A Game of Oz

In honor of Ozma’s birthday, I thought I’d make today’s game post about Oz. There are several games based on the MGM movie, but ones that relate to the books are, not surprisingly, considerably more rare. The first known Oz board game, known as the Wonderful Game of Oz, was released by Parker Brothers in 1921, two years after L. Frank Baum’s death.

The board includes characters and locations from the first thirteen Oz books. (Baum’s last Oz book, Glinda of Oz, was published in 1920, but there don’t appear to be any references to it on the board.)

It appears to be a pretty straightforward race game, with the players each trying to reach the Emerald City based on rolls of the dice. These dice feature the letters of “WIZARD” rather than numbers, but I assume each letter must correspond to a number. I can’t find the actual rules on the Internet, but I have to wonder if there’s something special about the larger spaces. I also thought the spaces with numbers in red might mean something, but a closer look makes it appear that it’s just used on every fifth one. The playing pieces represent Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion.

This wiki page refers to a Toto piece as well, but I can’t find any other evidence of such. I guess you could always just use that dog from Monopoly if you really want Toto to be included, though. The pieces were pewter in the earliest sets, but were later made of wood. I’m not sure when they stopped making the game, but it is now a quite valuable collectible, usually selling for upwards of $1000 at auctions.

I’m not sure if it’s still available, but the International Wizard of Oz Club sold a card game called Ozmopolitans, designed by Dick Martin. The cards depicted various Oz characters, and could be used for variations on a few simple children’s card games. I believe I bought one set and received another at the centennial convention, but I’m not sure where either one is now. The cards were fairly flimsy, if I remember correctly, but the pictures were pretty neat.

Finally, I feel I should mention a game called “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” which I bought at a Munchkin Convention. This title has apparently been used for a few different games, but this one in particular featured a board depicting Oz and made up of hexagons. Several locations from throughout the Oz series were included, and the goal was to obtain crowns from all five capitals. The game used a die to determine moves, but there were also cards with various rewards and penalties. Some of them sent you to prison locations where you’d lose turns, and others to the Wish Way or Rolling Road. It was pretty fun, although it got repetitive after a little while, and I have to wonder whether the guy I bought it from is still making the sets. I can’t find any information about it on the Internet, and about all I remember is that the maker was from Maryland. I probably still have my copy somewhere, but it might be at my mom’s house.

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16 Responses to A Game of Oz

  1. Jared says:

    “I can’t find the actual rules on the Internet,”
    David Maxine had created a giant size version of the game he had out at Winkies this year. I didn’t get to play, but I did take photos, including the instruction booklet.
    All my Winkies 2011 photos: http://winkies.org/wiki/2011_Winkies_Images#Jared_Davis.27_Pictures
    Instruction booklet:

    • Nathan says:

      Thanks! Sounds like they didn’t even attempt to make the rules particularly interesting, but it’s nice to know how the WIZARD dice work.

      • ozaline says:

        Well the rules are complicated… for a 1920s audience it might have been a bit more impressive I guess. I’ve been curious about the 100th Anniversary board game… know anything about it?


      • Nathan says:

        The way the dice work is definitely complicated, and probably a bit annoying. Also, I guess I should remember that kids will usually fill in the details with their imaginations (or at least I did when I was a kid), so it might be more fun than the rules suggest.

        I know I’ve seen that hundredth anniversary game before. I might even own it, but I’ve never played it. I believe it’s based only on the first Oz book, though.

    • Mr. Flip says:

      Thanks for sharing images of this labor of love. For those with imagination, it really is a marvelous game.

  2. Ozma’s birthday, eh? Yet another reminder that I need to start creating a database of Fictional Characters’ birthdays. One shockingly doesn’t seem to already exist. (Percy Jackson’s birthday was last Thursday, which is what has gotten me pondering this lately).

    • Nathan says:

      The Oz books really don’t mention the birthdays of most characters. In The Road to Oz, however, two references add up to 21 August as her birthday. Also, John Dough was created on the Fourth of July.

      • ozaline says:

        Although in my own Oz book, Oz has it’s own calander and she’s born on the 21st day of a Month that just happens to overlap with August (that’s possible based on the text).

  3. Tim Tucker says:

    I actually enjoyed playing the game at Winkies this summer, but you’re right, the rules should be rewritten to make it a more exciting game.

  4. Glenn I says:

    I played with Tim at Winkies – and he smoked me.

    The board is gorgeous. The rules are boring. Nothing Ozzy about the rules. No strategy either, just luck. Maybe it could be improved, like when you land on one of the big squares you get asked a trivia question – if you answer right you can move another player back a few spaces. Or you get magical devices cards – a Magic Belt allows you one wish – switch places with another player, say. Praise to David Maxine for making a giant size version of the board so we could appreciate it. Gameplay needs work.

  5. T. Beard says:

    Jared – Thank you so much for posting your photos of the rules. I am reading to my son the Oz series with the books I inherited from my grandmother (yes, these books are falling apart they are so old). My father brought over tonight the OZ game which he played as a boy. He couldn’t remember all the rules and so we played with what he remembered. He, too, searched for the rules online and couldn’t find them anywhere EXCEPT where someone was selling the game. So, your post is a life saver for us! Now we will know the correct rules as we play on our game board which is very old (probably from the 1930s) but has been much loved through the years!

  6. The Wogglebug’s Game of Conundrums predates this by almost 20 years.

    • Nathan says:

      That’s true, but I don’t think that had much to do with Oz beyond the title character appearing on the box. Maybe I’m wrong, though; I haven’t actually seen the contents.

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