A grail game is a game that has somehow managed to escape one's grasp. It could be hard to find, reflect its monster size or simply too expensive. A bad case of the latter plagues Streets of Stalingrad. Averaging anywhere from 300-500 dollars has ensured that i will never own this game.
Long hailed as the definitive Stalingrad game, its attention to detail as attested to by 6 sheets of counters and maps the quality of which you could do much worse, proves this game will be hard to surpass. The game is now in its third incarnation but actually began in 1979 in the studio of Pheonix Games (and i should add is a much more affordable version) a la Dana Lombardy and David Parham.
It saw its second incarnation through 2 separate releases as a product of Nova games in 1982 with Fire on the Volga and Battle for the Factories.
The scenarios within this version are smaller and much more playable then the final version and it goes without saying, much more affordable. The two versions can also be connected.
Back to the third edition: how many people actually own this and more, how many have actually played it? Are the contents of this version that much prettier to look at such that the price should get jacked up a couple hundred more bucks? Or is there a kind of Zeitgeist at work here? A spirit of the times that has been whispering its fork tongued solicitation in our impressionable, gullible ears? I've seen what's in the box, and yes its eye catching enough but i can't for the life of me justify the price of the contents.
In some respects, this game is no different then any other. Be prepared to swim through some deep water rules (water wings are recommended) and spend a better part of a season punching, clipping and then setting up the massive quantity of counters. Yet this is not exclusive to Streets of Stalingrad.
So I have come to the conclusion that there is a shared perception which births itself upon rumors ill conceived that migrate like some contagious virus infecting our opinions with a sickness that makes us justify the shelling out of a small fortune for that which we believe to be worth it only because "Everyone else thinks so too." And sadly, 3rd ed. Streets of Stalingrad is not the only guilty party here.
Another interesting aspect has to do with the simple fact that this game is in its third iteration. Wargames seem to defy physics by denying the definition of derivative. How many games out there keep getting re-hashed and rather than reflect a watered down market with a watered down price, the opposite somehow occurs. Yup, "There's gold in them there games..."
Alas, don't get me wrong, if someone were to gift me this bane of games, i'd snatch it up in a heart beat. But every time i find myself alone, face to face with the sales tag, a nausea overwhelms me and i quickly move on. Its a shame too, because i think this game (and a number of others rotting in similar stasis) deserves a much better fate.
Question: Does a grail game command a particular price? Or does a particular price command the title "grail game"?
Thanks for reading.