3M bookshelf game series

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TwixT of Alex Randolph: board and bookshelf

The 3M bookshelf game series is a set of classic and original strategy and economic games published in the 1960s and early 1970s by 3M Corporation. The games were packaged in leatherette-look large hardback book size boxes in contrast to the prevalent wide flat game boxes. The series grew to encompass almost three dozen games. Most were multi-player board games or card games; a few were trivia games or 2-handed board games. 'Acquire' and 'TwixT' were among the best known and most popular titles. The series later became part of the Avalon Hill Bookcase games. Very few of these games are still being published.[1]


These games were marketed towards adults and were designed to fit onto a standard bookshelf. Each game fit into a slip cover that was made to resemble the spine of a hardcover book. 3M's catalog described them as follows: "bookcase games, packaged in attractive leather-like slipcases, make a handsome set of volumes for any bookshelf." The line consisted of republished classics such as Go, Chess and Backgammon as well as original games. The Bookshelf games were originally in large boxes (8.5"x12"x2.25"); later, a series in smaller boxes called "gamettes" was introduced. (The early ones were packaged in a different shape box called a "butterbox".) 3M also published two other series of games in the same time frame: the Sports series (1966) and the Paper games series (1974). These were not in the bookshelf packaging format.

Acquire, TwixT and Sleuth were inducted into Games Magazine's Hall of Fame in the mid-1980s, though Sleuth was later dropped (1991) due to lack of current production.

In 1962, 3M commissioned game designers Alex Randolph and Sid Sackson to design the early games and they were largely responsible for shaping the direction of the line towards abstract strategy and economic games. Randolph eventually produced TwixT, Oh-Wah-Ree, Breakthru, Evade, Jati and Mad Mate. Sackson contributed Acquire, Bazaar, Monad, Executive Decision, Sleuth, and Venture. 3M thereafter relied extensively on freelance designers for the later bookshelf games. Between 400 and 600 submissions were received every year by the company. These were screened to find unique and interesting games that were connected to any recent trends or fads.

The games were produced by 3M from 1962 to 1975, under the complete company name, The Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company. (This is printed in each box and on the instructions and some paper game pieces.) Only a small number of the games (about 10) were significant commercial successes.

By the middle 1970s, gaming trends had shifted to pen and paper role playing games and the 3M game division was suffering losses. In 1976, the entire line was sold to Avalon Hill, which produced a competing line of bookcase games.[2] Avalon Hill discontinued most of them, but continued to publish some[3] until 1998, when it was sold by its parent company to Hasbro.[4] While Acquire was mildly re-themed and published by Hasbro/Avalon Hill in 2000,[5] the company has indicated that they have no plans to publish any of the 3M or Avalon Hill bookshelf games.

Since 2008, Acquire has been published by a Hasbro subsidiary, Wizards of the Coast. TwixT is still published by a German company under license.

A few of the games that were not acquired by Hasbro, such as Facts in Five and Executive Decision have since been published by University Games in a bookshelf format. Like the 3M series, they are designed to mimic the appearance of a large hardcover book, but instead of a slip-case, the games use a magnetic closing flap.

This theme was later echoed in the Hasbro/Parker Brothers Vintage Game Collection games circa 2005 in hardback book design wooden boxes sold through Target stores (a different set of games than those in the 3M series).

List of games[edit]

The bookshelf games series included the following games,[6] as well as 2 unpublished games: Options and a chess variant called Mad Mate:[7][8]

Bookshelf series

Gamette series

  • Evade 2 player board game
  • Foil 2 - 4 player game
  • High Bid 2 - 4 player dice and card game
  • Monad 2 - 4 player card game
  • Octrix [bridge] 2 -4 player card game
  • Sleuth[9][11] card game
  • Sum Up 2 - 8 player card game
  • Tryce [rummy] 3 - 6 player card game
  • Venture[9] 2 - 6 player card game


1. Foil and High Bid were both full size bookshelf games and gamette games.

2. if game was recognizable derivative of classic game, name of classic game is in brackets

3. games with "boards" not essential for play are classified as card games or trivia games


Contigo is an abstract strategy board game for 4 players related to both mancala and checkers. It was designed by Frank Thibault, a freelance game designer, and published in 1974. The game takes approximately 45 minutes to play and is suggested for ages 12 and up. It is played by four players according to the original rules, but can still be played with only two. Contigo has a 6x6 board that is surrounded by pits, much like the ones in the game Mancala. Pebbles are transferred from pit to pit. The number of pebbles in a row/ column/ diagonal's pits controls how the pawns on the board move.

There are two sets of rules used to play Contigo. In the first supplied set, players try to be the first to align four of their pawns in any six space row. The row can be created either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, without opposing pawns between them. In the more advanced set of rules, Contigo becomes a capture game. In this set, the players try to capture their opponents' key pawns.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Acquire by Hasbro/Avalon, Twixt by an Avalon licensee, Facts in Five and Executive Decision by University Games.
  2. ^ Arneson, Erik. "Hasbro - Brief History". About Board Games. About.com. Archived from the original on April 15, 2008. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  3. ^ Acquire, Challenge Golf, Executive Decision, Facts-in-Five, Feudal, Oh Wah Ree, Point of Law, Sleuth, Stocks and Bonds, TwixT, Venture
  4. ^ Leffall, J. (August 5, 1998). "Monarch Avalon to sell game unit to Hasbro In wake of loss, local company to get $6 million in cash". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  5. ^ Arneson, Erik. "Game History: Acquire". About Board Games. About.com. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  6. ^ Matheson, Dennis. "3M Games". The Game Pile. Archived from the original on August 24, 2012. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  7. ^ later published as Neo-chess by Abacusspiele
  8. ^ "3M Bookshelf Series". Board Game Geek. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "The General Index and Company History". The General Magazine Index and Company History: 12–13. 1980. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  10. ^ Spielbox republished Jati in 1986
  11. ^ Originally published as The Case of the Elusive Assassin by Ideal in 1967

External links[edit]