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Thinking Out Loud

Monday, August 28, 2006

Get Played >> How Many Plays is "Enough"

Taking a different slant on the "old vs. new" debate on gaming, I've been considering just how many games played it takes for a certain title to lose it's rookie status and become a veteran -- you know, a qualified, reliable member of your boardgaming collection.

As with nearly everything else in the hobby, the question can be answered with the ubiquitous "it all depends." For me, the depending point in this regard probably comes down to overall play time than anything else.

For a light, quick-playing filler, say in the 15-30 minute range, it's likely to get more opportunities to hit the table and work its way onto the team than a monstrously deep, complex 3-4+ hour megagame. So that certainly is a factor.

We can churn out several quick games in the same session, or get it played once on several consecutive meetings, quickly inflating its numbers. Some shorter games that have become standards on my filler list include Diamant, Coloretto and Bucket King. Going just from the games I've logged on BGG (which is probably 80% accurate), I've played the above 6, 13 and 10 times respectively.

Some longer games make the cut with barely any plays -- I just happened to enjoy my few plays so much that I know they fulfill a certain gaming need and fit a certain niche incredibly well. Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition has only seen 4 full game sessions to completion, but I'm always hankering for more. I've only actually played 1 complete game of Die Macher, but I daydream about getting another game in frequently. I've also only played 1 complete game of A House Divided, almost 3 months ago now, and would love to get another game in.

With these larger games, though, scheduling is a far greater issue -- but I still consider them viable, valuable first-string options despite their lack of repeat playings (in the right context, of course). TI3 and A House Divided I don't really consider "new" any more. I'm familiar enough with the rules that I could teach the game easily after a quick brush-up. Die Macher I still consider "new" in that regard even though it's proven its worth otherwise. I've owned it for over a year, but have only played it the once, and due to the sheer density of what's going on, would need to study the rules religiously beforehand.

So when does a game stop becoming "new" for you? How many plays before it becomes second nature and you can slip into a session like a pair of comfy slippers?


  • Whether I am comfortable with the game usually depends on the quality of the rules. With Hamsterrolle I was happy after one game, with Return of the Heroes I may never be happy with it.

    However the metric I use to know when I've played a game enough is when I consider it's worth what I paid for it. I have games like PitchCar where I paid an absolute fortune (100 Euros?) but so many people have played in the 20-odd games I've had that it's worth that. I paid $A20 for Loot but I've only played it 3 times and hope to never play again, so that was barely worth it. And I paid $A61 for Illuminati and it's very hard work to get that to the table given how long it takes, so I regret that a little.

    By Blogger Friendless, at 6:06 PM  

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