I was clearing out some of my old stuff from me faither's myriad of boxes that had not been opened since before two house moves ago when I came across this stuff. Crossbows & Catapults. Ohhh yeah. I loved it when I was a kid, which was in the mid 1990s. Elastic bands, plastic castle bricks, and little men had never been so much fun. Or so likely to have someone's eye out.

Crossbows and Catapults is a game for two players. You start by picking your side, either the Impalers of the Clannic Shelf or the Doomlords of Gulch, who are blue and red respectively (but when I was setting the game up for the first time I accidentally bunged the Impalers' logo stickers on the red counters because I was too eager) and use respectively beige and grey architecture, and, using the plastic bricks provided, build up fortifications. The bricks themselves are designed simply to stack atop each other and not lock together like lego bricks. You also have a square fortress with a catapult embedded in it, a hemi-cylindrical tower, and each player has, of course, a crossbow and a catapult.

You then set up your tent and arrange your men. You have to keep your men within a given radius of a crossbow or catapult in order to use that weapon and you can't use the catapult in the tower unless you put a man on top of that tower. Then, battle is joined!

Each player grabs one of their counters and takes it in turn to fire it at the enemy fortifications. Smash! Ka-pow! Kludd! They can fire either a crossbow or a catapult or the tower, and the winner is the first player to knock over all the opponents' men.

Needless to say, overeager children and elastic bands don't necessarily mix. On my set, I remember I double-wrapped the bands on the catapults quite astoundingly, and a shot fired from them could quite conceivably thwack into the ceiling. However, there's nothing in the rules that say that bank shots don't count!!! And the crossbow - stone me, I was deadly with it. I'd overstretch it and send the counter screaming across the carpet into the enemies' fortress - or sending the crossbow's mechanism flying up and poking me in the face if the band broke.

There were other surprises in store as well, such as that if you hit the door to the catapult tower, the man on top of it would go flying off. You also got extra points for demolishing enemy flags, the cardboard tent, or similar. Similarly, each player had three special counters - a boulder, which as well as physically knocking down walls would also have an area of effect and remove from the game any man or siege engine caught in it, the fireball, which would do likewise, and the oil, which wouldn't unless its area of effect coincided with the fireball's area of effect.

I wish I had enough space in my shoebox of a flat to have one final round of this game. I really do. Unfortunately I not only don't have such room but also don't know anyone who's equally stoked by the idea of murdering small plastic barbarians with elastic band-powered counters. And all the rubber bands are manky and withered at present. However, as soon as the above things are all remedied, the battle of Hazelnut's Carpet will find itself reignited, believe you me.

I'm told it was reissued (according to Wikipedia) in 2007 but I ain't seen it.

I'm also surprised that the makers haven't refitted it with the Angry Birds licence because at heart it is basically real life Angry Birds.

(IN1215/30)

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.