88,731 is the current number of board games listed on the world's most popular online board game site, Board Game Geek. For a new initiate to the world of designer board games, there is no lack of titles to choose from and many more new ones coming out every year!
A new gamer might become overwhelmed by the abundance of available board games on the market. Without being properly informed, they may stumble upon a string of unsuitable games, resulting in an unpleasant first impression with the hobby!
They may also end up buying too many in a short span of time, make poor choices and having to resell the games at a loss to make room for newer, better ones due to space constraint in the near future.
At ToyTag, we believe that prevention is better than cure and have thus come up with a comprehensive guide to help new board gamers make informed purchase decisions.
1. Test before buying if possible.
First, trying it yourself is the most recommended way to ensure a game is to your liking. You can do this by play-testing with a sample set in the store if available, rent from a board game cafe or store that has a copy of it, or by my personal favourite way: finding a friend who already owns a copy of the game and playing it with them.
The great thing about having a personal friend with the game is that more often than not, you will have someone who is able to guide you along the entire game, providing you with a fuller gaming experience.
2. Stream BG reviews on social media.
Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are probably the most popular ways board gamers in the world educate themselves on the games they wish to buy. This then usually leads to text-based articles, forums or like the majority to other online video reviewers or Let's Players. Here are some of the most popular ones:
The Dice Tower
The Dice Tower is the most popular board game reviews channel on YouTube. It is a conglomerate of reviewers from different channels and has many videos that go beyond just reviews of board games and even to the people who play them.
Featuring Rodney Smith, who is known for his high standards for his videos. Rodney will literally teach every rule in a game and is usually followed by a full playthrough of the game. He does not review games but through the extensive rules explanation and playthrough, one should be more than able to see if the game is for them.
Shut Up & Sit Down
Shut Up & Sit Down is a British board game review site which does not only give insightful reviews but is also genuinely funny.
Rhado Runs Through
A channel by Richard Ham, a retiree who used to work in the video games industry. He lives in Malta with his wife and through luck of the Gods, stumbled into becoming one of the biggest board game channels on YouTube. His style is to usually play through a game for a few turns (without fully explaining the rules) which is then followed by a review.
3. Look out for your favourite designers.
When we asked some of our loyal customers how their thought process is like when seeing if a game is for them, they said the designers were key factors. Their rationale is that designers tend to have a consistent style and chances are if you like a lot of a particular designer's games, you should not be disappointed in their future works.
4. Consider factors like price and play duration of the game.
Occasionally, you will come across a big game that costs the equivalent of 5 smaller ones. However, you might only end up playing the big game once a year because of the game's duration while the smaller ones can be played multiple times a year in shorter sessions. Choose the one that gives you a better value for money.
5. Find a suitable board gaming space.
Lastly, location is also an important factor to consider. This is especially true for Singapore as having a space to play for a significant amount of time beyond one's home and without paying a premium price is rarer than in bigger countries. For example, if you find yourself in a cafe with small round tables, a game requiring a big table footprint would not be a good idea.
In conclusion, we sincerely hope that with the tips provided in this article, we have smoothed the road for newer gamers and maybe even given some new information to more veteran ones. May many live long and continue to prosper in this great hobby.