Random musings: The Cult of the New

I’m very OCD at times in life but one area I’m especially bad about is buying board games. Now, this may or may not be a trait that many geeks in general have ( Think of comics, miniatures, etc. ) but I’ve definitely been very compulsive with my game purchases. If it meets with a few criteria on games I like to play, I usually want to buy it and likely continue to go over my gaming budget.

It all starts with a simple review or preview. Maybe it’s just a forum post I spot on BGG or cool looking game on something like Kickstarter.  Either way, there’s usually something that sparks my interest about some particular game. Usually it’s something about the theme, components or game mechanics that just shouts out to me “This would play amazingly well with people you know!” and so my mind immediately bookmarks it.

Theme is usually a big draw for me. I have a great many interests, from Lord of the Rings to Lego;  from comic books to anything related to military history. And as such, it doesn’t take a heck of a lot for me to get interested in a board game featuring any of those themes. One of my favorites here is Command And Colors: Ancients. Roman history is just very exciting to me, so to have a game where you can simulate the battles with epic looking blocks is easily the top of my list. In fact, I think I have a shelf entirely filled with CCA boxes (there’s 6 expansions for it now…). My love of this game is so great that I had to pop on CC:Napoleonics when it came out even though I haven’t gotten a chance to play it yet.

The blocks just create such an epic feel for Ancient battles(Image found on BGG)

Another big draw are game mechanics. I love well balanced games. I love two person competitive games. And I love new, interesting and balanced mechanics.  When researching a game, I’ll read up heavily on the rules of the game, trying to visualize how it will all play out.  Some of my current favorite games with very interesting and fun mechanics are Dominion, Summoner Wars and BattleCon. These games all have completely different mechanics but each are uniquely fun and interesting. One interesting note, all these games are incredibly replayable which in my mind makes the game far more amazing (one can imagine all the different battles, matches and types of games you’ll get with these).

Last but not least, I like games that are well supported. If they have both a following and expandability, the game bumps up on my interest list greatly. Why? Because games like that are easier to find players for and there will be more new and interesting stuff coming out for the game. In Dominion’s case, I’m eagerly awaiting the next expansion for the game, Dark Ages and I’ll be sure to snap it up when it’s released.

Once a game meets most of these criteria, it usually piques my interest enough to read some more reviews, learn the rules and start researching it further. If it’s continuing to hold up at this stage, it’s probably a buy for me.

This sort of compulsive game purchasing is usually aligned with the “Cult of the new” syndrome in which hobby gamers love to just pick up new games all the time. We like to play new games. We like to experience new rules and new ideas, explore new experiences in games and just in general, try something different than what we’ve already seen. This is typically compared with gamers who like to keep playing the same game again and again until they’ve mastered it and seen all possibilities.

If I were to score myself on the “Cult of the New” spectrum where zero means playing the same game repeatedly until mastered vs. 10 being playing new games all the time, I’d likely fall around a 7. I love trying new games but there’s a few I’ve played 40 or more times (most of the ones mentioned above).

Where do you fall in this line? Do you buy new games all the time or are their a select few you’ve mastered?

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