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Component Quality: Important or No?

Supporter

I asked this question here, I think it was a year ago or so. But, I was thinking about this more after my questions about art from a few days ago.

How important is component quality. I have games from Hollandspiele high on my wishlist. Quite frankly, a big reason I haven't gotten any yet is that many of the ones I want sport paper maps. I have a hard time getting excited about a paper map, I know paper  maps are common among wargamers, but I am not a wargamer.

Alternatively, I think of those games that have superlative component quality. For years #Scythe was my favorite game. And, Scythe was a blowout hit. It continues to be a evergreen title for Stonemair Games. But, how much of my pleasure came from the tactility pleasure that the game offers? I don't know. The same question could be asked of #Wingspan. How much of its popularity is due to it's gameplay, and how much to it's stunning components?

As far as I can tell, component quality is a very important thing for marketing. And, truthfully, all else being equal, better components can elevate a playing experience. However, I have heard about a number of potential issues with more premium components when not designed with enough care. Some examples include:

  • I have heard that the Ever Tree in #Everdell can be a big problem in multiplayer games, it can block view of the cards in the meadow for some players.
  • The redesigned water beads in #High Frontier 4 All were designed to look more like water. But, now they roll more and you can't stack them.
  • The waterproof cards in chip theory games are supposedly slippier and stacks are more prone to fall.
  • The beautiful painted buildings in #Tapestry can make it harder to read the city boards.

To be clear, I don't have personal experience with these games, yet. But, these are complaints I have heard a number of times. And I have wondered if gameplay is helped more or hurt more by the buildings in Tapestry, maybe it would have been better to make them polyominoes. Maybe the Sierra Madre/Ion Game Design should have kept their flat water discs instead of going to beads for HF4E.

I do think that some people buy games for components. I don't have a problem with that, you do you. But, do you agree that there is a general focus on better components than there was 5 or 10 years ago? If so, do you believe that this focus is generally helpful or unhelpful? Do you think that developers/designers are working too hard at selling components at the expense of gameplay?

I think I have been on a bit of a journey as a board gamer. I am less and less interested in how good the components are. And, more and more interested in the gameplay. I am beginning to love cardboard chits, they can carry so much more information than a mini. At the same time, I am happy to pay more for the components that elevate gameplay, i.e. I bought metal coins for #Pax Pamir (Second Edition). But, I am also more impatient with deluxification when it actually obfuscates in some way the gameplay.

Where are you at? How highly do you highly component quality? Is there any game that component quality will make so that you will not buy a game? Would I have liked #The Castles of Burgundy if it had been made by Stonemair or FFG?

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2 months ago

For me I view it like this: a great game with bad components will still be great. Maybe components could have taken it up like 0.5-1 more points on a 10-point raating scale (i.e. I have Castles of Burgundy as a 9, maybe it would be a 9.5 with awesome components). But really great components can lift a mediocre to good game to a great one for me (i.e. Everdell would probably be a 6.5 if it had terrible components, but they are just so good that for me it lifts it to around an 8.5). Board games are a very physical experience and the components definitely matter!

Supporter2 months ago

That is a good way to look at it. 

Premium User2 months ago

The first game I thought of with your game component examples was #Barrage. I have 0 experience with it (although I may or may not be receiving it in the mail soon..) but I heard a lot as I'm sure a lot of us have particularly with the Kickstarer components being awful. Water tokens that were impossible to pick back up and a wheel that was warped in more than just a few cases. Despite initially getting a lot of flak (and terrible ratings on BGG) for it, it's still managed to pull itself up to a rank of 84th overall on BGG. Having not played it, I can only imagine how great of a game it would have to be to make up that bad publicity over component quality. Guess I'll find out soon!

Supporter2 months ago

That is probably a good example. I do here that the post kickstarter ones are a lot better.

Premium User2 months ago

Yeah I've heard that too. I hope it's true for my own sake.

Supporter2 months ago

🤞

Premium User2 months ago

As an update to this, I played tonight and I have 0 issues with the components! The game was really fun to boot! 

Supporter2 months ago

That is good to hear.

2 months ago

I'm looking at it from the perspective of convincing other people to play with me. For certain friends and family, the better the components look and feel, the more likely they are to try it out. So for that reason, I do care about higher quality components.

I fully admit that #Wingspan is still one that's tempting me mostly because of the components.

Premium User2 months ago

Those eggs are pretty tasty. What's that? You're not supposed to eat them? :P

Someone in my game group got super into Wingspan just before covid hit and may have ordered a whole bunch of upgraded components for it. I didn't quite understand it but I will admit his bird action "cubes" look cute

2 months ago

You're definitely right, I can't resist the eggs for some reason lol!

Bird action cubes eh? I don't think I've seen anything like that, now I'm curious.

Premium User2 months ago

If I remember correctly, he had gotten them custom made/ordered from someone on Etsy. I believe he said the person he purchased through just had made some small decorative almost animal minis totally unrelated to board games and he had reached out to make a deal with them.

Supporter2 months ago

You can buy almost anything on Etsy.

2 months ago

Yeah, this persuasion aspect is also a consideration for me. I cater to a lot of non-hobby gamers. Higher quality components help with getting them interested.

2 months ago

Exactly! And it's fun getting the "oooo pretty" or "wow that's cool!" reactions from people.

Supporter2 months ago

That is quite satisfying.

Supporter2 months ago

Like art, I am much more concerned about components when it comes to a multiplayer game...Especially if I am trying to lure non gamers into the hobby.

2 months ago

Yup, exactly. To answer your original question in regards to my own preference, I think I'd still seek out games with higher quality components. I guess it makes me feel like there's more value to a game when the components are great even if it doesn't affect the gameplay.

Supporter2 months ago

I can very much hear where you are coming from.

2 months ago

I can speak to a couple things here, but the one I want to address is Too Many Bones. You mention the cards and they can be slippery, but not unusable. I use one of the box inserts when I play to hold the cards in place and make it impossible for them to move around! My bigger issue currently are the standard health chips that come with the game. Those suckers slide around a lot especially with a heavier chip or two on top of them. I am strongly considering getting the upgraded health chips to make that experience much more enjoyable!

Supporter2 months ago

I haven't played it, and I don't/didn't know how bad they are. It is just a complaint I have heard.

2 months ago

Oh totally, I think PVC will always have that issue but he cards are very resilient! I enjoy them. 

2 months ago

I'm a little in between on component quality. In order for a game to be on my wishlist it needs a good mix of mechanisms and component quality. I will be adverse to a game that has poor art and components even if it has good gameplay, but I'd definitely also be adverse to a game with great components and art, but lacks intuitive or unique gameplay. Either way, there are so many games out there with a great mix of both that it really isn't a problem. 

Premium User2 months ago

This is a great question and I have a bit of experience with a few of the games mentioned.  Generally speaking I would say component quality does make a difference and can make or break gameplay at times.  It's a very challenging piece of game design to consider as too much quality can outprice the game and too little can suck some of the fun out of it.

I have #Everdell and have played multiplayer several times and never really found the Evertree to be in the way.  Seat positioning and the number of expansions used could play into this to some degree but the cards in the tree are facedown anyway and the quests on the tree become relevant later in the game and it's not that hard to stand up and take a look if needed.  Seems like an odd complaint.

As for #Tapestry I am not sure what board is challenging to read due to the buildings being beautiful.  The buildings sit on the player city map that doesn't require much in the way of "reading" and certainly not something other players would need to pay a ton of attention to.  One of the things I love about Tapestry are the buildings and while they add to set up time and game is a lot of fun to play and beautiful on the table.  This is maybe one of the prettiest games you can buy at around the $70 price point now.

I think #Scythe has decent components in and of itself but still upgraded most of them for the tactile fun of metal coins and nice resources. #Architects of the West Kingdom is similar in this regard.  

I would agree that #The Castles of Burgundy might get a bump up in interest if it had slightly better components.  I might say the same about #A Feast For Odin.  Both of these are good games that I would love to play one day and just haven't found myself pulling the plug.  In fact, I might get a game like #Atheneum: Mystic Library due to the nice at and unique book components and lower price point based a little on the component:game play:price ratio.  On the other hand gameplay does make a difference and there are games that have caught my eye visually and due to nice components but the gameplay is lackluster or has gaps and so I pass.  I would love #Dark Souls: The Board Game or #Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game which look beautiful but lack a little bit on the gameplay for such a high price. 

 

Supporter2 months ago

I find the components in #A Feast For Odin to be fairly good. Not really sure what else they could do to make them better considering all that you need to do with them. 

Premium User2 months ago

Fair enough.  I keep waiting for the price point to come down to around $60 or $70.  Maybe I just want 3D board pieces and diamond wrapped playerboards.  High bar.

Supporter2 months ago

Lol. Diamond studded player boards. Really got me. Seriously though there are tons of components in that game. The box would be massive if they were all 3D. 

Supporter2 months ago

I'd say that components are a little more important than art but again along the same lines if the game is good enough than that is what really matters. 

Great components can enhance a great game, making it even better. But a bad game with great components will still be a bad game. 

Premium User2 months ago

That last point you made it 100% true. Great components or not, a bad game is still a bad game.

2 months ago

This is kind of where I am too. Good components will elevate a game higher than it would be with just it's rules and barebones components, but they cannot make a bad game good. I do think that bad components can make a good game bad, though. If a game is just unpleasant to touch and to look at, people won't want to play it. If the gameplay is strong but the overall experience is unpleasant, the game is bad.

At this point, there's really no excuse for a published game to have truly bad components. Not everyone needs Stonemaier level quality, but come on, people. Let's get some decent quality cards and game boards.

Also, on #Everdell, we haven't found the tree to be an issue. At 4 players, we just put it on one end of our dining table, with the meadow in the middle, and the 4 of us sat on the long sides of the table. Of course if you were playing on a square or round table, you wouldn't be able to do that as easily.