Logging your board game plays can seem intimidating or even strange, but it isn’t just for the most hardcore hobbyists. You might think that’s the case - I did too, until this time last year when I decided to see what all the fuss was about. I didn’t have any particular goals - I just wanted to find out what I could gain.
I began using an app called Board Game Stats to record which games I’d played, but even the simple play log on BoardGameGeek is suitable. Board Game Stats provides a multitude of trackable stats, though you don’t have to include all of the information with each log. With every play I input the game, player names, their final scores and sometimes take a photo of the final game state. It tracks the date for you, and you can also include the number of rounds, where you played and notes about the game in a comments section. With those stats, the app will automatically track and display your most-played games, who you play with most often, how likely someone is to win a game, and what everyone’s average and best scores are for any given game. Being able to see all this information was a lot more interesting to me than I expected, but the biggest reasons I came to love tracking my plays were ones I didn’t expect.
Logging your plays is the perfect way to keep your collection lean and guide you to the perfect games to add or subtract from your collection. We’ve all had that moment where we look at our shelf, see our ‘favourite’ game and think to ourselves: “I love that game, but I don’t feel like playing that right now.” Perhaps you’ve felt the sting of proudly presenting your shiny new game box to your friends only to be met with a chorus of “Meh.” Being able to track what games get played most and who I am playing them with helped me to trim my collection down to only my group’s favourites.
It forced me to question if games really belong in my collection if they are only getting a handful of plays - or none at all.
Imagine my surprise when I looked back on my logged plays and realised there were games I hadn’t played at all the whole year. I saw dust collecting on my copy of Great Western Trail and looked on my app to discover that I hadn’t touched it for eight months - despite counting the game among my favourites. It forced me to question if games really belong in my collection if they are only getting a handful of plays - or none at all. There were several reasons I hadn’t played Great Western Trail more often, mostly having to do with time, but without logging my plays and realising just how little use it got, I wouldn’t have thought about it. I would just look at it, knowing it was one of my favourites, and think: “One day.”
Logging my plays also showed me which games I was playing all the time. There were a few games I was surprised to see towards the top of my most-played list. What surprised me most was that they were shorter experiences - The Mind, Res Arcana, Traintopia - when I would have expected longer favourites like Teotihuacan to be the champs. In fact, Teotihuacan was actually near the top, but the majority of the plays were solo.
I realised that my favourite games weren’t necessarily everyone’s favourite games.
I realised that my favourite games weren’t necessarily everyone’s favourite games. This sounds obvious - and to some extent it is - but when you’re adding games to your collection it is very easy to make those decisions based on games that you like rather than considering the needs of those you play with. Even if you do shop based on your group’s interests, logging your plays shows you exactly which games your group enjoys and is likely to play most often. You can see what length, weight and mechanics you and your gaming group gravitate towards. Like me, maybe you’ll find that your money is better spent on shorter games rather than meaty Euros if you’re buying for your buddies. On the other hand, maybe you’ve got your eye on a big new strategy epic and it has a solo mode - so you’re good to go, as long as that’s why you’re picking it up.
Learning all this allowed me to curate my collection to perfection. It brought games to my attention that weren’t getting the love they deserved and made me decide whether or not I should keep them. It also helped me replace games I once loved but didn’t play, with games I knew would get played. It also saved me from the other thing I discovered last year: Kickstarter.
Knowing exactly what you like can save you a surprising amount of money - and disappointment.
The bane of many a gamer’s existence is the irresistible pull towards the latest hotness. Last year I got sucked into the world of Kickstarter and backed too many games. I was attracted to every new idea and gimmick, and suckered into all sorts of thick cardboard and metal. Some of those games I ended up liking quite a bit, others fell flat. The marketing, hype train and FOMO hit me hard and distracted me from games I might actually enjoy. Logging my plays turned out to be the perfect counter to this urge. If a game piques my interest on Kickstarter, I can look back at my most-played games and see if it is the type of game I actually find myself playing often. Since Kickstarter games can easily run upwards of $100 at this point, knowing exactly what you like can save you a surprising amount of money - and disappointment.
If you find yourself having a hard time making purchasing decisions, or often give your board games wistful looks wondering if they still belong in your life, logging your plays is a great way to find your true gaming taste and even save yourself money along the way. If you are on the fence about logging your plays or aren't interested at all, I encourage you to give it a try. You may be surprised by what you find out!