What Is the Most Complex Board Game?

War is hell, and there's a board game that isn't far behind.

Unlike a typical board game, "The Campaign for North Africa" takes up to 1,500 hours to play.
Unlike a typical board game, "The Campaign for North Africa" takes up to 1,500 hours to play.

Published in 1979 under the less-than-compelling title of "The Campaign for North Africa," this tabletop game wasn't meant to be a fun way to enjoy a relaxing evening with friends or family. What game designer Richard Berg had in mind was something far more demanding.

To complete the military simulation game, you and nine other players must be willing to commit up to 1,500 hours of your lives -- that's 62 days. You'll also need room for a 10-foot-long (3-m-long) map of the Sahara, 1,600 cardboard chits, multiple rulebooks, and dozens of charts to keep track of troop morale, mechanical failures, and damage.

The game is based on real World War II fighting in Egypt and Libya, and Berg did his best to be authentic, even to the point of (intentionally) ridiculous detail. For example, if the game's Italian troops aren't given an extra water ration so that they can cook their pasta, they may not be able to fight.

Not surprisingly, the $44 game did not sell well upon release, but there are some military strategy devotees who consider it a classic -- and others who consider it a valuable commodity. Sellers on eBay price copies of "The Campaign for North Africa" in the $600 range.

The games we play:

  • The board game "Cranium" was the first product sold at Starbucks that wasn't related to coffee.

  • It is estimated that, on average, 3,000 "Scrabble" games are started every hour.

  • Although Charles Darrow became a millionaire for designing "Monopoly," the board game was clearly based on "The Landlord's Game," an economics game patented by Lizzie Magie in 1904.

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