Sure. It’s always great to play with the latest shinies and be at the cutting edge of what board games have to offer. It makes you feel trendy, in-the-know or it’s just great to have bought something new. I love it myself. It’s amazing when someone offers you a game for review that hasn’t been released yet. You feel honoured. It’s a special thing. It just makes you happy, and enjoying games has a lot to do with happiness for a lot of people. However, there is also the flipside. It can be stressful, and often very expensive, to always hunt for the latest game, the newest release. Your fear of missing out can turn into panic. That’s when it’s time to remind ourselves where our interest in the hobby started.
(Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash)
First of all, there are simply too many games released every year for anyone to keep up with. Even if you have nothing else to do and your budget is unlimited, you simply can’t play 10 games a day, every single day of the year, with no breaks. After all, roughly 3,000 to 4,000 games are released annually, and that excludes expansions. There are simply not enough hours in the day.
So, the simple fact is that you will miss some games. That’s unavoidable. However, I hear you say that you don’t want to buy every game. You just want to focus on the hot new games, the ones that everyone talks about. You might even restrict yourself to just one or two new games each month. That, you say, will be fine, because you can afford it and it’ll be manageable.
In reality though, and assuming that you actually are rich enough to afford it, or are able to share the cost with friends, or otherwise are able to get hold of those games in a sustainable way, the question is whether you will have enough time to play the games to really enjoy them.
I would argue that most games need to be played at least four times to get the full enjoyment. Many, and especially complex, games need to be played many more times though, before you have thoroughly explored them. So if you buy two new games a month, you would have to ensure you have at least two games evenings a week and get those games to the table.
Of course, I can’t speak for you, but I find it difficult enough to play games once a week, let alone more often, at least with regards to playing with my games group. Yes, I do play more frequently with my wife, most evenings in fact, so they allow me to play certain games more often, but there are others that I only get a chance to play once a week at the most.
Now, I don’t want to tell you what to do, but I have found that playing games several times, ideally more than four, is worth it. Many games reveal more subtleties and new strategies and additional layers the more you play them. It could be as simple as having better luck, if a game is luck dependent. Just because it didn’t go your way on your first play doesn’t mean you won’t have a better experience on subsequent plays. For more complex games, that are not dependent on luck, you will discover new strategies or ways of approaching a game with additional plays. Games that are asymmetric will also need to be played more often, at least once for each faction, if you want to get the most out of them.
I appreciate that there is peer pressure. Nobody wants to brag about having played Carcassonne dozens of times. It’s much more popular to share your first play of the latest game – and as I said, I do understand the enjoyment you get from playing a new game. However, nobody should feel bad talking about how they discovered a new strategy in an older game, because they have now played it so many times. We should really encourage repeat plays of games.
After all, there has been an increase of re-releases in the last couple of years, and companies like Restoration Games pride themselves on bringing old classics back to life and making them fun with only small updates and changes. So it would be a shame if we bought an updated classic and only played it once or twice.
In fact, every game has had so much time put into it, so much effort from game designers, developers, illustrators, rule book writers, editors, publishers and many other people, that we should really cherish and value. So, here is to more plays of old games.