What kind of post-game player are you?

Just like how there are plenty of reasons to play a game, there are plenty of methods to enjoy them too. Today we’ll explore some ways we enjoy games outside of an actual play session. which ones can you relate to the most?

Free fortunes inside!


Meta content

(At this point I spend more time reading about Magic: the Gathering than playing)

(At this point I spend more time reading about Magic: the Gathering than playing)

There’s tons of game-related information that exists outside of the game itself. Things like statistics, analyses of strategy, heuristics for design, or background knowledge about the development cycle are all bits of media that are stored outside of the game’s direct experience.

You’ll know you enjoy games for their meta content if you find that your excitement about a game spikes when reading about strategy and build optimization, discovering a long documentary about the game or recognizing that Jennifer Hale is voicing this character too. You may also spend a lot of time theorizing about future content or scouring for dev talks and patch notes even if you only play for 20 minutes a day.

Your fortune: you’re quite efficient at the things you work on, and are particularly adept at problem-solving and preparing… but only if you’re passionate about the topic at hand. My recommendation is to extend your researching habits to involve things that you don’t already love - maybe you’ll discover a way to enjoy it more.

Extending the game

Cross-media engagement is common and awesome. That’s fanart, fanfic, cosplay, writing theory or even designing your own gameplay tweaks (ie custom classes or mods). Sometimes a game is over before you’re ready to say goodbye, and it hurts to still have that yearning for engagement when you’ve taken all you could from the canon.

 
 

So making new things (and consuming the content that others make) is a way to stay engaged and explore the world a little bit longer. Other times a game has a broken mechanic and/or Cassandra is inexplicably straight, and so stuff like mods and fic provide ways for a game to sit better.

Extending the game through non-canon creations is a common way that people continue the love. You’ll know this is you if you haven’t touched a game for years but continue writing/reading/crafting/talking about it to this day. Sometimes you may find yourself opening up the game just to specifically grab content and reference materials for your fan additions, and sometimes you follow a bunch of subreddits for the fanart even if you’re five patch notes behind.

Your fortune: You’re a creative soul, and that includes if you only consume fan content instead of making it. The very act of consumption is generative, as you need a certain level of creativity in order to fully enjoy a lot of stuff that is technically non-canonical. My recommendation is to always keep at least two creative outlets open at all times, as it’ll be integral to regulating your emotions in the long-term.

Engaging with the community

Engaging with community is one of the main appeals for being a sports fan. This is particularly true when play sessions for a type of game (for example, football) are forced to be limited to a few hours per week. There is definitely something to be said about the types of lasting friendships that can sprout from a mutual understanding and appreciation for the same thing.

(Bring it back)

(Bring it back)

Game communities have their own flavours of course, but in the end it’s amazing that you can meet a stranger and immediately jump into a conversation around a mutual interest.

You’ll know you play a game for the community when a shift in that community makes your game experience immediately better or worse. You may potentially spend more time on forums than your game, and you may have one or more articles of clothing or desk decorations that relates to your favourite game[s].

Your fortune: The obvious thing to say is that you’re social, but it’s more than that - you’re a person who places value in being part of something greater, in forming strong connections, in finding respect and strength as a unified whole. Or you’re lonely, and trolling is how you interact with people - that’s the other type of person. My recommendation is to try to be a part of multiple communities - it can be devastating for something to happen when all of your eggs are in that one basket.

Gaining life experience

This is the weirdest one - there are games that are enjoyed inexplicably, internally, in which you have fully absorbed some part of its contents and you feel it has actually changed you… whether or not you can explain exactly how.

Mado_Balcony_Nite.png

For example, games like Yume Nikki, Soma, Firewatch etc aren’t too long, and they’re not necessarily fun in a normal way. But they can be meaningful, and the experiences that happen in those games can stick with you for a long time. (Also this relates to any game - even if it looks ‘random’ to others, such as gaining meaning from Tetris).

Everyone comes across games that change their life, or that are mostly ‘enjoyable’ for its post-game impact on you rather than its literal gameplay. Some people are particularly attuned to this experience though, and you’ll know if you are.

Your fortune: Did you read a lot when you were younger? You have an apt ability to cross-apply the experiences of others to your own life, especially in fiction. Your passion and empathy is palpable and powerful, and though it may often feel like both blessing and curse, it can also be a compass to point you towards your values and goals. My recommendation is to treat your own needs the same way you’d treat a friend’s.)

Everyone does all of these to some extent - which method do you relate to the most for your favourite games?

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What boardgame ‘mods’ would you want?

Do you modify your boardgames? Swapping out different physical components, making custom cards, adding new resources? There’s a few common reasons to do so, and you may recognize some of these.

  • Rejigging your storage methods (Gloomhaven being the most obvious example, but pretty much every game has something changed)

  • Physical components for ease of use (the most infamous being the Terraforming Mars currency mat or the Star Realms health tracker)

  • Scoring rules for fun or balance (like the all-or-nothing Carcassone rule)

  • Adding new fanmade content (like custom D&D classes)

  • Changing art for the sake of personalization or classiness (like altered Magic: the Gathering cards)

Deep and robust.

Deep and robust.

But compared to the deep and robust modding community for videogames - especially games like Skyrim or The Sims - boardgames tend to be a lot less popular to mess with. We swap components and make house rules for scoring often, but don’t often go mechanically deeper than that for the majority of our games. Only in tabletop RPGs do custom classes, custom enemies, custom storylines and scenarios get created and shared. Why not other boardgames? I believe there is one main reason:

There’s no unified infrastructure for sharing board game mods.

For example, there’s no primary website for sharing such information. Most board game sites don’t have a section to host fanmade content, and usually the ones that do tend to be ‘competitive house rules’ for balancing (no Rusviet industrial, etc) - there’s little in the way of new classes, campaigns, actions, rules, etc without lots of digging. There’s also little in place to easily print out or acquire any new components that may be necessary for a mod to work.

And it’s a shame! If we had better methods of sharing information about board game mods, I believe the compounding knowledge would encourage creators to put more time and love into making modifications - knowing that your work may be beneficial and appreciated by others can be a powerful motivator, and can help us get more longevity out of even our oldest boardgames.

If there was a more unified place to share board game mods, what would you look for?

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Enjoy Learning Board Games: 3 Reasons to Play like a Fool

Are new games stressful when the optimal strategy isn’t clear? Does not-knowing come with negative feelings about your own aptitude or character?

I have an approach to learning board games that’s helped me have more fun, and I hope it can help you too.

Play Like An Absolute Fool:

Make The Most Baseline, Impulsive, Low-Hanging-Fruit, Obviously-Noob Decisions Possible

Sometimes you know a strategy is suboptimal, but there’s only one way to figure out why

Sometimes you know a strategy is suboptimal, but there’s only one way to figure out why

Basically… while the goal of most games is to win, that doesn’t have to be your goal for playing - especially if it’s your first time. There are plenty of other goals…

  • See how far a specific strategy or gimmick can take you.

  • See how much you can [responsibly] upset or amuse someone.

  • Play as if you were a character/faction in the game. Only make choices that your character/faction would ‘realistically’ make (ie, roleplay) and see how you’d fare.

  • See what a ‘default idiot’ strategy looks like, so next time you play, you can learn what differentiates it from a thought-out strategy.

Today we’ll explore three reasons to do that last one.


1: You Learn Faster

It may seem like you wouldn’t learn as much by playing like a fool, but by making incredibly short-sighted and baseline decisions, you make a great control group for yourself. You’re free to experiment, you’re free to take risky moves, and you’re generally able to see what the ‘default’ progress looks like before layering on strategy. That way, once you actually do start using strategy in future games, you can compare to your original fool-game to see exactly how good your strategy fares compared to before.

2: Choice Paralysis is Diminished

“I have to choose it because it has ‘log’ in the name”

“I have to choose it because it has ‘log’ in the name”

Usually choice paralysis comes when you’re having trouble calculating the long-term benefits of each option available to you, and you get nervous about doing the inferior option. I acknowledge it’s easier said than done, but if you can relinquish the need to make optimal decisions and become comfortable with just playing ‘to see what happens’, then there is no longer such thing as the right or wrong choice. Instead, they become ‘tested’ and ‘untested’ decisions, and it’s always up to you which one gets tested.

3: Winning Becomes Less of a Worry

Playing like a fool doesn’t mean disregarding the race for victory, but it does shift the ‘point’ of playing. Instead of your decisions revolving around point-optimization, they’ll revolve around heart-listening-optimization. You’re playing to observe the result of your actions, to see what happens, and that somewhat shifts your goal away from winning this specific game in lieu of better teaching you fundamentals for any games you play in the future.

And, since it’s ‘obvious’ to that you’re probably not going to win this specific game by playing in such a way, with that acceptance comes a freedom to enjoy yourself in every other way.

Learning board games is kind of always rough, but nobody is great the first time they play. It’s okay to be suboptimal. My advice is to lean into that, since you won’t know the best strategy anyway, and to spend your first game exploring your options instead of trying to win.

It’s not necessarily an easy transition to becoming a fool, but if you can swing it, I hope you may find yourself feeling just a little less apprehension when someone decides to bust out a new box on board game night.


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