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How I Learned To Stop Worrying & Play The Games I Love

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
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It’s that time again. This site, and any boardgaming social media group that you may belong to are about to be flooded once more. Flooded with gamers promising to complete numerous challenges and resolving to achieve the fabled 10x10. I wrote, somewhat cynically, about the phenomenon at the start of the year. I think those words do ring true though, a good portion of those drawn to such things are doing so out of some form of (self imposed) guilt about the number of games owned and trying to curb their urges to chase the hot new thing. I’ve tried and, predictably, failed at these things myself in the past.

This year I consciously decided to not think very much at all about what I “should” play and instead to just go with the flow and see what happened. It quickly became apparent that this was a lot less stressful a way to decide what to play. I found that a game might get to the table several times in quick succession, maybe even 3 or 4 times in a week. I found that I kept going back to familiar games rather than seeking out more variety and new titles.

In 2018 I have played 190 individual games, 25 of them 10 or more times, and around another 20 titles 5 or more times. There have been 75 games played just the once.
The previous year I only played 7 games 10 or more times and 150 games just once; and in 2016 it was only 4 games played 10 or more times and 116 just the once.
What is immediately apparent is that not only have I drastically “outperformed” on the multiple plays but I have also cut out a lot of single play titles. When I think about it I have been consciously shying away from playing new (to me) titles when they have been on offer as well.

I feel pretty good about all this actually. If I’m honest I had got into a place where I wasn’t feeling particularly happy with my game playing. Some of that was perhaps down to writing a daily blog and feeling that I needed to be constantly putting out a variety of writing about different games, that people wouldn’t be interested in reading about the same ones day after day, week after week. That was all pressure that I was putting on myself of course. Removing that self imposed obligation not only freed up some time that I could put to different use but it also unburdened me from the need I felt to stay “relevant”. Of those 25 games played 10 or more times this year, only 3 are games that have been released this year, and coincidentally they are all games by the same designer, Wolfgang Warsch (That's Pretty Clever, The Mind and The Quacks of Quedlinburg). In fact I’m not sure that I’ve played any game that was released at Essen this year at all, and not many in total from 2018. Interesting. Most, but far from all, are probably light to medium light titles as well.
Another side effect from this has been that I’m much more content with the state of my collection, and what I can perhaps sell on without any worry in the new year.

In addition to the time saved by not writing, the not constantly chasing a new game hit also gained me additional extra time; I’ve found that I must have spent many hours reading about and researching games that I didn’t own, and then watching playthroughs, listening to gaming podcasts, reading rulebooks, learning to play, teaching others; and all that effort to play a game once, twice, thrice (maybe)? That time has been spent reading generally, I’ve read more books this twelve months than in the past three years combined I think, as well watching lots of quality TV shows and listening to a ton of new music and podcasts about all sorts of things. All in all it’s been a very rounded year, and yet I’ve still played loads of games, around the same number in total that I had in the past, but much more focused on games that I already knew I liked.

I’m not going to preach to you that I’ve found the gaming light and that you should all follow my lead but I would certainly encourage you to do more playing of things you love. I’ve discovered that my ideal gaming comfort zone sits between the SDJ and KSDJ levels and that play in under an hour, with some occasional forays into deeper, longer games when I fancy it. I’ve found my balance if you will, and I certainly intend to carry this experience forward into 2019.
No challenges, no commitments, just playing what I like, when I like.

There is a companion piece to this blog, where I expand a little on each of those 25 games, in a geeklist that you can find HERE - Stu's Stupendous Year...
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