Monday, August 22, 2016
Memory Bank: Op Tile (1972; Schaper)
In the summer of 1979, my parents packed up my sister and me in our 1978 Ford van (with wall-to-wall green carpeting), and began a six week odyssey across the country. We took a northern route across the United States, from New Jersey to California and back again. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my young life.
We camped the whole way. We saw the Great Lakes, Mount Rushmore, Devil's Tower, and Chinatown, in San Francisco. We saw the Badlands, Yellowstone Park, and El Capitan.
For those six weeks our life looked like this; We would stay at a campground for one or two nights, three if we had a great spot, and then we would move on; to the next state and the next scenic location. I think we stayed in motels only two nights the entire six week trip.
My family had two tents, one for sleeping, and a screen tent for meals and board games.
One board game that went with us on that trip -- and which was a veritable fixture of the summer -- was called Op Tile. It was produced by Schaper under the name "The Cootie Company," and was billed as "a visual game of strategy for two to four players."
The instructions reported that "There are two ways to play Op Tile. The first method is individual play, one person against the other players. The other method is partnership. Either way involves the point count and strategy."
Basically, each player was issued a board or backing plate, and there were four sets of "op tiles," translucent tiles that were marked with a number and were of different shapes. The shapes were numbered 1 to 6.
Each player would draw cards and attempt to fill up the entire board with the translucent tiles of different shapes. It is trickier than it sounds, because of the different shapes.
We must have played the colorful Op Tile several times a week on that trip (between matches of Zimm Zamm...), and I have remembered the game for over thirty-five years.
But I have never once encountered it on E-Bay, or met a person who played it. It came out in 1972, an I'm sure my parents picked up the game on a garage sale expedition. So maybe the game skews to the generation of kids immediately before my own.
For many years, I truly thought Op Tile was something I just imagined.
Fortunately, many board game sites have confirmed my memories of this game. I have attempted to recapture and re-purchase so many of my childhood favorite games (including Gnip Gnop, Sub Search, Situation 7, Computer Perfection, Lakeside's Intercept and Laser Attack), but I have not yet had the opportunity go get my hands on Op Tile.
If you ever see one -- or even remember this game -- please let me know.