It was back last year that we reviewed the game Baffled from Cheatwell Games here on Penny Plays. We’d picked up a copy as a raffle prize at a Blog On conference and enjoyed playing it so much that wanted to share it with you all. I’d assumed it was a new game as I hadn’t come across it before. This week I discover I was wrong when I found a vintage copy in a charity shop in Chichester.
This version of Baffled was published in 1991 by Spear’s Games. I know that board games over the years become somewhat recycled, but normally a search on the bible of board games (AKA Board Game Geek) shows this up, but in this case Baffled was only listed there as having been published by Cheatwell in 2018.
Baffled – the similarities
On the whole the game of Baffled hasn’t really changed between the two versions. You still play in the same way with four players each trying to be the one to stay in longest by memorising the positions of 12 different symbols around the board. You can decide at the start of the game as to how many “lives” each player has and as you work your way around the board the things you are asked to do remain exactly the same in terms of which positions have to swap and which combinations of positions you have to name the symbols at.
Baffled – the differences
Playing the Cheatwell Games version of Baffled
Despite the general game play being the same, there are also quite a few smaller differences between the two versions of Baffled. Both have an elephant on the box, but the 2018 Cheatwell games version majors somewhat more on the elephant theme with each of the four coloured playing pieces bearing a picture of an elephant. In the 1991 Spear’s Games version there are just four coloured pieces, one for each player.
Spear’s Games Baffled Symbols
Cheatwell Games Baffled Symbols
With the introduction of elephants as playing pieces, there has also been a small change to the symbols that you have to remember. The yellow category contained an elephant and a banana in the Spear’s Games version, but by 2018 these had become a lion and a lemon instead. I can see why there was a need to swap out the elephant (which realistically was never yellow anyway!) but I’m not sure what the reason was for the banana going.
Spear’s Games Baffled Playing Board
The board layout, and size) also differs between the two versions. In the more modern version the symbols that you are trying to remember the positions of are arrange inside the board. In the old version they are around the edges. I can see why this change has been made as it’s far easier to swap pieces around if they’re all together in the middle. You’re also less likely to knock them when playing than you would be if they were round the edge of the board. The board has also become physically larger.
Spear’s Games Baffled playing pieces and symbols
The plastic pieces with the symbols on and the covers for them have also changed between the versions. They were much smaller in the Spear’s Games version and also somewhat harder to pick up too. I’m guessing that one of the reasons begins this change is probably driven by the fact that the plastic playing pieces now cost even less to produce than they did back in 1991.
The life cards included in the game have also changed slightly. In the version we reviewed before they either had a tick or a cross on them to symbolise being alive or dead. The Spear’s Games version says “Alive” on one side and “Dead” on the other. I wonder if this move to symbols was made to make the game work better in non English speaking countries maybe?
Finally, there’s just a subtle change in the rules. It used to be the case that two players could occupy the same square on the Baffled board. By the new version this has changed so that if the square you should land on is already occupied you’re supposed to advance to the next un-occupied square. Is this to accommodate the new larger playing pieces? Or a tweak for some other reason.
I always find it fascinating to compare different versions of the same game as I love discovering what changes have been made over time and trying to work out if the changes are for the better or not. In this case it seems that design is the main driving factor for the changes in Cheatwell’s version and I can see that as a good thing. The fact that the game itself has not changed suggests that it’s a pretty good game to start with.
You can buy the modern version of Baffled from Cheatwell Games online here. If you take a look on eBay you can often find copies of the Spear’s Games version come up for auction. They seem to sell for £7 upwards.
If you’re interested in vintage board games then why not head over to Facebook and join our new vintage board games group.
Disclaimer: We bought the Spear’s Game version of Baffled in a charity shop. The Cheatwell Games version was given to us as a raffle prize at a Blog On conference. We were not specifically asked to write about it. All opinions remain our own. This post contains affiliate links.