4-6 hours to play board games. Wonderful!! But what should we play? One epic game or 3-to-4 smaller, yet still fun games? My guess is that this is a common conundrum amongst board gamers, especially those who meet up with family or friends for “game night.”
Warning: my goal is not to unearth the one true answer — I’m no diamond in the rough here.
My hope is to simply explore both sides of the argument — a good old fashioned board game debate:
Team Epic Gaming — Pros for playing one big, epic game
Time well spent –> yes, one of these games may take multiple hours and eat up all your game time, but it is TOTALLY WORTH IT to know that all those hours are spent playing a great game.
Immersion –> with a longer game comes the ability and time for a game to more fully immerse you into the world. It is more time spent with a character / a faction in which you get to familiarize yourself with the strengths and weaknesses of that group — to see progression and growth.
A better game –> when a game plays longer, it has the time to let its mechanisms fully operate and can be more complex, adding greater richness, depth, and rewarding decision-making. The game itself can have stages and develop / change in a single play because it is not hampered by a short timeframe.
The win –> To win an epic, long game feels…well…heroic! When you pour 3, 4, 5+ hours into a single game — constantly analyzing your decisions, adjusting, reacting, predicting, processing, running your engine….to then get to the end and be victorious is more rewarding than any win in a shorter game can ever provide.
One game, one setup –> As an add-on to the “time well spent” idea, you will only have to setup one game, thus giving you a greater % of your evening spent actually playing a board game. One teach, one setup, the rest is AWESOMENESS!
Team More Games Is More Fun –> Rebuttal
Many of the statements above work under the assumption that every long game is a great game. False! Bad games come in all shapes, sizes, and lengths. Long games are simply riskier — all eggs in one basket, and if that basket stinks of boring mechanisms, no theme, and analysis paralysis…then you might as well write-the-evening-off.
Immersion? There are plenty of long, dry games out in the world. How long does someone need to get immersed in the world of trading stones, or iron, or animals? Of sending this ship to get this cube so that it can later drop that cube off at this planet and then do that again about 50 times?
Complex = better, um not necessarily mi amigo. Sometimes it just means confusing. But hey, now you get to spend the next several hours of your life being confused about how to cultivate this plant, so that 5 of it can generate isotope B and when you have 8 of it, you can activate your Gizmo 5000 that after 3 rounds can build a watchtower so that your army can try to battle the enemy — assuming you have also been building weapons, feeding your soldiers, and breeding the right horses. ::faint::
The loss –> ever have a game that just didn’t go your way — maybe you made a few bad choices early on and could never recover. Now, imagine that you get to spend several hours playing a doomed game — Congrats!!
Setup and teach –> oh wait, did I mention that it will take you over 30 minutes to learn the game…oh and another 20-30 minutes just to set it up….? I didn’t? I’m sorry.
Team More Games Is More Fun –> Pros for playing multiple games
Diverse gaming preferences –> by playing great games with play times running from 30 to 90 minutes, your game group can get in multiple plays during an evening — if your gamers have diverse interests, this allows for a greater opportunity to hit everyone’s sweet spot at some point during the night.
More winners –> When playing more games, one of the benefits is that there are that many more opportunities for players to win games, or at least be successfully competitive. Ugh, I just got smoked at Downforce, but now I’m doing really well in Clank! and think I might be able to pull off a victory.
Play it again! –> Shorter games also give groups an opportunity to reset and play again. Not every group is on a mission to play as many games as possible. Sometimes, you play a great game and the very next thing you want to do is run it through a 2nd time. This is a great way to try and implement a new strategy, make sure Vladimir doesn’t try that move on you again, or maybe try a new faction that you haven’t attempted yet.
Schedule Accommodating –> The reality is that it can be hard to keep the same adults together for multiple hours (the same multiple hours as everyone else). Someone may show up a little late, or one couple has to leave a little early. In these scenarios, playing less time-intensive games makes it easier for late arrivals to “we got next” or parents watching the baby-sitter clock to “call it a night” and skip out on the final game.
SO MANY GREAT GAMES –> We live in a Board Game Golden Age! Don’t hold me down to one game a night, I need to play that game I haven’t touched in 9 months, and the one Buford just got for his birthday, and the Kickstarter fulfillment that finally showed up this week, and Maria requested we play her favorite game again…..we need to play them all!!
Team Epic Gaming –> Rebuttal
Diverse preferences –> So, what I really hear you saying is that to make the masses happy, we all get to spend 75% of our night playing games we don’t like as much. That sounds wonderfully rewarding!
More winners? –> Can we all get participation ribbons as well, maybe even shirts: 4th Place Scythe participant, May 30th, 2019. That’s the Kobe Bryant philosophy — if I keep shooting the ball, eventually some of them will go in. Yeah, or you could just take good, smart shots — play a game, learn from your losses, and get better.
Play it again?!? –> So, now you are just arguing that it’s a benefit to get to play the same game for multiple hours? I guess I don’t have a rebuttal for this one, since you are essentially stating my own case at this point. Well done.
Schedules –> Umm….okay, this is actually a pretty good point.
So many games –> yes and how many of them are just fluff and hype. If you are playing games, just to say you played games, well…have fun with that. If you are searching for great games, then find one or two and play them. Why spend multiple hours hoping to find a great game, when there are some epic, awesome games that can maximize your game night happitude by their singular selves?
Thank you Team Epic and Team More for your insights. We will now let the audience decide who has won this debate…
So, what say you? Which side of this game night coin do you prescribe to?
For more board game discussion, follow me on Twitter @boardgamecrock1