What Advice Would You Give Yourself as a New Gamer?

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I was thinking recently about the ways I have changed as a gamer over the years. Recently I was wondering what advice I would give myself if I could go back in time and talk to myself as a new gamer.

Before I go further, I should probably give just a little bit of background. I consider myself to have transformed myself into a gamer about five years ago. However, even before that, I had played a fair number of games, even hobby games. Looking back, I am sort of surprised that I didn’t really get into gaming earlier. And, I am surprised at the variety of hobby games I had played, even without me identifying as a gamer. So, for me to talk to myself early in my journey, I would need to go back in time about five years. For many of you, five years is a short time in your gaming life. For some of you 5 years might sound like a lot of experience. For a slightly more in-depth resume of my first five years of gaming, I did recently post here.

I think when I started gaming, I did what many of you did. I set up an account on BGG, and I fell into a rabbit hole of thinking about, researching, and eventually purchasing a few games. I do think that I avoided immediately buying everything, which I know some people do once they fall into the hobby, but that was mostly due to me being a bit surprised at the prices I was seeing. I remember the first “batch” of games I acquired included were, #Dominion, #The Castles of Burgundy, #Forbidden Island, #Race for the Galaxy, and #Carcassonne. But I specifically remember that I was very worried about the weight of the games, as posted on BGG. I was purposefully trying to avoid any games that were at a 3 or higher on the BGG weight rating. Looking back, this is hilarious to me. The game that brought me into the hobby was #Fief: France 1429. I had also played a number of other games over a 3 on the BGG weight scale before I ever started gaming.  If I could talk to my new gamer self, I would like to tell me to not sweat the weight to much. I would like to tell myself that if I have researched the game well, and I think that I will like it, it probably doesn’t matter too much if it is a 1.5 or a 4.5 on the BGG weight scale.

The first game I bought for myself was the famous #The Castles of Burgundy. I had some relatives living in Bangladesh at the time, and they had a copy of it and they reported loving it. Of course, me being in Kansas and them in Bangladesh, I didn’t immediately run over and try it out. So, I researched the game. I watched videos of people “reviewing” the game. I read the description on BGG. I read some text reviews on BGG. I saw the rating on BGG. I got the game, and it bombed. This should have taught me two lessons. I am not sure how well I learned them in the moment, so I wish I could have told these two things to myself. The first is that: Just because someone enjoys the game doesn’t mean that you will. One easy application of this is that it makes me devalue the top 100 on any site as a buying guide for me. The second thing is that: researching a game means figuring out, at least somewhat, how the game plays. I think that I was weighing subjective comments on games entirely too highly.

At the time I got into gaming I had a fair amount of time to research games. I distinctly remember googling all sorts of questions about low/mid-weight euro games. This was the space in which I thought I wanted to live. And, I picked up some games in that search that I still love. But somehow, I thought that Ameritrash was too random. I thought that wargames were too long and boring. I thought that 18xx was too ugly, long, heavy, and boring. I thought Pax games were impenetrable. I thought that abstracts were too cerebral. Again, the fact that I thought that euros were the gold standard for me is quite amusing, considering that I was brought into the hobby by #Fief: France 1429, which is most definitely NOT a euro. I feel like I still have a bit of a blind spot in regards to Abstracts and Ameritrash. But now I am meddling in wargames, I love them. I am meddling in 18xx, it’s great. I love the Pax games, the whole system. In my top ten, right now, I have 18xx, I have at least one wargame, and I have several Pax games. I love them. If I were able to talk to my newbie self, I would like to tell myself that I should be more willing to explore. That in the end, euros aren’t the gold standard, for me. I really love some good euros, but I missed out on a lot of great experiences because of my dependence on euros back in the day.

For a long time I felt sorta embarrased by my holes in gaming experience. Since I have been a gamer, I have been the one that buys games, whether for multiplayer or solo. And most of the time, I don't buy that many games. I have been a gamer for 5 years, and I own 40-45 games that I consider "my" games. A few of those games are pure nostalgia games like #The Farming Game. And, I don't get to play that many hobby games that I don't know. This means that I do have some, what I consider, pretty big holes in my gaming experience. I have never played a legacy game. I have never played #Wingspan. I have never played #Splendor, or...... In the BGG or the BGA top 100 there are literally dozens of games that I haven't played, many of those are considered by many to be essential games. In addition to the fact that, generally speaking, if I want to try a new game I have to buy it, I do have limited time available. I do have work, family, other responsibilities, and other hobbies. I can't play games full time. I wish I could tell my new gaming self that I don't need to play every game. I don't need to feel inferior because the hobby, online, makes it look like everyone plays everything. I wish it I could tell myself that the point of hte hobby is having fun with people and/or with exploring games. If you are doing that, you are a dyed in the wool gamer. You don't have to have X years worth of experience, or have played X number of games, or have played game(s) X.

So, tell us, in the comments, what you would like to be able to tell yourself at the beginning of your gaming journey. There are further things I could mention, but these were the biggest things that came to mind.


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11 months ago

I would tell myself not to buy everything haha.  I think there are a few people on here who would give themselves the same advice.  In the beginning, I also bought games based on what I liked without thinking about who I would play them with or how much time I'd have to play them.  I would also play a game once, love it, and then buy it next time I saw it on sale.  Some of those game purchases from my early days are still on my "shelf of shame" because there hasn't been a good time to break them out.  Also I keep buying new games to play instead so maybe I really haven't completely learned my lessons that I would tell my past self. 

9 months ago

100000% this.

11 months ago

Stay away from Kickstarters, you will fall down a deep rabbit hole!!

Premium User11 months ago

Buy that big Kallax immedately, save yourself the trouble of brinigng down the old shelves to put it up and deal with all the games all over the house

Moderator Level 111 months ago

Great recap and topic!

I think people put too much stock in ratings. If a game is rated a "7 out of 10" so many people immediately dismiss it and say well that isn't very good, when in reality that is pretty fantastic in the grand scheme of it.

I think you are right about weight, the most hardcore gamers put higher weights on a pedestal because of the mastery of complexity but in reality that doesn't mean it is a better game. 

I think I would tell myself to give all the various reviewers and personalities out there a shot, try to find someone I relate to and listen to their opinion above much of the same old chatter. Rahdo () loves the medium 2 player games he can play with his wife Jen, is great at identifying games that are great for a family of small children and What's Eric Playing () finds hidden gems in many games that are not often on many people's radars to name a few examples.

Just because a game is on many hotlists, doesn't mean it is for everyone or a place to start. Do not be intimidated by the popular opinion you are seeing on the main sites, there is something for everyone!

Moderator Level 111 months ago

Calling out specific content creators is a good idea.

8 months ago

1: find a solid group to play regularly

2: get as much mileage out of a few games, more complexity and tactics will emerge and oyu will appreciate games even more

3: get a fixed moment per month/week whatever in your schedule

4: play some solo games on the side and discover the world of print & play




Moderator Level 110 months ago

Good thought provoking topic. We've played games most of our life, we didn't discover modern hobby games until the mid 2010's, and didn't get truly serious about the hobby until late 2016/early 2017, and really began building fast shortly thereafter.

When we first got serious we did much as you describe; spending a lot of time listening to others about what was good, and therefore made at least a good dozen full priced initial purchase mistakes.  

I'd tell myself to forget what the "experts" say and try several different used/lower priced games with different styles/mechanics to figure.out what I and my family like. I'd tell myself, once you know for certain what you do like, you can buy non bargain priced games.

Actually it would just be easier to just tell myself what we do like. 🤔

Like you, I'd tell myself to watch how to play videos rather than opinion reviews. I'd tell myself that many complexity ratings seem to be about trying to boost a game's reputation on BGG (which favors more.complex games) than really reflecting it's true complexity. I'd tell myself another case with high complexities is games with lousy rules that make it complex when it really shouldn't be. I'd remind myself again to watch some how to play videos and decide about the complexity for myself.

Id tell us to look past the hype and try to find the truth about newer/hyped games. Some deserve the hype, but most don't. If you don't see clear how to play videos, don't trust or believe the hype (it's also probably paid for to some extent)

As we have built our collection I've learned another thing I'd share with myself, it's ok to have a lot of games in a certain category if they all have something that makes them different enough to us. I'd say there's no reason to have types of games you don't like just for "variety" sake. At the same time be sure to try other types of games as long as you don't have to buy them (a great reason to play with other gamers with their own collections)

I'd also tell myself that when you get over 120 games or so it will be hard to remember the rules of each,.so there will be an upper limit unless you want to be a board game collector and not just a player (and we don't want to be collectors). I think this max limit is around 175ish different games for us, where they always feel fresh due to variety, but we don't have to go through a full first time learn (just a refresh)

I'd actually give myself different Kickstarter advice than most would, I'd tell myself.to look at it at least a year or so earlier, but don't buy based on hype, be picky and buy what appeals to us. We've only backed about 10 ks a year, and there were several I missed that I wished we hadn't because it cost us more time and effort to get them after the fact.


Moderator Level 111 months ago

Well said.

While most people would say I've been a gamer for about as long as you have, I have never paid any attention to BGG game weight, and only recently to it's top 100 list- only to see if I had any of the listed games.  Some might say I'm still a newbie to the hobby because of that, and I'm completely okay with that.  If I were to share advice to my just-beginning-the hobby self, it would be

  • Solo gaming is just as good (sometimes better) than multi-player; don't discount it.
  • It's okay to keep trying to find that one game your kid(s) might actually say 'yes' to playing with you when you ask; just don't buy more than one game a year in that process.
  • It's okay to like playing games your spouse and kid(s) aren't interested in; find or start a game group so you can play them and other games you don't have (and keep playing the games with your spouse and kid(s) that they like when they want to play them).
  • If you constantly lose the game to other players, who cares? Enjoying the game and comradery is what the hobby is all about. (I win very few games in our game group.)
  • One of your favorite games may not top a BGG ranking of 4,124 (#Disney: The Haunted Mansion - Call of the Spirits Game as of this posting) and that is completely okay.  The ranking doesn't matter at all if it's one of the few games your kid(s) will play every time.  You can still share your enjoyment of it with everyone who will listen.

11 months ago

Give all your credit cards to your wife. 🤣🤷💸💸💸💸

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