Are Board Games Getting Old?
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Stop Buying New Games –
Stop Buying New Games –
4 Chords –
169 Games I’ve Played –
Are we done innovating? Are board games just rehashing the same old stuff time and time again? Do we ever see new mechanics? Games worth paying attention to?
0:00:00 – Are Board Games Just Repeating Themselves?
0:03:00 – The Best Games The Past 3 Years
0:06:35 – Board Games Are Following A Pattern
0:10:30 – How Many Ways Can You Tell A Story?
0:15:00 – Iteration & Innovation
0:20:45 – Don’t Sign Up To Be A Beta Tester
0:22:30 – There Are Great Games To be Found
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Of all the videos you publish, this is my favorite the “Fireside Chat with Alex” is always interesting, and your perspective is almost always insightful – except when they don't line up with mine. 😉
Keep it up. I hope that videos like this do well enough to keep you making them.
Board games are maturing as a medium. You have a point if you state that you will have the triple-A blockbusters and some indie stuff, where the anonymous middle gets forgotten pretty quickly.
I can’t count the number of games that I’ve sold in recent years after a single play because it didn’t stand out enough compared to the rest of my collection.
The trick is to identify that new game that will either be an added value to your collection or will replace something else.
But for someone who’s new to the hobby, they just start with what is hot now and what I see as an average remake of a classic I own, can be regarded as exciting by a new gamer and become a classic for them.
As my collection grows it gets harder for me games to enter the collection as the game needs to add something unique / new to me or it needs to be much better than one of the classics in order to replace another. Simple as that for me. 🙂
The longer I'm in the hobby, the more I'm attracted to niche, lesser known games. Those top 500 games are (mostly) not interesting to me.
As always, I appreciate these types of videos. Keep it up.
I think if you were coming from this of the perspective of an enthusiast who plays 100’s of games a year and follows the industry for a living, you’d inevitably get burnout and lose your excitement for the hobby. But most people don’t play that many games, and I think it’s far more common that people will only play a handful of games per week, or even per month, and even play the same ones many times over.
To speak to the main thesis of the video, I also think it’s a disservice to call something stale or boring solely because of the underlying mechanics. Innovation and iteration can be an amazing theme, story, or artwork and can elevate something that, at its root, is basically a mechanical rehash of something else. Board game hobbyists don’t play games solely for the mechanics, or we would still just be playing Monopoly and Life and Poker like people did for decades. There’s also a lot to say about the social gathering aspect and how the same game’s play experience can be extremely different depending on the play group around the table.
The Band Status Quo released two song using the same music, just adding different lyrics
Like other hobies.. everyone has his fases of interest. 😉
I will make the new board game that has never existed in the world of board games just wait
I've been buying and playing board games since the 1960s. As young as I can remember, I've had board games and been fascinated by board games. Please don't take this as an offense or an insult, but to hear folks who've only been into board games within the last 10 years saying "oh we've seen it all now" is just beyond amusing. Sure, board games and interest in board games rises and falls like any other hobbies, but no, as someone who has been playing board games for 50+ years now, they aren't getting old. Not even close. Never will.
Like all hobbies it is sometimes helpful to take a break and exercise your brain cells with something else for a bit and then return. I never drop a hobby but I do flow in and out of a few to keep things vibrant.
Interesting you mention Unsettled, I finally played it for the first time today (solo). It was a fun experience but at the same time it felt very mechanical to me.
Now, that's not a bad thing since I enjoy the mechanics but at the same time I feel like it's an interesting example of a game where the theme is strong…but it doesn't come through much with the actual mechanics of the game.
So yeah, I enjoyed it but at the same time wished there was a closer meshing of the themes and mechanics.
This would make a good TED Talk (albeit for a more limited audience) but still, a divisive and thought-provoking symposium nonetheless.
To me it boils down to this. Am I having fun? I don't care if Ark Nova is old/new, I'm having a ton of fun. I don't spend time comparing to other card driven games. Same with Arnak. It's fun. We live in the golden age of board games, board games are not getting old, the mechanics and ides might get old but they don't make these new games less fun.
Games are like dishes. Some dishes bring new ingredients to the table. But most amazing dishes are just perfected combinations of well known ingredients/processes. The most accomplished chefs are not necessarily trying to bring new ingredients, reinventing a classic is as daunting a task as creating novelty.
I would argue that the expansion of these mechanics into new and different themes and combinations is ESSENTIAL to the hobby. I don’t want to play teriforming Mars, its ugly and the theme is drab to me, but Ark Nova is animal and conservation, things I am passionate about. It took mechanics I would never experience due to their presentation and remade them into something that works for me. If someone doesn't like the theme of a deckbuilder, they are almost guaranteed to find one with a better theme. This is a good thing. If the point of board games was unseen before mechanics I probably would be in the hobby.
Idk if you mention any of this, im only 5 minutes in but I just wanted to put this out here while I still had the words I wanted.
It only gets old when people stop doing the basics well to the point old is actually better then new. There's always new ideas, philosophies, themes, art, and combinations to learn and remind yourself of and just the act of having fun with something new. It exercise of the mind because alternative to exercise is death.
You could very well have the same argument describing civilization or life itself instead of board games 😈.
I want to have more good options then I can exhaust because I want the illusion of choice!
I know it's fate but creating an illusion makes me happy 😈
I think that while there is rarely a new mechanic there are still new themes combined with those mechanics with new art. And new more refined gameplay and setup that still allows me to feel a sense of discovery but even if that aspect of the hobby was gone for me I would still enjoy it.
Very interesting topic of video. Big thumb up for You Alex :).
Imo there is still to discovery and explore in board games maybe not in showing new mechanics but in combining them into something fresh, new look on old mechanics or in thematic side.
I think there is at least one game that won't be repeated not in terms of gameplay, mechanics but in thematic feeling and making board game piece of art, more experience than playing for fun. That board game is This War of Mine. I don't think that in near or further future someone will try to go this way.
There is something uniqe in this game even not everyone has good opinion about TWoM ;).
So still there is a room for a new in boardgames industry, maybe not revolution but evolution.
And yes, the best example are hybrid boardgames, boardgames with app even I am still on opposed side I can understand and accept this kind of evolution :).
I've backed Mythic Mischief too and can't wait for it to play, game looks great and unique, even has nothing new mechanics .
Even my girlfriend would dislike it I like solo mode of this game, very good exercise for brain 😁.
Ok. So I've been feeling a little disenchanted with the hobby lately. Not with actually playing the games. Just with getting excited for new releases.
That being said, new innovative ideas are being concocted all of the time. There are more designers bringing more ideas to the table than ever before.
Is the market getting oversaturated? I think so. But obviously I'm wrong because there still seems to be enough dollars/interest to support all of these new projects.
But for a jaded vet like me (apparently) it is harder for me to get excited than it used to be.
My students keep them new, never thought the constant influx of new students picking games, watching you and others talk and play the games and them actually wanting to get their homework completed to get a game in keeps them fresh and fun for me.
Ark nova set up ready to go for tomorrow, big jump for some coming from cascadia to this.
Like movies, books, tv shows or videogames…nothing is new when you shove it into a category (fiction, non-fiction, horror, action,, romance…). The thing that is new is not the destination or the category it fits in but the journey used to get there. Entertainment doesn't accomplish "new" things often, they just do them better.
I own more unplayed games than games….nuff said.
This is why I left euro games and only play them when people ask. They all feel the same. I’m starting to get more into heavy campaign games.
People burn out on hobbies and/or lose interest. You take a break and see if you get called back in after a while. This is true of all hobbies not just board games.
There's something about games that bring familiar mechanics, they feel cozy, easier to play (and if you slap an IP on it then it somehow makes them even more desirable!). Innovative games are also only innovative for awhile anyways. So the key is to bring small innovations that make you feel at ease with your games, not overwhelmed. I am amazed at the subtle innovations on many new games I play. Even Gloomhaven JOTL, you mentioned the book with the maps, yes Stuffed Fables did it before, but JOTL added the 3rd page that you slide next to the book to grow the map, brilliant! Anno1800 has this fascinating trading aspect, for me it's really what makes the game stand out because it brings such an interesting dynamic to an otherwise straightforward card/tile building game. Entirely new mechanics are rare (Azul with its tile selection system comes to my mind because it's so elegant).
It’s about the connection of theme to mechanics. I want to see Francis drake rethemed as darrington terryington. But that is me.
How many ways? Infinite. I didn't watch the vsauce video but if he said there is a finite number of songs possible (I'm sure he didnt') then he would be wrong. Even with the exact same notes, you can simply vary the timing. You can take an exact copy of any song and inject a single note in the middle and it would be different. You can do this infinitely.
This goes for all the other mediums mentioned. The problem comes when your perception of two different things is that they are "too similar". If you are not interested in the difference, it will seem boring and too samey. But still, it is only a perception. The same game with different theme IS a different game. Whether it is different enough for you could certainly be a problem, but it is a matter of personal perception.
I don't think games are getting better. Probably platuea has been reached in last few years on what is capable now that 1000s of games a year are coming out. I change though, my favourite game is different every year. My top 10 refreshes every few years. I need more new games. FEED ME GAMES.
There is not enough games like quacks yet.
Basicly, I understand those who just play the game/games they love. So many nice older games.
Interesting conversation, I will say on the subject of buying new games, as I have moved further along in my time in the hobby I find that I purchase fewer and fewer games each year. 10 years in the hobby and I have acquired around 300 board games. I have only sold or traded maybe 15-20 games in that time period I tend to keep a game once I buy it. Within that first year or two my collection quickly jumped to nearly 100 games but as time passes the number of new games each year dwindled. At this point I buy less then 10 new games a year, which for some might still be a lot but for me its a huge reduction and I have feeling that number may continue to decline. I have noticed that I am less impulsive with purchases now. I tend to research and play games before buying them and often will purchased a game 1-2 years after its release. You mentioned Ark Nova a game I have played a couple times now and will most likely add to my collection at some point but in the pass might have just purchased it based on the hype alone. Its also worth pointing out that I don't have a shelf of shame, I am pretty big on playing all the games i purchase as they come in. I currently only have a single unplayed game, but its a narrative campign and will be starting it the next couple weeks as soon as we wind down the current game we are playing.
I have had similar feelings about board games, same mechanic just repeated. This is due to what I consider a big collection, cost of new games, and less time to play. Considering getting rid of games also adds to this dilemma. I've had a lot of hobbies die just from friends moving on to other interests as well. I do think different themes, interesting art, and new cultural influences (three tale….thracian, victim….Thai) keep things interesting. I agree alot of movies and video games are the same way. But also most of the time it's not about the mechanics of the game, movie, or even book but the experience that we have…feeling like we are making the decisions that effect the outcome of a game, or even working towards an outcome that we know is coming but the experience getting there. I think that's what matters…games that keep that experience time and again get played so we can feel those moments…then we explore new games to enhance or add to that. Live like a cowboy in western legends, escape a doomed spaceship in nemesis, just survive in dead of winter….can u do it and the adventure getting there. Thanks for the video Alex.
I try not to think of my games as a series of mechanics. I can understand games feeling "samey" if thats the way your brain works.
Aren't there 7 basic plots? If you accept that you could watch 7 movies, read 7 books and play 7 games and be does for life. Yikes!
Ain't gonna happen.
Are content creators getting old?
This applies to all of life, you can travel round the world, an amazing experience, but eventually, a mountain is a mountain, a lake a lake, its the same. I think that games that really try something new, dont always equal success. However there are still games that come out with twists to mechanics. Pesronally Mysthea seems quite different.
Interesting topic though and a great video Alex.2👍
You had me worried until the 13th minute
I do think there has to be some limit. The people in the hobby are going to run out of shelf space, and have too many games filling the same niche. For me, I don’t really need any more heavy euros, miniature skirmish games, campaign narrative games. Hell even a mid weight euro needs to be something special.
By the way, a mechanic is someone who works on a machine. What you’re calling a mechanic is called a mechanism.
Passion. Not everyone has it, and I love all those that do.
And, thank you for filtering the good new ones for us to give them a try. 😎
You will get less new and more same old if you immediately sort "has two reviews" into "garbage", even if you correct yourself immediately after. We see similar in the videogame space, in that the big – many reviews – are not necessarily the new, daring and original. Videogames have a LOT of stuff that goes way beyond what you see in the AAA space, but if you apply filters and focus on the big and pretty, yeah, you'll never see it.
Perhaps the filters are part of the problem and not the solution. No, of course you have to filter to some extent – but you need to be aware that you are actually filtering for "Appeals to the existing tastes of the current community as its knows its tastes" and not for "garbage vs good".
Or to put it another way, it's very easy to miss an Obra Dinn, a Pony Island or many other excellent indie titles that do wacky new things if one focuses too much on metrics like reviews.
When can we expect Planet Unknown Review?
My approach is probably a little exotic, but I'll try to express it: I parallel boardgaming with the tasting of fine wine. In that scenario I would be the "Sommelier" who caters to the patron to have the most perfect experience. The boardgame of choice has to fit with the situation. The situation is the group of people, the estimated timeframe, the daytime, the level of sobriety … just all of it. Every new boardgame available needs to justify itself as "can it cater better than the others for a very specific situation"? Latest example for that was "Corrosion". It is essentially a pretty standard (heavy) euro game with the caveat that your ressources may wither over time. That alone justified introducing it to my hardcore boardgame group of veterans which all had a fun time exploring the game. If I would have introduced the same game to one of my lighter groups that would've been a disaster. Conclusively the "new" in the game was justifiable for one group as an experience but not for the other. – Love, Robert, Boardgame Sommelier
The games that are the most refined/optimized board games will end up being the best e.g. like bloodrage I am looking forward to a new area control game that dethrones bloodrage
It's simple from my view: every day, a generation of people die, a generation of people are born, and a generation of people gain access to content they didn't have before. And that means, the old is new for a whole bunch of people. Hobbiests and collectors and completionists simply over consume and over indulge in the same thing for too long, which makes that very same once thrilling hobby tired and jaded.
Variety is the spice of life right? All that is new was old at some point and that's ok. Better art, better graphic design, better understanding of game mechanics, each year of games builds on years past and that's a good thing.
I restrict my library to 45 games. My hope is to find my perfect 45 and then never buy another one. But I'll never complete it, because the new variations on my old favorites always get me, and that's so enjoyable to see designers take what I love and give me a new variation, a new way to love the same old mechanics that speak to me.
My last few game purchases: Torres (1999), Concordia (2013), Calimala (2017), The King is Dead (Originally 2007) and Lorenzo il Magnifico (2016)
Old games are just better games. I haven't seen a game come out in the last 2-3 years that interests me at all