Your Turn: So Many Games, So Little Time

Posted by Andrew L {Avid Gamer} | 1-Nov-13 | 46 comments

Your Turn - A BoardGaming.com Discussion

Hey there, I’m Andrew; game industry professional, reviewer, gamer, fellow Boardgaming.com member and the host of BoardGaming.com’s new discussion series called “Your Turn.”

This is your chance to let us know what YOU think about a variety of topics related to hobby gaming. I’ll start the conversation and then it’s “your turn” to chime in and add to the discussion. Each Your Turn discussion will have a new topic, and we may even have some special guests make a surprise visit down the road. In the meantime…

So Many Games, So Little Time.

Many in the hobby game industry have described the past few years as “the golden age of board gaming.” And I would have to agree that the game industry has taken a huge leap when it comes to the sheer number and different types of games that are being offered. So many in fact that we now have new vocabularies to describe different types of games: (LCG, CCG, DBG, CO-OP, EURO…) and game mechanics: (Worker Placement, Simultaneous Action Selection, and the dreaded “Roll and Move”).

We have podcasts, video reviews, how-to-play tutorials and websites. We have game designer forums and conventions that have grown in attendance beyond anyone’s expectations. Add to this the apparent growth of the appeal of “geek” culture in the mainstream. Shows like Tabletop and games featured on The Big Bang Theory are breaking down many barriers and letting more and more people in on “designer games.” You can now find games like Arkham Horror and Wrath of Ashardalon sitting near Monopoly at Barnes and Noble. Then throw in Kickstarter. Many good and (not so good) games are giving small publishers their start and also fueling established companies’ abilities to produce. More and more games are streaming into our little corner of the world. It has become a new way (in America at least) to spend time with the family.

Okay, what can I say – I see it and I want to play it! I look at each game as an artistic creation – the brainchild of some eccentric mad scientist-like designer who spent years creating not just a board game, but an “experience” just for me. Even if it’s a themeless mechanic machine… someone thought of it. They want me to play it, dissect it and conquer it! I want to honor them all. Mr. Gygax, I salute you! Hats off Mr. Weisman for Battletech and Heroclix. Thanks Mr. Bauza for your 7 Wonders and the trip down the Tokaido road. Great idea Mr. Vaccarino! And Mr. Garfield? We have to talk.

Overflowing-game-shelf

You can see the obvious problem here. There is absolutely no way I can play all the games I want to play, review all the games that should be reviewed or have a complete collection of the games I want to collect. I can’t experience all that the hobby wants me to experience. The sad thing is I can’t even come close. If hobby games provide an express train to all the experiences life, history, science fiction and fantasy have to offer, how can you not want to buy a ticket and hitch a ride. It’s an exciting time for the hobby giving lots of folks jobs and income. Yet, as exciting as it is, it’s also a bit discouraging.

This is a hobby right? A hobby is the thing you do in your “spare” time. Sometimes I listen to podcasts and they talk about the number of games they played in the past two weeks and I think: “Yikes! I didn’t have time to do the laundry!”

Question: Is this game explosion a good thing? Or are there just too many games? How do you choose what games to play and buy in this crowded market?
So many games so little time…

Your turn…

Comments (46)

Gamer Avatar
6
Tasty Minstrel Games Fan
AEG fan
Mage Wars fan

There is definitely a saturated market out there, but there are more than just games saturating it. I would always encourage any newcomers to the hobby to visit their Local Game Shop. I am very lucky indeed to live in a city with a great one! Mad Hatters House of Games. I have found the owners of most of these shops to be a wealth of free knowledge. Are there so many games out there that it is a bit overwhelming? Sure! But, there are also so many people that have been involved with this hobby for years instead of months. Instead of racing out and buying up all the games your allowance will let you, go by your FLGS and talk with some of the “old timers”. The wonderful people in our great hobby are some of the friendliest folks you will ever meet and always happy, even excited, to share their knowledge and experience. Ask around and you will probably find someone willing to play a game with you that you are considering buying. Just remember, Some day people will be needing that same kindness and knowledge from you too!

Gamer Avatar
6

It is simple for me. I enjoy the games I play and play them often when I have time. I get exposed to about 20 new games a year I will add 3-5 to games I want to replay and the others I may play when others bring them to the table. My last group is games I avoid at all cost. Never refused to play a game but I share my opinion with the group.

Be your own person and realize you will never be able to play all the games you are exposed to. I have a friend who is frustrated because more than one game he wants to play are being played at the same tine at his board game night and he cannot play both.

Gamer Avatar
8
Canada
El Dorado
Professional Advisor
Senior

For the first time, I have 4 unplayed boardgames that sits on my shelves (Police Precint, Exodus, King’s Armory, Albion’s Legacy). Learning a new game is not always simple et requires time so when I do I try to play that game a minimum of 5-6 times before passing to another game

But since there are a lot of new games that are coming out, that are on my wish list and that I know I will get, I begin to feel overwhelmed and I find it hard to find time to play older games (I miss you Mage Knight).

But now, I know what I likes most in a game and I have better criteria when selecting a game to buy. Sometimes it breaks my heart to let a game go but if it will not hit the table it’s not worth it.

I begin to sell some of my games and some are really good games (Caverna, nations, 7 Wonders, Dominion)…, but a good game that doesn’t see the table for any reason is just taking shelf space and need to go. My spacing shelf cannot go bigger. So now, for every new game that I get I have to let another game go so I learned to be more selective

Gamer Avatar
10
Grand Master Grader
Movie Lover
Book Lover
I play blue

My renewed interest in board games was the result of an ebay search I made about two years ago. I found a copy of one of my childhood favorites – Dungeon. It was a TSR copy like the one I had in 1984, but I was hesitant because the then current bid was $50! A couple of months later, I found that Wizards of The Coast had reissued the game, and I bought a copy.

Then started researching games on Amazon, Board Game Geek, and this fine site. I never realized how many games and game fans existed. I have purchased about 30 games since I rediscovered Dungeon. That equates to about 15 games per year, or about one every three and a half weeks. I usually devote a fair amount of time researching games prior to purchasing them, and it’s rare that I dislike a game I have purchased.

I find that I have maybe 10 core games that get played often, and the rest occasionally make it to the table. If there is a game in my collection that hasn’t been played in two or three months, my wife and I will play it once or twice and reevaluate it. If it still works and holds our interest, we keep it. Otherwise, I will sell it or donate it. That opens valuable shelf space for new games. 20-25 quality games seems to be the sweet spot for my family and I.

Gamer Avatar
8
Gamer - Level 8
Guardian Angel
Platinum Supporter

I feel very fortunate to be in this new golden age of gaming. I had kept all of my games since childhood, up until 2007 when a flooded basement took out almost everything in the collection, so now I have memories of all of those games. I wasn’t going to try and replace and seriously wasn’t buying a whole lot of new stuff either, and then met a couple of friends that wanted to play a couple and I wanted to find some new stuff to play. I have slowly gotten a small collection of titles I really enjoy and am so glad that I have an incredible selection to find what I really like to play today.

Gamer Avatar
6
USA
Mage Wars fan

never enuff time

Gamer Avatar
4
Noble
The Bronze Heart

I’m late to the party, but…

I think there’s a sweet spot between wanting ALL THE GAMES and having time to have a life and a job and a family/social life (whaaaat? I know, I know), and be able to play the games as well. Having there be this game explosion is allowing for more people to have their interests be addressed in the form of a game and that’s wonderful! Where someone might have shunned a board game night before, maybe now you can entice them to play. On the down side, my wallet and apartment cannot handle every expansion of every game that I want, but that’s a lesson in ‘Everything in Moderation’ that my father keeps telling me about. So… in short, yes, this is a good thing. And like with wine, you pick what you want to try and you play what you like.

Gamer Avatar
8
Canada
El Dorado
Professional Advisor
Senior

I love learning a new game and I would like to play every existing game even once but that is not possible…too much games, not enough time

Gamer Avatar
5
Book Lover
Video Game Fan

There are certainly a LOT of games out there now and new ones are being released all the time. I find the variety exciting and encouraging, for the most part, my only concern is that some games come out, they could be amazing games, and just get lost in the shuffle.

I work in a game store and sometimes when I visit another game store I am surprised to find games I didn’t even know existed because our little store didn’t happen to carry it. I try to keep up with what is coming out in board games but there are so many manufacturers and our suppliers don’t seem to carry them all either. I am hoping sites like this one will help keep me more informed. ^_^ I’d love to be able to suggest games to my bosses that they haven’t heard about yet.

Gamer Avatar
5
USA
Book Lover
Video Game Fan

Andrew

I meant to end that previous comment with a “What are your thoughts?” but I jumped the gun on hitting submit. So . . . what are your thoughts?

Gamer Avatar
5
USA
Book Lover
Video Game Fan

Andrew

Out of the LCGs I play, Netrunner is by far my favorite. They’re all good, no doubt, and they all bring different that I enjoy, but man, Netrunner is something else altogether. I love the drastically dofferent gameplay between the Corp and Runner sides and how there’s the heavy emphasis on bluffing/reading your oppoment. It really helps keep the game fresh, as simply playing a different opponent will often radically alter your strategy, even if they’re playing a similar deck to your last opponent. There are popular deck archetypes as with most CCGs/LCGs, but it feels like the individual players make more of a difference to the outcome of the game than in other card games where it feels more like the cards are playing the player.

Gamer Avatar
6
The Gold Heart
Plaid Hat Games fan
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Bronze Supporter

Kaleb

Opening a gaming café sounds like a great way to share your love of games and solve this problem for a lot of other folks! Also sounds like a great lecture. 2500 games! Looks like we have a few favorites in common.

I enjoy your reviews by the way. Keep contributing and so glad you like the site.

🙂

Gamer Avatar
8
I play purple
Football Fan
Movie Lover

A little late to the conversation, but I have over 2500 games (and growing) and there’s certainly no way for me to play most of them. Instead I’m creating a board game cafe and library so that others can play them and share their experiences. Just like there being so many great books, movies, video games, restaurants, etc – I won’t try them all, but will rely on the filter of friends and critics to help me decide where I choose to place my time.

Similarly, I choose to spend time on BG.com rather than BGG due to the look, feel, and friendliness of the smaller global community. Take the personal preference (after all, it’s all about me, right TIME? 😉 ) and options and this is what you get.

I gave a lecture at Creighton University today on modern board gaming’s take on ancient civilization. In getting out appropriate games to take, I quickly had over 50 (cut it down to 25 in hand). Went through all of them (very quickly), the current & ancient world of games, and even played a couple of them with the class – and we changed the theme of one, Assassin, to be Ceasar, Brutus, & 3 bodyguards. I mentioned how I learned much about the Roman Senate from Chicken Ceasar, about Trajan from Trajan, & Tigris & Euphrates provided a unique game about the cradle of civilization. It was all new – lots of big eyes and open ears! Even if folks like to say there are only ~10 types of games and the difference is theme and creating hybrids of these archetypes, so be it!

My point – there are TONS of games, and each has their place. I don’t expect to play all of them even though I like a wide variety, but the huge variety we have to choose from means the consumer wins. Albeit, the small printing cycle means I have a lot more to pick up to add to the library before some disappear forever.

Gamer Avatar
7
I play blue
Book Lover
Intermediate Reviewer
Smash Up: Ninja Faction Fan

Andrew L, thanks for the warm welcome. Much appreciate your reply.

Gamer Avatar
6
The Gold Heart
Plaid Hat Games fan
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Bronze Supporter

Nigel

My problem with making an informed decision is that a those reviewers and podcasts usually receive copies of games from publishers. And they have a responsibility to present the game in the most positive light. ( Imagine your child – if you have one) creating a game and showing you, then you have to show it to your wife. ) There is an expectation of positivity there. So with all that positivity, is the game really good?
That’s why I like reviewing for BG.com. We don’t get tons of games to review from publishers – Jim and I have been reviewing our own collections at times. But regardless BG.com doesn’t mind saying the game isn’t right for you Mr. Power gamer. But that softens the blow a bit. Hey maybe I should read my OWN reviews!

Shamus
Some might argue that Terra Mystica is not complex in its mechanics, just in its developing strategic options. You have limited actions early in the game ( there are a set number of turns) and you gain more as the game progresses. The more you do, the more options you have to consider. Then your options die out as they no longer make sense to try close to game’s end. It’s pure Euro. You may like it as an Avid gamer.
Ugh – bad rule books… that’s a topic for another “Your Turn. “ I’ll get to that.

Cody
Welcome to the world of board games Cody! And thanks you for reminding me.. I am VERY lucky to be able to play and do a bit of work in the hobby I love so much. Ever since I opened that original Blue box D&D rulebook back in 197—cough cough… my life was changed. I’ve worked in an industry with some of the best natured people. Not cutthroat, generally supportive. Regardless of what you play, Cody, you are among friends!

Martin
Aw – BSG. I want to play it so much. I’ve heard it can be a bummer when you are locked in the brig but EVERYONE says it’s great. You’re not helping Martin. 😉 Those games sound great. Chrononauts is a hidden gem. I was pulling for Looney Labs to do a Dr. Who version of Chrononauts. I wonder if they ever will….

Wade
I gave up on video games. That said I played a lot in my day. But I stopped at the original X-Box. Funds and time were the determining factors. But I still enjoy them online – especially online board games! (Brettspielwelt anyone?)

I like the idea of buying games without expansions, but most have them these days – especially the successful ones. That’s called cashing in! But expansions are one area where I can restrain myself since I usually don’t have time to play the base game enough!

Between Netrunner, LOTR and Star Wars what your favorite LCG and why?

Everyone else feel free to chime in… JIM? JON? 😉

Gamer Avatar
5
USA
Book Lover
Video Game Fan

I see it in much the same way I view the indie explosion with video games in recent years. Just like with video games, I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that I’ll never be able to play all the board/card games I’d like to. There’s just no way, even if a person didn’t have any other responsibilities, that someone could play everything that’s out there. As someone with a collecting compulsion, it can be very difficult to stop myself from accumulating things, but I’ve been able to manage by finding a few core games I really enjoy and sticking with those. Once the fun starts to wear off with those, then I start to look for something new to add into the mix.

I’ve tried other methods of keeping my collection manageable (only buying things without expansions, or only buying core sets of things with expansions, never buying games that take longer than X amount of time to play since they won’t see as much use, etc.), and it seems the most common sense one is the most effective: play what I like and be willing to try new things, but don’t get caught up in the need to always be playing the newest/biggest things.

All that said, the games I’ve tended to gravitate toward are LCGs, which are constantly being expanded. I quit playing Magic because the limited amount of time I had to play it didn’t justify the costs of keeping up, but I feel like it’s more justified with LCGs. I guess not everything about this has to be logical. Double standards for everyone!

Gamer Avatar
9
I play purple
Explorer - Level 6
Vanguard
Cryptozoic Entertainment fan

Well Andrew, Battlestar Galactica was a no brainer. It was a top rated game and I was a fan of the TV show. Then DC Comics DBG caught my eye since Superman is my mentor. And that got me into the DBG mechanic, which I love. So the three Star Trek DBGs were also added to my collection along with LoTR DBG. Chrononauts I found fascinating thanks to this website. That one is very fun to play. And my wish list on here is quite full of other interesting games.

Gamer Avatar
7
I play blue
Book Lover
Intermediate Reviewer
Smash Up: Ninja Faction Fan

I resonate. I am just entering the world of board games, and I already feel captivated by all the options, all the variations. We are really lucky to have an awesome board game store nearby, with an extensive gaming library available available for play or rent, and a good group of friends who are also excited about board games. Still, it’s a hobby; I am a full-time student, with a part-time job, and that means that making time for board games (or commenting on a board game news article, haha!) also means losing time for “first things.” Oh, well. Back to work, but I’d rather by gaming.

Gamer Avatar
7
Knight-errant
Cooperative Game Explorer
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6

Andrew

I’ve taken a look at Terra Mystica in an overview, but I have not played the game myself. I have to say, looking at the board and all the pieces involved, it’s a busy game!

I hesitate to comment on a game that I have not played, but I can tell you my outside opinion; this would probably be a game that I would pass on. I’m not saying it’s a bad game, and I might enjoy it if I actually sat down and played it, but the sheer number of pieces and parts of the game to keep track of tell me that’s probably a slow learning experience that requires time and effort to really appreciate.

However, I will say that I do enjoy some complex games. Arkham Horror is an example of a game where a lot of things happen that require minute attention to keep straight, and especially where the expansions are concerned. As complex as it is, I rarely have a problem finding people who want to play the game. Contrast that with Civilization, the board game based off of the popular computer game. Civilization is no more complex than Arkham Horror (I would argue), but I have found that not many people around me like to play the game (or at least consider it a first choice). That could be a matter of personal preference, or it could be a matter of game mechanics; not really sure.

When I think of games that are overly complicated, however, usually it is the rulebook that is to blame. I have encountered some easy rulebooks in my time (Seasons is particularly easy to follow, as is Alien Frontiers), but there are some that are just complete headaches. The prime example of this is a game called The Republic of Rome from Valley Games. A friend of mine purchased this game, and wanted to play it, but he couldn’t understand the rulebook. Knowing that I like to understand games by going over instruction booklets in detail, he handed the book over to me to translate. I was never able to finish the instruction booklet due to it being nearly incomprehensible to my eyes (the rules read more like a dissertation rather than a guide), and as a result we have never played the game itself. The game itself might be easy enough to understand once you actually get underway, but the rulebook was just too daunting to even bother.

I think you hit the nail on the head though; the experience is the thing. With games, first experiences count for a lot; I know someone who will likely never try Twilight Imperium again because of a singular bad experience with the game during a social gathering. It’s not a knock against the game, but rather the circumstance surrounding that particular game. In that regard, there needs to be some leniency with games that are considered to be complex; you go into the gaming experience expecting that you’re going to have to learn new details, concepts, and strategies. You’re probably not going to ‘get’ a game like Terra Mystica in the first go-around. You might need to give it a couple of tries before you find your niche or get it right. On the other side of the scale, simple games should be able to be played quickly and without fuss; Lost Cities and Tsuro are excellent examples of this. Games can be played quickly and there is little question about what the goal is supposed to be or how to accomplish it. If a simple game doesn’t grab you on the first go-around, odds are you’ll pass on a second game, because you’ve probably seen all there is to see.

I think that’s something that a lot of game developers forget in their inspiration to make games; that a complex game doesn’t always mean the experience will be rewarding. As a result, I am seeing a lot of games in the market that offer a lot of options as far as elements of gameplay, and fewer games that have simple mechanics and quick gameplay. While that’s not a bad thing in itself, I think eventually you will reach a point where the complexity of games will start turning the average gamer away from investing in their collection.

Gamer Avatar
1
maverick:muse fan

Volume would only be a problem if there was no way to really assess that volume and be able to pick out the individuals that suit you.

But with sites such as this, with all the reviewers and bloggers out there and the fact that you can download the rules to any game that takes your eye, you can really make an informed decision on what you will buy.

And as there’s more competition for our hard earned wages, companies will have to raise the bar in order to get our attention. Average won’t cut it.

But is it possible there are more games you would like to play than you’ve got time to play them? Absolutely. It’s not the volume that’s bad though, it’s time that’s evil 😉

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