The True Value of a Board Game

I was trying to convince my friend why Pandemic Legacy would be a good game to buy. He was concerned that the game was limited to the number of plays and thought the investment would be a waste of money. To me it was a matter of doing some simple maths. 1 box of Pandemic (approximately $109) ÷ 4 players = $27.25 per player. Each box contains on average 18hrs of game play meaning that each player is paying about $1.50 per hour of play. Besides, how many games can you guarantee 18hrs of game play for under $30? That’s pretty good value for money.

Pandemic Legacy Best Games for Christmas 2015 by Gameapalooza AustraliaDon’t worry, there’s no spoilers, we woudn’t do that. Pandemic Legacy, the MUST HAVE game for the gamer in your life this Christmas.

I had used such justification before. I have used this thinking to justify having a board game collection. I look at my collection and think that each game has the ability to be played multiple times offering an almost endless entertainment value for around $80 a game. This is something most video games struggle to achieve with some games coming in under 10hours of game play for similar price range. The fact that table top games provide more game in a box and greater value for money is simply academic. An irrefutable fact. Naturally I have never been able to resist questioning an irrefutable fact. When I did start questioning I found one flaw in my argument that can be summarised in two words, Power Grid.

Early into my collection I was researching the best games to get and Power Grid came up on a lot of lists. I looked at reviews and checked out some game play. I compared it to Ticket to Ride and reasoned that the track laying mechanic would be good to have in my collection, and as I knew people with Ticket to Ride I decided to invest in Power Grid. That was three years ago. A fine choice. I think. I will let you know when I play it. Three years and I still have not managed to get the game to the table. That’s three years this $80 games has offered a total of zero hours of game play with zero hours of entertainment. I have paid $80 to have a box sit on my shelf. This is not value for money.

Power Grid board game value for money articlePower Grid – Certainly a wonderful game, worth the money if you play a LOT of games?

As I looked at my collection I began to question exactly how many times I had played each of my games and pondered what value I have really gotten from my investment. Some games I have payed as much as $120 for a single play. This is not the value for money that I reasoned when making these purchases. On further inspection I realised that it was the cheapest games I owned that actually received the highest number of plays; such games as Smash Up, Coup, Love Letter, Sushi Go, Falling, Zombie Dice, and Werewolf to name a few.

This got me thinking about how much I actually value the games in my collection. Considering the low play count, and no play count, left me feeling a little hollow about my collection. I was not really valuing what I had. Instead I had bought into the blatant consumerism of my time and developed a gluttonous appetite for acquisition of games instead of appreciating games. What I called myself was a gamer, but this name was inadequate, what I had become was a collector. This is not to say that collecting games is a bad thing at all, it simply wasn’t why I had bought games. I wanted to appreciate my collection and make sure I put it to use.

Games players versus games collectors - Tabletop game news, reviews, articles Australia by GameapaloozaA collector can accrue many games in a short space of time, but they’re only worth keeping if you’re playing them, right?

This realisation left me feeling more than a little disappointed. I decided that this year I was going to value my collection. I set myself a challenge, 10 x 10. This meant playing ten of my games ten times throughout the year. In conjunction with this I also decided to not have any game in my collection left unplayed by the end of the year. This is a scary enough goal for me, but I really wanted to take the games I love in my collection and make the most of owning them. It also opened up another interesting question for me. What lessons can I learn by playing a game multiple times? It is one thing to play a game and like it, but do I like the game as much after 10 plays? If so will I like it for the same reasons? Will I learn more about games in general or develop stronger skills as a result? Following through on this activity may just open me to new learning on some games that I simply never intend. It may also mean that I learn absolutely nothing new. Either way I can guarantee that I have at least truly tapped the potential of my collection and begun to appreciate it.

In the weeks to come I will outline the games I chose and the lessons I have learned. Until then, I need to go play a few games.

Article by David.