I love new things. There’s not much more fun or exciting to me than receiving a shiny new game in the mail. I love to rip open the outer packaging in a Hulk-like fashion, hold that new game in a vice-like grip and savour the newness. Running my hands over the box to get a real feel for it, assessing the quality, perusing the cover art- is it everything I imagined it would be? Then unboxing the goodness to check out what’s in store, taking in that fresh scent of card or wood. Post-unboxing but pre-rulebook reading I like to add the game to the shelf to join its new friends, and bask in that ‘I just got a new game’ feeling. There’s also the excitement of spotting a new game; perhaps a recent announcement, maybe on a friend’s Instagram feed, possibly a Twitter link to a news article. And all of a sudden you feel like life just got a little bit better-something to covet, something to add to the wish list, something to look forward to. So don’t get me wrong I love newness in spades.
But it also got me thinking about the subject as a whole. When I first started playing board games a few years ago, Kickstarter games- although almost definitely a thing- were not as commonplace as they are now. When I first began tabletopping in earnest it was games such as Terra Mystica, Eclipse, and Twilight Struggle that were the BGG hotness. If you look now, as in right now you are most likely to see a Kickstarter game as a headliner for hotness. I am not saying there’s anything wrong with this, because there’s not. I think Kickstarter is wonderful in many ways and crowdfunding has made a huge positive different to the board game community, especially publishers with brilliant games in store for us, who genuinely need your help from crowdfunding. I guess my personal concern is that because nowadays we have so much to choose from, so many new things thrown at us, and so much newness that we are spoilt for choice. Recently, having been trying to save money I haven’t been buying as many new games. In fact since my daughter was born I have only purchased filler games (with an exception here and there) and have asked for bigger games as a birthday present and the like. But I find it frustrating that with limited leisure time and so much new stuff to be had, I sometimes forget to give the games I already own the time and attention they deserve. Then comes the inevitable buyers remorse, which leads to those niggling guilty feels. And who wants that? I think many people feel the same, hence setting ’10 x 10 challenges’ where you play ten games you own ten times. I actually tried this last year and failed pretty miserably I might add. But that’s not to say I wouldn’t try again. Because when I do bang out the ‘oldies’ I feel that sense of warmth and nostalgia.
So what’s the solution? Ignore new games? Don’t back games? I mean, for me, no way. A new game once in a while is most welcome and backing a game I believe in and want to see distributed is a fantastic feeling. But I’m still in this quandary. Therefore I am now very careful to vet future purchases. Will this go the distance? Will I want to play this a year from now? Is there a high probability of repeated gaming? And most importantly (for me) is this a novelty? Because if suspect it is, I have to let it go. I was looking at two games (that I won’t name) a couple of months back. Both filler games, only one was ‘Ooooh this looks very cool, very modern, love that artwork!’ and the other was much more of a classic looking euro filler which looked very innocuous but fun. In the end I didn’t get either of them, due to lack of money, but if I had got one I would have gone for little Euro. Many people may have gone for the cool, and I couldn’t blame them for doing so. But it made me sad to think both of these games will possibly never come to light, and may very well be buried under the next wave of new games.
Lastly I wanted to leave you with my other thought… expansions. I recently concluded that I definitely have a ‘great game, haven’t got the expansion’ syndrome. Why? Well most probably because a few years ago, when I had more disposable income, I was out buying new games instead. Which is such a shame now when I think about it. Concordia, Eclipse, Dungeon Petz, Terra Mystica– some of my favourite games that I would love to own the expansions for. Expansions are marvelous- you pay less money, you can often add it to an existing box to save shelf space, plus that fact that you expand (duh) an already fabulous game. To backtrack slightly I don’t think all expansions are necessary. On a recent episode of The Five By podcast where I lovingly discussed Rokoko I had to point out that the Jewelry Box expansion, although lovely, wasn’t terribly necessary. I appreciated what they were aiming for but I believe that it detracted from an already full game, and just left me a little flummoxed. On the latest episode I talk about Concordia, a game that after a few years of playing is actually a bit too familiar, where the expansion-which simply adds more provinces (Brittania and Germania) or more goods to trade (Salsa)- would be very necessary in breathing some life back into the Concordia experience. I think expansions are great, but only if you feel it needs to be expanded upon.
So in conclusion I have to say I’m still mulling this over. I would love to have a more definitive answer, but what I was going for here was to open up a few trains of thought on the matter, and let readers comes to their own conclusions. So instead I’ll leave you with a few expansions that have made me happy to hear about recently:
I enjoy The Bloody Inn a great deal, and I actually did a solo play recently on my channel. This has just been announced for Essen 2017 and there is no information as yet. But I’m suspecting it’s going to bring in new guests/accomplices to aid your innkeepers in horrible murder, with all sorts of tricks up their sleeve. I’m excited to find out.
Tyrants of The Underdark: Aberrations & Undead
I do apologise as I mentioned this in my last article, but I’m still waiting and still super excited for this one. I adore Tyrants of the Underdark and it’s been played so much that I think the new cards with their traits and abilities are going to change the game up a treat.
Carcassonne: Under the Big Top – bringing a little Olde World flavour to a classic. Yes it’s the tenth large expansion, but I haven’t got any and it looks super fun. You attract punters to your town with a large circus tent and human pyramids (which I believe is actually stacking meeples, and dexterity is a completely uncharted territory for me, so yay) whilst managing the townsfolk and your performers with a ringmaster.