What makes a game a classic? Can a game once considered a classic lose its status over time?

Supporter

What games are considered “classic” games of modern board gaming? What characterizes a classic game? If a game is considered a classic is it always a classic or will it eventually lose that status over time?

Games like Catan, Carcassone, Pandemic, and Agricola (among others) are often hailed as classics. Have these games been replaced or will the always be classics?

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Supporter13 months ago

I think games will remain classics. They will either be considered the "father" of future games or just have a feel that transcends the new ones that come after. I also think games that get a second edition is a good sign of ones that are classics. 

Supporter13 months ago

What are some of your favorite classic games?

Supporter13 months ago

I'm still a fan of Catan (with expansions), 7 Wonders and Pandemic still hit the table for my group. I'm almost thinking that Kemet is possibly getting close to classic status

Supporter13 months ago

I agree. I also don’t mind Catan and Pandemic sees play at my house too. I only have 7 Wonders Duel, but my kids and I play that one. 

Supporter13 months ago

7 Wonders Duel is great! We like that one as well

Supporter13 months ago

Do you have the expansion for it? Is it worth it?

Supporter12 months ago

I don't have the expansion for this yet. I hear good things but we're happy with the base game. 

13 months ago

I feel that a classic game will transcend anything that will come out after it, even if people dislike it after time. Like I would be fine if Catan never made it to my table again, but I still consider it a classic. 

Supporter13 months ago

I agree. But what makes a game a classic? If an objectively better game comes along is that game a classic too?

13 months ago

A Classic in my book is something that intros a concept or mechanic in a way that breaks into the mainstream. I had never heard of coop games before Pandemic, Catan introd me to Euros. 

13 months ago

I think there are two different types of classics. The mainstream classics that you have mentioned. Then the board game insiders classics like Concordia, castles of Burgundy, el Grande. 

Supporter13 months ago

Should a classic be known to all as a classic? Classics in literature are known to everyone, even if no one actually reads all of them. Classics in music, same story right? By that definition are the only classics in board gaming monopoly and the like?

13 months ago

I don’t think it needs to be quite as black and white! I think there has to be categories of classics. General public, entry level, heavy, etc. 

Supporter13 months ago

I’m playing Devil’s advocate to try and get some deep discussion going here. It’s working, kinda. 

You are definitely right. Board gaming hasn’t reached the point in our culture where it is universally known. Every strata of our society knows something about (or at least knows of) Shakespeare or some of the other classical literature. Modern board games just aren’t on that level yet.


13 months ago

Oh I totally get that, you need a Devils advocate in most valuable conversations. 

That made me think of A Tale of Two Cities, widely regarded as a classic. I read it, I hated it. Snoresville. Does not reduce the fact it is a classic. Same with Catan and Monopoly. I played them, disliked them, would rather play most anyother game. I still recognize them as classics. Maybe even building blocks for the future of games. 

Supporter13 months ago

I don’t care for much classic literature either. But they’ve garnered enough cultural significance over time that no one can take that status away. Hopefully many modern board games will eventually earn that same distinction. 

Supporter13 months ago

I like that - building block for future games - that’s definitely something that a true classic does. 

13 months ago

Looking at something like Pandemic, it has built on its own brand even with the legacy editions and the spin offs! Building blocks!!

Supporter13 months ago

And Ticket to Ride as well!

13 months ago

Has there been a lot of building upon the TTR formula? I feel like it has mostly been just new additions with new maps. 

Supporter13 months ago

I suppose. I was more referring to the classic TTR building on its own brand as it has gone forward. I know that some of the newer variants have tried different things to make the game at least a little bit more complicated 

13 months ago

I think they’re still classics and will be until something replaces them. A replacement will have to be similar in theme and ease of mechanics, but better. My feeling is they won’t be replaced; rather, new classics will emerge to stand by with their forbears like Catan.  It’s hard to say if they will ever be replaced though. Only time will tell, I suppose. 

13 months ago

I think there are games that have probably replaced some of the classics in a sense. I know a lot of people who have replaced Pandemic with Spirit Island and have never looked back. I don’t think that changes the classic status of a game though. 

13 months ago

Yeah, I think you're right about that, now that I think about it. Some classics may be more popular than others, but that shouldn't hurt its "classic" status. Good point.

Supporter13 months ago

I feel like a classic game would be one that you could get to the table at any point in time and still enjoy it. Newer and fancier games may have come along and improved on it, but a true classic game would be good enough to be played any time. 25 years from now we sit down with our grandkids and bust out our dusty copy of Pandemic or Ticket to Ride or whatever - and they still play great, right? Despite whatever crazy AR or VR or who knows what have come along since the release of those games. That’s my definition of a classic game. 

Supporter13 months ago

This sums up my thoughts well

Supporter13 months ago

What are some games you consider to be classics? And what makes them a classic?

13 months ago

Why you asking all these hard questions? haha I think a classic has to have been around for a while and maintain its worth throughout the years, despite other excellent releases. It must also have an easy entry point. Ticket to Ride is a classic because it's simple to learn and easy to play, but involves thought and strategy. Sure, it's not the heaviest game around, but it's a good average that all gamer types can enjoy.

I'd say Pandemic is a classic because of the above reasons, and it adds something new to gaming--cooperative play.

Survive! Escape from Atlantis could be considered a classic (and is a personal favorite) because it's simple, fun, and games are always so different. And it's cutthroat, as opposed to cooperative or Catan-esque with minimal "take-that."

Carcassone.

Dominion.

King of Tokyo.

All those games have proven themselves both massively popular and well-designed. They're easy to learn, easy to play, and all provide new mechanics to enjoy. Of course, I do think there can be multiple classics with similar mechanics, but they'll still need to be different enough that you couldn't just replace one with the other. For example, Pandemic and Forbidden Island are both cooperative, but they do it in different ways, making both games unique. I'd say Forbidden Island is (or soon will be) a classic.

In the future, I can see games like Sagrada and Azul being classics. They're not considered such right now because they're still relatively young.

I think more complicated games could be considered classics as well, but there will be a lot fewer of those. Unlike books, which include all types of classics (short, long, easy to read, on the more difficult side, etc.) but are still readily accessible with a bit of gumption, complicated board games take more effort to dive into, which will naturally make them less "classic" and more "cult classic."


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13 months ago

So, obviously my theory here is evolving with each reply haha But no, they don't have to be popular. I think it definitely helps, but in the board gaming world, popular is kind of a broad term. Castles of Burgundy was mentioned up there (somewhere), and while it's not a mainstream game, it's certainly a classic. Personally, I merely enjoyed it when I played, but I didn't love it. It was entertaining and served its purpose, but it's not one I would jump at the opportunity to play again. Kind of like Pride and Prejudice. The book was entertaining, and I enjoyed it. It certainly wasn't my favorite by far (give me swords, sorcery, and spaceships k thanks), but that doesn't mean it's not a classic. So, to hopefully bring this back around (I'm just typing as I think, so things are a little...disjointed haha), Castles of Burgundy is widely loved by many, but it's not mainstream, so can it really considered "popular"? In the traditional sense, I wouldn't think so, but within the board game community, I would argue it is.  So if we are talking about popularity, are we talking about it in a general, find-this-at-Walmart game (which apparently now you can...but that's another thread for another time), or a popular game within a niche market?

I think Name of the Wind is going to be (or already is?) a classic in the fantasy genre. To a mainstream audience? Not so much. The Hobbit, however, is a classic for everybody. So, to answer your question...it depends. And that's what I'll leave it as (for now haha).

I apologize for the incoherence of this argument, and if this were grad school, I would certainly not be able to defend this thesis without major revisions (and sources). Fortunately, this isn't grad school. These are just a bunch of tangled thoughts I'm working to unweave as I type. Perhaps not the most productive, but hey, I didn't pay you tuition. :) 

Supporter13 months ago

Yes, actually, about your tuition. Your account has gone to collections. Our authorized agents will assist you in paying your bill. 

I like many of your thoughts, and I agree that strict popularity does not and should not be the only deciding factor when determining what a classic game is. After all, monopoly is popular but it’s objectively awful. Yet it’s still a classic. So popularity has to play some role in the decision. Perhaps a game is initially considered a classic on its own intrinsic  merits, whatever we deem them to be, but then sustains its classic status based on its popularity over time.