My wife and I went to our first board game convention this year. On the last day of the con, they had a game flea market, where people could sell games. Among many more current games were a handful of vintage games and I found this GI Joe game from 1982!
This would have been from the early days of Joe mania, right as the Real American Hero toyline was introduced. So it doesn’t really have a good Joe theme and seems to be a fairly generic game. In fact, it has a pretty abysmal 4.8 rating on BoardGameGeek.com.
As you can see, the board is just a mess of ovals and vaguely defined areas.
According to the rulebook, players choose a Joe…
…and then start at either the Pentagon (bottom right) or Ft. Wadsworth (top left), where the Joe’s headquarters, called The Pit, is located, hidden beneath the Chaplains Assistant School’s motor pool.
They “train” by rolling a die and moving around the circle on those areas. While doing so they pick up equipment cards (all of which, except for the hydrofoil, were available at your local toy store, naturally).
Once they’re equipped, they’ll take on a mission to Cobra Island (bottom left) or the mysterious Desert Kingdom (top right), presumably a stand-in for some Middle Eastern country that America had beef with in the early-80s.
As you move towards your objectives, like the Desert Air Strip or a Cobra fort, you’ll get attacked and have to defend yourself using the equipment you’ve collected, as well as a lucky roll of the dice.
If you win, you’ll capture your objective and gain points.
I’m sure this is a pretty terrible game, but it was made for kids back in the 80s when product tie-in games didn’t have to be good to sell. All they needed were some recognizable game pieces and a theme that vaguely matched the show/movie/cartoon. So this succeeds on those standards alone.
And even if the game is bad, I just love having it as part of my collection. The box art and Joe standees, all using the original art from the carded action figures, including their combat specialties rather than their code names, makes it all the more fun. If I ever actually play it, I’ll let you know if it earned that 4.8 rating.