During the pandemic, I had people ask me for advice on what games had enough flexibility that it was worth both the cost and storage (I routinely have to remind myself that less geeky people value space for things other than collectibles and games).
That’s when it hit me that some games actually do hold more perceived value to them when you take into consideration that one single game may actually be able to handle different groups, settings, and situations better than others. Let’s take a look at what those games actually do differently and 10 Tips On How To Buy Tabletop Games with High Replay Value.
1) Different Things For Different People
As someone who thoroughly enjoys tabletop games ( to the point where I may make it onto an episode of Hoarders), I don’t necessarily need to feel that a game in my collection has a lot of versatility to hold onto it. If a game only does one single thing right then that’s more than enough value for me.
That said, many people don’t want, or can’t have, boxes piling up just in the hopes of that rare time when a specific group of people or particular situation presents itself to make that the perfect game, at that moment. Are we experiencing tabletop games all wrong? With how expensive this hobby lifestyle can get, allow me to propose How To Buy Tabletop Games with High Replay Value into your tabletop collection.
2) Difficulty Scaling
To me, ‘Difficulty Scaling’ is one of the more important aspects of value within a game.
Technically any game can have difficulty scaling when you start getting into house rules, however, for many beginners or even many purists, sticking to the rules that were set in place by the designers makes for less arguing or feeling like they didn’t actually earn the win. To deal with this, many tabletop games now come with options built into them that can shake up the difficulty to help scale to the audience that’s playing it.
For example, a game my family loves playing together is Ghostbusters: Protect the Barrier (which is based on Mattel’s award-winning game Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters). Right now, because my kids are young, we play just the basic version of the game. Nonetheless, as the kids grow and can handle more strategy, the game allows you to add more cards to the deck which adds more mechanics with difficulty. If that starts to stale, you can even add the roaming Rowan ghost into the game which makes things even more difficult.
This approach helps to not only make Ghostbusters: Protect the Barrier fall into anywhere from family-friendly to much more challenging, but it also adds to helping the game feel different depending on how you choose to play. This transitions perfectly into my next point.
3) Gameplay Variability
Gameplay is important to the replay value a game brings to your collection. I know, I know, it seems almost like that statement belongs in a Hotels.com Captain Obvious commercial but hear me out.
If a game isn’t any fun then you will get rid of it. ( Unless of course, you’re a collector and the game itself holds some sort of other value to you – nostalgia is a heck of a drug.)
One question you may want to ask yourself is, “Do I have a choice on how the game plays each time?” If you answer “no” then this means that most likely that game is going to feel the same every time you play it. Roll dice, move meeple, read the outcome, rinse and repeat.
4) Hero & Villain Choices
So what type of variability mechanics are you looking for to change up the gameplay? Well, the world of tabletop games has come a long way since the only difference was who’s going to be green or who’s going to be the racecar.
One major component is whether you have a choice on who you can play as and if so, do the different options present different strengths, weaknesses, and gameplay so that they feel unique from the other options? In a game like CMON’s and Spin Master’s ‘Marvel United’, the game plays differently depending on who the heroes are, due to their advantages and disadvantages, but what really shakes things up is the villains because each one comes with different rules and ways to play.
No longer does the whole table have to go after grandma and make her the bad guy because she was the only one playing to bankrupt everyone. Now games pack in a variety of who you can play against with each villain bringing with them different rules or ways to play.
For example, Ravensburger’s ‘Horrified: Universal Monsters’ is a game that does a scary good job in this department. It includes seven different iconic monsters from Universal’s classic flicks like Dracula and Frankenstein. The game is made so that you can play against just one of them or, if feeling bold enough, many of them. Not only will that change how the game plays, but each monster has its own mini-game and rules to defeat them.
5) Play Multiple Characters at the Same Time
Many modern-day games offer players the option to play multiple characters at once.
In a game like Fantasy Flight Games ‘Mansions of Madness,’ it’s almost encouraged that four-game characters play at once. So if that’s two people playing as two characters each or one person playing as two characters in a 3-player game, then that will definitely make playing feel different each time.
6) In-Game Mechanics Variety
Even if the heroes and villains are limited in their options, is there something built into the game that allows for the game to play out differently each time you play (besides luck of the roll)?
A basic example of this is in Funko’s ‘Back to the Future: Back in Time’ game where there’s a mechanic called Trouble cards. Each one represents a new challenge, typically from Biff’s gang. In one sitting you will only flip a small fraction of the total cards which means the odds are low that you’ll ever flip the same exact combination, making the game feel fresh each time you play.
7) Does the Tabletop Game Offer Different Play Styles? PVP? Co-op? Solo?
Only the keenest of tabletop players will have noticed a common thread within each game I’ve mentioned so far (which I did on purpose just to drive this section home more clearly) but something that has changed dramatically in the modern era of board games is play styles.
Each game I’ve mentioned so far has been of the cooperative variety. Throughout the history of board games, it was always PvP but something that Dungeons & Dragons introduced to the world decades ago was that games could be played together, as a group, where you either won or lost together.
Nowadays a game can be played as they always have, Player vs Player, but also in solitaire, cooperative, or even Asymmetrical styles (ex. 1 vs 3).
Not having my in-person D&D group over the pandemic left a hole in me I didn’t know I’d need filling.
Now, I am blessed to have a wife who’s not only beautiful but is almost as big of a geek as me so during quarantine we started playing way more board games together than ever before. With this in mind, things didn’t start out so hot.
One of her favorite movies is Jaws so I bought her the board game as a birthday gift. Turns out I nearly bought us the end of gaming in my family as we knew it. It was her playing as Jaws and me playing as the other three dope characters (that all must be played regardless of the total number of players). I thought the idea of an asymmetric game would be fun…until I found myself drowning in the ocean with only a pair of brass knuckles against one of the most iconic predators of man.
Knowing I wasn’t going to ever play that game again until I was able to share the gaming table with other adults on my team I realized cooperative games might best serve my pandemic gaming necessity.
Another perk to many cooperative games is that they can also be played in a solitaire mode so if I wanted to play a board game but my wife couldn’t and my kids were still lacking strategy (since they can barely keep themselves alive), this helped scratch that itch as well as not only did it make those games valuable but ESSENTIAL in my collection.
8) Ability to Expand – Optional Expansions
The topic of expansions could be the most debatable of all the options for versatility.
One thing we can all agree on though is that when you buy a game it should be able to stand on its own and not require any more purchases to justify the original purchase.
Case in point, The Op’s ‘Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle: Deck Building Card Game’. This game goes through all seven years at Hogwarts, introducing new characters, villains, locations, and even game mechanics as you progress, thus proving its initial value. Thanks to its simplicity yet strategic engagement, it was a big success. Then, due to that popularity, it has not only one but two expansions that have added to the core’s experience even more.
To sum it up, if you love a core game enough, and the designers used their time to add more to it after the success of its release, then why not have the option to expand the game to get even more value out of the game you already love and invested in? Besides maybe being one of those people who value their space, of course.
9) Is there Suspense?
This is a quick one but can be a huge one for many. Something I have personally found in games is they come off less fun when you can comfortably predict the outcome before you’re even halfway through it.
If the game wasn’t designed to keep things close and suspenseful then it could diminish the likelihood of having others want to play it again with you. Not only that but it could be argued that it may prove a problem with the game’s design.
Like Yahtzee, for example, I can almost always tell you within the first five minutes who’s going to win (and it’s never me) thanks to the luck (or bad luck) of the dice (if you believe in that…which you should).
10) Strategy vs Luck
Speaking of luck…. Something that helps bring value through versatility is strategy versus luck.
If a game is just a crapshoot then honestly, what’s the point of playing it? Life offers me enough spins at the roulette wheel that I don’t need my escapism to mirror it as well. I want to feel like there is a choice in my games which helps result in wondering how the game would have gone differently had I made a different choice. Thus, making me want to play it again and choose my own adventure differently the next time.
Final Thoughts on Tabletop Game with High Replay Value
All in all, what makes a tabletop game valuable is whether it’s fun and you can see yourself playing it over and over again.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to make the most out of fewer games then these were just a few important tips to finding tabletop games with high replay value to add to your now ever-growing gaming collection (because you’re now willing to donate some space to it).
Tell us in the comments below what games you love enough to recommend that have any or all of these values.