I got back into boardgames as a hobby at the start of 2020 (just in time for lockdown and no-one to play them with, wah).
I joined the SUSD forums juuuuust before they closed, and then this board in April. And it’s been great! Kept me sane during lockdown, and super interesting, big thank you to everyone.
When I look back on what I thought a year ago, I realise I’ve changed my mind on a lot of things and that I have three pieces of advice for anyone NEW to the hobby right now. Those are:
1) You will have different tastes to everyone else.
When I was starting out it seemed like a good idea to build a collection that would have the best of each category of game - only the best deck-builders, worker placements, crime solvers, heavy euros, dungeon crawlers, abstracts etc that were firmly in many people’s top 10. And so my first tip is: no, don’t do that.
Games are expensive, and hype is not real. You will not enjoy every type of game equally, and just because someone else loves the heaviest Lacerda Eurogames, you might end up hating them. You will almost definitely hate at least two of everybody’s “10 best games of all time”, wonder how they can enjoy them, and be very glad you didn’t buy them! Same goes for the BoardGameGeek top 30 - these are not automatically the most fun games. You will even find at least one where you (whisper it) disagree completely with Quinns! (gasp)
When I first looked on youtube, BGG and communities around a year ago, everyone was excited about A feast for Odin, Njusford, Root, Gloomhaven and Terraforming Mars. I ended up buying exactly none of those, and it doesn’t matter. So here’s tip number 2:
2) See how every game plays before you spend money.
Buy NOTHING blind, including Kickstarters. Watch reviews and if you can, full playthroughs.
Then buy the one game you have most wanted for a while, regardless of what else you already own. Keep a top 10 list yourself and buy the one that stayed at the top longest.
Now okay, none of us are actually good at this. A game might have cute art, or a theme that your partner will love, and impulse buying is awesome. So if you really, really want to buy a game or Kickstarter despite the rule not to, then ignore this advice and do it. But only once or twice, and wait to see if you’re happy with what turns up. (Also, not for any that cost £100+ or are all about sculpted miniatures. Outrageous prices do NOT mean the same thing as good gameplay or value for money.)
The other part to “not spending your life savings on 50 games immediately” is that a game is just a box on your shelf unless you can play it with people (or solo). Be realistic about how often you can make that happen before you buy 10 games in a week. (I did not buy 10 games in a week. It was close that one time though).
There are now HUNDREDS of new board games made every year. Even the latest hot stuff will soon be “last year’s hot stuff” and new games often improve on old ones. A lot that’s on the market today is much better than nearly everything in 2011. So chill. Nothing is essential, and you should wait and watch a lot of reviews before committing. (Unless you’re super rich and can dedicate an entire room to storing boardgames, in which case… yay? I want your house, and also your game collection). And my tip for catching those reviews would be:
3) Follow at least 3 boardgame review channels on youtube.
They’re invaluable. Not because they’re 100% right, but because you’ll quickly work out where you disagree with each reviewer’s preferences, and therefore know if you’ll actually like a game. It’s also a good way to find out about what’s new!
I’m sure folks will comment on here with their favourites, but for newbies I recommend:
SUSD, No Pun Included
Before You Play, Three Minute Boardgames, ThinkerThemer
Because it’s the biggest (and very easy to watch) : The Dice Tower
For long plays of Eurogames: Heavy Cardboard
For shorter or more casual reviews: Board Games In A Minute, Cardboard Rhino
There are many more online. Watch a few and see what else pops up in your youtube suggestions. Try podcasts or written reviews if they suit you better.
Right, that’s enough from me. The three pieces of advice above are based on wrong assumptions I made as a newbie last year, but I’m still much less experienced than most of the rest of this board, so I’m sure others will have tips to share in the comments!