Familiarity with Board Games

by Chris McGinty of AccordingToWhim.com

A few years ago, I was part of a
small group. Almost every Sunday, two or more of us would get together

and play
board games. During this time, we had a decent collection of games available
allowing for variety, but it was small enough that we played many of the titles
with a high frequency.

The result of this was that we
all became familiar with the rules, the strategy, and sometimes the obscure
inter-workings of mechanic interactions. Some of the titles we enjoyed so much
that any of us could have taught the games if we brought in a new player. When
the collection would gain a new title, if we enjoyed the game, it wouldn’t take
long for us to reach a similar level of familiarity.
Then once a month we started
attending a local event in Plano,
Texas called The Dallas Games
Marathon. The DGM had a library of nearly 1,000 games that you could play on
site as part of your price of admission or membership. Our group had a
guideline for playing at the DGM, which was that we should play games that we
couldn’t normally play on our weekly Sunday game night.
On top of this, we started
attending the once a year board game convention, BGG Con, and our focus out
there was similarly to play games that we didn’t play on Sunday and that weren’t
in the DGM library. We started adding a wide variety to games we’d played while
not really becoming very familiar with many of the games.
Then a change in work schedules,
and life in general, put an end to the Sunday night gaming. Gaming was limited
to once a month at DGM, once a year at BGG, and various scheduled and random
game nights. The big change that this brought about was that the games that
were part of our collection were rarely played, and growing a familiarity with
the games we played became more sporadic.
I realized that we may have to
change our guideline a little bit, because we hadn’t played many games in the
collection for a while. I also realized that I missed that feeling of knowing a
game well when we sat down to play.
I gave this analogy:
When I was young, and they packed
me off to school… Um, when I was a teenager, I had a reasonably good sized
collection of albums to listen to. The collection was big enough to provide me
with variety, but small enough that I became very familiar with the albums I
liked the most.
When I discovered that pawn shops
sold music cheap, I started to go a little crazy buying albums. I became less
familiar on average with the albums in my collection with the high end being
albums that clicked with my taste so that I listened to them all the time and
the low end being albums I never even listened to, because I got distracted.
I started to notice that there
were albums in my collection that I knew were good because I’d listened at some
point, but I couldn’t remember what most of the songs sounded like by seeing
the title.
I don’t know if this is a good or
bad thing, or if it even matters. I know that this familiarity thing works with
everything from subjects of study to how close you are with various friends and
family to how well you remember novels, movies, and TV shows.
I don’t even know what the proper balance is. I tend toward
deeper familiarity in most areas, but sometimes you have to branch out to avoid
missing out on something, or becoming out of touch with the current pop

Chris McGinty is a blogger and board game enthusiast, which makes more sense than if he clained he was a board game and a blogger enthusiast. Sometimes a realistic self image is a good thing.

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