What types of board games entice me?

During the past couple of years of more active board gaming I have realized that there are many different types of gamers.

Some are all about winning and collecting the maximum number of points. Winning the game. They are perfectly happy to play solo but may play with other people as well. I would not count myself as one of them, although I do like winning, of course! The only game I have actually really enjoyed playing solo was Suburbia. Even for that game I feel I would rather play it with other people even though it is really quite fun to figure out where to place your buildings to create a well-functioning city (and score points).

For some it's about winning your opponents. Out-maneuvering them in the must cunning way possible. They do not care if they score -15 points as long as everyone else scores less. They would not feel comfortable playing co-op games where everyone wins (or loses) together. Although none of my favorite games are not co-ops, I do not feel I have anything against that genre either.

Some people might prefer simple, luck-driven games. They see no problem in the fact that a three-hour game is really decided by throwing dice. These people would be more comfortable with the antiquated roll-and-move mechanism of games such as Monopoly. I do like to have some influence in the big decisions in the game.

Another category of people would be those who do not enjoy any kind of tabletop games. With the huge variety in the gameplay mechanisms and themes in games on the market nowadays, I would like to think that most of these people just have not met the right game yet. I certainly do not count myself in this group as I not only like to play board games but also to design, discuss and study them.

What I have realized to be a defining factor in my enjoyment of a game is actually not really the core of the game. It’s rather the fact whether I think the gameplay starting from the first moves and up to the last ones is actually productive. I like the fact that I get to create something concrete in the game, like the cities in Suburbia, space ships in Eclipse, castles in Carcassonne or railroads in Ticket to Ride. Sometimes the activity itself can be fun such as in Manifest where you carry ship cargo across the globe in the 30’s, control disease outbreaks in Pandemic or eat and grow bamboo in Takenoko. And yes, even farming in Agricola is more fun than very thinly disguised abstract games like Modern Art and Power Grid.

I do play everything once and short games usually go quite painlessly even if the gaming activity itself is really not fun. But if I’m sitting at the table for three hours I would like to enjoy myself throughout most of it. And since that not only the company, but also the game can make a big difference in how much I enjoy my time with board games, I’d rather play something fun. Games where you don’t feel so bad about losing because you’re so caught up on doing something fun.

Yes, I like games that make losing fun. But maybe it’s just a phase I’m going through.

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