10 Years of Boardgames

Every so often someone at Board Game Geek gets his meeples in a twist because he’s worried that some people out there are rating games after only one play. Some games, the argument goes, only reveal their hidden magic after a number of plays. What if these conclusion-jumpers are skewing the ratings??? I responded the way I always respond to these things: if you want to pay me to play a lousy game I didn’t like to make sure it’s lousy, fine, but otherwise I’ll just rate what I feel like. (These people are always worried about the low ratings, never about the people who declare everything new as a triumph because it’s another game they can buy.) I also pointed out that I’ve been playing these games regularly for about a decade now and have a pretty good idea what I like, what I don’t like, and how a new thing is going to go for me.

But that got me wondering about those exact numbers. Well, I track boardgame plays at BGG (it’s super simple: the day after I play some games, I go over there, look up the game, and hit “record a play”), and it turns out the very first one I recorded was nearly 10 years ago. On February 28. 2005, I played Australia, Caribbean, and Gloom.

In fact, thanks to this play tracking, I can give you all kinds of information, but here’s the biggie:

In the past 10 years I’ve recorded 2549 plays of 816 different games.

More or less. The numbers aren’t accurate. I show only one play of Russian Railroads and I know I’ve endured that at least twice, so I haven’t been 100% diligent.

For Sale is the game I’ve recorded the most plays of, at 52. That makes sense, as it’s known as a “rain dance” game, one we often play on Sundays while waiting for others to show up. It’s quick and easy, so it doesn’t surprise me it’s number one.

The rest of my most-played games, the ones I’ve played more than 20 times, are:

Liar’s Dice (43)
7 Wonders (31)
Pandemic (31)
Power Grid (31)
Jambo (30)
Small World (25)
Dominion (24)
No Thanks! (24)
Lords of Waterdeep (22)
Crokinole (21)
Rummikub (21)
San Juan (21)
That’s Life! (21)

Looking at just that list, 7 Wonders and Dominion are the only ones there that I used to own but don’t anymore. And Crokinole I’ve never owned. Otherwise, I still have all of those.

Of the 816 different games I’ve logged, 402 of them (49%) I’ve only played once. This is not to say that they’re all junk, but hoo-boy, there’s a lot of junk in there. 671 of them (82%), I’ve played fewer than 5 times. In fact, in ten years, out of all the games I’ve played, I’ve only played 53 of them (6%) more than 10 times.

Let’s see how that compares to just last year. Last year I played 154 different games. Of those, 101 (66%) were only played once. Yikes! That 6% above I’d played more than 10 times? That same percentage in 2014 covers the 9 games I played more than 4 times.

What do these numbers say? They put me squarely in the “Cult of the New” camp, the group of gamers who are always looking for the next release, the new hotness to move on to. But that doesn’t really describe me as I am an certainly doesn’t describe where I want to be. It does, however, describe the groups I game with, which do have people who are constantly grabbing new stuff, and since I’m at the table too, I end up playing it. If you recall, out of those 154 unique games I played in 2014, 100 of them were new to me.

I don’t mind playing new stuff from time to time but honestly, I’d really rather skip some of the things I’ve been spending time on. And I’m not just talking about the obvious junk, but even some of the “good” stuff. As I said back when some of you were still paying attention, I’ve been doing this for a decade and I’ve built up a pretty nice library of games. There are a lot of them I think are great, and I’d rather spend more time with them than with something that’s even just good, much less something mediocre or worse. I’d like to start adding more depth to that “games played” list and less width.

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