Fictional games — they aren’t just for copyright defense anymore. Thanks to the thriving geek merchandise industry, a number of games that formerly only existed as sight gags or plot points in your favorite works of sci-fi and fantasy are now available for purchase. If you’re looking for some truly unusual gamer-geek gifts (and are also of a crafty disposition) this holiday season, start here.
Star Trek’s Tri-D Chess
The Holy Grail of fictional games made real, this is the bizarre mutation of chess that first appeared in the revised pilot for Star Trek (and saved Kirk’s bacon in “Court Martial“). It not only has moving pieces, it has moving boards. Fans put together rules and designs for this game years ago, but in 1997 the Franklin Mint actually produced a professional version of the game set. These quickly became ultra-collectible, to the point it will run you between $200 to $400 to get your hands on one, but your Trekkie will love you forever for it. If you’re time-rich and cash-poor, however, there are plans for building your own Tri-D chess set available online. Fascinating.
Firefly’s Tall Card
For the Browncoat who has everything: Tall Card is a quirky descendant of poker that first appeared in the Firefly episode “Shindig.” The game has 72 cards in six suits, and some fun nomenclature that leads to players saying odd things like “plums are tall.” While no one has made an authorized, professional version of the game, there are some very nice downloadable PDF Tall Card sets that let you print your own. Or you could go all out and craft a superior version of Tall Card.
A Dwarvish analog to chess that first appeared in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novel Going Postal and then took a starring role in the eponymous sequel, Thud!. The game features an octagonal board and 42 pieces that take moves such as hurl, shove, and trample. A professional version of the game is available, including rules for both traditional Thud and Koom Valley Thud, which is what all real Dwarven warriors play.
Battlestar Galactica’s Pyramid/Triad
In the original Battlestar Galactica, it was called Pyramid. In the Ron Moore reboot, it was called Triad. By either name, it’s yet another card-based gambling game, this time involving 52 hexagonal cards in four suits (plus two Cylon jokers, though that seems a bit oxymoronic when you say it out loud). Pro sets are now available, including rules. They’ll even play 13th Colony Triad, better known as Earth poker. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. So say we all!
Star Wars Sabacc
Still waiting for:
- Mystic Warlords of Ka’a - This Magic: The Gathering imitator from The Big Bang Theory needs to happen yesterday.
- Cyvasse - Come on, HBO. With Game of Thrones so freaking popular, there’s no excuse for me not having this Westeros-derived hybrid of Risk and chess.
Is there a fictional game you wish someone would build (or at least lay out craft designs for)? Sound off in the comments section.