Should I Buy this Game?

Like someone who has overindulged at a buffet and has come to regret their choices, I admit that sometimes I overdo it on the board game front.  In response to these situations I have created a series of questions that I ask myself before purchasing a new game.  I created this list with the sole intention of not necessarily buying fewer games (that’s potentially a topic for another day), but making better choices when deciding to buy a game or give it a miss.

Keep in mind this list is my personal list and it is from the perspective of a gamer, not a collector; I ultimately want games that I will play.  So without further ado, I hope that you can learn from some of my mistakes, because I have made all of them!

Do I think I will love this game, or do I just love the idea?

Like a movie trailer or plot synopsis, sometimes a game sounds amazing on paper, be it the experience it promises or the theme, and while these do help, it might be better to give it a miss if the gameplay itself does not sound enjoyable.  With that said, don’t be afraid to try new things; just don’t hinge everything on the idea or theme of the game.

What is the likelihood that I will have the right number of players for this game?

Try to choose games that accommodate the size of the groups you play with.  If you never have the right player count for a good experience of the game, this game is not getting played.

Side-note: The player counts listed on game boxes can be deceitfully optimistic.  To find out how other gamers feel about how a game plays at different player counts, visit the game’s listing on Board Game Geek.

Will this game go down well with my gaming group/family/friends?

A game is an experience that should be enjoyed by all of the players at the table.  Try to find games of complexity, theme, and mechanics that will be enjoyed by everyone at the table.  Please don’t knowingly subject others to gaming experiences that they will find unpleasant; we want to grow the hobby, not shrink it! 

Are my eyes bigger than my table?

With the production quality of games going up, so is the physical table space needed to play some of them.  If you are not going to have somewhat regular access to a large enough table to play this game, chances of it getting played are not good.

Have I read the rulebook?

The biggest, most impactful and positive change I have made to my purchasing habits is to not buy a game without having read the rulebook first.  One of the biggest barriers I have found to getting a game played is the rulebook.  If you cannot bring yourself to read the rulebook, for whatever reason, you are not going to play that game.  At some point, even if the game is taught to you or you watch a tutorial video, you are going to have to reference the rulebook. 

Side-note: Along with playing more games, the more rulebooks that you read, the better you will become at gauging games and whether they are right for you.

Is this game too similar to something I already own?

This is a bit of a sneaky one because you will come across games that play very similarly, or sometimes even outright identically.  What I have found is that if I have a few games that are too similar, one ends up being played and the other does not.  If this game seems too similar to a game you already own, ask yourself this, does this game add anything new or different (i.e. in terms of complexity, mechanisms, play time etc.)? 

Side-note: This is not to say you should only have one game of a type.  It is okay to have multiple games in the same broad mechanical genre (i.e. worker placement, deck building etc.), but ideally each game within a mechanical genre should differentiate itself enough from the others.

Do I have the space to store this game?

Space may be at a premium, if so, does the physical space this game will take up make sense for the experience that it will deliver?  

Is this game worth it?

Don’t think of worth only in terms of a financial expense but instead ask yourself this, will the enjoyment gained from this game be worth the time, money, and effort spent, or could they be better spent elsewhere?

How is my unplayed games shelf looking?

I am not going to call it the shelf of shame; it is the shelf of potential because each one of those games you purchased was a promise that you were going to have a good time with others.  Sometimes we shouldn’t be looking afar for greener pastures when they are right at hand.

Do I really want this game, or is this an impulse purchase?

Be honest with yourself, do you really want this game, or are you just buying something for the sake of buying something?   The hedonistic treadmill is one hell of a drug!

As a closing note, don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, try different games, and even have a few aspirational games tucked away for that magical moment when the stars align.  At the end of the day, these are just some suggestions to think about.  Do what makes you happy!