Wednesday, 18 July 2007

buying games

I probably won't ever tell myself enough is enough, in terms of buying boardgames. I buy around 15 to 20 games a year. I usually buy in batch, from online retailers in USA. Their prices are much lower than the recommended retail prices, around 25% - 30% less. This is offset by the shipping costs to send the games all the way to Malaysia, but it is still cheaper than if I were to buy in KL. Also some games are not available in KL.

I have so many games in my collection now, there are many games that I don't even play once in a year. It would be too much of a chore if I try to force myself to play every game at least once a year. I really do have enough games to choose from whenever I feel like playing a game. My collection is sufficient for any occasion and any type of game that I may feel like playing, and even for any groups of friends that I may be able to lure into playing a game. But I cannot resist buying new games. I always follow the latest news in the boardgames industry (with focus on Eurogames), so I know what are the popular new games and what are the upcoming games. It is these games that interest me. I seldom buy "older" games now (defined as published more than 2 years ago), as I would have read all about them on Boardgamegeek and would have decided to buy or not to buy them.

My collection on 4 Mar 2007. There have been some additions since then.

The other shelf where I put most of the larger box games.

So, I guess buying and playing boardgames is a little like buying books or watching movies, at least for me. There is always something new that is interesting. Of course books and movies cannot be watched repeatedly too many times (usually). Good older games can always be pulled out to play. Sometimes playing a game again after a long time can give a new perspective and expose some new strategies. I actually do not have many games that I have played so much that I consider myself an expert or near-expert, as in I have fully explored all the strategies. So, there are still many games that I own that I can explore more. On the other hand, it is always a joy to try a new game, and to discover new favourites. It is like reading a new book or watching a new movie. It is about discovering how the game works and how to defeat your opponents, or how to achieve a higher score.

I have some games that I probably should sell or trade away. There are games which I have bought but do not particularly like. Not that I feel very possessive about and just will not let go of them. It is just that I cannot be bothered to sign-up on eBay to sell them or to arrange via Boardgamegeek to trade them for other games. Too much trouble to package the games and to send them. If there is any friend who plays one of these games and likes it, I would happily give it as a gift.

How about the cost? I have once tried to estimate how much money I have spent on boardgames. It is not a small amount, having accumulated so many games over the past few years. I have not done a latest estimation. That one time that I did an estimation was maybe 2 years ago or so. Some games are really worth the money. I have played Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper and Carcassonne so many times that they are starting to look worn out. I looked at some of the games that I have played the most, and calculated the cost per game (as in how many times I've played the game), by dividing the price I paid for the game by the number of times I've played it. This is what I found:

Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper200RM0.20
Ticket to Ride (some games are played online, which is much faster)124RM0.81
Lost Cities93RM1.20
Blokus (including Blokus Duo games that I played using my Blokus game)84RM1.27
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation74RM1.51
San Juan53RM1.92

1 Apr 2006. This is how Michelle and I use my Blokus game (4 player game) to play Blokus Duo (2 player version). The only change is a smaller play area, and the starting position is at (5, 5) instead of at the corner.

Compared to other forms of entertainment (movies, karaoke, going out for drinks with friends), the boardgame hobby can be a cheaper hobby. One game bought can provide hours and hours of fun. But of course as a boardgame hobbyist, I do have many games that do not get played that many times, and games that I have bought but still have not played. Using the same calculation method above, my A Game of Thrones and its expansion A Clash of Kings cost me RM311 altogether and I have only played it once. That's one expensive RM311 game (4 players, over around 3 hours) compared to those 20sen games of Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper.

This value-for-money concept can be a good guide to buying games. If there is a game that I don't think I will be playing many times, then I probably should not bother buying. But the word "value" does not necessary only translate to how many times to play a game. Some games are long and do not get played very frequently, but the times when they are played can be very memorable and enjoyable. So "value" is also these great experiences and the unique fun some of these less frequently played games can bring, for example games in the Axis & Allies series, and my yet-to-be-played Die Macher.


Yehuda said...

Definitely trade or sell the games, at the very least to others in your country.

If you think about it, buying games is no different than the addiction to buying the latest Magic cards. You keep hoping to play a good combination during game evening.

What you noticed, and therefore are missing out on, is that may of these games are quite different games as you play them further. As a simple example, you wouldn't call Go played two or three times the same game as Go played 50 times, would you?

Also, real cognitive benefits are to be found from repeatedly playing a game and becoming better at it. Constantly playing new games is a bit like candy for the brain.


Hiew Chok Sien said...

I try to be more selective about what new games I buy. Also there are many games in my collection that I should play more to appreciate their depths, so that I can enjoy them even more.