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Subject: 'Suggested time required to play a game' rss

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James Hancock
Austria
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Lately, I have been looking at my collection and noting all the cool little icons that tell you about the games. How many players one can play the game with, what (recommended) ages the players should be, and roughly how long a group needs to play a game. While I find these metrics nice, as it spares me reading all the propaganda on the back of the box to weed out these details, I find that the 'time required to play' metric to be useless. For example: Zombicide Black Plague. One of the big sellers for me in regards with the game was the playing time being around an hour. Great, I can get a game in with the family on Saturday between lunch and dinner, with plenty of time for game prep, game clean up, and perhaps get some chores done before cooking. I get the game, take a look at the scenarios and find that most of them are actually more than an hour in play time, according to the rule book. As well, those hour games often end up closer to two hours than one.

I find this is a problem for many games these days... the time to play posted on the outside of the box just does not reflect actual gameplay. Disregarding rule lookup, and first plays. I found the same problem with the Warhammer Quest card game. There are many games in my collection that fall into this category. Despite knowing how to play, my family and I are always behind on that 'required time to play' metric. Has anyone else noticed this, or are we just 'slow' gamers for some odd reason?
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Saint Gryphon
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I typically count this number as the minimum time needed to finish a game, then add 5-10 minutes for cleanup (depending on the game)

If it's a first play or teaching to first time players, I will double the time.
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Alexandre P.
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For playing boardgames as for cooking rice/noodles I multiple the indicated time by 1.5.

And for a first game I consider that the explanation and the game could take twice the time indicated.
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M. Shanmugasundaram
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In my experience, time to play, as listed on game boxes, is not intended for first-timers.

Generally, it's time for people who are familiar with the rules, comfortable sticking to a single strategy or approach, and interested in play over socializing (or sacrificing play for the social aspect of gaming).

In general, for my group, I can comfortably double or triple the game box time for a first play. If the game is "deep," it will consistently require an additional 50-100% of the listed play time.

There are a few games we have taught ourselves to play quickly (Macao) or enforced a turn time limit (Neuroshima Hex) so we can get through a game in the box-specified time. It's possible. But it takes quite a while for it to become "natural."
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Mark T
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You're definitely not alone. For some games, I can see some validity to the claims made on the box. For others, not a chance. I've started to regard this item as nothing more than another part of the marketing on the back of the box or perhaps a guide for what might be possible with a highly experienced group. For many games, I'm not sure even the game's designer could play in the advertised time.

I recently picked up Galaxy Defenders. It's a great game, but many of the scenarios are advertised as 45-60 minutes play time. Even if you don't count set up time (which is not inconsequential), I still need a good 2+ hours to play it - solo! I can't even imagine how long it might take with additional players.
 
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Pandora Caitiff
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I'm a big fan of the per player time listings. Like "30 minutes per player" or "1 hour + 1 hour per player". Because very few games will play to the same length with two player as with seven.
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Trevor Sinnott
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Killer Bunnies is probably the worst offender of the time on the box being wrong. It say 45 minutes to play on the box and even as an experienced player, I never finish a game in less then 3 hours.
 
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James Hancock
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Snardo wrote:
You're definitely not alone. For some games, I can see some validity to the claims made on the box. For others, not a chance. I've started to regard this item as nothing more than another part of the marketing on the back of the box or perhaps a guide for what might be possible with a highly experienced group. For many games, I'm not sure even the game's designer could play in the advertised time.


Thank you for this post. This is basically my feelings mirrored back to me. I am thinking that designers need to get back to having a look at those times. When everyone says 'I always multiply the time it says on the back by x' then something is wrong. Would anyone be fine with buying games that said on the back 1 to 8 players, then found out that it could only be played 2 to 7, or even worse, could be played with 1 and 8 players, but only after an additional investment (ie an expansion)? That would cause an outcry.

Sure, I am on a hobbyhorse here, but as much as I like Zombicide, Black Plague, I was specifically looking for a game SHORTER than my AD&D adventure games (ie: Castle Ravenloft) with minis to interest my kids. Zombicide DOES NOT fill that slot, after 75 Euros spent. The box said shorter. I suppose it is my fault for believing something printed on a box, but it is going above and beyond to have to always ask if someone has played a game, and how long it takes to play it. (Same happened with Warhammer Quest adventure card game... was supposed to be shorter than Lord of the Rings LCG...)
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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I think it would be great to have something next to the time per play on the side of the box that shows how they came up with the number. Maybe a link to a website where they have a full description (i.e. a guess, or an average of X (number of) playtests of which Y (number) were from people new to the game).
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April W
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I have not played the range of games that most here on BGG have, but I have found that, for most of the games I own, the time printed on the box is accurate. Note that most of my plays are just me and my husband and once we learn a game we play them quite fast. Adding players does often add time, and I like it that some games state as much.
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Geoffrey Burrell
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Cedar Rapids
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I agree with the accuracy of time frames put on the box because it usually has been play tested to determine the length.
 
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Jeff Rietveld
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Zeeland
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I find it's best to add 25% length of playtime for every player named Jeff.
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Joe Fatula
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Working for a game publisher, I can tell you that playtime and suggested ages are very hard to pin down.

Based on our playtesting, a more reasonable playtime description might be:

Anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 1/2 hours normally, though if Frank is playing it'll be at least 5 hours. If Susie is running the bank, it'll be done in half the time. If it's just two players, it could go as quick as 20 minutes, but only sometimes. Younger kids slow down the gameplay about 50%, unless it's all younger kids, then they speed it up. If anyone is convinced that it's just like Monopoly or Catan, add an extra 2 hours.

Age is just as hard to figure out. For one of our titles, the suggested age I'd like to put on it would be:

Simpler than Magic: The Gathering, therefore 10 year olds can play it. More complicated than Risk, so it's too hard for most adults.
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Adam Tucker
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buffalohat wrote:
Anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 1/2 hours normally, though if Frank is playing it'll be at least 5 hours. If Susie is running the bank, it'll be done in half the time. If it's just two players, it could go as quick as 20 minutes, but only sometimes. Younger kids slow down the gameplay about 50%, unless it's all younger kids, then they speed it up. If anyone is convinced that it's just like Monopoly or Catan, add an extra 2 hours.

Can a publisher actually put this on the box of a professionally published game? Or would legal or something else squash this before the game made it out the door?

I did not know that I was missing this from my life, and now I very much want a game that says this for the suggested play time on the back (or front - I'm not terribly picky) of the box.
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Joe Fatula
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tuckerotl wrote:
buffalohat wrote:
Anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 1/2 hours normally, though if Frank is playing it'll be at least 5 hours. If Susie is running the bank, it'll be done in half the time. If it's just two players, it could go as quick as 20 minutes, but only sometimes. Younger kids slow down the gameplay about 50%, unless it's all younger kids, then they speed it up. If anyone is convinced that it's just like Monopoly or Catan, add an extra 2 hours.

Can a publisher actually put this on the box of a professionally published game? Or would legal or something else squash this before the game made it out the door?

I did not know that I was missing this from my life, and now I very much want a game that says this for the suggested play time on the back (or front - I'm not terribly picky) of the box.


It's not a problem of legality, but of clarity. A publisher could put all that on a box, but it wouldn't help anyone. This kind of information is often for a customer who doesn't know much about board games.
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Alexandre P.
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buffalohat wrote:
Based on our playtesting, a more reasonable playtime description might be: [...]


Giving a time per player is the first thing to do in my opinion.

buffalohat wrote:
Age is just as hard to figure out.


Could it be possible to define the skills required for the game and then to see in a chart the minimum age ?

Skills as:
- looking carefully at a picture,
- reading simple sentences,
- reading entire paragraphs,
- keeping your concentration for 2 hours,
...
 
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Joe Fatula
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Xahendir wrote:
buffalohat wrote:
Based on our playtesting, a more reasonable playtime description might be: [...]


Giving a time per player is the first thing to do in my opinion.

Only if playtime scales that way. For many games, adding more players slows the game down, as each player takes longer. For other games, adding more players speeds the game up, as the deck/board/space runs out quicker.

In practice, many games have both of these going on at once, so it gets very hard to figure out how much time each player adds to / subtracts from the playtime.

Xahendir wrote:
buffalohat wrote:
Age is just as hard to figure out.


Could it be possible to define the skills required for the game and then to see in a chart the minimum age ?

Skills as:
- looking carefully at a picture,
- reading simple sentences,
- reading entire paragraphs,
- keeping your concentration for 2 hours,
...


I wish it worked like that!

If you can come up with a chart that explains why many adults can't handle playing Catan, but many 6 year olds can, in a non-condescending way, I'd love to see it.
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Alexandre P.
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buffalohat wrote:
I wish it worked like that!

If you can come up with a chart that explains why many adults can't handle playing Catan, but many 6 year olds can, in a non-condescending way, I'd love to see it.


It's not the point of what I suggest: it's not because at [this age] you are supposed to have acquired a skill that you are interested in using it or willing on using it during a game, or even willing to follow rules in the context of a boardgame.

For example, I have played a - very painful - game of Sushi go where the other adults seemed unwilling to play simultaneously and even to accept that it was the thing to do because the rules said that.
I guess that in their working lives they accept to follow instructions and orders but for the game they didn't.
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Michael Debije
Netherlands
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GMT does not bother to put playtimes on most of the boxes. This is my preferred method.
 
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Trent Boardgamer
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Xahendir wrote:
buffalohat wrote:
Based on our playtesting, a more reasonable playtime description might be: [...]


Giving a time per player is the first thing to do in my opinion.

buffalohat wrote:
Age is just as hard to figure out.


Could it be possible to define the skills required for the game and then to see in a chart the minimum age ?

Skills as:
- looking carefully at a picture,
- reading simple sentences,
- reading entire paragraphs,
- keeping your concentration for 2 hours,
...


Education standards vary, so it doesn't really help.

I do like the time per player and between this and this time options though.
 
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Michael Schneider
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Xahendir wrote:
For playing boardgames as for cooking rice/noodles I multiple the indicated time by 1.5.


You do what? surprise
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Alexandre P.
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CarlosSpicyweener wrote:
Xahendir wrote:
For playing boardgames as for cooking rice/noodles I multiple the indicated time by 1.5.


You do what? surprise


If the box indicate "cooking time: 10 min" I cook it 15 min.
If the box indicate "length of a game: 60 min" I understand that I will probably play for 90 minutes.
 
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Harv Veerman
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JRietveld wrote:
I find it's best to add 25% length of playtime for every player named Jeff.


So when I play with my two friends who coincidentally are both called Jeff, does the playing time increase from say 80 minutes to 120 minutes (80 + 2 x 20) or to 125 minutes (80 x 1.25 x 1.25)?

Every minute counts, just saying, you know?
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Neil McIntyre
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I think it would be much more useful to have something like "Weeknight Game" or "Weekend Game" on the side of the box.
 
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Stuart Boston
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It doesn't even have to be the box time.

We as people are very poor at estimating how long games take. I know this from my own experience as I can rarely remember how long it takes to play a game, even one that I know quite well.

I take this as a good sign, I lose myself in the game and genuinely have no idea how much time has passed, so I forget to log the time for a game.

However, I agree, that mostly I find the upper end of the box game time to be optimistic at best and usually add 25-50% on.
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