Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Curse of Quality vs Quantity

By all indications I possess a very reasonable (you might even say pitiful) game collection. I have 67 games listed in my collection on Boardgamegeek. Of those games, I would describe just 40 as "active" - i.e., a possibility on game night. This list includes all of my Eurogames, includinig my two Cheapass games (Falling and the set of Brawl decks), my lone AH game (Republic of Rome) and exactly one CCG (Magic: the Gathering). To these 40, I add nine games I have on loan: Die Macher, Flandern 1302, Capitol, Keythedral, Evo, Vinci, Carcassonne, The Settlers of Catan and Cosmic Encounter.

Wait. Let's take out the last three because they don't have an ice cube's chance in hell of seeing the game table, because we don't like them at all.

So, I have 46 games available for game night. Most of these games play in two hours - the usual meaty Euro like Princes of Florence, Torres, Puerto Rico, Taj Mahal or Amun-Re. Some run longer, like Java, Louis XIV and La Citta, or shorter, like Modern Art, Royal Turf, Samurai and RA. I have precious few fillers - King's Breakfast, High Society, Falling and Brawl. And I have a handful of "event games" - those games that need to be scheduled and take a whole night - Die Macher, Republic of Rome and Magic: the Gathering (usually a booster draft).

Now, my game group likes playing games repeatedly. If I did a "5 and 10 list" we would have several of the meatier games on there, and almost none of the lights. In a regular game night, lasting from around 7pm to 3am, we would play 2 to 3 games. If we play 3/4ths of the Saturdays in a year, that would be 39 game nights. Let's say 40. So that's 120 games, max. Let's say we play the "event games" at least 20 nights. (Likely 12 x Macher, 6 x MtG, 2 x RoR.) That leaves 100 games.

There's no way we don't play Puerto Rico, Princes of Florence, Euphrat & Tigris, Modern Art, Traumfabrik, Clash of the Gladiators, RA and Taj Mahal less than 12 times in a year. No way. Those are our group 9s and 10s. They are asked for and get played. That's 96 games estimated. That leaves 4 plays for everything else. Now let's say that we get 6 "extra game nights" in a year, due to holidays or whatever. That yields an additional 18 games, for available time for 22 games.

22. Just 22 plays to share among such amazing games as Torres, Amun-Re, Pueblo, In the Shadow of the Emperor, Maharaja, Samurai, Goa, Java, Mexica, Through the Desert, Colossal Arena, and Power Grid. And this is assuming we get plays of fillers like Bluff, High Society and -ick- Bohnanza (when there are nongamers around) "between the cracks".

My friends also have games. They bring and ask to play other very nice games like Traders of Genoa, Ingenious, Lord of the Rings, Acquire.... ok, I won't play Acquire, but the math is clear.

I've hit the limit. I'm starting to accumulate unplayed games. Magna Grecia, a game I'm dying to play, has languished unplayed for three months. The borrowed Capitol and Keythedral are still in shrink. I'm planning to purchase Beowulf and Clippers from the FLGS, but I hesitate. I HAVE GAMES UNPLAYED. Shit.

That means I've hit critical mass with my very good to great games. Which sort of makes sense because my BGG Wishlist is very thin now - just waiting for Knizia classics to be reprinted (Medici and Stephenson's Rocket). My current game collection can keep my gaming group sustained for a full year without getting stale. That means I can be very selective in what I purchase and add to the shelf.

In a way, it feels good to realize this. This tells me that:

1) I'm no collector. I don't care if I don't have Game X and Y and Z because if we won't play them, they're not worth having.

2) I can wait on games. I don't need to get Caylus now because it won't see any table time if Magna Grecia is any indication. Give everyone else time to try it out and wait for the hype to die down so a good reading can be taken. Most of the games we enjoy are the older ones that I had the luxury of researching on the Geek. I have no total dogs (though For Sale was a very close call) and just a few mild disappointments - games that turned out to be just good, not great (Power Grid, Santiago and La Citta).

3) A game my group *really* likes is one that breaks into "the rotation" of titles that see the table a dozen times (at least) in a year. Everything else is "just ok" and will get 3 to 4 plays in a year. Not bad, but certainly not very good.

4) I'm very close to "completing" my Eurogame library. I have almost every title I want. There's the small matter of a few hard to finds (Macher and 1830 primarily) and a few smaller games (Intrige, to be Englishized by Mayfair in 2006 so that's solved). I want to have some of the Gipf series (YINSH, TAMSK, PUNCT) but those will be likely shelf-sitters like LOTR:TC since we almost ever have just 2P.

5) There are such things as "classics" in Eurogames. E&T, PR, PoF, RA, Torres, Modern Art, Macher, Taj Mahal, Traumfabrik, Clash of the Gladiators - none of these games were made in the last 3 years. So, faced with a choice between buying an older game vs a newer game, always go with the older game (likely a reprint). The new stuff hasn't really been up to the high standards of the old stuff.

6) It takes a lot to impress me now. I'm jaded, just like Solko and Siggins. It's a good thing because it reins in my wallet. It's not a good thing because I'm likely close to seeking out a new hobby because, perhaps, I now know them too well.


Yehuda said...

2 player games: we always need some two player games lying around, in case people show up between games. Yinsh seems to be a favorite. And San Juan.

Light games: played when we are waiting for a specific player. Geschenkt. The Menorah Game (my game).

Alternates: Yes, it's definitely hard to see some of those games you list in the "alternate" pile.

Other main fare to consider: El Grande, Age of Steam.

Your players are depth players who want to master the game, or find it confusing the first few times they play and don't like that feeling. While you are the breadth player, who wants the variety.


Mark Haberman said...

Can I be in your group?

sodaklady said...

I'm almost as anxious as you are to have you get Magna Grecia to the table since I helped influence your purchase. I want to know if I earned a Gold Star or a tongue-lashing. :)

Melissa said...

Among all that you have said, one thing really stands out to me: You play Louis XIV in over 2 hours?


We find it runs about 50-80 minutes.

Rick said...

Yehuda - People who show up in between games at our game nights don't usually start playing until a 3rd comes along. They just lounge and chat. Or if there are Magic decks around, they go for that. I'm definitely more of a "play it again" guy than a "play something new" guy, so I fit right in with my group. :)

Habes - If you're ever in Manila you'll be our guest of honor!

Mary - I'm as anxious as you! Don't worry, I've played a few mock game turns. It will go over very well, but the first play will likely take 3 hours.

Melissa - Our first Louis play was 3 hours. I think 2 hours will be the norm. We give it the full gamer game treatment, keeping track of which influence cards have been played, planning the next turn while playing out the current turn, reviewing what mission cards people have active to predict what they'll do. It's a DIFFICULT game, one of the most brutal that I've played in a while.