Monday, June 4, 2012

What the hell, why do you keep buying new games?

I like playing board games.

Ok there is more nuance to it than this.  I get a lot of feedback from my family and friends when I either buy a new game or when I try to get people to play a new game.  Mostly it comes from the fact that they can't figure out why I don't just play something they already know how to play.  Why the hell do you keep buying games when we hardly even get to play the ones you already have.

Two reasons:

1. Often the people around the table don't share the same game history so if I trot out something that one person knows how to play the others still don't know how to play it.  With a lot of games I like there is a learning curve and a play time limit that so the game you might love would be a bit of a problem to teach to 3 new players in the time we have.

2. Good gaming is based on the number of players, the length of a game, and the type of game you want to play at that time.  These might not be compatible and you might find yourself with 5 people and a great short war-game that would be perfect, but only supports 4 players.  Or you might find you have a game that is short, supports 5 players and is perfect for your buddies, but has elimination mechanics or is too backstaby to play with your neighbours.

So I'm always looking for a game to fill a specific niche.  And if I have a game that does this well - i'm looking for one that does it better or refines a popular niche to provide more options.  In fact these days where there are so many great looking boardgames getting made, I am primarily buying new games based on niches I want to cover rather than on the merits of the game itself.  I think that Alien Conquest is a great looking game but I have a lot of good fast 4 player games in the abstract category and so I can't quite justify buying it.  I think I would like to incorporate something like this concept into some game reviews.

For example, I love Twilight Imperium.  I love the space theme, the dice based combat and the resource management - but it's too long to play it very often and too heavy a commitment to set up for less than 5 players.   For two people in the same niche I wouldn't hesitate to pull out War of the Ring but it's really only great with two.  If I needed a comparable 5-6 player game to play a shorter time I'd pull out Galactic Emperor.  I don't have anything that really would fit a long heavy game for 3 people which is a shame.  For a short 3-4 player substitute I probably would pull out Nexus Ops - but it's not the perfect fit because it's pretty light, but I can't think or a comparable heavy 3 player game that fits in this niche (with 4 there are lots of 2 sided team options).  As for tone, I would not pull any of these games out if I was playing with the neighbours, and probably also not at a family Christmas game, because they involve some pretty direct conflict.  I would play them with the kids and the uncles, but not the grandmas or aunties.  A less confrontational resource themed game I would pull out in that case would be something like Small World or Endeavour (3-5 players) or Puerto Rico (4-5 players - I wouldn't play with 3).  What would I pull out for 6+ players in this situation?  7 Wonders probably, maybe Imperial if I had a couple players who I figured could deal with the complexity or had played before.  I think I have a gap in the library around a light indirect combat/resource management game for a pile of people - but at that point it's party game time usually anyway.

Anyway there are a pile of examples like this and I think that it would be interesting to document some of my games along this line.  I would have to figure out what the various axis the games fall across are because to be honest right now it's more a gut thing - like choosing where to go for lunch.

1 comment:

  1. I buy new games because I get all fired up after reading the back of the box and think "this would be awesome!" and then I use my considerable ability at rationalization to convince myself to get it and not to think too much about the 20 odd other games sitting on my shelf...