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Subject: Advice for New Gamers rss

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Carl Frodge
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I just felt compelled to write this, so here goes. New gamers arise all the time, for various reasons and are introduced to the hobby in various ways, with many different games (and types of games) acting as their gateway. For me, it was Carcassonne that really opened my eyes to what board games had to offer, but even before that, I enjoyed playing games like Scattergories, Boggle, Heads Up (or "The Forehead Game" as me and my friend's called it before it was mass produced), and others before then.

Anyway, I was a new gamer once, we all were, and some of you may still be. I made mistakes in the hobby, and I had reservations I wish I didn't have back then. So here's some advice I would've given to my past self when he first entered the hobby.

Don't Be Afraid to Try New Things
When I first got into board gaming, I was not a competitive person at all, and the idea of playing a game where the focus was combat very much turned me off. And being a person who is not particularly fond of war or the military, the idea of playing a "war game" or a game that sought to recreate war was also something that I didn't want to delve into.

And after playing a game of Risk, and for the most part disliking it, I decided area control and conflict weren't for me.

So naturally, I mostly stuck to minimal-conflict and Euro-style games. My friends, being very much of the same mindset, did the same.

It wasn't until I met a fellow gamer who exclusively played heavy-conflict, combat-oriented games (like Kemet, Nexus Ops, etc.) that my mind was changed. I was introduced to Blood Rage and suddenly this whole perception I had about these types of games was shattered. I absolutely loved Blood Rage! And suddenly my qualms and reservations about these types of games went from actively avoiding them to seeking them out.

The same gamer introduced me to Quartermaster General, a game about WWII, a theme I didn't particularly have interest in recreating, but again, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Anyway, my point is, don't be afraid to step outside you comfort zone, and don't actively brush off a style of game just because you don't think you'll like it, or you don't like the theme, or you had one bad experience with that type of game in the past.

Don't be afraid of Length
I have some new gamer friends in my life, and I've asked them a few times if they'd play Castles of Burgundy with me, a game that I let them know can take 3 hours, especially with new players. And their almost immediate reaction is "that's long, maybe another time."

But that same group of friends has no problem playing round after round of One Night Ultimate Werewolf for 3 hours.

My point is, if you're gonna play games for 3 hours, as long as you're having fun, what difference does it make how many games you play, or how long the game takes?

Now I myself have had the underlying fear that I might not like the game, and I don't want to get stuck playing something I don't like for 3 hours. And that's a totally valid fear to have. But honestly, at least in my game group, if even one player isn't feeling it, we don't have to keep playing. And I make this known before the game starts. That way the pressure of getting stuck in a game is gone.

For a very long time, I was hesitant to play anything over 2 hours, but over time I discovered that a games length usually doesn't affect my enjoyment of that game.

Now a days, Eclipse, a game that regularly takes 4+ hours, is one of my favorites. And I really want to give an 18XX game a shot, as well as get in a play of TI3.

Don't Buy Games You Don't Like and Don't Buy Games to Find Out if You Like Them
I fell very hard into this trap early on when I was new to the hobby. I had the mindset that I wanted to try every game I could. And that, in and of itself, is a perfectly fine mindset to have. The problem is that, I would buy any game I could find if it was on sale or a decent price, without taking much else into consideration.

As a result my gaming shelf was piled high with crappy games I found at the thrift store, and okay games I bought at a discount from Cool Stuff. Rather than waste that money like I was doing, I should've saved it and used it to buy games I knew I wanted, games I knew I enjoyed, and games that I would be happy to have in my collection.

Don't just buy games because they look or sound cool, in fact, don't buy games unless you've played them, and know you enjoy them. At least not until you know what you really like. I'm still very hesitant to buy a game I've never played unless I feel very strongly about it, and even then I'll try to find out as much information on it as possible (rules, gameplay, components, etc.) before actually deciding to buy it.

Sometimes I will still fall in this trap, or I'll add a cheap game to my Amazon order to get free shipping, but for the most part, I add games to my collection that I know I want in my collection.

Oh, one more piece of advice: Don't buy a game as soon as you finish playing it. If you liked a game, even if you really really liked it. Give it a week before you decide to buy it. If you're still thinking about it, still can't wait for the next play, then you know you really want it. But if the excitement died down, if you've moved on, maybe you don't really need it.

Don't Feel Like You Need Variety In Your Collection
I see posts daily in the recommendations section asking what style of game or what mechanic a persons collection is missing. And my answer, if I actually were to answer, would be "None". Because your collection should be about you, it should be filled with what you like to play. You don't need to have a "well-rounded" collection, you don't need "one of each type of game," you just need games that you enjoy playing.

This may seem a little counterintuitive to the first bit of advice, because you want to try new things, and variety is generally a good thing. But just because you should be open to trying new things doesn't mean you need to fill your collection with all this variety.

Your goal in building a collection should never be about pleasing others or making others happy. Now that's not to say you shouldn't have a couple games in there that the family will have fun with when they visit, it's just to say that your collection should be about making yourself happy.

If you're the person mainly buying games, and your group members want to play different types of games, that doesn't mean you should start buying games to please them, it means it's time for them to start their own collection.

Anyway, that's my advice. What advice would you give to your past self?
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Bill Eldard
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agentkuo wrote:
Anyway, that's my advice. What advice would you give to your past self?

I would disregard the unsolicited advice I received over the years.
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Robert Wolkey
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Eldard wrote:
agentkuo wrote:
Anyway, that's my advice. What advice would you give to your past self?

I would disregard the unsolicited advice I received over the years.


How bout not crapping all over someone's well thought out post and shutting it down before it got started? Rude.
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Pete
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Chill out and enjoy the ride, and don't worry about where you're going.

Pete (sums up his advice)
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Robert Wolkey
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Research, research, research.

Play some games, have fun and see what you like.

Then research, research, research some more. Text and video reviews are your friends.

Have fun. We play games for fun. So have lots of fun.
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Jerry Schippa
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Don't just buy everything. Find games you like, play them, then either buy those games and/or look for similar to research. Of course, all while exploring g new catacombs of the hobby.

And have fun, that's what it's all about.
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Michael
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Don't Give Up On a Game After Only One Play
Several of our first plays have involved rules mishaps, unbalanced victories (often as a result of the rules mishaps), JPBL (Just Plain Bad Luck), lack of appreciation for the depth and complexity of the game, feeling that the theme was kind of "meh," not really grasping "the point" of the game, etc. In almost every case, we stuck with the game and tried it again. Had we given up immediately, we might never have played these a second time:

CV
Dominion
Glen More
La Granja
Ora et Labora
Puerto Rico
Roll for the Galaxy
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Pete
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Wolkster wrote:
Research, research, research.

Play some games, have fun and see what you like.

Then research, research, research some more. Text and video reviews are your friends.

Have fun. We play games for fun. So have lots of fun.
Pretty much the polar opposite of what I said!

Pete (laughs at how "fun" is different for different people)
 
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Under the paving stones, the beach
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There's no such thing as a "gateway game". There are merely some games that take longer to understand than others.

Play whatever takes your fancy. If you want to play it, you'll pick it up eventurally.
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ah kaiser
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For me an my group we prefer the variety in our games. Sometimes we want to play for 4-5 hours one big games. Sometime just knock out a mindless dice chucker.
 
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Freelance Police
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Quote:
Don't Buy Games You Don't Like and Don't Buy Games to Find Out if You Like Them


I'll just add that Meetups and game conventions are excellent ways to "try before you buy" as well as have fun.

Quote:
Don't buy a game as soon as you finish playing it.


LALALA I can't hear youuuuuu!!! laugh

I'd add "avoid KS", particularly if you have OCD collectionitis. If you enjoy miniature painting or once you have enough experience with the hobby, it's fine.
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Joe Preiser
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Play what you like, but be willing to try anything.
If history is your thing, cool.
If fantasy is your thing, that' just as cool.

Also, keep in mind that a higher price tag and a box full of components doesn't necessarily translate to a better game. Sometimes more is just more.
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Carl Frodge
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Abiezer Coppe wrote:
There's no such thing as a "gateway game". There are merely some games that take longer to understand than others.

Play whatever takes your fancy. If you want to play it, you'll pick it up eventurally.

I use the term "Gateway game" just to mean the game or games that got you into the hobby. Not necessarily to describe a certain type or complexity of game. Anything could be a gateway game.

Metal Rat wrote:
Don't Give Up On a Game After Only One Play

Great advice! It wasn't until my third play of St. Petersburg that I realized I really like the game. In fact, I absolutely hated my first play of it.

Same goes for Kemet (2nd play).

And sometimes it just takes a few plays to really form an opinion. It took me 2-3 plays of Terraforming Mars to realize I absolutely despised the game, and about the same number of plays to realize I just think Scythe is okay.

Also, I'd add:

Don't form an opinion of a game before you give it a chance.
I was really hesitant to play One Night Ultimate Werewolf, because I thought I wouldn't like it (I figured it'd be too random, like normal Werewolf), and now it's one of my favorite party/group games!

I also adamantly hated Cards Against Humanity (because of the vulgarity and offensiveness I expected from it), before really giving it a chance, and while it's certainly not my favorite game, I do enjoy it more than I expected I would. I still don't like aspects of it, and some of the cards, but I can still have fun with it.

Munchkin is a game I've been against playing for a long time, as well, because I've felt like "I'm past that type of game," but who knows, maybe I'd really enjoy it.
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Bill Eldard
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Wolkster wrote:
Eldard wrote:
agentkuo wrote:
Anyway, that's my advice. What advice would you give to your past self?

I would disregard the unsolicited advice I received over the years.


How bout not crapping all over someone's well thought out post and shutting it down before it got started? Rude.

Case in point: More unsolicited advice.
 
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Trent Boardgamer
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Some sound advice there.

In regards to Game Length however, playing a game multiple times for 3 hours isn't the same as playing one game for three hours.

Investment. If the game needs to stop or players need to leave before the 3 hours is up there is less time wasted/less interruption with a shorter game. It doesn't happen often, but things come up in peoples lives and there is nothing more annoying than not finishing a game after investing 2+ hours already. (Yes we lock people down before starting a long game, but life is life).

Concentration. Not everyone can sit and focus for 3 hours. Some people struggle with 10 mins. Shorter games are easier for people with shorter attention spans to enjoy and stay focused for over the length of the game.

New Player/Learning to play. Most people enjoy a game more after they know what they are doing. Playing a shorter game multiple times can provided a more enjoyable session than learning a new 3hr game for the night and not really knowing what they are doing (learning all night, instead of playing).

Anyway, I enjoy longer games, but we play them less because they do need prior arrangement and favourable conditions to provide the return on time investment.

I'm not saying for new players not to play longer games either, just that in my experience for newer gamers several shorter games tends to be preferred to one long game. Once people have the bug, that's when I normally arrange the longer game sessions.
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Trent Boardgamer
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Metal Rat wrote:
Don't Give Up On a Game After Only One Play
Several of our first plays have involved rules mishaps, unbalanced victories (often as a result of the rules mishaps), JPBL (Just Plain Bad Luck), lack of appreciation for the depth and complexity of the game, feeling that the theme was kind of "meh," not really grasping "the point" of the game, etc. In almost every case, we stuck with the game and tried it again. Had we given up immediately, we might never have played these a second time:

CV
Dominion
Glen More
La Granja
Ora et Labora
Puerto Rico
Roll for the Galaxy


I agree, some games have just fallen flat at a particular time and place. Sometimes a rules issue, sometimes it just wasn't right for the players present or the time we chose to play it.

I'll always give a game a few goes before writing it off now. Sure sometimes you got it right the first time, but some games I disliked on first play have turned out to be brilliant games.
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Roberto Lanza
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agentkuo wrote:

Don't Buy Games You Don't Like and Don't Buy Games to Find Out if You Like Them


I agree, don't just buy games for the sake of buying games. Find what you like but....

This one is hard. How do you know? Videos and reviews alone may not be enough and we know that many reviewers are getting paid. Unless you have a board game café, FLGS that will demo the game or can make your way to a game con, or at least a local gaming group where you can try a game you are interested in, there is no real way to know.

I always try to find someplace where I can try and demo the game. I am not going to lie, there has been times where I have just taken a chance when a game has been on sale and if it did not work out, put it up on eBay to sell.

agentkuo wrote:

Don't Feel Like You Need Variety In Your Collection


What if someone is trying to discover what they like? Part of the journey is finding the type of games you like and maybe trying to understand what is a "worker placement game" and will I like it? Again, if you can somehow demo and try them out, great! When you have found your "niche" even if you find your love is a bevy of gateway games, great, but how would you know without trying other games?

I believe the best advise is do not get addicted to buying games and if there are 1 or 2 you really love, keep playing them until you get really good or you get really bored, then venture out. I feel that many new to the hobby do not give any game enough of a play through to really understand the game(s) they have. As with many hobbies, set a budget, don't go over your budget. If you want to try a Euro, great! If you want to try a card drafting game, great! Just do not do them all at once.

It is almost like learning about wine or mico-brews, you need to try a few and drink that type or brand for a while until you get bored. Eventually you will learn what you like and then have a better idea if you will like something else.

There many who live so far from a FLGS, gaming group or many others or places where you can borrow new games, you do not always have a choice but to buy n try.
 
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Michael
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Bearhug78 wrote:
New Player/Learning to play. Most people enjoy a game more after they know what they are doing.

Absolutely. Until then, for me, it's about half enjoying and half trying to figure out why I can't figure out what I'm doing.
 
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Nicholas Krause
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That was a really good article. The only thing I would add is try and find a meetup, board game night, of FLGS. The people that you meet there can be huge in helping you define your tastes without having to break the bank. It's also a great place to meet people who have similar interests.
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Cheb
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agentkuo wrote:

Anyway, that's my advice. What advice would you give to your past self?


Log your plays! I have a terrible memory. I've just started logging my plays this year, and I really wish I'd started sooner.
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