Meeple Musings: Which game?

How do you decide which games you should buy?

The first thing many people do after they decide they want to start into boardgaming is buy a bunch of very popular boardgames only to be somewhat disappointed by an unfortunate number of these games.  This is even worse when you buy these games for a significant other or kids only to find that they are disappointed by them.  After all new boardgames can be expensive!  DO NOT just go out and buy Twilight Struggle or Caverna and call it a day. So, how do you avoid this problem?

  • Step 1:  Figure out what kind of attention span and game intensity your gamer enjoys. Many players enjoy 30 minutes games with tons of replay possibilities where as Twilight Struggle, a top rated game last about 5- 6 hours.  If you buy the world’s greatest 30 minute game for a fan of epic games, they will be disappointed.
  • Step 2:  Figure out why the gamer enjoys board games. Is it the Social, Strategic, Fantasy / Escape, or Competitive / Conflict aspects that drive the love of games?  For example, a fan of Chess  (max strategy & Conflict) may well hate any version of Pandemic (high Social aspect, moderate strategy, slight escapism, low conflict) and vice versa. How do you determine this?  Well, you could take this survey at Gamer profile survey.

For example,  here are my Gaming type results are today’s featured image at the top of this blog.

What does this mean for my favorites? Obviously, I love games with conflict. I still enjoy cooperative games as long as the game is tough enough. This is probably due to cooperative games also having a social aspect. For me then, conflict isn’t just direct conflict.  It’s also the tension of winning or losing. In addition to the obvious, also be sure to check out the subcategory details as well. Even more than I enjoy strategy depth in a game, I love learning how things work.  In this case, I LOVE learning new game mechanics.  The imagination required to create a new successful game mechanic simply amazes me and most players that love new games.

My favorite games include Puerto Rico, Arimaa, Sons of Anarchy, Bobby Lee, Power Grid, Tigres & Euphrates, Advanced Civilization, and Alien Frontiers.  This is an eclectic mix for certain but mostly because I just need some strategy, tension, and player interaction to enjoy a game.  This also means I can’t stand popular games like standard Dominion (virtually no conflict) or Munchkin (virtually no strategy) or Dead of Winter (not enough conflict).

You can generally assume the following as well:

  • If a player hates conflict and social games, they will hate social deduction games where you accuse players of being “bad guys”.
  • If a player hates fantasy, they won’t care for games with heavy themes unless they make up for it with great strategy and gameplay.
  • If a player hates strategy, don’t play with them! Just kidding! It just means they like games of luck (e.g. Can’t Stop, Win Place or Draw, Blackbeard).  These games will include many card draws, dice, and light rules.
  • If a player generally hates social games regardless of conflict, then games that can be played solitaire are perfect (e.g Merchants of Venus)
  • If a player hates conflict, they won’t like games where they get shorted out of supplies (Puerto Rico), war games (e.g. Terra Mystica, Game of Thrones), or beat up on the leader type games (e.g. Munchkin, Game of Thrones).

⦁ Step 3: Go to a board game search tool like: Boardgamegeek advanced search

If the gamer know at least one game mechanic that is preferred, this kind of search can be really invaluable

⦁ Step 4: Make sure you do not get too many games with identical mechanics!  A player may love that mechanic but really, do they want a 4th pick up and deliver train game?  Do you? Every player in history has made this mistake and is trying to unload their 4th favorite game with their favorite mechanic.  No one plays the fourth favorite enough to bother with owning it

⦁ Step 5: Try to  get a game the player will be able to get to the table.  It may be their favorite game EVER, but if they only play it once every few years, their second favorite game will give more enjoyment than the one that a player never plays.  The exception for this is any player that is VERY low on the Social aspect of gaming.  That player will find a way to enjoy this game regardless of available players.

Anyway, I hope this post has been helpful and has provided tools to find favorite games for you and your friends.

Happy gaming,

Modern Meeple Dad



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