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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Why Can’t I Just Have It All?

“How do you decide whether a game is worth the money when you buy it?”

I think these days my price point is closer to $40. Like Chris mentioned, I don’t like feeling ripped off either. For me that can be a box with too much airspace, poorly made bits, badly written rules, even some “magic path” in the game that once found ruins re-play because there really is only one way to win.

And I’m a ho when it comes to where I shop. My local game store, Ebay, online stores, Goodwill, going in on orders from Germany, online auctions, trading, pre-ordering direct from small companies [I ordered 2 Fresh Fish games at full price from Angela Gaalema as a pre-order!] I’ll just shop anywhere.

But after all that, the issue is not so much about price as it is “Why do I want to buy that particular game in the first place?” And that has varied a lot since I started boardgaming. So I’ll meander through a list of reasons I had at one time or another to buy games.

THEY’RE FAMOUS. When I first started collecting games, I bought the Games Magazine Top 100 Issue and thought it would be cool to get all 100 of them, or at least as many as were anywhere close to my taste in games. Which meant that on the “Party Games” portion of the list, I got one not six. Some of the games were cool and fun, some are still sitting on the shelf sealed up. But getting a bunch off the list had one great side – it got me to look at games I wouldn’t have otherwise considered. This is still a decent reason to consider a game, no longer a reason to buy it sight unseen.

I’LL BE RICH. OK, this was a loser reason to buy games. Early on, I found great deals at local thrift stores, like Linie 1. My family liked it, it was a German game (ooh) and it was 3 bucks. I found C&O/B&O at a store down the street from there for 5 bucks, and ended up trading it for $40 or $50 worth of games from a real gamer. We were both happy with the trade. So all of a sudden I’m on this mad streak to pile games into the garage, thinking I’ll trade them or sell them for games I really want. No, I don’t know what I was thinking. I even went through a spell three or four years ago of buying Boardgames through German Ebay and having them shipped to a friend’s house in Germany. Kind of embarrassing to admit I’ll be finally picking those games up next Friday (120 kg of games).

GET THE BUZZ. This is a more common reason these days. Right now we’re hoping for good buzz on Havoc of course, believing more people will try it “if the buzz is good.” Before buying a new game, I read BoardGameGeek a lot to see what people think – because there’s a mix of opinion – I can see a professional review or read a game session of someone playing it for the first time. I get to see pictures, see what the bits are like, read the rules perhaps, and see how it’s being rated. Although ratings is tough – I tend to more seriously regard ratings made by gamers I know than people I never heard of.

GAMING FRIENDS. Maybe my "best" reason. I play the game with friends, or at conventions, or I see it played somewhere, enough to “get” how the game works. That also tells me more about the actual production value of the game (important to me) and might give me a sense of whether my own family would play it. It’s a great to filter to tell me why I wouldn’t buy a game too.

AUTHOR/PUBLISHER. This is another reason for me to first consider a game. I mostly like Splotter’s big box games like Roads and Boats, Antiquity, etc. So I’ll probably look closely at their new game Indonesia at Essen. Author s or publishers I like are always a good reason to at least check out a game more. We really like Monkeys on the Moon for example (thanks Dave!), so I was pre-disposed to like The Penguin Ultimatum, also by Jim Doherty. And we’ll at least try to play anything by the “big” Eurogame authors like Knizia, Kramer, Wallace, etc. to see if their newest ideas are still fresh and scrumptious.

That seems to be my short list. If I missed some that you have, bring ‘em on! Meanwhile, I gotta pack to travel. Next Saturday, if I can blog, I will blog – from Essen.

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