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Subject: 90 minutes - ok. 120 minutes - No way! rss

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Otherworldly Gamer
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I have been wanting to play longer games recently. I don't mean 4-hour sessions of Roads & Boats or a day-long game of Twilight Imperium (Third Edition). I am talking about games that last between 2 and 3 hours. Games like Dominare, Yedo, and Rolling Freight. These games all are listed at 90-120 minutes here on BGG, but we all know those are lies. LIES!

I understand that a gamer's time is limited and valuable, but why would someone want to play two, 1-hour games that are fun and mildly satisfying rather than one, 2-hour game that is also fun and even more satisfying?

Is it because if the short game is not going well, at least it will be over soon?

Is it a race to see how many games we can get played in a single gaming session?

Is it due to hormones in our food supply that give us shorter attention spans and let the aliens read our mind.....Nevermind.

Luckily, I am in a game group that isn't afraid of longer games for the most part. I have been able to play Yedo and Dominare. I am looking forward to breaking out Rolling Freight tomorrow night.

So, dear readers, do you see this fear of longer games in your groups? Please expound.
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Jonathan "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
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For me personally I think 2 hours to 3 hours is a sweet spot, seems to be for my game group and wife as well. I did an 8 hour stint of Twilight Imperium and to be honest it was like pulling teeth after about the 4th hour. I dont think anyone in our group would enjoy anything really beyond 3 hours, but we arent afraid of 2-3.
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Oliver Kiley
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Havox wrote:
I understand that a gamer's time is limited and valuable, but why would someone want to play two, 3-hour games that are fun and mildly satisfying rather than one, 6-hour game that is also fun and even more satisfying?


The logic that longer = more satisfying isn't a universal rule or opinion by any measure. And the constraints that prevent some people from playing a 6+ hour game apply to other people trying to play a 2 or 3 hour game, and others still with a 1 hour game. Conversely, the motivations and satisfaction people get are going to vary tremendously - and some people are far less satisfied with longer games.

There are two things at work here

(1) What a person/group DESIRES to play; and
(2) What a person/group is CONSTRAINED to play due to time or other logistical realities.

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GeekInsight
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In my groups, it definitely comes down more to logistics than anything else. In ideal conditions, I know very few gamers who would eschew a game merely because it takes 2-3 hours.

That said, we don't always game under ideal conditions. Maybe someone is running 45 minutes late. Can't start a long game because they'll be left out. And, by the time they get there, there aren't enough gaming hours left.

Maybe someone has to get up early the next day and wants to call the night early. They can't stay for a long game, so two short ones get played (one with them, and one without).

Maybe someone had a rough day at work and just can't expend the mental energy on the long-term planning necessary.

It's these outside-the-game considerations that most often stymie longer games for me.
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George I.
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This calls for a geeklist... for me over 90 minutes (1h30) is starting to become too much. 1h30 is a nice spot for a long game; 2h at most. In general, I enjoy smaller games like Carcassonne, Pandemic or 7 Wonders, as I prefer to play 3-4 different games within 3 hours. Helvetia is a favorite longer worker placement game, which lasts about 90 minutes.

At the end of 90 minutes my head just hurts. So 90 minutes is quite ok for a larger game, as long as you get the feel of progressing somehow. For example, I played Red November last week, a coop, which lasted about 2h; did not enjoy it, as it doesn't give you a sense of progressing, i.e., you just run around, solve disasters and just... wait until the time runs out.

Bottom line: 90 minutes ok, probably good for worker placement games where you get the feel of progressing.
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Holger Doessing
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Well, only few people likes movies that are longer than 2 hours, right? Same thing with games. Sometimes you want that weekend-long series marathon, but most of the time you'd rather watch one movie, then - if you still feel like watching another flick - go with something with a different flavour.
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Otherworldly Gamer
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Good replies, all. I understand the logistics and time constraints around game time and I also get it that just because it's longer, doesn't make it a better or more satisfying game. I'm just curious that all things being equal, do you find yourself or your group avoiding games that take longer than 2 hours?

The mental fatigue reasoning is one I have not experienced myself, either one I don't play games that are "brain burning" enough or the fact that I look forward to game night so much I will play pretty much anything.

Thanks for the responses. Good stuff.
 
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Otherworldly Gamer
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holgerd wrote:
Well, only few people likes movies that are longer than 2 hours, right? Same thing with games. Sometimes you want that weekend-long series marathon, but most of the time you'd rather watch one movie, then - if you still feel like watching another flick - go with something with a different flavour.


But what if it was a really good movie??whistle
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Bryan Thunkd
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Havox wrote:
why would someone want to play two, 1-hour games that are fun and mildly satisfying rather than one, 2-hour game that is also fun and even more satisfying?

You're assuming that the longer game will be more satisfying. That may not be true. But some possible reasons are... variety, depth (shorter games usually run towards the lighter side), reduces risk (short games minimizes the suffering if they don't like the game), AP reduction (shorter games avoid AP issues), mood (maybe they had a bad day and don't feel like focusing on a single game for the whole evening).

Havox wrote:
So, dear readers, do you see this fear of longer games in your groups? Please expound.

In my group anything up to two hours is no issue, the further past two hours the less likely it is to get played. There are some exceptions like an all day "Here I Stand" session.
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I play games at 2 different game clubs, one a college game club and one an open group, but I rarely play 2-3 hour games at either.

At the college game club:
-Non-Gamers aren't up for a longer, more complex games.
-Even when there's a group willing to play a longer game if people show up mid game I want convince them to stick around, which I can't do if I'm committed to a long game.

At the open group:
-Agreeing to play a longer game you haven't played with strangers can end up being a miserable 3 hour slog. At least bad 1 hour games are only 1 hour.
-Everyone leaves at different times and it's unfair to exclude someone because they're leaving in an hour.

But if I'm gaming with just a few friends and no one else is going to show up, I'm always up for an epic game of Mage Knight Board Game or Eclipse
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Michael Carter
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I don't have any time limits on games. If a game is good, I am willing to play it whether it is fifteen minutes or six hours long. The only time length of play is an issue is when people have to leave by a certain time. I'm usually one of the first people to arrive and last to leave on a game day. I used to play video games for 32 hours in a weekend when I was younger, so three hours of a board game is nothing.
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    It's really about the game. Some games are worth three or four hours. I'd love to play another game of Warriors of God.

             S.

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Chris Morse
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90-120 minutes is definitely the sweet spot for my family & friends group. Why is that? I'll speculate.

1. For what it's worth, we are folks over 50 who (aside from me) are not heavy gamers, and just don't want to invest that much energy in a "fun" activity. Kind of like the 2-hour movie barrier mentioned above.

2. As the host, and resident game addict, it is in my interest to extend the total gaming session as long as possible. Experience shows that the more I tire them out with the first game, the less likely I am to get a second. Trial and error has revealed that 9:30 is the magic time. We start at 7:30, typically. That means I have to make sure we're finished with the first game in no more than 2 hours, or I'll lose out on that second game. Once they're hooked, I can hold them for a couple more hours, but we have to start it by 9:30.
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Chris Gray
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Responding to the first part of your post...

Havox wrote:
These games all are listed at 90-120 minutes here on BGG, but we all know those are lies. LIES!


I agree that this is annoying. I think publishers purposely understate the time to keep "mainstream gamers" (people who would be put off by a three hour game) on board. Perhaps those are the numbers for the minimum number of possible players where each player has played 10+ times, but that doesn't capture very many people's actual gaming experiences.

I'm not sure I've ever played a midweight/heavy-midweight game in the box time, including Agricola, Castles of Burgundy, Trajan, Tzol'kin, Ground Floor, Le Havre, Troyes, etc. I've played with a variety of people, and am either an average or faster than average player.

The games are great and I will return to all of them. However, it would be nice of box descriptions gave a more realistic expectation of how long games generally take.
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Scott Kelly
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2 hours is typically my limit. I'll go a tad longer with Battlestar Galactica, but that's it, and it's only because I'm so heavy into the theme. I'd also probably be ok with Game of Thrones, but I haven't had a chance to play it yet.

The time is what has shut me off to games such as Dominant Species. I grew up all over Jurassic Park and would LOVE a great dinosaur-themed game. However, at 3-4 hours plus some (I play with a couple slower players, and there's a huge learning curve the first several times you play a game), I will never get it.

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Allen OConnor
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It depends on the the game. I've played 4-5 hour games of 5 player Magic: The Gathering EDH that have been great fun all the way through. I've played 2-3 hour games that have left me bored shitless such as Zpocalypse and Atlantic Triangle.
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Andrew Dahl
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MyParadox wrote:
In my groups, it definitely comes down more to logistics than anything else. In ideal conditions, I know very few gamers who would eschew a game merely because it takes 2-3 hours.

That said, we don't always game under ideal conditions. Maybe someone is running 45 minutes late. Can't start a long game because they'll be left out. And, by the time they get there, there aren't enough gaming hours left.

Maybe someone has to get up early the next day and wants to call the night early. They can't stay for a long game, so two short ones get played (one with them, and one without).

Maybe someone had a rough day at work and just can't expend the mental energy on the long-term planning necessary.

It's these outside-the-game considerations that most often stymie longer games for me.


This is true of my group as well. We usually have three to fours hours available during our normal game night, so a longer game is definitely possible. There are times when player logistics get in the way, or we just decide that shorter games are desired.

There's also the occasions when we game outside the normal, weekly time, and those nights we usually have less time, so a shorter game is necessary.

For us, though, anything shorter than 45 minutes usually isn't hearty enough to consider playing. We play very few "filler" games.
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Nate Milbrath
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I've got several groups that I play games with and all have differing opinions on time limits.

My 18xx Group: 5-6 hours for a train game, no problem!

My Main Group: 90 minutes to 2 hours is typically the limit, but depending on the game, 3 hours is the upper threshold.

My Euro Group: 2-3 hours is typical and not really a problem. Most games above 3 hours don't usually happen but I don't think anyone is adverse to it if they are interested in the game.

My Trick Taking/Lighter Games Group: Typically anything over 90 minutes isn't likely to get played, but it does rarely happen.

Occasionally my main group will get together and play Twilight Imperium for 4-6 hours. I think it's more just that they know what they're getting into beforehand instead of just jumping into a 2+hour game.

Me personally? I tend to like the 2-3 hour games. That usually hits the sweet spot for interesting decisions without me becoming bored by the end of it. 18xx and Twilight Imperium tend to be the exceptions since they usually have interesting decisions throughout the 3-6 hour playtime. I definitely don't mind longer games, but after 4 hours, I'd usually just rather play 2 different games by that point.
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Gareth Newton-Williams
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My main group seems to be most comfortable with 3-5 hour games, usually involving dinner.

Mind you, it seems that when we play 30 minutes games they still take a couple of hours...
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Andrew Bartosh

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Well, in general, I'd rather play two 1 hour games that are fun and satisfying or one 2 hour game that is fun and satisfying.

Equating length to satisfaction (hur hur hur) is not really an accurate scale at this point. I've had as much fun (and equal satisfaction) with shorter games as I've had than longer games.

My group is all over the place with playtime and decisions (we once set Eclipse up and then said "You know what, let's play TI instead." And then did that.)

That said, time constraints are an actual issue worth considering. The 2 1 hour games and 1 2 hour game math seem simple, but it is often more complex then that. Shorter games trend towards running undertime (as they tend to be simpler to play, less prone to action paralysis, etc) while longer games tend towards running overtime (as they tend to be more complicated, more prone to action paralysis, etc).

Obviously this CAN go the other way, especially accounting set-up or making choices on what games to play, but the point is that the math is nowhere near that simple.
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Des Lee
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I'll happily play whatever, but I find longer games harder to get to the table because of logistical concerns - do I have enough players, is everyone there on time, will everyone stay long enough, etc etc. My "main" gaming group happily plays anything from short fillers (Love Letter, Coup) to medium-ish games (King of Tokyo, Kingdom Builder, 7 Wonders), to medium-long Euros (Village, Power Grid) to long games (Eclipse), but it depends on the time available, everyone's mood etc.

I don't equate length to quality (that's what she said), it really depends on the situation. I've had a blast playing a light game of Cards Against Humanity, as well as a brain burning session of Power Grid.
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Ralph T
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When you have a lot of unplayed games and want to reduce that number, you want to play more distinct games rather than single longer ones. I could find out whether two or three games in the unplayed category are worth trading or selling vs. a single game.
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Michael Carter
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ralpher wrote:
When you have a lot of unplayed games and want to reduce that number, you want to play more distinct games rather than single longer ones. I could find out whether two or three games in the unplayed category are worth trading or selling vs. a single game.


And miss out on the long gem?
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bort
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Thunkd wrote:
Havox wrote:
why would someone want to play two, 1-hour games that are fun and mildly satisfying rather than one, 2-hour game that is also fun and even more satisfying?


You're assuming that the longer game will be more satisfying.


This was my first thought too - slightly biased way of asking the question.

In our group, 1-2 hours for a game would be preferred - sometimes people have time constraints (it depends what time of night the game comes out). We've all realised that the time on the box is rarely accurate - especially for a first game.
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Mike Jones
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I can have as meaningful fun with an hour game as a 3 hour game.

It's all about the company though and not about the game.
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