While shopping for a board game isn’t hard, it’s not as simple as it appears. Whether you’re looking for complex strategy games or fun trivia board games to play with old friends, there is a lot you should keep in mind if you want to get the most fun out of your investment.
1 – Rule complexity
Don’t buy a game based on the game’s premise or popularity alone. Look into the rules, or try to find videos of people playing the game. This will help you separate the games that were well designed from the games that are too simple or too complex.
The right complexity level for a given game will depend on context. For example, trivia board games often include a few simple rules meant to keep the game interesting while still making it easy to learn in a few minutes. While strategy and RPG games often have massive tomes filled with rules, leading to a steeper learning curve.
2 – Component quality
If you are going to invest a significant amount of money in a board game, it’s a good idea to check if the quality of the game’s components is in line with the price before you buy. Most reputable manufacturers will produce games out of sturdy materials that will last you years if not decades, but you can still find some games released with boards and pieces that are notoriously low quality.
Be extra careful when shopping for games that require digital tools to be played. If the game needs an app, for example, test it before you buy. You can always tape together a broken board or a broken game piece, but fixing software issues is much harder.
3 – Player numbers
Different games work better with different group sizes, and the real size may differ from what is advertised on the box. For example, you may find that a game that can technically be played with only two players is boring when played that way. And a game that may have been designed to only accommodate up to six players can take twice that number with very little rule adaptation.
Details like these are another reason why it’s wise to watch live play sessions before you buy the game, so you can get a feeling for how well the game performs with different players and group sizes.
4 – Game adaptability
Another factor to consider is how easy the game is to adapt to different conditions. Can the game be played via a video call, for example? Can your kids play it at the back of the car during a long drive? Is it easy to pack to take on a trip?
While the more adaptable game won’t always be the best option available, this factor can work as a tiebreaker. If you are split between two similarly priced games that both look equally fun, go for the game that can be played in a larger number of play conditions.
5 – Game length
Games with different lengths will perform better in different conditions. For example, if you’re looking for a game to play with friends or family while catching up once a week, a shorter game will probably be better. This will allow your group to play several rounds within a couple of hours, making the session more dynamic. If, however, the goal is to go all night playing with a group who is not afraid to deal with big rulebooks, a game that lasts 4 hours or more per session is often a better choice.