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Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Kinds of Board Games that I Like

My friend and I have spent several hundred dollars on different board games in the past. Then I burned out on board games and stopped playing for a few years. Now we're slowly getting back into it (playing a game every 3 weeks or so). Having wasted a lot of money on games that didn't work for us, I think I finally know what kind of games I find fun.

  • No longer than 60 minutes. For some reason, when we play, it's always twice as long as it says on the box. Twilight Struggle is the #1 game on boardgamegeek right now. And yes, we bought it. But it says it takes 3 hours on the box to play. That's too long for me, and the way we play, it takes way longer than that.
  • Interesting subject matter and game graphics. It doesn't matter if the game is brilliantly designed – if it doesn't look good or if we find the theme embarassing, it's not going to get played. Schotten Totten is supposed to be a very fun game. It is "full of surprising subtleties, deeply satisfying"[1]. But man – the graphics are of these cartoonish overweight Vikings. I think that's why my friend never asked to play it after a couple of times.
  • Rules that fit into one's head. If the rulebook is very long or complicated or has all sorts of exceptions that you need to remember (i.e., it's "fiddly"), the game is going to be painful for me. We bought Axis & Allies Europe 1940. The components look amazing. The map is beautiful. We never played it and are trying to sell it. Why? I couldn't fit the rules into my head. That doesn't mean we don't find meaty games fun. Consider Tigris and Euphrates. It's a meaty game, with deep strategies. But the rules are relatively few – they can fit into your head.
Today I went to the board game store and bought Ticket To Ride: Europe. So what if it's considered a "gateway game" for non-gamers, a "filler game", a "lightweight game"? I am not a true gamer and maybe not even a casual gamer. For me, it had the right length (60 minutes), beautiful board and pieces, and rules that easily fit into my head. We had a game in the afternoon and I'm still thinking about strategies to try for next time.


  • Try Bohnanza. It's fantastic, although it is best played with 4+ people.

    By Blogger Darius Kazemi, at 5/02/2011 8:51 a.m.  

  • I like the idea of whether the rules can fit in your head. On a similar note, one of my rules of thumb for evaluating games is whether I can teach it to others in under 5 minutes.

    By Blogger Matt, at 6/07/2011 5:27 p.m.  

  • @Darius - I have heard great things about Bohnanza - thanks! Actually I usually just play with one other person, but if we had more players, that would come in handy.

    @Matt - Nice rule of thumb. I like it.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 7/21/2011 7:13 p.m.  

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