myst - Chosen by Games Magazine as Game of the Year for 1994, it's the first computer game ever chosen for Game of the Year honors and signifies a big shift in the game industry. "Electronic games certainly seem to be where the action is," writes Games Magazine editor Burt Hochberg. Myst features, amazingly, no blood and gore or even any dungeons and spells. Myst is mysterious and artistic and, says Hochberg, "as engrossing as a good novel." On the other hand, Doom (a violent computer game) is also selling well locally.
Crack the Case - A big seller nationally and locally, perhaps because Milton Bradley has spent so much money on TV ads this Christmas season. The game is made up of 100 implausible situations that players must try to explain by asking questions.
13 Dead End Drive - Also benefitting from plenty of advertising dollars from Milton Bradley, this strategy games mixes the mystery of Clue and the Rube Goldberg contraptions of Mouse Trap. It includes a falling chandelier and a fireplace that sucks up the playing pieces. For ages 9 and up.
The Farming Game - Here's a surprise on two accounts: It's a successful board game in a season when board games are being eclipsed by cards and computers; and it's about agriculture. The game has been around since 1978, but Sean Carey, assistant manager at Games People Play, says this Monopoly clone sells better each year, at least in Utah.
And speaking of Monopoly, the grandfather of board games is still selling well. At the Shopko in Sugar House, in fact, it's one of the bestsellers. Other golden oldies are also racking up sales, including Jenga, a stacking game, and of course Pictionary and Risk.
The Doonesbury Game - Games Magazine calls this the best new party game of the year. But like Boggle Master (best new word game) and Peg Poker (best new family game), it is not available in local stores yet.