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.