Sometimes it feels like I spend as much time trying to decide which game to play as I do actually playing games. This is the inevitable downside of having a collection that has grown out of control over the past few years. With the great variety of over 150 games comes the great dilemma of picking one to play when the opportunity arises. I know I'm not alone in this, as I have seen a variety of discussions on this topic and attempts to alleviate the problem. W. Eric Martin wrote about this problem recently in his article "570 Games (And Nothin' to Play)," in which he discusses an intriguing book entitled "The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less." In an attempt to solve this problem, Tom Kiehl invented the game "I Don't Know, What Do You Want to Play?" This "game" involves a website that will create a personalized PDF for you including a card for each game in your collection. The "game" gives everyone a hand of cards representing games in your collection and has rules for playing those cards to determine what will actually get played. Another method for determining which game to play that I have seen proposed is to allow each person present to pick one game, give everyone a playing card from 1 to 4 (assuming four people are present so four games have been selected), and allow everyone to place one card on each game, then tally up the totals and the game with highest total gets played. These ideas are all well and good, but I thought I'd add to the growing trend of new methods for selecting which game to play by creating a handy chart.
The following chart breaks most of my favorite games down into a convenient 12 boxes from which I can select a game to play. The four columns represent different numbers of players, from two-player games to five-player games, classifying games based on the optimal number of players, and only allowing games into multiple columns if they scale particularly well. The three rows roughly represent game length, from short games that generally take less than 45 minutes, to long games that generally take over 90 minutes. These game length classifications are only rough approximations, as actual game length depends greatly on the participants themselves. This will hopefully make it a lot easier to pick a game once you've limited yourself to the number of players present and the approximate length of time available.
This chart is very much a work in progress, and I welcome your e-mail with suggestions on new games to add to the chart, including which box they belong in, or recommendations on games that should be moved to a different row or column.
< 45 minutes
Hey! Thatís My Fish!