Sometimes graal game, holy grail game. Used equally for board games or video games.
A grail game. It is a nice expression. Maybe the alliteration helped it to stick. Anyway, it did stick, and is quite commonly used.
In a variety of meanings.
As any collector will tell you, the mythical grail game is not merely difficult to obtain. Not only is it out of print, but it most likely has been for quite some time. And there are good reasons, legal or otherwise, to believe that it will never get reprinted. It is highly elusive and almost never shows up on the second-hand market, as there are so few copies of it in circulation. It often has some intrinsic value beyond the financial value due to its scarcity. It may be an important, influential design, for example. It is the kind of game that keeps serious collectors going. They will spend years looking for it, and a small fortune to acquire it.
Even if there are games that are traditionally regarded as grail games, we should be careful when citing specific games as examples of grail games. To understand why, we only have to go read discussion threads about grail games from, say, two years ago. So many of those impossibly hard to find, mythical games simply came back in print. Anybody can now buy them, for a fraction of their grail price, and often in modern, shiny new editions.
Vasel’s Law tends to demonstrate that grail status is precarious.
But that is collector speak. Most of the time however, grail game is used as a hyperbole that refers to a highly desirable game that is hard to find, and might be consequently more expensive. It doesn’t have to be out of print. Popular games that are simply between prints often get called grail games — by those who missed their latest printing and are impatiently waiting for the next one.
In that sense, grail games are often a personal thing.
Sometimes the “hard to find” part gets dropped from the definition, and then a grail game simply becomes a game that one desperately wants — the upcoming purchase that makes one brim with anticipation.
- For now my current grail game is the Kickstarter edition of Lisboa.
For some gamers grail game doesn’t involve a quest or any anticipation; it is a game they already own and that is, for one reason or another, particularly valuable to them and that they cherish. It is a synonym to precious.
- The Campaign For North Africa is the grail game of my collection.
For others still, the term doesn’t even imply ownership. Grail games are simply games they really want to try, to play at least once.
Finally grail game can also only refer to a game’s quality and desirable features. In that sense a grail game is an accomplished, outstanding design in a given category, one that embodies a style, exemplifies a genre above all others. Such game is said to be of grail quality, or to be grail material.
- Dominion is the grail game of the deck-building genre.
If more than one game fits the bill, they are said to be co-grails. Or to have runner-up grails.
Satisfied collectors who have finally found their grail game say they’re grail-happy. Requests for rare games on discussion groups or social media are sometimes called grail quests.
That said, thanks to Vasel’s Law we know that most games that are in demand, no matter how hard to find, will be reprinted. So no more anguish, noble knights! Hold your horses, save your gold and… just wait for the reprint.
References and Further Browsing
- A few interesting definitions of Grail Games, on Boardgamegeek
- Ten rare board games to snap up the second you can, on Geek & Sundry
- What is your “Grail Game”?, on Reddit
- Your Holy Grail, on Boardgamegeek
- What is your graal game?, on Reddit
- Whats the most sought after game?, on Reddit
- Your Number One Grail Game, on Boardgamegeek
- Grail Games, on Boardgamegeek
- The Holy Grails of Collecting, on Boardgamegeek
- How much would you pay for a rare board game?, on Boardgamegeek