People, games, and companies referenced in The Sackson Diaries.
These 35 diaries cover Sackson’s activities related to game design, development, and collecting, including ideas for games and the strategies involved in them; games he play-tested with family and friends; information about games he purchased or heard about; relevant books, magazines, periodicals, and articles he read and acquired; business activities with his agent and with game manufacturers; and trips taken to publicize his games and to look for games he wanted to collect.
From 1963–1969 Sackson indexed each diary by the name of each game, book, and magazine referenced in his entries. For the 1970–1988 diaries, he indexed by the name of each person, game, book, and magazine referenced in his entries. There are no indexes from 1984–1986 or from 1989–1997.
This Glossary defines more than 130 games, people, companies, and publications which appear throughout Sackson's diaries.
Above and Beyond (originally titled Twists 'n' Turns) is a Sid Sackson strategy game in which players attempt to create a connected path of their color by stacking colored blocks, essentially going "above and beyond" their opponent.
Sackson submitted Above and Beyond to Milton Bradley in 1978, but it was returned. In 1980, Peter Riva suggested a cheaper version made with flat card pieces. Sackson started working on Above and Beyond II (renamed The Right Connections II) on November 19, 1980. Sackson shared the game with Bill Riva on April 1981.
One of Sid Sackson's most notable and successful games, Acquire is a multi-player stock market game in which player actions affect stock prices. Players create, grow, and merge hotel chains to earn money and sell stock and are not limited by chance through dice, cards, or spinners.
The history of the game originated with an early solitaire game based on the wargame Lotto. Originally called Decision, then renamed to Vacation, Sackson shared his game with 3M Company on April 2, 1963. Six weeks later, 3M paid a deposit to hold the game which would be part of their Bookshelf Games. After some edits, market testing, and name change, a contract was signed on October 11, 1963. Bill Caruson, Product Merchandiser at 3M, worked with Sackson to fine-tune the rules for gameplay and address edits prior to the release of the game in 1964. (The game box had a date of 1962, which was likely due to the artwork's copyright date).
Avalon Hill made Computer Acquire in 1980. Both versions were later procured by Hasbro in 1998. The game was reissued in 2000 and again in 2008 by Wizards of the Coast.
Airline was a game which Sackson designed and continued to improve gameplay and rules over time. The first mention in his diaries occurs on June 14, 1963. Sackson tried to make changes to shorten gameplay and tested the game with each change. The game involves players drawing cards and paying to go to cities specified on the cards, called "hops." The game was shared with various publishers, including Parker Brothers and Bob Gellman of Research Games, Inc. (RGI, later Athol Research Corporation (ARC)).
It doesn't appear that Airline was ever published or evolved into another game. On May 5, 1972, Sackson's diary entry states that he "took Airline from Felicia. She agreed that it had been everywhere."
Sid Sackson's Bazaar was one of the 3M Bookshelf Games published in 1967. The game involves trading to acquire the right combination of colored stones to then purchase bazaar wares. The game was originally designed to teach children basic algebra.
Bazaar was released by Schmidt and Klee in Germany and by Discovery Toys, Inc. in America. Eagle-Gryphon Games reprinted Bazaar in 2011 to keep Sackson's legacy alive and continues to raise funds on Kickstarter to do so.
Bazaar II was published by Schmidt in 1980 with a new design by Sackson (presumably since the company didn't have rights to reprint the original Bazaar game). This trading game was different than the 3M version, with players buying, trading, and selling goods as they move a map. Rio Grande Games and Abacus republished this game as Samarkand with additional changes to the game.
Buried Treasure is one of Sid Sackson’s pencil and paper games in Beyond Solitaire (1976, Pantheon). The idea for this game first appears in the diary entry for January 5, 1976. The solitaire game involves drawing rectangles based on the throw of a dice, attaching them at opposite corners, and scoring based on the color of the space, rectangle, and treasure spaces.
Buried Treasure is also the name of a Sid Sackson design, originally published as High Spirits with Calvin and the Colonel in 1962. It was republished in 1999 by F.X. Schmidt with a pirate theme and is unrelated to the game in Beyond Solitaire and Sackson’s related diary entries. Sackson’s diaries also reference Buried Treasure, a card game designed by Ronald Corn for Playing Cards Around the World, his first game available to the public.
One of Sid Sackson's all-time classic games, Can't Stop is a management and gambling game. It was likely a subsequent version of The Great Races which appeared in The 6 Pack of Paper & Pencil Games but with a major change that players could roll more than once until they decide to stop. Can't Stop was first published by Parker Brothers in 1980 but was later dropped after low sales. Despite the low sales in America, Can't Stop has been almost continuously published in Germany with sales topping Acquire. A new edition of the game was published in the United States by Face 2 Face Games in 2007, with an iOS version appearing in 2012 by Playdek.
Variants on gameplay include "speed" or "blocking" which allow alternative moves for a quicker, or slower, game depending on the variant. Can't Stop was followed by Can't Stop Express (1989), Can't Stop the Turtles (2002), and Extra! (2011).
Can't Stop was recommended for the Spiel des Jahres in 1981 and 1982.
Carré (also called Shape and Shatter) is for two to six players where they try to build the biggest square with colored pieces of assorted shapes and earn points. Sackson also designed Carré Solitaire, using the pieces to build increasingly larger squares starting with a 1 x 1 to a 9 x 9.
Sackson was working on the game in 1963 and shared it with publishers. The name changed to Shape and Shatter and was purchased to be published in 1967 under the guise of secrecy. (The publisher recorded as "X" in Sackson's diaries was likely Springbok/Hallmark as negotiations were with Arnold Shapiro, a Hallmark employee at the time). The line was planned to include Color Confusion, Deduction, Stack Sticks, and Triple Cross games.
In 1972, Bob Johnson at Hallmark reviewed the game for possible publication under the Springbok name. In 1973, Sackson created new rules for the game, retitled as Pop-Shape and Shatter. This was reviewed by Keith Tuggle at 3M and by Mr. Stubbman at Kohner, both in 1974. Over the next couple of years, Sackson's diaries describe Shape and Shatter being shared with other companies, including Gabriel and Parker Brothers. A 1979 entry shows Sackson still making edits to the game. Despite the more than fifteen years of work and various versions of the game, it doesn't appear to ever have been published. The game also appears in diary entries as The Game of Carré, Shape and Shatter, Pop-Shape, Shatter, and Shape.
Chess is a two-player strategy board gameplayed on an 8x8 grid of alternating light and dark squares. Players take turns moving pieces with unique forms of movement to capture pieces and ultimately place the opponent's king in inescapable location of capture, checkmate.
Chess is one of the world's most popular games and played by millions of people. Thought to have originated in the 7th century as an Indian game, Chaturanga is likely the ancestor of Chinese chess, Korean chess, and Japanese chess. Chess arrived in Europe in the 9th century and evolved in the 15th century to its current form. Competitive chess began in the 16th century with the first official World Chess Champion, Wilhelm Steinitz in 1886.
This classic game is played online, by correspondence, in tournaments, and has inspired a large amount of literature and periodicals. There are many varieties of chess with different rules, boards, and pieces. Some of Sid Sackson's games in A Gamut of Games require the use of a chess or checkerboard.
Sackson's diaries contain many entries on chess and variant games as well as books on the game including Chess: A History of the Game, Chess Eccentricities, Chess and Playing Cards, and Chinese Chess.
Sackson's idea for the game Closing In first appears in his March 26, 1979, diary entry. The game was published in the Games November/December 1979 issue. An abstract strategy game for two, Closing In is a pencil and paper game using a 6x6 grid where players alternate initialing squares until the loser can no longer play.
Colonel Mustard’s Treasure Hunt is a Sid Sackson game design that was not published. He began working on the game in 1985 with help from Bernice Sackson and Phil Orbanes. Sackson continued making edits to the game over the next few years including creating a more generic-themed version called "-> -> Treasure Hunt" (the arrows indicated how the game box prototype was edited to remove “Colonel Mustard’s” from the title using pieces with arrows). The game designs were shared with Laurie Curran at Parker Brothers, John Vernon at Mattel, and West End Games, among others.
The game has Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlet, Mrs. White, Professor Plum, Mrs. Peacock, and Mr. Green searching ancient sites in Egypt to locate pieces of a map leading to a treasure. Players search for 9 map cards among various piles at different locations on the board by playing power cards allowing players to steal, trade, search, and protect map cards. A player wins by finding all pieces of the map.
Sackson's game design, Counterpoint, first appears on September 26, 1969, and is played on a 5x5 grid with different color chips or glass pieces. Players win points by creating configurations of colored shapes with the chips within the parameters of the rules.
Sackson changed the name to Transformation on July 17, 1970, and worked with Tom Atwater and Mary Hilt on the publication. It was released in 1971 by Hoyle Products.
Deal-Me-In is a game design by Sid Sackson which evolved from an earlier game design. Fun City was a game that Sackson already had designed by 1974, but that year the game was renamed to Fight City Hall. The game was offered up for publication, but not accepted. Because the game had a very adult theme, Sackson revised it to become Deal-Me-In, which also included aspects of his game Holiday. The goal was to create a fast and interactive game with a new fantasy theme containing monsters, magic wielders, and treasure. This game was reviewed by Tom Shaw at Avalon Hill and was playtested but unpublished.
Diary entries reference Fun City in 1974, Fight City Hall from 1974 to 1980, and Deal-Me-In from 1980 through 1981.
A Sid Sackson game, Domination was originally released by Western Publishing in 1965 as Focus but was retitled when it was reprinted by Milton Bradley in 1982. Domination (Focus) is a game of strategy where a player must capture their opponent's pieces which build to create stacks. Based on a checkerboard, pieces move forwards, backwards, across, and stack, with captured pieces forming the base of stack.
Domination is unique from Focus because it included rules for playing a 3 player game (see February 1, 1982), whereas the original version only worked for 2 or 4 players. This game was released during the holiday season and became the only Sid Sackson game to be featured in a television commercial, putting a military theme on an abstract game.
Executive Decision was originally published by 3M in 1971 as part of the Bookshelf Series. This Sid Sackson game is based on a market simulation of supply and demand, in which players buy and turn raw materials into finished goods, with the goal of ending the game with the most money.
The game was later published by AS Manufacturas (1987) in Spanish, The Avalon Hill Game Co. (1981), and University Games (2006).
Fitting and Proper is a puzzle game designed by Sid Sackson. The game was published by Springbok in 1973 and involves players placing all of their L-shaped pieces within the 8x8 grid puzzle before their opponent. Fitting and Proper can also be played as a solitaire puzzle with the challenge to fit all 16 pieces on the board.
Fitting and Proper first appears in Sackson's 1968 diary on May 2, later naming the game on May 14. Diary entries document Sackson's progress on the game through the next few years prior to publication in 1973.
Focus (Dominion) is one of Sid Sackson's notable games. It is an abstract strategy game where player moves capture pieces until their opponent has no moves available. Based on a checkerboard, pieces move forwards, backwards, across, and stack, with captured pieces forming the base of stack.
This game first appeared in Martin Gardner's column in Scientific American in October 1963. Daekor Designs published the game in 1964, and Western Games released the game in 1965. Focus has been released in various editions, including one in which Milton Bradley renamed the game to Domination in 1982. This game was also included in Sackson's A Gamut of Games in 1969.
Focus won the Spiel des Jahres in 1981.
Foreign Intrigue was designed as a mystery game for 3M in response to an assignment and was based on spies not being allowed to visit certain cities. This game was likely unpublished and appears in several diaries starting in 1971.
High Spirits was Sid Sackson’s first professionally published game by Milton Bradley in 1962. The game was retitled High Spirits with Calvin and the Colonel to tie in a children’s cartoon based on the Amos & Andy radio and TV shows. The game begins with four columns of five face-up cards and players choose a card from the bottom of a column with a mind to what cards will be freed up. Cards score points with values changing in subsequent rounds of the game, adding a timing element to the game and also allowing for players to take cards from each other.
Sackson continued to work on the game for the next few decades, thinking of new themes and names like Having a Wonderful Time, which was reviewed by Hasbro in 1972 for possible publication with a new name, Blue Chips. High Spirits was also reviewed by John Vernon at Milton Bradley in 1980, but was turned down. The game was also reviewed by Michael Gray, Jeff Conrad, Warren Holland, Lars Winneberg, and Ronald Weingartner.
High Spirits with Calvin and the Colonel was later republished by F.X. Schmid in 1992 with a tabloid journalism theme as Das Superblatt and in 1999 with a pirate theme as Buried Treasure which was awarded the title "Best Family Card Game" by Games magazine in 2000. The style of the game inspired other game designs including Suit Yourself, Make Five, and Far Out.
Holiday! is a Sid Sackson game which has players bidding against each other to guide an airplane around the world to reach a destination as close to the day of the week as specified by their cards. All players start with a limited amount of money with which to bid, and once a player runs out of money or cards, the game is over and the winner is determined by victory points earned.
The game was published in 1973 by Research Games Inc. (RGI), a publisher known for sports simulations and two of Sackson's wargames. The world map graphics, which were challenging to read, were improved in European remakes of the game Das Erbe des Maloney (Maloney's Inheritance) and Shanghai, but also added an element of luck not originally present in the game.
Holiday! likely originated from Ruth Shaler's design Go and See, which Sackson reworked with her permission, as stated in the entry from January 24, 1966. Sackson's diary entries in December 1971 and January 1972 document Bob Gellman's review of Go and See, as well as the development of Holiday! (previously titled Jet Holiday for a short time).
Intersection is a Sid Sackson design that was originally published by Aladdin Games in 1974. Sackson first wrote about the idea for this "coffee break" game on March 6, 1974. An abstract game, Intersection (also called Corner) starts with a board with 25 colored discs placed randomly on a 5x5 grid. Players alternate turns picking up discs to collect colors with sets scoring higher points.
Sackson writes on January 12, 1980 that Ravensburger Spieleverlag GmbH changed the name from Intersection to Cornered and again to Corner on January 31. This version used 36 colored marbles instead of discs.
Sid Sackson's Monad (previously titled Infinite Plane) is an abstract card game in which players collect round cards called "monads" by trading, buying, and leaping. Sackson first wrote about Infinite Plane on January 30, 1967. The name was changed to Monad in 1968 and the game was published by 3M in 1969 as part of the Gamette Series.
It was later published by Eagle-Gryphon Games, Hexagames, and Salagames as Die 1. Million and was recommended for the Spiel des Jahres in 1987.
Monopoly was first patented by Charles Darrow and published by Parker Brothers in 1935. The board game is based on the concept of buying, trading, and developing properties to push opponents into bankruptcy. Hasbro acquired Parker Brothers in 1991 and subsequently began licensing many versions of the game. Monopoly has had many spin-off games including Advance to Boardwalk (1985), Monopoly: The Card Game (2000), Free Parking (1988), along with various video and gambling games. Monopoly has been printed in nearly 40 languages and licensed locally in more than 100 countries.
During World War II, the game was used by the British Secret Intelligence Service as a way to smuggle maps, money and other objects to prisoners of war, held by the Nazis, to aid in escape. In 1974, Ralph Ansbach was sued by Parker Brothers for his use of game title Anti-Monopoly. This litigation helped bring to light the game's early history.
Monopoly was based on The Landlord's Game (1903) by Lizzie Magie, designed to educate players about the downsides of earning money from rented property and benefits of the Henry George's idea of "Single Tax." The game evolved and eventually was adapted by Charles Darrow. Parker Brothers bought the rights to The Landlord's Game patent for only $500. The original board design was based on Atlantic City, New Jersey; in 1995 Parker Brothers acknowledged the misspelling of Marvin Gardens, correctly Marven Gardens.
Sackson studied the history and evolution of classic games including Monopoly. His game, Acquire, is a similar game of mergers and acquisitions.
P.E.G.S., The Parker Electronic Game System, was published in 1978 by Parker Brothers. This abstract game uses a two-sided gameboard wired to chime when pegs, one yellow and one rubber, are inserted in the same hole from opposite sides of the board.
15 different games are included with seven designed by Sid Sackson: Battle of the Blobs, Border Patrol, Football, Rapid Transit, Soccer, Space Attack, and Tank Blitz. Sackson's work on these games is documented beginning in the 1977 diary. In the March/April 1979 Games issue, Sackson added two additional games: Spy Network and Connections.
Other designers include Wendl Thomis, Holly Doyle, and Robert Doyle.
Patton was a game design by Sackson, based on the Avalon Hill game General Patton. The game came about from a request from Bob Gellman to pair with previously-created artwork. This game primarily appears in the 1973 and 1974 diaries, with the first mention on January 3, 1973.
Planes is a 3-D card game designed by Sid Sackson, based on an idea from Jim Kraus. The game, for two to six players, uses a 3x3x3 board with a deck of 54 cards ("baby" size) with six suits of cards numbered of 1-5. Players take tricks by adding card values to reach 100 points to win.
The game first appears in Sackson's October 31, 1970, diary entry and was sent, along with game Checkpoint, to Bob Edwards at Hallmark. Sackson signed a contract and received an advance for the game on March 10, 1972; however, the contract expired March 10, 1974, without the game being published. In 1977 the game was reviewed by Simulations Publications Inc.
Originally released in 1971 as part of 3M's Gamette Series, Sleuth is a classic deduction game by Sid Sackson. Gameplay revolves around deducing the hidden gem card through eliminating face-up cards and asking opponents questions about their cards, similar to Clue, though without a board or dice.
Sleuth was also published by Avalon Hill in 1981 and released by Face 2 Face Games (formed by Providence game store owner Larry Whalen) in 2004 and Eagle-Gryphon Games in 2012.
The Case of the Elusive Assassin: An Ellery Queen Mystery Game (originally titled Operation Search), also by Sid Sackson and published by Ideal in 1967, has a similar game mechanism as Sleuth.
Slideword is a word game designed by Sid Sackson in 1983. Players agree on a "masterword" (at least eight letters long) and advantageously rearrange the letters on a slider, writing as many words as can be found within the time limit. Longer words score higher points.
The game was reviewed by Laurie Curran at Parker Brothers but was not published.
Take-A-Word is a fast-moving word game was designed by Sid Sackson in 1972 for players "who don't really like word games." The game is prepared by placing letter tiles on the board, face up. Players take turns removing tiles from a row or column to form a word. Previously taken tiles can be reused to create a new word. Once all tiles are removed and the board cleared, scores are tallied to determine the winner.
Sackson and his agent, Bill Riva, showed the game for over ten years to companies including Urban Systems, Inc., Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M), Waddingtons, Puzzle Factory, Kohner Bros., Aladdin Games, Gabriel, Mattel, and Milton Bradley Company. Despite this effort, the game was not published.
Sackson designed spin-off games Add-A-Letter and Very Cross Words, a simplified version of Take-A-Word.
This game appears in Sackson's diary entries from 1972 through 1988.
Takeover (also Take Over) began as The Brain Game, a business-based variation on Sackson's Cinema game. The idea for The Brain Game first appears in the March 23, 1970, diary entry. In 1974, Sackson corresponded with Ed Shifman at Aladdin Games and determined that Takeover would be the new name for The Brain Game. Although ultimately turned down by Aladdin, Takeover was also reviewed by Pierre Berloquin at Dujardin in 1978 (as well as Eric Goldberg and Peter Corless at West End Games in 1986), but was not published.
The prototype for Takeover includes a game board with a 7x7 grid and triangles on edges, money, game cards, dice and plastic "buildings" in various colors.
[Note: There are two non-Sackson games titled Takeover. These include Takeover: Stockmarket game by Whiteoak Games Ltd. (1984) and Takeover by Hallmark Cards, Inc. (1976), both of which are documented in Sackson's diaries.]
Temptation Poker is a Sid Sackson game published in 1982 by Whitman. This card game is a variant of Poker in which players can purchase additional cards to improve their hand. Gameplay continues until one player cannot pay the ante, and the player with the most credit at that time is the winner.
Totally is a game designed by Sid Sackson, published by Aladdin Games in 1974. The game involves arranging numbers to add up to a given total.
Originally titled Take a Number, the cube number game first appeared in Sackson's diary on May 11, 1967. The rules were edited over time and include solitaire play as well as two to five rounds with dice. Sackson received the $1500 advance from Aladdin on July 15, 1974, and agreed to reduce the number of tiles from 40 to 30 in order to price the game at $6, to be released in October 1974.
Treasure Hunt: A Computerized Television Game (referred to as Treasure Hunt in Sackson’s diaries) is one of two games developed for television by Sid Sackson and Fay Baker in 1967 (first mentioned on March 14, 1967). Baker primarily worked on the game over the next few years and continued marketing it into 1973.
Gameplay involves contestants "traveling" from the United States to overseas cities by reserving a series of flights and hotels. Of the 42 cities, 20 contain treasure, one of which is a super treasure. Contestants return to the United States, ending the game and determining what prizes may be kept. The first contestant to return may keep all their prizes, and subsequent contestants must forfeit a number of their most expensive prizes corresponding to the order in which they returned.
Treasures of the Mystic Plain originated in July 1981. Originally derived from Sackson's game Surround, he later changed the name to Treasures of the Mystic Plane (later Plain). The game rules and scoring evolved as Sackson and friends play tested the game. Eventually, the game was turned down by Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley.
Surround included a communal piece moved by players to surround game markers, with scoring based on which marker is surrounded last. Treasures of the Mystic Plane builds on this with players moving a "machine" along the edge, playing chips, and an incentive scoring based on the treasures surrounded.
Sid Sackson's Venture was published in 1969 by 3M as part of the Gamette Series. Sackson started working on Venture in 1967, which he originally called High Finance and then Venture Capital. Sackson received a contract from 3M for the game in August 1968. Venture was republished by Avalon Hill in 1983 and by Eagle-Gryphon Games in 2012, as well as in German as Die Bosse in 1991.
This strategy card game has players purchasing companies with sets of resource cards and strategizing to keep companies from being taken over by other players.