How Not to Spend Money Wisely on Board Games

Thinking further about the return on investment ratio tabletop games offer, I’ve had two realizations.

The first is it’s really easy to take a bath on games I think I like. Take, for example, Marvel Heroes. I tried it out at Northeast Wars in 2008 and thought it was awesome. I’m honestly not sure why. I think it was the prospect of a high production value board game about name brand superheroes I actually knew — having been a Marvel man, and more specifically an X-Men aficionado, in my comic-reading days — after most of my exposure to contemporary board games left me thinking they were all about power plant management and other dreary tasks.

Based on that one play, I ran out and snapped up a copy at the local game store for a cool manufacturer suggested retail price of $60. I think I played that copy three times before unloading it for $20. So for a net cost of $40, it cost me $13.34 per play. That’s worse than seeing a first run film here in Burlington, particularly since Marvel Heroes roughly takes as long to play as a feature presentation.

In retrospect, the warning signs that Marvel Heroes wasn’t for me — abstract resource management, more things to do than can be managed in a turn,  a bevy of similar, but not quite the same abilities to utilize — were all there. I just didn’t look very closely at the game the first time I played it, or, more accurately, felt the things I did like outweighed those negatives.

Now, I’m not denying the possibility of falling in love with a game on first sight. Rather, I say, it’s not nearly as common as one might like to believe. And that leads me to my second realization: I’ve completely gotten over my “buy a little of everything” attitude that informed my purchases when I first got into tabletop games in general. I think that, like role-playing games, a lot of board games cover similar patches of ground in what wind up being not terribly different ways. And that’s fine. I just don’t need to throw any more money at figuring that out.

12 thoughts on “How Not to Spend Money Wisely on Board Games

  1. It’s far too healthy for you to be having this realization at this point in your “gamer cycle.” It’s much more dramatic, and claustrophobic, if you wait until your collection overwhelms your living space.

    • You should see my “living room” sometime, Neil. One side is just a wall o’ RPGs and board games. That’s about as overwhelming as I want to get.

      • Exactly, one wall still offers clear hope. You’re only supposed to have an inkling when you’ve got three walls covered and are almost trapped and the fourth is coming close to blocking a final exit.

    • I’d like to think I learned my lesson with Marvel Heroes. But lately I’ve fixated on Dominion: Intrigue when I only played the game once. I keep telling myself that since I like Dominion, I’ll surely get into Intrigue as well, even with only play under my belt.

      • I don’t think there is a danger of not playing intrigue. It might not get played on it’s own as often as ‘regular’ Dominion, but you can take out cards and play with how they interact with base Dominion cards. I look forward to the experiments 🙂

        • It’s less “will it get played?” and more “will I like it?” I’m starting to think time has dulled my memory of just how off-base Intrigue threw me at Carnage last November.

  2. Pingback: For Sale: Slightly Used Turtles « Held Action

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