Tabletop Games are a Good Deal

Katie Boes, guest blogger at Get Rich Slowly, confirms what a lot of game hobbyists already knew: board games — and it’s reasonable to extrapolate from there to role-playing games, because a few books and dice can provide the basis for weekly entertainment for years — are a darn good deal for the money invested.

In particular, she points out that a game costing $50 at purchase costs a dollar per play over 50 plays. Ratios may vary, certainly, depending on how much a person actually likes the game, but that’s what game nights and conventions are for. Both are great places to find that right game because someone else has already taken the financial plunge. Some people use conventions solely as a place to try the latest and most talked about games. My friend Alex bought Android untried in part because he recognized he had already benefited extensively from other people bringing new games to the table at various game-playing gatherings, and so took a turn himself.

In addition to the financial benefit, Katie also cites the entertainment and educational benefits — both for young and old; my mental math skills have become a bit more nimble since I’ve been playing board games. She also recommends places to try out and learn more about games before buying, including the mega-website Boardgamegeek.com and public board game gatherings — like, say, those at Quarterstaff Games in Burlington, Triple Play in Lebanon and Border Board Games in Derby Line — as an excellent place for the prospective game owner to try before they buy.

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8 thoughts on “Tabletop Games are a Good Deal

  1. Of course, things get tricky with games that have a lot of books. I play 4e; the core set was a great deal at $60, since we’ve been gaming with it over a year now. But what about Martial Power 2? Is that extra $20 going to add 30% more enjoyment?

    • That’s very true. I think it’s an example of the long tail effect. Not only do RPG supplement sales taper off precipitously compared to the relevant core books, but so does the relevance of the content. The more specialized a supplement becomes, the less it has to contribute over the long run to any particular campaign.

  2. Hate to be the storm cloud on the horizon but a $50 board game is only a great deal if you manage to get 50 plays out of it. The alternative is that you purchase a really cool game that sits on the shelf, loved, but unplayed. For example my copy of Twilight Imperium 3rd edition which sits next to my Shattered Empires expansion- an expansion that I have yet to play- even once. One of these days. One of these days…

    • That question is part of my buying process for any game, along with several related concerns:

      • Am I going to play this game enough to make it worth the money invested?
      • Do I already own a game that already scratches that particular mechanical or thematic itch?
      • Do I know people who will play this game with me?

      Questions like those are the reasons I haven’t splurged on my own copy of Talisman, for example. I love the game and would certainly play it enough over the lifetime of the copy to make it a worthwhile purchase, but I recognize that in my circle of game-playing friends, it’s derided and pretty much a non-starter when brought to the table. In contrast, by the end of the life of the set, Dominion‘s going to have shaken out to pennies per play.

      It’s ultimately a gamble, granted, but being tough on oneself with such questions can help improve the odds of getting your money’s worth from a game.

  3. The biggest limiting factor for me (aside from how much money I have at any given time) is whether I have friends willing to play the game. My friends, for the most part, don’t seek games out themselves and only really try somehting new when I introduce it to them. Therefore I like to keep a good variety. Mind you I only have a collection of about 20 games and a few expansions. This allows our group decent variety (catan to aquire, diplomacy to hive, for example) and also lets most of those games get quite a few plays in.

    I forgot my point. I guess that small collections are beneficial. At the same time, if I really want a game, I’ll probably get it regardless.

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