This week’s podcast talks about the purchasing practices of Nate, Amy, Geraint, Rhyannon, Ben, Jacob, and Robin. You can listen to it here. In the episode, Robin tries to corral these misfits by asking pointed questions about where and how they purchase their games. I have a bad memory and have forgotten most of what he asked. I thought about talking about places to buy games, but everyone has a different budget, and while it sounds lovely to support your friendly local game store, they don’t always have the best prices. Buy where you want.
Instead of summarizing the podcast, I am going to talk about places to find out about games (some of which may even have been discussed in the podcast).
Friendly Local Game Store
If you’re lucky enough to be in an area with a local game store, I recommend checking them out. With any luck, the people working in the store will know something about games. If not, that’s cool because there’s the internet on your phone and the BoardGameGeek app, which is good for looking up info about games on the go. Further, the games are actually there in front of you. If you like the shiny or need the art, being in the store allows you to hold the game, feel its weight, judge it shallowly by its box covers, and make an impulsive decision to buy. Sometimes you can even find harder to find games clearanced out because it’s the last one in the store, etc. Of course, there’s also the possibility that you meet other awesome gamers or find out about game nights or a designer guild or whatever. I can’t guarantee you have a local store or that it’s any good, but it’s a good place to start if you’re looking for a community.
BoardGameGeek is my first stop for board game information. The front page can be customized to only display information you care about: announcements, contests, news, reviews, blogs, whatever. Blogs, GeekLists, Stats, Forums, Videos, you name it; they can all be found on a game’s page. You can follow specific games, participate in discussions, laugh at the idiotic things the trolls say (or get enraged by them if that’s more your thing). Yes, the interface sucks. Let’s move on from that. BGG provides a wealth of information and establishes community like no other site I visit.
I know a lot of people are against the twitter. Everyone has their reasons; I was there once, but I have seen the light. Twitter is an excellent way to network with people in the gaming community from reviewers to publishers to designers. Speaking of designers, Dan Keltner, one of the designers of Bomb Squad, created a Masters of the Twitterverse GeekList. Twitter can be overwhelming, and Dan does a great job with this list. He breaks down each entry into a fairly detailed description. Anyway, it’s worth a look if you need some direction.
I am reluctant to mention this is a place for game information, but the fact of the matter is there are a ton of board games on Kickstarter. Whether they’re from Joe Newdesigner or an established company, there is definitely a strong board game presence there. There are also some stellar examples of fine marketing even for crap games ergo if you have an acquisition disorder or a collector’s bug, I highly recommend you stay off of this site. Too many of my fellow Whose Turners fall victim to the evil clutches of Kickstarter every.single.day. with every.single.game.
This may seem obvious, but you can always go to the horse’s mouth. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can sign up for a newsletter or two. Of course, if you’re active on any of the other things mentioned above, you’re probably on top of related things. I have no clue how publishers use site/newsletter stats to drive production in any way shape or form, but I would think that it’s useful for them to have hard data. But, if they know there’s an active community on the Geek or on the twitter, I imagine they would gravitate to where the people are. Some companies aren’t so social media friendly though, so don’t forget about those of them who haven’t caught up quite yet.
Board Game Media People
Podcasts. Vlogs. Blogs. You name it, and people are talking about games on it. I’m not going to be as presumptuous to tell you who to follow or whose word to take as gospel. Just like the playing and buying thing, listen to/watch/read who you want. There is undoubtedly someone who mirrors your tastes/preferences/style. While I won’t tell you what to do, I will shamelessly plug The Daily Boom, which contains info from people I’ll check out if I have questions about or interest in games. Each of them has their own tastes/preferences/styles/backgrounds. The best advice I can offer here is to always apply what is said about a game in the context of the person saying it. For example, co-ops aren’t my thing. If you know this about me, when a co-op game sucks, it’s because I tend to find the mechanics and gameplay experience to be at odds with how I like to game.
This is probably the most costly option of the list (aside from Kickstarter). If you can swing them, conventions are an excellent place to find out about new games. If you were living in a cave before whatever convention is local to you, you can attend one and be completely blown away by what the board game industry produces. Even if you actively read, talk, or listen about board games, you’ll still probably be amazed at what companies are putting out. The best thing about a convention is that you can demo a game that catches your fancy. The even better thing about a convention is that you can spend time with like-minded people discovering all gaming has to offer together.
What to do with all that Information
Once you feel sufficiently satisfied about the amount of information you have about a game, you should probably go ahead and buy it. Or, maybe you have a group with a primary purchaser; make them buy it. Perhaps you have more of a gaming collective where people buy the games that suit them but share out with everyone else; buy and share those. Heck, you could buy every game impulsively because it looks interesting. Even more radical, you may know yourself and games well enough to know how to make an impulsive buy a smart buy. Whatever your situation is, as long as you’re playing games you love with people who make you happy, I don’t care how you acquired the game.