I’ve been a bit quiet recently, but I was having a discussion with my students about how we choose which (video) games we buy and which games we leave, knowing full-well that we will probably never go back and buy them later (CF Robert Frost). This got me thinking; in a world where we have limited resources (money, time, cupboard space, spousal tolerance), how do we decide which tabletop or card games we add to our collections? Obviously, board-games don’t have the ‘hardware being superseded in 2 years’ issue that consoles and PCs do (*), but they do go out of print and getting your hands on them in the future may be harder than a Google search.
I’d be exceptionally interested in your thoughts on the topic, so please reply in the comments section, but I’m also going to share my thoughts on game collecting and how I choose which games ‘make it’ and which games don’t.
First of all, I am a sucker for Euro and co-operative games; I love competitive, non-combative games and I love the group dynamics that present in co-ops. Second of all, I’m pretty biased towards games which are appropriate for both the total novice and the seasoned gamer – something which seriously narrows down the options out there.
An example of this is Lords of Waterdeep, which I played for the first time on Monday night. Even playing against 4 experienced players, I was able to learn the dynamics and hold my own in the game within about 10 minutes (didn’t stop me trying to play intrigue cards when I should have been drawing them, but hey). But despite the fact that I enjoyed it immensely, the fact that it meets my ‘pick up and play’ and ‘competitive, not combative’ criteria … I wouldn’t buy LOW. Why not, you might ask? Simply put, I want it, but I don’t need it.
Which brings me to my next key purchasing criteria: My player group. I know my wife, I know my friends and I know my fellow CBBGC members (that’s you guys). Lords of Waterdeep is the kind of game that my wife would like, but not love. This means that it would be an occasional game in our household, rather than a game night regular. My other main gamers are a couple who live up the street and my brother in law and a friend of ours (who happen to be dating). Now, I reckon my BIL would like LOW and I think that our friend would too, but the other couple we play with regularly is almost certainly not going to like it (a religious objection to the Dungeons and Dragons logo on the box). As for my CBGC friends, both Andrew and Janelle own LOW and both of them are more than willing to bring it to any game night I
attend host RSVP to on Facebook, but then don’t turn up to. So, given the above factors, it becomes a case of: while I loved LOW and I want to own it … I don’t need it.
Finally, it all comes down to money. I have a family (with another bub on the way), a mortgage, and ridiculous week to week expenses to cover on our single income. For a game to be worth shelling out for, especially if it goes over my $40.00 ‘comfortable spend’ budget, it’s got to be great. Now, I love the excitement of getting something completely new I am willing to take risks if I know the publisher, or I know the designer’s work … but handing wads of folding stuff over on a completely unknown product is hard for me to do (hence my love-hate relationship Kickstarter – I love the idea of backing something new and I love the stretch goals, but the idea of getting something that might be dud us hard to swallow).
So there it is; for a game to make it into my collection, it needs to meet these criteria:
- It needs to be social – games that make people rage quit or endanger friendships aren’t for me.
- It needs to be easy enough to teach new players, but sophisticated enough to be enjoyed by serious gamers.
- It needs to have broad appeal; I don’t want something taking up space or money which I’m not going to get to play.
- It needs to represent value for money. This is hard to quantify, but I have to feel like it’s worth it.
So, how do you approach Board Game Ownership (maximal capitalisation for dramatic effect).
* Incidentally, I do own A NES-101, Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64.