FDQ: How Many Chances Do You Give a Game?


“Three strikes and you’re out!” is a common system for deciding when enough is enough. Fifty pages of a book is supposedly a good gauge of whether the whole thing is worth reading. But then there are things that are “acquired tastes,” supposedly worth the effort given enough time. What’s the cut-off for board games? How many chances do you give a game before passing judgment? Answer in the comments!

@FarmerLenny answers:
The board game hobby is already pretty saturated, so it seems like the answer should be low. After all, if you don’t like game X, surely game Y won’t disappoint. Why waste your time on what you don’t like when there’s a clear better option available?

I don’t feel this way, though, at least not all the time. I usually give a game more than one chance (the exception is if a game really fails to grab me or anyone else the first time), since one play is rarely definitive. Puerto Rico is a great example of this. The first time I played the game, I wasn’t too enamored of it and didn’t see what all the fuss was about. But my brother-in-law insisted that I borrow it, and after the very next play, I was hooked. I don’t know about number-one-game-of-all-time hooked, but I recognize its merits.

Of course, with other games, multiple plays only confirmed my opinion, as with Glen More. And multiple plays can even sour an experience. I liked San Juan and Cosmic Encounter the first several times I played. It was only later that I realized those games are not really for me. I had a very high opinion of Eminent Domain when I first had it, but it has since left me feeling cold. All of this weighs on me as a reviewer: how many plays is enough to give a definitive opinion? And who’s to say my opinion won’t change later? There comes a time when you have to put fingers to keyboard; I try to make sure it happens when my opinion is set, but we all make mistakes, I’m sure.

Because of these things, I appreciate all the more the games that are still awesome, all these plays later.

@Futurewolfie answers:
There’s really no definitive answers to this one.  However there is this; I am much more likely to give a game multiple tries if either 1. the theme interests me greatly or 2. one of my friends really likes the game.

Some games (such as, you know, Bacchus’ Banquet – the worst “hidden identity” game I’ve ever played) are immediately unpleasant.  The game is clearly flawed, I have absolutely no fun playing it, and the theme isn’t exactly interesting to me.  I’m not going to try that game again – unless one of my friends (read: @Farmerlenny)  really want to (fortunately in the case of Bacchus, no one did.)

Some games immediately spark my interest – even though I’m still learning the game, I can see the potential or I really love the theme or I enjoy the mechanics and see a lot of potential for depth.

Other games I dislike which may or may not be broken, but I just don’t really have fun playing them or find the experience very frustrating.  Again if the theme really interests me (something in Space) or @Farmerlenny really likes it (Ra) I will give it more tries.

And then there are games which I enjoy but are kind of “meh” but I will give them a few shots to see if they grow on me.  And many of them do.  Dominion is one such example – I enjoyed it when I first played, but it wasn’t until I really began to grasp the higher concepts and intricate strategies involved that I really began to appreciate it a lot.

I'll try anything once, but my favorite games are generally middleweight Euros.

Discussion1 Comment

  1. It depends on how badly I hate it in the first place. If it’s completely awful, why would I play it again? Since I review games, I try to play it enough to give it a fair review (though, yes, opinions change over time – my opinions in a review are my opinions as of the writing of the review; no promises of after that). However, if I think I “get” a game after one play and hate it – I’ll probably be done… and maybe even write a review so that I can share what I thought didn’t work.

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