The Replay Cricket section of the Sports Board Gamer is all about cricket board games. That’s right…good old fashioned dice rolling, card flipping, pencil pushing, tactile wonders. While you can trawl through replaycricket.com to your heart’s content and discover your own favourites, we thought we should also include a view on our own favourites.
As we have published a new edition of the classic cricket board game, Minden Playing Card Cricket, we’ve deliberately left that off the list as it doesn’t seem right to critique something we are so close to.
So without further ado, we hope you enjoy our list of the best cricket board games (so far…).
And the winner is …
Stumpz – Perhaps The Finest Cricket Board Game Ever
This game from the 1930s remains the high water mark of cricket board games. It is the perfect combination between playability and accuracy. Its rules are solid and predictable. It allows field placement. And, best of all, your bowler can select line, length and type of ball, your batsman can then select shot to play, and there is a superb “umpire” to make decisions (okay, it’s a spinning top with the words “Out” and “Not Out” on it, but it’s fun to spin!). While Stumpz is not a true statistical replay game it has so much going for it you’ll forgive it for that. It is similar to Wicketz (see below) but predates it by a good 3-4 decades. This is a really top notch game and worth picking up on eBay if you can (esp. the Deluxe version which contains lead figures, a beautifully presented board made of felt, and a hard cover scorebook). Cricket board game perfection.
International Cricket – Statistical Replay Perfection
One of the most detailed of all cricket games and a true replay sports game. It’s the main competitor to the game I publish, Minden Playing Card Cricket, and each have their own merits. Player cards can be purchased each year from Owzat Games and every nuance of cricket has been worked out in the most incredible detail – pitch condition, weather, batting aggression, influence of the captain, etc. There is a very active online community on Delphi Forums, so any questions you have once you have bought this excellent game will be answered by the enthusiastic crew, including the game’s inventor. All in all International Cricket is an excellent reflection of cricket in paper and dice form. Its biggest down side is it can become a bit of a dice rolling fest as each over requires 3 dice rolls to resolve (there is an option to roll for every ball) and as a result the game is wearisome for some and, conversely, a delight for others. Ranks amongst the best statistical replay games ever made.
Max Walker’s Cricket Game – Simple, Fun with Great Teams
A classic from the 80s and one that is super simple to learn and play. Lots of teams rated, super easy and fast to play, and there are quite a few new teams rated by fans of the game. The downside is its simplicity. There is no fielding, no board and no 3D plastic players … it’s all cards, but really nice anyway and for some reason this game seems to have a dedicated following. Perhaps its because it pre-dates computers and was very widely available and promoted in Australia in the 1980s. If you are after a statistically based game, this is a good starting point before you venture into the world of Minden or International Cricket.
Capri Knock Out Cricket – A Great Example of the Heyday of 70s Sports Board Games
A splendid, if somewhat flawed, 1970s attempt at a cricket board game (and one that has been much copied). I’ve chosen to include this one because it is a good game to help learn the rules of cricket, and demonstrates why you would bowl certain bowlers, what choices the batsman has when you do and where and why you would place fielders at certain positions to match the above. It sticks to the fundamentals of the game of cricket well, and if you are a novice that is quite useful. It’s also tactile, with a nice board, okayish quality 3D plastic players, and a nice set of cards. The downside is, it only plays as a two player game. It’s also HUGE in terms of size as it comes from the 70s when a game box was a GAME box. If you buy it you’ll know what I mean. You can typically pick this up on eBay for £15 to £25, so be wary when someone tries to sell it for more!
Wicketz – An Excellent Variant of Stumpz, and Far Easier to Find On The Second Hand Market
This popular and well produced game was created in the 80s and picked up by a professional publisher and produced for many years. As a result it’s easy to pick up a copy and well worth it. The game mechanic is fairly identical to Stumpz (if one is in a generous frame of mind, you would say it’s “inspired by Stumpz”) and like that venerable game, it has a lovely tactile feel to it with a solid board, playing pieces (using the same moulds as Subbuteo Table Cricket) and lots and lots of cards. The game itself is somewhat flawed, but if you are willing to put in the time and effort, you can tweak it to be quite playable and very, very detailed. How? You do so by downloading a set of Advanced Rules by a fellow called Nigel Collier. He produced these some years ago and gave replaycricket.com permission to post them for people to download and enjoy. So why not do so now. The Advanced Rules do make the original game far better.
The above is just a taste of the best games out there. Over the years there have been dozens, most likely hundreds, of cricket board games created by enthusiastic inventors, published, and then forgotten. The reality is cricket, especially Test Cricket, is a hard game to reproduce in the abstract way one must create a sports board game. Too complex and it takes far longer to play than the real thing, too simple and it lacks the “feel” of cricket. The above each have pros and cons but they remain amongst the best examples of games that capture what cricket feels like for those of us who enjoy their sport on the table top.