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Subject: What so you look for in a game to purchase? rss

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Anna Bruna
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As time has gone on, I find I've become fussier about the games I purchase and have developed more criteria. Has this happened to anyone else?

Please share your buying criteria (if you have any ).


I buy games for 2 different audiences; my family and the special needs kids at school with whom I volunteer. I do play games occasionally in a group, at an event or with friends.


My criteria are:


Family (husband/adult daughter):


Must haves:
- Light to medium weight games (no heavier than Stone Age - if I want to play a heavier game, I'll do it at an event or with friends who like heavier games).

- Easy to teach games as both family members don't have patience for complex rules (DH tends to sleep deprived often due to being a shift worker).

- Length is short, no longer than 1 hour (will play longer at an event or with friends).

- Game is playable with 2; husband's shifts mean the chance of getting all 3 of us to play at the same time is remote (I will play 3+ at events or with friends).

- I personally don't like games with zillions of bits/chits to organize (Small World with all the expansions would drive me crazy although I'll play other people's copies of these games.)


Nice to have:
- Appealing theme for game (DH likes Norse/Vikings, myths, Lovecraft, zombies, science fiction; daughter likes art, myths, ancient history and animals).

- Small 'table real estate' for game, doesn't take up vast amounts of space.

- Games with attractive board/components. (I've been unable to try the current edition of Glory to Rome because of the cheezy/ugly artwork).

- My daughter prefers 'board games' that have actual boards although DH doesn't mind other forms of games.

- I tend to avoid card drafting as it's a mechanic for which I'm not fond (DH likes Dominion better than I do).




Special Education Kids I volunteer with (currently they have mild intellectual diabilities (2-5 years below grade level academically) and many have ADHD and/or behavioural issues):


Must Haves:
- Game doesn't rely much on reading ability (the kids I currently work with can read but not at grade level & some really struggle with reading).

- Game that do not rely on trivia/general knowledge/figures of speech as they are not good readers and don't have the knowledge staff do.

- Game where they have a good chance of winning (luck or dexterity is a factor or strategy is easily grasped - ie. one student frequently beats staff at Skip-Bo).

- Game with simple rules that are quick to teach and learn.

- Short duration games(for short attention spans and as a 'break' from academic stuff).

- Game is playable with 2 but scales upward well as numbers may vary.

- Game is not too young in appearance. (Current students are middle school and don't want to be treated like little children despite disabilities).

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Steve Evans
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My criteria for buying games seems to be exactly the same as your for the family.
I'd even go so far as to say that some themes put me off.

I don't know why but I'll happily play Dominion for hours but the thought of Thunderstone with its dungeons is a big turn off.
But for some reason I really fancy those D&D board games. I'm finicky.

I also need to feel that I'm buying a game and not a one trick pony.
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Pater Absurdus
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I wrote this ist up a while back and sums up my perfect game fairly well. I want a game to fit as much of these criteria as possible.

What would my perfect Boardgame look like?

It would...
d10-0d10-1...Be requested often by my friends
d10-0d10-2...Play 2-4 players well
d10-0d10-3...Have meaningful strategic/tactical decisions
d10-0d10-4...Have multiple paths to victory
d10-0d10-5...Have excellent mechanics
d10-0d10-6...Have high replayability
d10-0d10-7...Have a variable set up
d10-0d10-8...Not have direct conflict if it's a Euro shake
d10-0d10-9...Have some randomness (w/o being luck driven)
d10-1d10-0...Have some theme & high quality art & components
d10-1d10-1...Have a Postapocalyptic, Zombie, or Dark-Fantasy theme
d10-1d10-2...Not have a grain growing cube pushing theme shake
d10-1d10-3...Have a quick set up
d10-1d10-4...Play in less than 2 hours
d10-1d10-5...Be easy to teach/learn
d10-1d10-6...Not be a co-op shake
d10-1d10-7...Have high quality expansions available
d10-1d10-8...Not have player elimination shake
d10-1d10-9...Have a new mechanic or a new mechanical recipe
d10-2d10-0...Cost less than $60
d10-2d10-1...Not require analysis of other player(s) strategies
d10-2d10-2...Allow me to easily observe why I won/lost
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S McCulloch
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My DH and I for the most part agree with games although not always. The way we think about games and what we purchase is similar enough that we have developed a criteria.

Must be able to be played with 2 people. While we do have gamer friends we do not meet sufficiently often to have and own games that we cannot play comfortably by ourselves.

Have to play in 4 hours or less. If it does not keep us occupied for at least 30 min. it is probably not worth the money to us.

Good components and artwork are important but not total deal breakers if other criteria are met.

Clearly understandable rule book. (we only have one exception to this and we had an excellent teacher. We have since wrote down our own aid.)

We like Euros, Ameritrash or coops. Design and elegance of play are important.

When theme and mechanics mesh well it is a definite buy.

Games with multiple paths to victory and variable set up are valued highly.

REPLAYABILITY is critical.

All games have to have been played by both of us before purchasing. We try out for "flavour" at our favourite gaming spot, Snakes and Lattes before considering laying out cold, hard cash.

Value for money - a hard one to define but not all games are worth what they ask. This is more instinct than a hard and fast rule for us.

Expansions are a good sign as they mean this game is here to stay for awhile and can have more replayability.

While not a deal breaker, good storage or boxing can be a factor in whether or not we purchase.

We question if the game about to be purchased is too similar in feel to others we already own.


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Mark Bird
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I have 3 categories I look to purchase for when I consider games;

Gaming with my partner, gaming with my gamer friends & games for me.

Gaming with my partner I look for lighter games but still with little enough theme to keep me interested. I'm currently trying to build the "gateway bridge" at the moment - slowly becoming succesful with World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, Zombie Fluxx & Gloom. I've had a few speedbumps as well, but ultimately would just like to enjoy my time gaming with her, as well as the enjoyment being reciprocal and not just to please me.

Gaming with my gamer friends I normally look for direct conflict generally focussing on 1v1 (more normal gaming scenario). More theme, more combat, more tactics & strategies.

Gaming for myself, as a last category is choosing games that aren't necessarily solo. These are games that I fall for & buy because I love all the aspects about them (generally still conflict-driven & dripping with theme). These sorts of games sit slotted in amongst my collection in hopes that eventually someone will go "Oh, what's that game?".



I have become extremely picky with my purchases now though. After realizing I was looking to buy alot of games that were very same-same as others (even if just thematically) I went on a major culling spree on my Want To Buy list. I reduced it down from some 50+ games to now a very solid 9 games. I refuse to add to it until I can clear at least half the list.
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TS S. Fulk
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I'm looking to collect old Warfrog games. So most of my time, energy and money goes to that end.

For new games, they need to be fun, short (since the Warfrog games aren't), strong on theme and enjoyable to play with my kids (who can play any of my games). Right now Eclipse (not short, but shorter than TI3) and Dungeon Petz are they only new games I really want to buy.

PS. I know I've been away from North America for awhile (15 years or more), but what the heck does DH stand for?
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Anna Bruna
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DH is netspeak for 'dear husband', DS = dear son, DD = dear daughter, DW = dear wife.
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Sheldon
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I too have become far more selective when buying games. I think of it as having developed a palette; now that I know what I like and what is out there I can be far more discerning where as when I was newer to this hobby I was just stuffing my face and my shelves with anything getting good buzz or that looked interesting.

I used to have a hair trigger finger when it came to check out time and made multiple large purchases a year. Over the last year or two though I've decided that I need a much smaller collection of games that I really enjoy or at least my group loves that get far more play. It is now a shadow of it's former self and I'm much happier for it.

I've also developed much stricter criteria when it comes to purchasing. It needs to fill a niche in my collection that is lacking, I usually do quite a bit of research before buying looking at rules, reviews and more importantly who is reviewing and what their pluses and minuses are. If I already have a game that fulfills the niche it fills it must either be a much better game or the same quality of game in a much smaller time investment.

It has to be something I think my group will play and I have to think it will have some longevity.

There are exceptions of course, pretty much anything by Mac Gerdts is an instant buy and I am eagerly awaiting his upcoming Antike Duellum and I'm still kicking myself for passing on The Princes of Machu Picchu a few years ago. Princes will make it into my collection eventually and I can wait until I can snag it in a trade at some point.

Sometimes I cheat; if there's a game that I like or I'm quite interested in but don't feel I need to have it I'll often get it for a member of my group who I think will appreciate it as a birthday gift. This has the added bonus of being able to get other members of our group to pitch in on the purchase. This worked well last year as I got both Fresco and Factory Fun for two members of my group who have enjoyed them and I get to play them from time to time too.

I like to use my wishlist to gauge my interest in a title, most of the games on there will never be bought by me but they are titles I am tracking. Often it's just something new and shiny that caught my fancy and I'm waiting for more info or other people's impressions. My wishlist always seems to balloon in the months leading up to Essen but then gradually purge in the months afterwards with only a small few being bought.

It helps that I've become more jaded over the years (in terms of keeping my collection smaller at least), I enjoy lighter or chaotic games less and am far less impressed by the cult of the new. I know what I like and can often judge on what will fall flat. Living in a major city now also helps as I have more access to games before purchasing and can often test before deciding and the occasional local no ship math trade helps me cull whats not working or has been replaced.

Anyways I've forgotten my point beyond yes, I totally do have higher standards for purchase than I used to and I'm pretty much just rambling now. I'm going to bed, you damn kids get off my lawn.
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Sheldon
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And after all that I forgot a few.

Under 2 hours. Anything over is an event game and has to justify itself as such, much less likely to purchase.

Low chaos. I like games that challenge me, if I go away either with a win or a loss and I feel it was just blind chance I feel cheated.
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Chris Kubik
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For me above all else it has to have a strong connection between the theme of the game, its presentation and the mechanics. Very few games manage to resinate with my group. I mean we love games like Fury of Dracula, Twilight Imperium, REX (or Dune), Ikusa for example. Games with strong themes, with great presentation and a clear connection between the theme and mechanics. You play the game and you feel the presence of the theme coming through in the gameplay.

Games like Puerto Rico, Agricola or Carcassone for example are great games mechanically and fun to play, but really these games could be re-skinned with just about any theme and it wouldn't make any difference. In my circles these games hit the table considerably less often as a result.



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Clare Cannon
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My criteria is very simple art on the box/ theme of the game/ nostalgia



I buy a lot
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Roy Battiscombe
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For myself, I buy games on 3 criteria:

Does it look like fun to play?
Does it have a nice flavour to it? (Usually something like a good story, or theme, or even something like, "it has zombies")
Is it worth the cost/Will I get my money's worth?

I also run a small monthly gaming event at a local store, so I also look for games that will make quick/games, or games that I think will be popular with the regulars.

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