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Subject: Top 15 BGG Game Length Increasing? rss

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elite six
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I've been a fan of BGG for over a decade.

However, I've noticed lately - compared to 2004 - it seems that multiplayer games in BGG's top 15 skew heavily toward longer games (2.5 hours and often more than 3 hours) than in the past.

Around 2004 and the years after, there were more than a handful of multiplayer games that were easily playable in 2 hours or less (sometimes 1 or 1.5 hours): Puerto Rico, Power Grid, Terra Mystica, Caylus. There were others, just don't remember them off the top of my head at this point too. These are all deeper, euro-style games too, so I don't think game depth increasing is the answer to this trend.

Yet nowadays, I look for a top15 multiplayer (more than 2 players) game whose actual playtime is 1.5-2 hours, and its a desert; especially if you read the reviews and see how many reviewers state that the stated playtime of these newer games are vastly underrated or are only accurate for veterans of 10+ games. There seem to be barely any games that just play under 2 hours for the 2nd or 3rd game, save for Pandemic Legacy. You have great games of course, but all games that take almost double the playtime of a multiplayer PR or PG game.

-----

What's going on? Is this a real trend toward marathon/3hr+ length games? If so, what's behind it?
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maf man
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its a basic pattern for any hobby or entertainment. As it grows designers and fans are willing to spend more time for more fun.
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Chris
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I have been commenting for a while how it seems like games are getting longer and longer - at least at the neetups i attend. Everyone disagrees with me then goes back to playing their long ass game.
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Chris Nash
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I hate to be a naysayer, but I just had a cursory glance over the BGG rankings, and I'm not convinced.

You mention only 4 games from years gone by to make the point, but 2 of those 4 still ARE in the top 15 (Puerto Rico and Terra Mystica).

So along with Pandemic Legacy which you mention, that makes 3.

Plus Castles of Burgundy and Great Western Trail, which makes 5.

That's without even looking at numbers 16-50...
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Bryan
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The first thing that comes to mind is power creep. Overtime in a CCG, or an MMORPG video game, everything gets bigger, stronger, and better because they have to outdo themselves with every expansion. As board games age, we take steps each and every year to make the newest game bigger, longer, flashier, etc. than the last. Think about when the Titanic movie came out. It was the first people were seeing of a movie that was over 3 hours long. Most movie theaters had an intermission! Now people plow through 3 hour movies like it was nothing. Think about old tv shows, they used to all be half hour shows, and there was never a threading storyline between them. Now every episode is an hour or more, and they all string together to make one gigantic story. It's not just board games, it's all forms of entertainment.
 
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Rex Stites
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Iridium192 wrote:
The first thing that comes to mind is power creep. Overtime in a CCG, or an MMORPG video game, everything gets bigger, stronger, and better because they have to outdo themselves with every expansion. As board games age, we take steps each and every year to make the newest game bigger, longer, flashier, etc. than the last. Think about when the Titanic movie came out. It was the first people were seeing of a movie that was over 3 hours long. Most movie theaters had an intermission! Now people plow through 3 hour movies like it was nothing. Think about old tv shows, they used to all be half hour shows, and there was never a threading storyline between them. Now every episode is an hour or more, and they all string together to make one gigantic story. It's not just board games, it's all forms of entertainment.


Yep, Titanic was the first movie ever to be more than 3 hours.
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Ed T
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rstites25 wrote:
Iridium192 wrote:
The first thing that comes to mind is power creep. Overtime in a CCG, or an MMORPG video game, everything gets bigger, stronger, and better because they have to outdo themselves with every expansion. As board games age, we take steps each and every year to make the newest game bigger, longer, flashier, etc. than the last. Think about when the Titanic movie came out. It was the first people were seeing of a movie that was over 3 hours long. Most movie theaters had an intermission! Now people plow through 3 hour movies like it was nothing. Think about old tv shows, they used to all be half hour shows, and there was never a threading storyline between them. Now every episode is an hour or more, and they all string together to make one gigantic story. It's not just board games, it's all forms of entertainment.


Yep, Titanic was the first movie ever to be more than 3 hours.


I think Bryan's (poorly worded) point was that Gone with the Wind (and longer movies like that) used to be shown with an intermission. However, I think it's absurd to suggest that longer board game play times is a newer phenomenon that has anything to do with that.
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Rex Stites
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supermaxv wrote:
rstites25 wrote:
Iridium192 wrote:
The first thing that comes to mind is power creep. Overtime in a CCG, or an MMORPG video game, everything gets bigger, stronger, and better because they have to outdo themselves with every expansion. As board games age, we take steps each and every year to make the newest game bigger, longer, flashier, etc. than the last. Think about when the Titanic movie came out. It was the first people were seeing of a movie that was over 3 hours long. Most movie theaters had an intermission! Now people plow through 3 hour movies like it was nothing. Think about old tv shows, they used to all be half hour shows, and there was never a threading storyline between them. Now every episode is an hour or more, and they all string together to make one gigantic story. It's not just board games, it's all forms of entertainment.


Yep, Titanic was the first movie ever to be more than 3 hours.


I think Bryan's (poorly worded) point was that Gone with the Wind (and longer movies like that) used to be shown with an intermission. However, I think it's absurd to suggest that longer board game play times is a newer phenomenon that has anything to do with that.


I think you're being extremely generous.
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Bryan
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rstites25 wrote:
supermaxv wrote:
rstites25 wrote:
Iridium192 wrote:
The first thing that comes to mind is power creep. Overtime in a CCG, or an MMORPG video game, everything gets bigger, stronger, and better because they have to outdo themselves with every expansion. As board games age, we take steps each and every year to make the newest game bigger, longer, flashier, etc. than the last. Think about when the Titanic movie came out. It was the first people were seeing of a movie that was over 3 hours long. Most movie theaters had an intermission! Now people plow through 3 hour movies like it was nothing. Think about old tv shows, they used to all be half hour shows, and there was never a threading storyline between them. Now every episode is an hour or more, and they all string together to make one gigantic story. It's not just board games, it's all forms of entertainment.


Yep, Titanic was the first movie ever to be more than 3 hours.


I think Bryan's (poorly worded) point was that Gone with the Wind (and longer movies like that) used to be shown with an intermission. However, I think it's absurd to suggest that longer board game play times is a newer phenomenon that has anything to do with that.


I think you're being extremely generous.


*sigh* I should really learn to stay off the internet. People make me sad.
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Jeff Thompson
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Or...

The people who are more likely to vote are also those who enjoy longer games. So it may be less a "hobby" thing than a "BGG" thing.
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Pete
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Power Grid is a 1.5 hour game for you guys?

Pete (never gets it done that fast)
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Scott Gillispie
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Speaking as an old AH gamer who's had to deal with my wife's inability to play anything over 2 hours for 15 years - um, no.

I think you're just seeing a distortion from an artificial start point (2004) as well as limiting to the 'top 15' - we've always had long multiplayer games be popular. Dune, Civilization,Diplomacy,1830: Railways & Robber Barons, Britannia, for example. Empire Builder isn't complex, but is long (especially when multiplayer) and crayon rails is certainly popular. If you want to limit yourself to euros...how about Die Macher

Is Terraforming Mars any longer than Power Grid? And 7 Wonders is certainly shorter - but, of course it's now out of the Top 15...as someone else said - I think you are getting a distortion by looking at who is voting, rather than what is actually played.
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elite six
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plezercruz wrote:
Power Grid is a 1.5 hour game for you guys?

Pete (never gets it done that fast)


For us it does. But we've always been taught the mid-game stall only helps one person - which is very true - so that acknowledgement probably speeds up gameplay.
 
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Ben Draper
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Iridium192 wrote:
The first thing that comes to mind is power creep. Overtime in a CCG, or an MMORPG video game, everything gets bigger, stronger, and better because they have to outdo themselves with every expansion.


I know jack all about MMORPGs, but this completely misunderstands the source of power creep in CCGs. It occurs because of limited deck sizes. When you can cut chaff and use just the strongest cards, the only way a new card becomes relevant is if it is at that same power threshold or higher.
 
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Trent Boardgamer
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It is interesting, because recent polls on preferred play time have seen to favour the shorter game time of around 1.5-2hrs.

I guess when it's a really good game people are prepared to spend a little more time with it, than their preferred play time.
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Ryan Keane
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After Puerto Rico, Agricola and Twilight Struggle were top dogs, both almost always taking more than 2 hours. I don't think there's much of any evidence for a trend of the top ranked games in BGG getting longer. Looking at the top 15, Star War Rebellion (which I haven't played) is the only one that jumps out at me as a long game. Next one would be #41 TI3. 7 Wonders Duel is #9 - I don't believe a game that short was ever in the top 15 in the past.

But BGG ranks are pretty meaningless and people want to find patterns and trends in anything - it's mostly noise. Much better analysis would be using the top 50 most played games each month and weighting the plays by game length, to answer the question: are BGG users that bother to record their plays actually spending a greater % of their total game time on longer games now than in the past?
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Jake Glenn

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Ryan Keane wrote:
After Puerto Rico, Agricola and Twilight Struggle were top dogs, both almost always taking more than 2 hours. I don't think there's much of any evidence for a trend of the top ranked games in BGG getting longer. Looking at the top 15, Star War Rebellion (which I haven't played) is the only one that jumps out at me as a long game. Next one would be #41 TI3. 7 Wonders Duel is #9 - I don't believe a game that short was ever in the top 15 in the past.

But BGG ranks are pretty meaningless and people want to find patterns and trends in anything - it's mostly noise. Much better analysis would be using the top 50 most played games each month and weighting the plays by game length, to answer the question: are BGG users that bother to record their plays actually spending a greater % of their total game time on longer games now than in the past?


But what you play most isn't a direct indication of what you like most. I might prefer games that are four hours, but can't play them due to time constraints and practicality so settle for games I like less.
 
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Stephen Cooper
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scottgillispie wrote:
Speaking as an old AH gamer who's had to deal with my wife's inability to play anything over 2 hours for 15 years - um, no.

I think you're just seeing a distortion from an artificial start point (2004) as well as limiting to the 'top 15' - we've always had long multiplayer games be popular. Dune, Civilization,Diplomacy,1830: Railways & Robber Barons, Britannia, for example. Empire Builder isn't complex, but is long (especially when multiplayer) and crayon rails is certainly popular. If you want to limit yourself to euros...how about Die Macher

Is Terraforming Mars any longer than Power Grid? And 7 Wonders is certainly shorter - but, of course it's now out of the Top 15...as someone else said - I think you are getting a distortion by looking at who is voting, rather than what is actually played.

Agreed. In days long before 2004, I'd taken many hours per session playing Civilization and 1829, and when playing Apocalypse we added a variant* to make the game longer because with the rules as written we thought it was too short.

*A nuke stage was only gained when a territory was conquered, not when a fight was won. That meant that any nuclear Armageddon was considerably delayed and there would be constant ebbing and flowing of player dominance.
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Andi Hub
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I also doubt that the premise is correct. Pandemic Legacy is hard to asseess, since it is a Legacy game, but single sessions are not that long. Power Grid takes about as long as Terraforming Mars. Argricola is not a short game, Through the Ages is a longer game, Twilight Struggle as well, Brass is a long game, Caylus tends also to be longer. So many longer (+2h) games have left the top rankings, some new have entered (Gloomhaven, Terraforming Mars).
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