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Subject: When does a board game become overproduced for you? rss

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Destrio Dai
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A trend I have noticed in the last few years, but largely limited to Kickstarter games, is the inclusion of metal coins to a game as a replacement for cardboard. I was never a fan of metal coins due to storage and transportation weight issues compounded on the fact that the increased cost doesn't pay itself back for me personally in component bling, but I do get that at least some coins are well made and provide many games with an increase in fun upon handling the stuff.

The components that draw me in particular are plastic minis, custom dice, and exclusives, mostly due to FOMO especially if those components affect gameplay, variability and replayability.

But as I see more and more KS and even retail games featured this year in 2018, I am thinking games are being overproduced in order to justify an increase in price. Card games hitting what once was a mid to heavy euro board game cost simply due to a few small card expansions and metal coins. Middle weight Euros hitting that triple digit mark by also including expansions and added bling. And finally bigger box strategy games soaring past even that by also throwing expansions and add-ons into the mix on top of reprints to the base game and if any revisions or improvements.

Even as I factor in exclusives and shipping, the deluge of overproduction increases. Art books giving way to alternative sculpts or prepainted minis as a way to increase price. Minis get added and even to my opinion, likely to an excessive amount. Is the gameplay linked to this component worth the storage and cost of this thing?

Inflation is a thing given our monetary system but I think the industry this year is hitting a stronger stride in finding ways to "better the graphics" so to speak (if I can reference computer and console games as an analogy). What once could be done with a board, some great art and cards, and some sculpted minis are now being done with components that must be constructed and fit together and stored instead.

I'm not advocating that we return to just pencil-and-paper or small and thin chits, but even the most extravagant publishers of yesterday are being outpaced in MSRP. There'll always be an exception here or there and there have been many highly expensive games in the past especially on Kickstarter but if I'm seeing the trend correctly, when the average cost and production in the industry rises, when is too much TOO much?

I get it, it's a luxury hobby, but is too much of the industry chasing the production side of board games in a race to increase price? Is game design increasing at the same rate to fill the shoes of these components? When are we going to see a backlash into more "retro" or "indie" games when the whole industry seems to feel niche still?
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Trent Boardgamer
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It's a hard one to answer.

I do certainly like high quality components, but at a certain point the cost doesn't justify the improvement.

I hate thin cards or poor quality that start showing wear and tear really quickly, but a good quality card is still much cheaper than the highest quality card. It generally comes down to a value perspective for me which tends to fluctuate on a game by game basis. How often are those cards needing to be shuffled, how important is it that they can't be identified, etc.

I'm generally a fan of most components being upgraded. However not all games justify a higher cost to do so.

Thankfully a lot of KS projects offer both options, a base model at reduced cost and then some deluxe option. This makes things a lot easier as I can then decide whether I think the upgrades represent value at the increased cost for me. I'm also a fan of how a lot of the upgrades are provided as separate add-ons so I can choose and pick the upgrades I want.

Anyway, cost is generally an issue for everyone, but if I'm putting a game on the table, I generally want it to look good in one way or another.
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Mike Jones
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I too feel KS has resulted in the feeling that a 'modern' game 'needs' a lot of plastic 3d board game markers.

I'd much prefer lower production costs with wood/chits/etc where I can buy three games instead of one.

I am returning to exploring 'older' games. I can now even justify 'grail game' costs as they are now often less then new 'unproven' games.

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I've always valued how the game actually plays over higher quality components. Give me a great game with ugly cardboard over a mediocre game with pretty minis and meeples every time. Yes, I'm an old fart.

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Derry Salewski
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Endeavor's new deluxe edition.

One of my favorite games and I thought the additions were gaudy as fuck.
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Andres Montanes-Lleras
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While I would never get a "mediocre game with pretty components," as Lucky Henry puts it, I also would never get a game with "ugly cardboard" and subpar components no matter how great the mechanics are (probably why I personally find many wargames, for example, so unappealing).

For me, gaming has always been, at least in part, an aesthetic experience were the art and the components play a significant role. Though there is, of course, a difference between good art and components and pure bling, and I agree that some games are over-produced, I still love miniatures, custom dice and high quality art even if it raises the price of a game.
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bryden
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A game is overproduced when:

1. It "looks better" than it plays (subjective I know). Pretty much all games with more than one mini per player. If they get in the way by blocking crucial information etc. Minis need to serve some kind of tangible game purpose and not just some gray blob on the board.

2. You realize that all of those promos and other bits make the game to unwieldy and confusing (insert your favorite KickStarter game here)

3. A good number of the components never leave the box (Caverna is a perfect example)

4. The box leads the buyer to believe that something else is inside the box. This includes a box that can hold multiple games. (Hyperborea was a good example)

5. It is short and has a definite ending. (Escape room games)

6. It is an abstract that costs more than $20

7. It is made by Splotter ... wait ... what? (Stand in line for our next prototype for only $120)

8. When local game shops can not afford to carry the game making it impossible to actually see what the game is.

9. When it takes extra explanation to clarify what each upgraded piece is because it does not match the pictures in the rule book (Orleans, the pieces did not fit in the spaces where they belonged)

10. The parts don't fit back in the box when you are done playing or you have to puzzle them in. Maybe the pieces are oversized etc. Maybe a little more investment into the box would have worked or maybe we did not need a 6+" mini, tower etc. where a 2" one would have been fine.
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J C Lawrence
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What is the minimum required for clear, physically simple and direct play of the game? Anything more than that is on the road to being over-produced.
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Ken Comstock
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I think the broader industry has just responded to the evolved requirements of the broader base - a willingness to pay more for better games with higher quality components. Seems like the kickstarter phenomena started it for sure, but I think it is a market response more than an agenda to jack up prices. Prices are also a function of volume and operational costs, the latter of which has gone up a crapload the past few years.

I think wargames might be a little different. I find myself caring less about the component bling for those. Just want an exceptionally good rulebook, sturdy cards, a clear map and chits that are legible. Anything more than that is distracting. A lot wargames are damn expensive for what you get, component wise (basically a bunch of paper product), but there doesn’t seem to be many complaints about it (a few, but not many).

For mainstream games there is also a damn healthy aftermarket for accessory bling, which I fall prey to over and over but don’t really care because it’s fun.

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Sam Lam I Am
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It's overproduced only if it becomes overpriced.
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chinagirl geek
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I definitely prefer cardboard over heavy metal coins, pseudo-wood plastic, etc. and usually over minis.

If a game is somewhat ugly, as long as I can see what I'm supposed to be doing and it does not give me a migraine, that is fine by me, though an attractive board is certainly a bonus (and does not add nearly as much to design costs as having individual art on all the cards).

For me, a game is UNDER-produced if it has flimsy cards that cannot be shuffled carefully without obvious wear and tear, cards so small that the text on them cannot be read easily, colours that are not easily distinguishable in low light (e.g. the cafes where we often play), dice that are unbalanced, cubes that need to stack but don't because the faces are not flat enough, or components that have very visible bare corners because they have been painted on a sprue (Terraforming Mars, I am looking sadly at you). I may still buy such games, but my enjoyment will be lessened and I will wish just a little more money and pride had been invested in them.

Any kind of blinging out beyond that is unnecessary for me.

The only game I've ever bought that cost over $100 is The 7th Continent, and that was after much hesitation, and because I figured it would (just) pay for itself in my many hours of play.
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Saz Wells
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For me, it’s when components are so complex and/or numerous it can be hard to keep track of the state of the game due to it.

There are lots of games with lots of components,but so long as each component is distinct and it’s easy to tell what the game state actually is, then I’m happy. When your components block out certain features from the board, or the board is so big and messy, player information is hard to distinguish, I have a problem.

I understand why mini’s and other bling is popular, they often add a nice bit of theme to a game. Sure, I could just have coloured cardboard or wooden tokens from a practical point of view, but now I can have an actual hero’s and enemies to look at, or an actual treasure chest. It adds some nice visual touches. Great games will be great games regardless,but if I really like a game, chances are I want it to look visually appealing too. That’s not to say simpler components can’t be visually appealing of course.
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Nicholas Johnson
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Dodging cardboard chits is always a plus to me. I like wood tokens that give resources a more 3 dimensional look. I consider miniatures a waste though unless they're very specifically going for that kinda a miniatures game with spacial movement and distinct enemies/characters. I consider a game to have inflated it's price if you get a miniature of your character and all you use it for is essentially a pawn marking what action you're doing. There have been a number of games that do that lately.
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Olli Juhala
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samlamiam wrote:
It's overproduced only if it becomes overpriced.

That sounds a very chicken-and-egg kind of a situation.

Usually for me, personally, miniatures are almost always overproduction, since I don't paint, have no interest in painting, and quite a few games could get by with just meeples and or tokens(printed or otherwise.) Other than that, I tend to feel overproduction is just excess of content (BattleCon, I'm looking at you.) rather than component quality kind of a deal.

I guess every single TMG Deluxified (TM, really?) game is overproduced, but it's also specifically marketed as such so I don't mind, since the good-enough-to-play -production is also available.
 
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J C Lawrence
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Winsome Games hits about the right level for me. Simple, small, light, austere and very direct.





I wish more publishers took their approach.
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This film's crap, let's slash the seats
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Most modern games are overproduced for my tastes. I think a lot of it is the increase in the idea of boardgames as a luxury product, as much about collecting as playing.

I'm fine with cardboard chits. And actively prefer them when it's a game that needs to be able to use them to put across information quickly. (Like in wargames)

Paper boards are also fine and I prefer them to cheap cardboard which is more likely to warp.

I like cardboard or plastic standees better than minis, simply because they keep the cost down.

The main thing that does matter in terms of component quality is decent card stock.
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Russ Williams
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Counters do not imply "ugly cardboard". Many wargames have excellent beautiful and functional counters. I much prefer them to miniatures, for multiple reasons (more direct readable display of unit statistics; lower cost; lower storage space; many more units can be included in a game; etc.)
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Nicholas Hjelmberg
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NoDicePlease wrote:
A game is overproduced when:

1. It "looks better" than it plays (subjective I know). Pretty much all games with more than one mini per player. If they get in the way by blocking crucial information etc. Minis need to serve some kind of tangible game purpose and not just some gray blob on the board.


Yes, it's very subjective but I completely agree. For a great game, I'm happy to pay extra for great components. (As a chess player, I have weakness for luxury chess sets.) For a mediocre game, great components only emphasize how inferior the actual game is.

Edit: Love your user name!
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Jonathan
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I like highly produced games.

I really notice something to be overproduced when some of the components are amazing and some other are quite flimsy. That way, you get a high price point for the special components, while the quality of the game feels mediocre to me.
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f s
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Destrio wrote:
I get it, it's a luxury hobby,

In a way, all hobbies are "luxury".
But board gaming really is on the low end of costs, was far as hobbies go.

As for the actual question: I would use the term "overproduced" for a game that has big or expensive components that do not help the game. I might also use it for a game that simply becomes too expensive for my taste.

And I agree that there is a tendency to put unnecessary (IMHO) stuff into games that raises the cost too much. This seems to be mostly a niche game problem and a Kickstarter problem. The worst offender is miniatures. I do usually not want miniatures in a board game. And I do not want to pay for them.

Most games produced by Germany companies do not suffer from this problem at all.

Personally, I like my games small and with reasonable quality components. I do not need luxury editions, I do not want bigger games. And I certainly do not want tin boxes or boxes made out of wood.
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Ryan Keane
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I’m fine with what BGG categorized as “thematic games” having blinged out components. A large portion of their target market wants and will pay for bling.

Abstracts seem overproduced if blinged out, like Santorini, but they did do a non-bling version, and I don’t really play them anyway.

Wargame publishers seem to not be pursuing this trend, so I’m happy.

So it’s really Euros where it annoys me. Not on a price level, but more on a functional level. There has been a trend among Euro publishers to move away from the old simple wood-cube model and stark art to add minis, flashy art, bonus modules, extra stuff, in an attempt to make them appear thematic and garner a wider audience. For me, this has hurt my enjoyment of these games and made me want to keep playing older Euros.
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Comboteur "Crazed 'Beastface' Survivor" Fou
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You're missing the point:

It sells.
Like hot cakes.
The crowd wants more.
The crowd shall have more.

When the crowd is satiated, the crowd will still have more.
When the crowd is saturated, the crowd will still have more.

And then the market will crumble and revert back to more austere, more accessible, products.

And the crowd will start asking for more again.
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Keith B
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Never.
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Panagiotis
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In my experience, especially with Kickstarter, an overproduced game can often mean an underdeveloped game.

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Perfect banner ad placement.
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