MaryJane Henderson
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Hi again,

So I've been playing some games and then looking up more games that are similar in "weight" or in same category, and I noticed the ones I have enjoyed or want to play or buy next tend to be considered "light" or "filler" games and many seem to be in the Family (or sometimes Party) Gamew category.

I'm a bit confused by some of the terminology in the BGG forums and in board gaming reviews, etc.

My questions:

What is a filler game? Are these games usually or always family (or children or party) games?

What games are considered not filler? Is weight usually a factor for this?

Are all of the non-fillers in the strategy section of this site?

Is it okay to be into lots of filler games and maybe not play much non-filler games that often?

Maybe it is because of my casual group who usually play CCG stuff all of the time, but we do seem to like quick-to-learn games that don't take up lots of hours while waiting for someone or waiting for a card tournament, or playing in between card tournaments etc.

It seems we all get somewhat impatient/bored when it comes to listening to too many rules; we just want to jump in and just play and figure out stuff along the way (sometimes wing it, lol!).

So it seems like my group may be more into the filler games so far.

Is it okay to enjoy mostly filler games? I get this weird vibe that hardcore board gaming community expect other people to move on from filler games to "real" or "meatier"/"thinky"/"heavier" board games, like light filler games are like training wheels that all players must grow up from or something, lol.

It just makes me feel like I'm weird for preferring and playing more lighter stuff. There are some games on here that people recommend a lot, but some of them feel a bit too heavy or too strategic for me. (I'm not good for advanced strategy thinking stuff.)

I wonder if this makes me weird in the board gaming community? I don't know. I think I am more "game-y" than most casual players, but I don't seem to be as hardcore as the more enthusiastic board gaming fans.
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Kate
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Re: Confused: What are non-filler games? Are they alll non-family category? Also, still don't understand weight system.
In the "Help" drop down menu at the top of the page, there is a Glossary page.

That should help you out with some of the terms you're unclear about.

As for the rest...
You should, of course, play what you enjoy. It's great that you're exploring the hobby, but this is just a community resource helping you to get the most out of it – whether you need game info or recommendations, or just people to chat to about games.

Absolutely no one is going to judge you for doing WHAT YOU ENJOY!
We're all here to have a great time. kiss
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Steve B
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Filler games are really just games with easy to learn rules, and a short playing time. They are called "filler" games because they "fill" the gap between play sessions of more "heavy" games.

Of course it is OK to enjoy mainly filler games.

Regarding the "weight" system, that is really just a voting system by BGG users, but most people will rate a game as "heavy" if it has either a lot of rules to learn (eg ASL), or something that is perhaps easy to learn the rules (eg Go) but takes a long time to even come close to "mastering" the game. Terms such as "deep" and "brain burning" are often used with heavy games.
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Paul Luxton
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You seem to confusing filler games with lighter games at least as I understand those terms. To me fillers are games you fill time with whilst waiting for others to arrive or to finish a longer game, they tend to be lighter.

ha ninja'd
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Steve C
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Filler game is generally what you play in between bigger games, or while you are waiting for the last person(s) to show up and play the big game. It fills the time. These would generally be <30 minutes, with quick setup and easy on the rules.

Non-filler games are, uh, longer and more complex than filler games. I consider 7 Wonders to not be a filler game because it takes 45-60 minutes and has a bunch of rules and strategies that aren't easily understood before playing. Others may consider 7 Wonders filler because they're all experienced gamers that usually play really complex games and quickly understand others.

I think the biggest distinction between filler and non-filler is the playtime. You don't want to commit to a 3-player game that takes an hour if you're waiting for the 4th person to show up. You want something quick, and you can replay it or do a different filler if they're still not here in 15 minutes.

Filler games also happen to be lighter, because lighter games are easier to pick up and be competitive in. I wouldn't expect a new player to be competitive in Kemet vs a table of experienced gamers, because there's too much stuff going on. However, I think a new player has a good chance to win in For Sale, or other simple card games.

There is no shame in liking filler games, because you like what you like, and your group likes what you like. There's always the possibility that you play a ton of fillers, and your group says "You know what? Let's try something a bit deeper and more complex" and then you jump down the rabbit hole =P
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I've been around BGG forever and still have little idea what people mean by "weight". In any case, I used to play a lot of longer, more complex games, but the longer I am a gamer, the more simple designs fascinate me. Playtime is also a factor, I want to play as often as I can, and when there is half an hour and I can get someone to game with me, perfect. I am also perfectly happy to spend an evening with a bunch of shorter games. And while there is a huge number of BGG users who enjoy long, complex games, I have found I am not alone with my tastes (just don't look too far up in BGG's top lists).
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Latina Bunny wrote:

I wonder if this makes me weird in the board gaming community? I don't know. I think I am more "game-y" than most casual players, but I don't seem to be as hardcore as the more enthusiastic board gaming fans.

yup your weird, just like the rest of us, welcome to the fold!
Heavier games get talked about here because there is more to discuss about them, and we focus more on them in recommendations more because they tend to be the games you can't judge by looking at the box. There tends to be more money on the line too so we talk about them to see if its worth our time and money.
If you love light games, rejoyice in that fact. There are plenty of great games that you will like.
Terms like filler are subjective so you just gotta consider that. I tend to use the term filler when talking about very short games or games so easy to start up that cutting a game short would not bother any players and saying we'll just play it at the end of the night.

a light game thats not a filler:
Revolution!
a filler thats not a light game:
Tides of Madness
(according to me)

edit: as far as your training wheels comment, its commonly referred to as gateway games, games we feel can get non gamers into the hobby. I feel like many gateway games are simply some of the best. I started with carcassonne and it will always be a cornerstone of my collection.
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Latina Bunny wrote:
What is a filler game?


It's generally a term used to mean those games people play before or after the "main" game.

Quote:
Are these games usually or always family (or children or party) games?


Not necessarily. Although on here they often get categorised as such. (I really don't get how Guillotine counts as a family game, although that's what most people here seem to believe).

Quote:
What games are considered not filler? Is weight usually a factor for this?


Weight is generally a factor, but it's very subjective and group dependent. My group considers Sentinels of the Multiverse a filler, simply because it's what we traditionally play to round off the night. But I think we're probably outliers.

Quote:
Are all of the non-fillers in the strategy section of this site?


Nah, they're all over the place. In fact, I think all the wargames might be non-fillers.

Quote:
Is it okay to be into lots of filler games and maybe not play much non-filler games that often?


Absolutely. Play what you want, when you want. It's enjoying yourself that matters, it's not a competition.

Quote:
Is it okay to enjoy mostly filler games? I get this weird vibe that hardcore board gaming community expect other people to move on from filler games to "real" or "meatier"/"thinky"/"heavier" board games, like light filler games are like training wheels that all players must grow up from or something, lol.


I'll admit that some people do act like it. But it's incredibly obnoxious. And frequently hypocritcal. Most of the people doing it would not be amused if you implied their favourite games were a stepping stone to 12 hour wargames and it's exactly the same principle.
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"Filler" just means a game that has a short playtime. Often this means light weight and easy to learn rules, but not always. For example Race for the Galaxy could be used as a filler.

Liking mostly fillers does not make you weird. It probably does make you a minority in these forums, but that is not the same thing.
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Latina Bunny wrote:
What is a filler game?
Typically lighter, shorter games. The type of thing you can play for 15 minutes, or half an hour or an hour, while you're waiting for someone to show up. Or while you're waiting for another group to finish their game. It's a game that fills the gap.

Latina Bunny wrote:
Are these games usually or always family (or children or party) games?
Typically if a game is not that long, it's usually a good family/children/party game. But not always.

Latina Bunny wrote:
What games are considered not filler? Is weight usually a factor for this?
A five hour game wouldn't be considered filler. And a heavier game, like Go for example, probably wouldn't be considered a filler game even if it only lasted less than an hour. A filler game is typically lighter.

Latina Bunny wrote:
Is it okay to be into lots of filler games and maybe not play much non-filler games that often?
Sure. Some people like having a large meal with lots of courses and others prefer snacking on lighter fare. Some people prefer foods that are deeper, more complex and more of an acquired tastes while others prefer more accessible foods. Neither is better than the other, it's just what you're in the mood for and what you enjoy.

Latina Bunny wrote:
Maybe it is because of my casual group who usually play CCG stuff all of the time, but we do seem to like quick-to-learn games that don't take up lots of hours while waiting for someone or waiting for a card tournament, or playing in between card tournaments etc.
Right. You're looking for short games to fill the time until Bob shows up, or between the last and next tournament. Those are fillers. If you start something that'll last a couple, or more hours, that's more of a main course. Fillers are more like hors d'oeuvres... they're ideally suited to be snacky stuff until a main course is served, but if you enjoy them you can make a meal of them by just having a lot of little snacks.

Latina Bunny wrote:
It seems we all get somewhat impatient/bored when it comes to listening to too many rules; we just want to jump in and just play and figure out stuff along the way (sometimes wing it, lol!).
That's fine if it works for you. I prefer deeper more complicated games generally as I think there's a lot of interesting things to be found in them, but they do require more commitment in learning the rules, in time and in depth of attention.

Latina Bunny wrote:
So it seems like my group may be more into the filler games so far.
And that may never change which is fine. The more you play games though the better you are at picking them up quickly. Down the road you might find that things that seemed heavier and complicated when you were starting out don't seem nearly as difficult now that you've got a lot of experience under your belt.

Latina Bunny wrote:
Is it okay to enjoy mostly filler games?
What are you afraid of? That people are going to judge you for liking lighter games? So what? You're having fun... that's all that matters.

Latina Bunny wrote:
I get this weird vibe that hardcore board gaming community expect other people to move on from filler games to "real" or "meatier"/"thinky"/"heavier" board games, like light filler games are like training wheels that all players must grow up from or something, lol.
That happens. But it's okay if it doesn't. If you like light games, play those.

Latina Bunny wrote:
It just makes me feel like I'm weird for preferring and playing more lighter stuff.
There's lots of people just like you. Don't worry about it.

Latina Bunny wrote:
There are some games on here that people recommend a lot, but some of them feel a bit too heavy or too strategic for me. (I'm not good for advanced strategy thinking stuff.)
Then don't play them. Don't force yourself to play heavy games just to try and fit in. That's silly.

Latina Bunny wrote:
I wonder if this makes me weird in the board gaming community?
There's no normal in the gaming community! We're all weird.

Latina Bunny wrote:
I think I am more "game-y" than most casual players, but I don't seem to be as hardcore as the more enthusiastic board gaming fans.
Nobody's keeping score. And being more "game-y" isn't how you win that game anyway. It's how much fun you have.
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You enjoy what you enjoy. Everyone else does too.

Pete (sees no need to feel weird about that)
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If you look around a bit, you might find some threads where people take umbrage at the term "filler" because, for them, shorter games are the main attraction, not something entertaining between games in an all-day marathon. People have different definitions about what play-length constitutes a filler, but I think it can be any game about which you might say, "Let's play a quick game of (insert filler here)."

There are lots of us who play mostly "fillers". Don't worry; your geek cred is intact ;-)
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Thunkd wrote:
Latina Bunny wrote:
There are some games on here that people recommend a lot, but some of them feel a bit too heavy or too strategic for me. (I'm not good for advanced strategy thinking stuff.)
Then don't play them. Don't force yourself to play heavy games just to try and fit in. That's silly.

On the other hand, if people are playing the games that you like with you, it might be courteous to occasionally play games they like with them. Depends on the exact situation .. something to consider.
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Latina Bunny wrote:
Hi again,

So I've been playing some games and then looking up more games that are similar in "weight" or in same category, and I noticed the ones I have enjoyed or want to play or buy next tend to be considered "light" or "filler" games and many seem to be in the Family (or sometimes Party) Gamew category.

I'm a bit confused by some of the terminology in the BGG forums and in board gaming reviews, etc.

My questions:

What is a filler game? Are these games usually or always family (or children or party) games?


Filler games are games that generally take less than an 1 hour to play through. Generally they are quick to learn. The official BGG definition is: "n. A game with very simple rules and an extremely short playing-time. This type of game is frequently used between heavier games. (See also light)" Most "filler" or "light" games fall within the category of family games because children and non-gamers are able to readily learn them and so appeal to a much larger demographic beyond board game hobbyists.

Latina Bunny wrote:
What games are considered not filler? Is weight usually a factor for this?


Weight describes the game's complexity so weight would absolutely be a factor. However, what exactly constitutes a filler game is very subjective because what some find simple another may find complex. Personally, I consider anything that plays in less than 45 minutes filler because it can be played as a way to start or end the night or if someone has to take a phone call, go to the bathroom, wants to grab something to eat, whatever the case may be.

Latina Bunny wrote:
Are all of the non-fillers in the strategy section of this site?


I've never really paid attention to this, but again, filler is pretty subjective so what you consider a filler may be the whole game night for someone else. I personally think most games require strategy so find the strategy label fairly meaningless.

Latina Bunny wrote:
Is it okay to be into lots of filler games and maybe not play much non-filler games that often?


Absolutely! The hobby is about having fun. If you enjoy lighter games to something that takes 6 hours to play through then by all means play only light/filler games. It's whatever you have fun with. Plenty of other gamers prefer these types of light games.


Latina Bunny wrote:
Is it okay to enjoy mostly filler games? I get this weird vibe that hardcore board gaming community expect other people to move on from filler games to "real" or "meatier"/"thinky"/"heavier" board games, like light filler games are like training wheels that all players must grow up from or something, lol.


It's whatever you like to play. Don't let others shame you, intentionally or unintentionally, for what games you enjoy. If you want to play nothing but filler games then you go right ahead and do so with pride!

EDIT: ninja 'd by two other users.
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Have fun with what you enjoy.
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Fillers as I use the term are about only two things: play time and component size (and the size thing is a very distant second).

7 Wonders is not a filler game. Longer play time, lots of components.

7 Wonders Duel is. Very short play time (ten minutes sometimes between experienced players) and small table space.


Race for the Galaxy isn't a filler. Jumpdrive is.

Fillers need not be all that light (example: Biblios). And small games are not necessarily fillers (example: Tiny Epic Galaxies).

Others here are saying that you should play what you enjoy. I agree, as long as what you enjoy is heavy Ameritrash. I expect Twilight Imperium 3 on your table this weekend!
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I love the minute-creep in the definition of filler as you get deeper into the hobby. I still see people at my weekly meetups - regular gamers, mind you - who will hesitate at anything over an hour. 30-45 minutes is "normal" for them. But like, I'll see things that routinely take me 90 minutes to play being described as fillers here on BGG.

I'm not a semantics nazi. It's a functional term that has certain uses but no real boundaries, which is fine. It just amuses me.
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Julien K
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lampeter wrote:
If you look around a bit, you might find some threads where people take umbrage at the term "filler" because, for them, shorter games are the main attraction, not something entertaining between games in an all-day marathon. People have different definitions about what play-length constitutes a filler, but I think it can be any game about which you might say, "Let's play a quick game of (insert filler here)."

There are lots of us who play mostly "fillers". Don't worry; your geek cred is intact ;-)


And that is the exact reason why I myself do not like the terminology of "filler game" as a category in itself. It somehow implies that non-filler games should be the main games, and make me feel like it's a kind of derogatory kitchen-sink term for anything that is not a "real" game (whatever this means).

"Red7 is a quick and light game", sure, but "Red7 is a filler game", no, not for me. "filler" is so much people/group dependent that I can't see it as a category.

I like light games. These are often my main games. Not fillers.
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MaryJane Henderson
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Thank you all, for the insight and reassurances.

Apparently, based on what some are saying on this thread, and based on what I have read of the Glossary (thank you, Kate! ), it seems that I may have mixed up Light games with Filler games (and maybe even mixed up Gateway Games). I have conflated the categories, and do not realize that not all light games are considered "fillers".

Based on the criteria that filler games are less than 30 minutes, my group seems to have played both some Filler games (like Love Letter, which I LOVE so, so much!) and Skulls (?), Zombie Dice, etc, and a few non-filler but still light-ish games (like Takenoko, Mermaid Rain, Zooloretto.

(Okay, not sure where Pandemic fits into this arena, lol. Is that considered Light? What about Legendary Marvel Deckbuilding?)

Anyway, thanks for answering my questions and reassuring me that it's okay to like filler and lighter games. I am still finding my comfort niche, and I am still experimenting with games that interest me and exploring, but I noticed that I tend to gravitate towards both Light Games and "Filler" type games.

In the future, if I feel ready, maybe I can tackle a more heavier game like Mage Knight board game or something like that (it looks so intimidating to me right now, lol!), but for now, I think I am pretty satisfied and having fun with Light-ish games.

I haven't tried the famous Gateways with my group yet. Just Takenoko, I think. I am planning to play Ticket to Ride demo game one of these days.
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I play mostly fillers and light games. I love them! Just keep having fun and play what you enjoy!
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Latina Bunny wrote:
for now, I think I am pretty satisfied and having fun with Light-ish games.


That's the most important. Remember that people on this website are definitely not the norm (hey, it's BG geek after all). I would not be surprised if the majority of board-game-play that is done over the world was of lighter games.
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I often have games nights where I play only a succession of 'fillers'. I call it 'tapas gaming' - who needs a main course?
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Here is a list I made that addresses your questions.

Come celebrate shorter, lighter games with me!

45-Minute Favorites
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Latina Bunny wrote:
In the future, if I feel ready, maybe I can tackle a more heavier game like Mage Knight board game or something like that (it looks so intimidating to me right now, lol!), but for now, I think I am pretty satisfied and having fun with Light-ish games.

I haven't tried the famous Gateways with my group yet. Just Takenoko, I think. I am planning to play Ticket to Ride demo game one of these days.

If you decide to try out something heavier, I do not recommend going straight to Mage Knight. There is a *lot* of room between that and Takenoko. Perhaps Concordia would be a good choice; or Lords of Waterdeep for a smaller step up. Main point, what matters most is what you enjoy.

Also, have fun with TTR, I think you will enjoy it.
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Latina Bunny wrote:
Is it okay to enjoy mostly filler games? I get this weird vibe that hardcore board gaming community expect other people to move on from filler games to "real" or "meatier"/"thinky"/"heavier" board games, like light filler games are like training wheels that all players must grow up from or something, lol.
I notice this, too, especially when I contribute to a recommendations thread. Some people can be pretty inconsiderate and obnoxious if you suggest light games or, especially, mass-market games. I've actually been scolded for saying that there's nothing wrong with Candy Land for toddlers. Others have reacted badly if I mentioned Fluxx, Clue, or Killer Bunnies.

Unlike many people here, I never stopped playing games as I grew up, but only within the past decade or so discovered hobby games. So I never needed to start with gateway games, and have never played many that are considered required. I prefer longer games rather than quick games, but what I like seems to be on the lighter end of the spectrum.

The short answer, as many people have already said, is to play what you like. Play what's fun for you. Nobody can tell you what to like.
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