Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Board Games, Like CCGs, are Cardboard Crack

Ten years ago, hordes of game geeks left the CCG scene because it was "cardboard crack": it sucked away tons of time and money all to get the latest fix. The hordes turned instead to board games. Nice, simple, replayable, buy-once-and-it's-yours board games.

These same hordes spent the last ten year spending even more time and money to get the latest board games. Every year, they bought dozens of games, played them twice, once, or not at all, and then anticipated the next game and the next purchase.

The amount of time and money they spent over the last ten years on an endless series of newer board games probably equaled or exceeded what they would have spent on CCGs during this same period. The question is: who had more fun? Those that continued to play CCGs all decade, or those that denounced them as cardboard crack and went on to spend their time playing that endless series of board games?

Probably both teams win.

The constant need to buy what is anticipated as later and greater is called "the cult of the new". The best ten games of 2009 are not really better than the best ten games of 2000. For those that bought the best best games every year, the enjoyment came from the anticipation, the acquisition, and the new experience of each game, not from the solidity of the game itself. Familiar games, like familiar songs, electronics, or movies, may be nice, but they're familiar.

Was that really the best use of your money? Unlike songs, many movies, and some books, the best games reward reuse by being different every time you play them. (In fact, one game genre fits that description pretty well: CCGs.)

Of course, someone has to buy, play, and review the games for the rest of us to know which of those games are most likely to be the ones we'll want to replay. When do you - non-journalist - stop looking at what you don't have and enjoy what you have?

If the answer is never, at least stop looking down on others who enjoy the same thing you do.

4 comments:

Poet said...

I stopped playing MTG after a long 7 years.
I replaced it with "Metal Crack".
Miniature Tabletop War-games suck up just as much time as CCGs. The difference is, depending on company, that your stuff doesn't become obsolete within' a year.

I keep buying new stuff, and there is always new stuff to buy, but I keep using my old stuff just as often.

And I have about 6 board games, but I concede the only reason I don't have double that amount by now, is I spend it all on miniatures :)

Dragonbear82 said...

Then there are those lunatics like me who try and do both. I take a break from MTG every now and then, but always come back to it and I'm always buying boardgames too. Currently I'm on break from MTG and yet I've been spending more and more time on boardgames.

It is at the point where I've been wondering lately if I am addicted to boardgames. My wife laughed and asked if I thought I would get fired any time soon because of my addiction. I'm still not sure I agree with that. All I can say in defense is that my addictions are less dangerous and costly than narcotics (I think, I don't really know what the going rate on narcotics is I might be wrong) and they have yet to have any major negative impacts on my life.

Jeff Myers said...

Strangely, this has been a topic of discussion lately in my game group, since a friend and I started playing CCGs again in 2009.

It started with a couple of starter packs of the WoW CCG I got for free at a con. We enjoyed it enough to buy a bunch of used cards online. We paid very little, and still had all the enjoyment of playing.

We enjoyed that enough to remember how much we used to like the Vs CCG, and so we did the same thing. We bought used cards online and got hours of gametime for a small amount of cash.

Yehuda said...

There must be a formula for the optimum time to buy a game, weighing how long the game has been out, how log since you've played a new game, and how often you play.

Yehuda