Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Table Talk Back 3: More Games or More Often?

Do I have too many games? Watch it Played Table Talk Episode 3 brings up a good point.

Rodney asks: do you prefer to play fewer games more often, or more games with less frequency?

Here are the facts:

1) Games have to be purchased with real money.
2) Gameplay fills a finite length of time othewise used for a variety of purposes. Includes time with children, wife, extended family and friends, work and sleeping.
3) Most games, at least the good ones, provide a higher level of entertainment after many plays. The strategy tends to get deeper, and things are more interesting when you not only understand your choices but also understand the choices of your opponent.

There are 2 types of board game "aficionados." The first are collectors. The second are players. And unbeknownst to them both, the 2 types almost entirely overlap. The majority is a combination of both.

There was once a time when I would pretty proudly say "I am not a collector."

I said this to signify my departure from the typical mono-games. Magic: The Gathering. And before that Warhammer 40K. And before that Warhammer. And before that Magic: The Gathering for the first time.

Board Games represented an escape from a cycle of buying I had experienced during more of my teenage and adult life. In theory you just buy the box, learn the game and then play the crap out of it for the rest of your life. Only a little bit of investment with a huge payoff in entertainment.

But after making my initial purchases, I saw I had once again swapped one world for something not entirely different.

Board Games do carry some benefits. You only need one set of pieces, and its easy to get people to play with you since they don't have to accumulate an army of guys or a long box of cards first.

Finite cash expenditures is NOT a benefit, however. Because collecting does really seem to be a part of the experience.

I started by trying to grab a title that would each fit into as specific "category" of game. I wanted an economic game. I wanted a war game. I wanted a set collection game. I tried to spread out my interests. But there are some big problems with a small collection that even just tries to cover the bases.

If you spend every waking moment of your life studying board games: the classics, the eurogame invasion during the 90's, the maturation of the industry during the aughts, to today's hybrids, you might know about every game.

But then you aren't playing with any of them.

So you do a little bit of research.  You grab a couple titles using the free shipping $100 option just about every online store uses. And then later you find out there's something else that's way better. And then you hear something else might be even better!

A board game is a complex possession. You open up the box and get that first whiff (highly cancerous!) of new board game smell. You punch out the pieces. You unwrap the cards. You unfold the board.

But underneath it all is an entire ruleset that must be processed. Hopefully before anyone comes over to your house to play it.

So I have to force myself to get more out of the games I already have. There is a sunk investment of time and energy that must be recouped before I move on to the next shiny thing. And there are some awesome games there that really need to be played more often.

And finally, I have discovered when you play the same game over and over again you actually notice the PEOPLE around the game a little more. Gone is the rules searches and game analysis, and what is left are people's individual actions within the worlds of the game.

So my brain wants to own as many games as I possibly can. But my heart wants to play any game, as long as its with the people I care about.

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