Sometimes when I run out of things to write about, my mind wanders to introspective topics. I find myself gravitating back to how we as boardgamers consume games, our modus operandi, our consumption model.
- There are many games which I play just once. Or twice. They are like books or movies. Do it once, and you're done with it. It doesn't mean these are poor games. Most are at least decent. Otherwise I wouldn't even want to sit down to play. Some I actually quite like. Some I've even bought, like Clash of Cultures. The biggest reason for just one play is there are simply too many games to play, and not enough time to play them all. The "too many games" problem is a hobbyist's problem, a "good problem to have". Normal people aren't even aware of the existence of this many games to be troubled by it.
- Periodic revision. This is what I sometimes do with classics and personal nostalgia games. There are some games which I don't play regularly anymore, but I'm happy to bring them out once in a while, and I still thoroughly enjoy them. Games like Amun-Re, Puerto Rico, and those from the Axis & Allies series. It's like catching up with old friends. Even if you don't hang out every weekend, it's always a joy to catch up over some mutual friend's wedding or an ad hoc midnight mamak tea time.
Axis & Allies Global 1940
- There are some games which I play repeatedly when I first get to know them. These are the intense love affairs. I get to understand them well, I explore them in detail, and I get to appreciate how clever they are. Recently I did this with Machi Koro, Samurai Spirit, and Roll for the Galaxy. Other previous examples I can think of are Robinson Crusoe, Friday and Town Center (solo). These intense bursts are nice, even though it may be for just a few weeks. With these games I feel I get my money's worth. This may not be the right way to measure the value of the money spent, but it's an instinctive approach and it's easy to understand. It's a straightforward method if you are looking for justification for money spent on games. I say I don't regret the money I've spent on Splotter games even though I don't get to play them very frequently.
- Then there are games which become half marathons or full marathons. I played Agricola heavily for probably half a year. Through the Ages lasted maybe 1.5 years. Race for the Galaxy and Ascension around 2 years. There are older ones like Carcassonne (now a once-in-a-while game) and Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper. These are games where I can see obvious signs of wear and tear due to heavy use. If you play my copy of Race for the Galaxy or Carcassonne, you can easily tell which cards or tiles are from the base game and which are from the expansions added later.
Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper
- The lifestyle games. I don't have one, but in a parallel universe there's a me playing Android: Netrunner like a pro and owns every data pack and every large expansion. Lifestyle games are those with so much depth and richness that a high-level player can play it to the exclusion of other games. Chess, Bridge, Go, Mahjong, Scrabble. These hobby games of ours are just temporary diversions, sideshows. I think lifestyle gamers and boardgamers are essentially mutually exclusive. I think hardcore Magic: The Gathering players would not be interested in spending much time on boardgames. I'm a boardgamer, and I simply don't have the determination or focus to become a "proper" (if there's such a thing) Android: Netrunner player.
I think most of us don't fall squarely into any single one of the categories above. Which one is most applicable to you?
It's easy to slip into thinking that the single play mode is worst and the in-depth play mode is best. My logical mind tells me that's rubbish, although a primal instinct sometimes urges me otherwise, and I need to keep telling it to shut up. There is no "right" way to enjoy your hobby. Make a throne from your games if it pleases you. Or take cat-in-box-cover photos. We certainly shouldn't judge others by their hobbies as long as they are not harming anyone. We shouldn't judge ourselves or set expectations for ourselves either.
How you consume games will depend on many things, and not only how you would like to do it, e.g. how much time you have for the hobby, your circle of friends, and the availability of games. I normally play only on Friday nights, and typically I play two games. That's not a lot, but it's good. I always have something to look forward to. I generally don't do solo-gaming, but I can easily imagine others doing it because their friends and family are not into boardgames, or they don't live near other boardgamers.