So long, 2015! It was a good year, but we’re at the beginning of a bright new year, full of potential and possibilities. Have you made any new year’s resolutions? Yeah, I know, you’re hitting the gym. You’re eating healthier. Aren’t we all doing that? How about setting some board game resolutions? Playing games is fun, and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters, but if you want to get even more out of the hobby, it might not be a bad idea to set some goals going on into the future. Here are 5 board game resolutions that can make your awesome year of gaming even better!
Do the 10×10 Challenge
What?! You’ve never heard of the 10×10 challenge, an obscure piece of board game vernacular that can only be found on tabletop community sites? Have you been living under a rock? Seriously though, you may have never heard of this challenge, but it’s a fantastic way to get a lot more mileage out of the games in your collection.
The 10×10 challenge is simple: pick ten games, and play all of them at least ten times during the year. On paper, this doesn’t sound too difficult. However, that’s two hundred sessions, out of 365 days in the year. That’s a lot of games. Granted, a lot of games are shorter and can be played multiple times in one session, so there’s that. The point of the 10×10 challenge, regardless of the game, is to actually play the games that you own.
How many of you have bought a game, and then played it once or twice before dooming it to the shelf and buying new games? Even worse, how many of you have bought a game and never played it? Even WORSE, how many of you have bought a game, and haven’t even opened it? If you can raise your hand to any of these questions, then put your wallet away, and go take a good, long look at your shelf. There are games that are waiting to be played. What’s the point of buying new games if you’re never going to play the ones that you have?
Another advantage to the 10×10 challenge is that most games get better the more you play them. Unless the game is rather simplistic, it’s almost impossible to “discover” a game if you only play it once or twice. Many games have to be learned, and the first few sessions are not at all representative of what the game CAN be. For many games that become deeper and deeper the more you play them, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice if you limit yourself to just a couple of playthroughs, where it’s a near-guarantee that you haven’t tapped into the potential of the game.
Last night, I had the pleasure of playing Cosmic Encounter for the first time. This is a game that’s praised for so many reasons–it’s highly variable, strategic, and brings out the aspect of social group gaming. It wasn’t easy; Cosmic has a lot of little nitpics in its rules, and we found ourselves referencing the rulebook all time. It wasn’t the greatest session in the world, but it was still fun. However, if I judged Cosmic SOLELY from last night’s session, I’d be missing out big time on a game that, as far as I can tell, has enormous potential to be an incredible game.
Cosmic Encounter will definitely be on my 10×10 list. What will be on yours?
Log your plays
I’m going to say right off the bat that this one isn’t for everyone. For people who get together regularly, however, this might be a fun way to spice up your tabletop gaming.
It’s possible, through various apps and websites, to log your board game sessions. The most popular method would be through Board Game Geek. If you’ve done any kind of research online about games, you probably know about BGG. If you don’t, well, it’s not the easiest site to use if you’re not familiar with it (they’re working on a visual overhaul that’s ready to go into beta soon), it is incredibly useful.
If you use BGG to log your plays, every session will be saved to your profile. In your logged plays, you can record the score, length, and add details or commentary about the session. Furthermore, you can add players, and if they too have BGG accounts, you can include those so it’s all linked together.
Personally, I’m not a heavy BGG user (which might be blasphemous, given that I own a board game website). While I’m not constant at it, I prefer to use an app to keep track of plays. I’m a Windows Phone user, and unfortunately, the app is only available for Windows devices. If you do have a Windows Phone (they’re great, I promise), search for an app called Keep the Score. It’s an awesome session tracker that’s free to use. I switched over to Android, expecting to find a better alternative, but to my surprise, nothing surpassed the quality of this awesome little app.
With Keep the Score, you can log your sessions, the players involved, the score, everything. You can also start logging when you create your session, so it will automatically record the time of the session for you. Once the game is finished, you can save it off, and it will be forever logged. What I like about Keep the Score is that you can look at statistics from the data. It’ll show the win/loss rate for each player, the games they’re best at, and so on. It’s really great, and also allows for OneDrive cloud storage across devices.
If you’re not on Windows Phone, I’m sure that there are plenty of great score trackers out there. I’m happy with my app, so I haven’t done a lot fo research, but it really is fun to be able to keep an ongoing record of your sessions, especially if your group is competitive. If you can’t find an app to your liking, Board Game Geek’s system is pretty fleshed out (and indeed, preferred by many people over independent apps or websites), so give it a try if you want to attempt something new!
Spend less, trade/sell more
This is also aimed at people who have the problem of overspending on games, or adding to their collection faster than they’re capable of playing. One good way to reduce your overzealous spending habits is to not spend cash on new games unless it came from old games. A side benefit to this resolution is that it helps you to purge your collection if it’s gotten too big.
Basically, the idea here is to properly dispose of games that don’t see tabletop time, and invest them into getting new games. Do you have ten games that you haven’t played in three years? Sure, you might play them again someday, but be honest with yourself–are you really going to play them? If, in your heart, the answer is “no” or “not likely,” it’s time to make a change. There are plenty of ways to finance new games from old ones.
The good thing is that board games retain their value amazingly well. Indeed, most games barely drop in price at used rates, and many of them actually increase in value. Board games are most certainly NOT video games, which can drop in value by 90% within a year. With that in mind, you can probably earn more than you think by trading away or selling your games.
Unfortunately, it’s not all roses. One problem with games is that they’re horrible to ship. Being packed in big boxes, shipping games doesn’t do any favors to your wallet. That being said, even if shipping costs equal half of what you’re earning from the game, that’s still money you wouldn’t have had before that you can now spend on something new. Selling on Craigslist is a good way to avoid shipping costs. In my experience, there usually aren’t very many people on CL selling good games; you’ll have to sift through all the posts that are full of children’s games and Monopoly copies. There are, however, plenty of people looking for games. While I don’t have personal experience selling my games on CL, I’ve talked to people that have, and they’ve had pretty good success with it. This, of course, depends entirely on your area.
Now, the other option that you have is trading. If you look hard enough, there are plenty of avenues to swap games online. On Reddit, there is /r/BoardGameExchange, which is a forum for people posting game trades. On Board Game Geek, there is the Trades Forum, which functions similarly.
Finally, you have the option of Math Trades. This is a unique trade system, mostly found on Board Game Geek, where any number of people participate in a mass trade. Each user will specify which game they want to get rid of, and then an algorithm will match users together in a way where most everyone is getting what they want. I have never participated in a math trade, but it’s something I’d like to do soon. For a comprehensive guide on math trades, check out the BGG thread here.
Enhance/Organize Your Games
Do you have a lot of games, but dread opening them up, because each and every box is a disheveled mess of scattered components? Time to organize! Got an awesome miniatures game that you love to play, but wish the plain-colored minis were more interesting to look at? Get painting! This resolution is all about taking the games you already have, and improving them in some way, whether it be through organization, storage, or the components themselves.
Organizing Your Games
Lucky for you, we’ve already got you covered on this one! Check out these 6 tips to keep your board games nice and organized. If you can’t be bothered to click a link, it suffices to say that there are several ways to keep your games clean and free of clutter. There are easy homemade solutions, such as rubber bands and ziploc baggies to keep components and cards together. Even if you don’t care to do anything else, any game will benefit from some bags or bands. Additionally, pill capsules are great for storing certain kinds of chits.
If you want to get more elaborate, you can get organizational trays for your game boxes. You can either make a foamcore insert, or go all-in and buy a pre-made insert, either through independent sellers or more established sites like The Broken Token.
Enhancing Your Games
Painting is a great way to make your games look more interesting. This is an obvious choice for miniatures games such as Imperial Assault, but can apply anything that you want to look more pretty. Did you know, for example, that plenty of people paint their Tzolk’in gears? The picture above is such an example. If you want to compare it to the base game, just look at the plain gears in our Tzolk’in Review, and note how much of a difference it makes! Additionally, if you check out any of our Imperial Assault articles, you’ll see minis that have been painted by yours truly.
The problem with painting is that a lot of people don’t know where to start. Heck, I didn’t, until a year ago! I’m working on an article about painting on a budget with no experience, so keep an eye out for that! The truth is, it’s easy and cheap to start painting your games. You’ll learn through experience, and might make some mistakes, but it’s far more approachable than you might think.
Make new friends
Our final resolution is about what really matters most: the people. For what to play games, if not to have fun? The people are the most important part of gaming, and without them, games are nothing more than pieces in a box. It’s possible that you might already have an established gaming group, and that’s fantastic! Keep playing with them. However, it never hurts to go out and meet new people. Even if you don’t have a need for more friends, who knows, maybe there’s someone out there who does.
One thing that always struck me about the gaming community, even before I became a part of it, is how nice people are. It seems like, no matter where you go, who you play with, whether they’re young or old, male or female, hardcore or casual, most people who play games are pretty pleasant. I don’t speak for everyone, as I’m sure many people have encountered the rude alpha-gamer, or the snobby elitist, but for the most part, most people are in this for the same reason: to have fun. From what I’ve seen, most circles are warm and welcome to new players, and many a board gamer has found the hobby to be a fantastic outlet for making friends and forming a community.
There are several avenues for meeting people, and the most obvious would be your FLGS (friendly local game store). There should be a FLGS somewhere relatively close no matter where you live, and these stores can be a wonderful outlet for social gatherings. Most shops don’t exist exclusively for board game retail (in fact, game sales alone often aren’t enough to keep a brick and mortar store afloat), and have extensive community functions, such as competitive play for various games, organized game nights, and so on. Furthermore, most of them have tables available for anyone to use, and groups often use these for their own consistent events, such as a group of X-Wing players who might come and play every thursday. Many stores are now starting to embrace the Board Game Cafe model, which combines a game store with a cafe. I have an awesome one nearby and I love going there.
Additionally, it’s possible to meet people online, or through services such as meetup. Since tabletop is a hobby that requires in-person interaction, many websites have functions dedicated to discovering local board game related things, whether it be FLGS stores or actual people. Reddit’s /r/boardgames community, for example, has a list of FLGS stops around the globe, and it’s a list that’s constantly being updated. Search around enough online, and you’re bound to find people to play with, whether it be players themselves, or hubs where they congregate. Good luck!
There are, of course, all kinds of different board game related goals you could set this year, but I hope these five have given you something to think about! Remember, play the games that you own! Get use out of them! Enjoy them! That’s what gaming is all about, and whether you choose to embrace any of these resolutions or not, I hope that your 2016 will be a great year for your tabletop.
So, what resolutions will YOU be making! Let us know in this poll, or sound out in the comments!