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Should First Plays Count?

Jim Reed
United States
Mount Holly
New Jersey
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Jim Reed - This is my first Blog, I'm assuming it is supposed to be more like ramblings, so, here's some..

I'm not a statistical person. Although, I do record my game plays on Board Game Geek, I do not record whether or not I won them. One thing that has been really notacible to me lately, is that first plays should never count when deciding if you liked the game or not.

I would say that at least 40 percent of my plays come in the form of one and dones. (games I play only one time and never play again) Now, this isn't because they are bad games or games I don't like, although this is sometimes the case. Many times, it's a game played at a convention, the game store, or a friends house.

The other 60 percent is games I've probably played multiple times.

All of these games still have one obvious thing in common. They all had a first play. This, leads me to my point.

I'd like to categorize first plays into three categories:

1.) Games that are easy to pick up, understand, and play the first time.

These games can be light euros, light strategy, family, party, card, and so on

2.) Games that are difficult to understand the rules, methods of victory, etc until you've played them once.

These are usually heavier euros or heavy strategy

3.) Games you think are either one or two, but you end up playing with some rule wrong anyway.

This can be ANY game, and seems to be my "most likely to fall in" category.

The percentage for me, I would say is...

1 = 20% 2 = 30% 3 = 50%

Keep with me here.

With this in mind, 80% of my first plays should really not count.

I am also strongly starting to think that first impressions and game reviews with minimal plays should not have any bearing on how good or bad the game is.

Game examples:

Agricola ( Z-man games) - My first play of this game was at a convention I got spanked. It wasn't until about half way through the game I even saw the strategies involved. After seeing how the game end scoring worked, the whole thing totally made since. But that first play wasn't very enjoyable. My next play I did much better. In teaching and playing this game twice, I always destroy first timers.

Puzzle Strike (Sirlin Games) - The first play, we totally screwed up a major rule in crashing gems. So much so that all the players hated the game and I didn't play it again for a long time. Until someone told me how it actually worked. Now I love it!

Cosmic Encounter (Fantasy Flight) - I hated this game my first time playing. I just didn't see the flow of the game at all. I made every wrong decision I could possibly have made and understanding exactly how the negotiations worked took all game. My second play of this, I saw the same thing going on with a few other first timers.

Other games recently that we've gotten a pretty major rule wrong in our first play are Mansions of Madness, Rune Wars, A Touch of Evil, and even rpgs like Deadlands and Call of Cthulu.

I can't tell you how many games I didn't like the first time I played them, then to go on and like or even love the game after playing it again. And I see it all the time with other people. They get fustrated over one aspect of the game, don't understand something the first time through, or just don't win, and these thing really effect how much they enjoyed the game.

If anything should be said about boardgames, it's not just try every game once, but it should be said, "Try every game ATLEAST twice!"

This blog, and other blogs by me can be found here...
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