Games you bought after one play or less

Inspired by the discussion in Last game you bought?:

I first played Firefly at a small convention, and during a mid-game break wandered over to the dealer and bought a copy of my own.

What have your experiences been of falling in love with a game on the first play? Did it last?


I’ve got a few, but my first item is Small World.

Played it at a friends house, bought it.

I think it got to the table twice more? I did play the app a lot, which is a better format. The fun disappeared almost immediately but the problems took longer to articulate.

First, it’s a light, combat game, but with the races/tribes it is so text heavy. There’s a high barrier to entry for a game that offers only a gateway experience.

It was much later I realized that the only fun part of the game was choosing your race, though. Deciding when to go into decline becomes rote after a while, and turns and combat are largely uneventful. That exciting part, choosing a race, only happens 2-4 times a game.

As a 5-minute solo on an app, that’s plenty. As a 60 minute tabletop experience, the game collapsed under its own weight.

Ultimately, one of the first games I was willing to sell.


Basically anything I ever bought at Essen. Except games I preordered without playing.

In many years my Essen success quota was quite terrible which is why I started researching before going which slightly improved my quota year after year and eventually drove me into the review watching rabbit hole and … certain online forums.

Notable successes:

  • Spirit Island… my currently favorite game ever since I first played at Essen.
  • Pax Pamir 2 … only half matches this thread. I was going to buy it at Essen but it was sold out. When I first played this with @Benkyo and @chrislear months later, I was already 99% convinced I had to have this game.
  • Ghost Stories, I still have huge nostalgia for this game. It was our first big coop game and many many losses and a few wins followed that first game at Spiel.

I will get to the not so successful ones on another post.


I knew I’d like Power Grid from the moment I first heard about the original Funkenschlag. My predictions were correct.

Hansa Teutonica was introduced to me by a couple of friends who had played it earlier and agreed that “This is a game Patrick would like.” They were correct.


From the top of my head…

-Everdell big box. I ordered the kickstarter after hearing a lot about the game, and playing the base game once. Plus I won. It will be a while for the game to arrive, but I think it will not disappoint.

-Brass Lancashire: played it once here on the forums. Happened to see it on offer (25% discount or so) a few days after finishing the game. I have played it nearly a good dozen times in about a year or so. Hardly ever win at it, but really like it. Definitely in my top 10, if not 5.

-Firefly: played it once here on the forums as well. A game that lasted a few weeks, and I loved the space opera feeling of it. Plus I was a fan of the series (even though I discovered the series through the movie, I know). Played it about 6 or 7 times since, mostly solo, cannot wait to play it with 3 or 4 players.


I think I’ve bought most of my games on the strength of one play or “it sounds interesting”, especially since we moved up north and became “the people who own the games” rather than “players of other people’s games”


Probably a few, but one I remember was Diamant/Incan Gold, ordered it while still at the table

Funny enough, Firefly is on my list due to the forum game as well.

I am trying to think if there are any others that I had to have after one play. Oh yes, Inis. Played it late Saturday at the first SHUX and was incredibly impressed with it, and hate that I do not get it to the table more often.

Now, if you are talking about less than one play, that describes most of the rest of my collection at 0 plays before purchasing. Other than Betrayal at House on the Hill, Fury of Dracula (3rd, though I had only played 1st), and my new acquisition of Vampire the Masquerade: Vendetta, I think all of my games have been purchased unplayed.

Well, not counting games I played and then purchased back in high school/college (which I think is just Nuclear War, Talisman, Fortress America, Axis & Allies).

Edit: Remembered another one. Ethnos, which we played at the second SHUX, though we played it twice before I bought it.

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Galaxy Trucker is the one that comes to mind. Played it at a convention, bought the anniversary edition as soon as I was able. Great purchase!


I too have most of my games that I bought without having played. Although, now that I’m thinking, that’s basically every kickstarter, isn’t it?

At least I did quite some research for most. Also, I played Splendor only twice before ordering it online. Same as Arboretum.

I think in my case, having a guild that I go to on Mondays and some 4 or 5 long days a year, where there are around 150 - 200 games on display, plus what other members bring, I end up buying what I don’t get to see there, unless it is a game that will click with my family and close friends.

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Yeah, I think the spirit of the question is “bought on insufficient exposure.” Most games I buy I have not yet played, but I’ve checked several reviews and maybe watched a playthrough so I know what I’m getting. The fun stories are when you buy a game with only an inkling.

This calls to mind Res Arcana. All I’d heard was a brief SUSD podcast discussion. Quinns did not like it, Matt did. It sounded good. My family was reeling from an unfortunate event that had broadsided us, so I just bought it as one of those small comforts.

Funny story, this is the only board game purchase that ended in cops knocking on my front door. Another time, maybe.

Anyway, I like the game. It’s respectable and interesting, though I’ve only gotten maybe three plays in. Really unhappy with how hard they leaned into the dark magic/occult theme, though. I know for this community that’s often a hook, but for me personally I removed about 10% of the cards and for most of my family it completely blocks it from the table. It’s ended up on my “maybe sell. maybe.” pile.

It’s whatever you want it to be. :slight_smile:

I was thinking of examples like the ones at the top, but I’ve certainly had my share of “ooh, this looks really good” at conventions, too often followed by a lack of enthusiasm once I’ve got it home.

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My response here would be much longer if it were “Games you bought after zero plays or less”. So, this category mostly represents games I wasn’t sure enough about to buy blindly. But in other cases, it is games I thought I would not like and had a great time with (i.e. the point of the thread?)

Alchemists – I actually already suspected I would very much enjoy this game, so when a friend bought a copy on a whim, I was ecstatic to play it; I wouldn’t get a copy until much later and… as a gift, so I’m not sure it counts (but I did put it at the top of my wishlist due to my adoration for the game after just one play)

Architects of the West Kingdom – I had written off the entire <Blank> of the <Blank> series from Shem Phillips and his collaborators. But a friend was eager to play his new arrival so we set it up and I was pleasantly surprised with a lovely little twist on worker placement. My enjoyment of this game set me up to spend a lot of money on the all-in pledge when Viscounts of the West Kingdom was on Kickstarter

Champions of Midgard – Similar story to Architects above, same friend, same motivation (play the new game!). I expected a thin veneer of “vikings” on top of an uninspired worker placement game. But I found a thin veneer of “vikings” on top of an interesting worker placement and resource management game with some interesting push your luck decisions with risk mitigation effects. I bought it, but I also went in for the Reavers of Midgard Kickstarter in the process and… well, haven’t played that, but based on what I’ve heard about it it’s not much more than a large paperweight.

Evolution – Another case where I was already pretty sure I was going to love the game; when I was at a friend-of-a-friend’s house and someone else pointed at Evolution on his shelf, I was giddy with excitement. I went on to win that game and within the next week had picked up a copy of my own and introduced it to my partner.

Flamme Rouge – I had written off Flamme Rouge after SUSD’s review because I just don’t care about cycling. But after one play, I found it to be an absolutely fantastic hand management game with a theme that (still doesn’t do anything for me, but) integrates with the mechanisms of the game so well.

Pandemic: The Cure – I probably would have bought this eventually anyway? I tend to like “the dice game” versions of bigger games because they have a tendency to distill the essence of the game down into simpler and, crucially, more interesting decision points. I do think I prefer The Cure to regular, old Pandemic (which I’m sure will ruffle many feathers).

VOLT – I played this via Yucata with forum members and fairly quickly tracked down a copy.

Technical Inclusions for which I don’t have anything interesting to say:

  • Fluxx (after playing base Fluxx and Monty Python Fluxx, we ended up picking up a few other iterations of it; and then we inherited a few free copies into our collection somehow? Star Fluxx and Firefly Fluxx are my favorite; my partner really enjoys Oz Fluxx, which is fine)
  • Sequence
  • Sushi Go Party! – we already had the non-Party version

Almost Counts!

  • Nippon Rails – I had actually received this as a gift (my wishlist had Railways of Nippon on it, the FLGS employee had never heard of that but suggested to my partner I might have meant this one). I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep it or return it; my then-neighbor offered to play a game with me using his copy. I immediately fell in love and shortly after bought all of the Empire Builder crayon-rails games; I did eventually track down Railways of Nippon, but so far it’s gone unplayed (and I also eventually got Age of Steam, which I think I’ll like better anyway). So one play saved it from being returned.

  • War of Whispers – I never played this before pledging for it, but I was (kindly) allowed to spectate a game played on TTS by some forum members. I thought to myself, “I will never be good at this game, but this is a game I should get”. I then pledged for the reasonably-priced base game + expansion on Kickstarter.

Dodged a Bullet!

There are games I’ve played once and promptly removed them from my watch/wish/to-buy list!

  • 1889: History of Shikoku Railways
  • Nations
  • Terraforming Mars
  • Viticulture

No! I also had a pitiful and pitiable first play of Nations where I wondered what the game even was. I was blessed to have already bought it and forced to stick with it. Somewhere between plays 1 and 5 the game coalesced into something brilliant and utterly compelling.

I always have to advocate for it because it can give such a terrible first impression.

I’m right there with you on TFMars, though. I’ve also played that about 5 times and it only gets worse.


I think my canonical example is Sidereal Confluence, which I played once at Airecon and subsequently spent a good portion of time hunting down a copy at UKGE. Now I take it to every convention and try and persuade people to play it :grin:


My copy of Sidereal has as of now only been test played… can’t wait for the days I will start asking people to play with me.

Speaking of games mentioned in a Dice Tower video today… I knew nothing about Seasons, saw it and played it at Spiel and bought it.

One I had to have after one play was Alubari. We had so much fun playing it at Spiel with two strangers … sadly it was sold out… we met the same people later to play Jetpack Joyride. now I own both games.

There are a few that crept in through Spiel and left again quickly:

  • Imperial Settlers had to go quickly
  • Dice Settlers is with friends currently I have hopes I won’t see it again
  • Theseus Dark Orbit
  • Wiraqocha
  • Barony (still have it wobbling between a 6 and 7 rating… 6 and lower is all on For Trade)

All these seemed great at Spiel… and then they were not at home.


This is one of those Marmite games, isn’t it? I cannot say I have played the game, but I downloaded the app from Steam and was soooooo boring. I have avoided playing it so far (it has its lovers in my gaming group) so I might play it one day to see what is all about it, but it seems slow, and the cards are expensive, and you never have enough money… eughh


I played it once. The game was jagged and uneven and then abruptly ended for no reason.

I own Nations: The Dice Game w/Unrest and I’m not sure I need it’s older, more crotchety brother.

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I have the TFM app on my phone, and it’s okay, but I totally get you about never having enough money. I’m glad to have played the app. I have no interest in ever trying out the physical game.


It’s [edit: TFMars] a momentum game. You start out crawling, and the game gives you more and more and more until an insurmountable task becomes possible. Similar to Sentinels of the Multiverse. This, by itself, is emotionally satisfying (and it obviously has its fans).

What I dislike about it is: Despite all the cards, they boil down to feel like a few very same-y archetypes. Interaction is limited and bolted-on, and the take-that interactions jar especially hard with the otherwise solitary playstyle. Turns feel very same-y, as whatever you are able to do you end up doing again each turn the rest of the game. Probably more to this list, but that’s the top of my mind.

I couldn’t help but think, the game is so popular despite all its clunkiness and flaws, there’s got to be another game coming that does it right?

I’m wondering if that game is Spirit Island (which I haven’t played). Definitely a momentum builder genre thing, but the solitary playstyle has shifted to co-op, the abilities are more varied between each other and from turn to turn. I’ve been wondering if that game captures the positive emotion but pairs it with polished and functioning mechanics.