In my last blog, I wrote about how I was not learning as many games I used to and how maybe that was because I was growing older and settling down. (You kids! Off my hobby! Er, but leave that copy of A Few Acres of Snow behind, okay?)
However, a counterpoint has occurred to me.
Variety is the spice of life. After all, if I had to eat the same sandwich for every meal, eating would become a chore, even if it was roast beef with cheddar cheese and horse radish. And while there are games that I admit warrant life-time devotion (Go, Chess, Bridge, Advanced Squad Leader(which I still haven’t played)), I like to play a variety of games.
And, when I first got into the hobby, the world was full of games that I had never played and mechanics I’d never seen before. It was like I had gotten to a giant smorgasbord and there seemed to be a never-ending supply of new tastes to try out.
So the first few years were me pigging out and trying as much as I could.
Let’s be honest here. There are a lot of recycled ideas out there and you end up seeing a lot of the same mechanics over and over. How often have you been able to describe a game by saying “It’s like A but/with X”?
And sometimes that’s not a bad thing. When worker-placement games became the hot-ticket thing, I found that I never really cared for Caylus and Pillars of the Earth wore out its welcome but Stone Age, while not doing anything special or new, is a game that I still enjoy playing. Sometimes a designer takes a box of ideas that have been done before and makes something that you just want to keep playing.
But after years of researching games and playing games, I can now see that there is a lot of overlap out there and there have been waves of auction games and tile placement games and worker placement games and deck building games and some of them are just better than others.
Yeah, I’m going to be a married man soon and I’ve got other stuff going on in my life these days but part of why I am learning fewer new games is that I’m becoming more discriminating. Do I need another game about trading goods in the Mediterranean? Probably since I love that theme but tell me how this game is different than the other dozen in my collection.
I can even point to the game that was a turning point in how I looked at new games. Thunderstone.
My group loved Dominion. We still love Dominion. There is not another game that we have played as much of and there is not another game that I have not brought to a table that people have responded as strongly to. If I hadn’t sleeved the cards, I’d have had to buy a complete new set by now.
And Thunderstone had buzz about being a game that build on Dominion but was a deeper, more thematic game.
So, of course, I got it.
And we played it.
And we tried to like it.
And it just wasn’t happening.
Thunderstone was like a wall that we kept bashing our heads into. Part of the problem was that the original rule book was really poorly written. However, the things that it added to the deck building formula ended up making the game longer without adding to our enjoyment. And too often, we found the game bogging down as we tried to balance the two currencies of light and fighting power.
In the end, despite trying to add house rules to help shore up the game, we concluded that we were better off playing Dominion. So we did.
Yes, they are some games I don’t have to the time for. However, when I take a second look, I also realize that there are some games that just aren’t worth my time.