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School Boy Errors

When I returned to the hobby in 2007 my first reaction was ‘wow look at all the these wonderful games’ and my second reaction was ‘Wow Look at all these wonderful games that I missed....’. Like so many people who returned to board gaming after a hiatus or those new to the world of hobby board games I threw myself in whole heartedly, purchased a ton of games (of which not that many do i still own). Looking back at 2007 I can see I made a lot of mistakes in the games I purchased and played. I’d like to share the lessons I learned and maybe you might not befall the same traps. The best games are the in the top ten on Boardgamegeek, I need to buy the best! The top ten games on Boardgamegeek are the highest ranked but by a very small population of hard core hobbyists. They are for the most part, not beginner friendly and are only really appreciated after you have worked your way up the complexity spectrum and started to find the gateways not challenging you. I shudder to think about my early encounters with Puerto Rico, Caylus and Brass. I’s go as far to say that they are incomprehensible to non-gamers and they left me completely non-plused – I could see there was cool stuff going on, I could even follow the rules but the bigger question of why was I doing these things was left unanswered. Understanding and appreciation followed – but after seeing the mechanics and multipliers in lighter games and returning to these classics. Also by playing with experienced gamers who will at the least show you by demonstration what’s what in complex games. So if you are new to the hobby look at gateways and next step games – don’t start by diving in to the deep end! You can’t have enough Bargains I bought a lot of bargains in my first year and a bit back into the hobby. In summary this was a big and costly mistake. There is a golden rule for buying a discounted game – ‘Only purchase if it is a game you wanted before you saw it a bargain price ‘. My 2007 self would have scoffed at this advice ‘But it’s only a matter of time before I start enjoying obscure economic games or rediscover my love of Ameritrash’ – believe me it won’t happen. Games should provide experiences to be treasured and that’s why it’s better to buy one full priced game that you are going to love than any number of games that you are just going to play – they are not like the economy range at Sainsbury’s that provide fuel for the body – a great game is food for the soul and in most cases you need to pony up for the real deal. Don’t become a board gaming cynic ‘ The player who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing’ New games must be better than old – right? When I buy a new TV or car or Fridge I expect it to be better than the one I am replacing -;time has moved on, technology has improved. It might not be a bad assumption for white goods and computers it does not work for board games though. Board games are a little like books – most of the best one’s were created some time in the past. The best Area majority Game was published in 1996, the best political game in 1986, the best Worker placement game in 2007.... Look to the past for your new games not to the recent past or the future. My mistake was to believe the hype about new releases – but look who is creating this clamour; board gaming rou├ęs whose cardboard taste buds have been killed by an overdose of mediocrity or semi-professional reviewers whose next free game depends on praising the last free game. But if I don’t buy it now it will go out of stock or print – I might never get a copy! Yes that is true you might miss getting a game that you will enjoy – but for every gem that you miss you will acquire 8 cow pats. If a game is great then it’s worth waiting for – whether it be a second print run or a trade or even pay over the odds on ebay – it will be cheaper than having to offload a lot of ill advised purchases. Try and play games before you purchase, whether at a games club or at your ‘cult of the new’ friends house. Try before you buy and you will seldom if ever own a game that does not work for you. I really need to build a collection – the guys at my club have hundreds of games and I need one for every occasion... Oh no you don’t! Either these guys are collectors, or they have been slowly buying games over the decades, or they could be the 2007 me who purchased 20 games a month...A little like jokes there are very few gaming archetypes, and within genres there are mainly only subtle differences. If you own much over a hundred games you are probably not playing most of them very often and if you own four hundred games (Mea Culpa) most likely you are not playing most of your games most of the time, if ever. They then become not so attractive wall hangings. Silos are for storing grain – they don’t make good play areas In 2008 I played 37 new worker placement games; most set in medieval Europe, most efficiency games. The diet became a little monotonous. In the last two years I have made a conscious effort to broaden my gaminbg horizons – short games, long games, interactive, solitaire, negotiation, push your luck, set in the glory days of the med or set in space – the wider my gaming experience became the more I came to enjoy and appreciate the subtleties of my favourite genre (worker placement games...). More school boy boardgaming errors to follow...