Board Game Bites for New Gamers: Utilizing Online Communities for Game Purchases

by Mrs. Saint

As I mentioned in the last Board Game Bites, one of the things that still overwhelms me is the sheer volume of games. When I did a quick internet search, I couldn’t find set numbers yet for 2019 but in 2018 there were over 3,000 new games published and the expectation was that board game publishing numbers would continue to increase by almost 6% for 2019. How do you wade through the sheer volume to find games you love when just yesterday you only had Clue, Scrabble, and Disney Trivia Pursuit on your game shelf? How do you know without being able to play a game if you’re going to like it? Is it really worth the money if a given game isn’t going to be for me? 

Luckily, board games, like a lot of products, have reviews available and online communities that tackle bringing you concise information about individual games, provide lists of suggestions, give you forums to ask questions, so it saves you time going out to the internet to browse. For this article, we’re going to focus on two particular online communities: Board Game Geek and Board Game Atlas (hereinafter BGG and BGA for short). 

There’s a lot to unpack with both of these websites, and since these blog posts are meant to be short and sweet, there’s no way to cover everything. I plan on doing a longer, more in-depth discussion of both websites at a later date. For this post, I’m only going to talk about the features both sites offer that are beneficial to people looking to buy new/more board games. 

If there is a specific game you’re interested in buying, you can search for the game on both sites. Both websites will give you information on the game (player counts, time to play, publisher, designer) and both will showcase reviews and pricing information. There is one aspect of buying a new game that is important that BGG features but BGA does not yet feature: the “plays best at” information. A lot of games have varying player counts but not every game is a great experience at all of those player counts. A great example of this is Root by Leder Games. It’s one of our favorite games but the two-player plays of it aren’t as fun as it is with three or four players for us. 

When you’re not shopping for a specific game, you can still get help with finding some games to consider by signing up for the free membership offered by each site and utilizing their forums. You can create forum posts and ask questions. For example, let’s say you love Champion of Midgard by Grey Fox Games and are looking to find another worker placement game that has a strong theme but maybe is a mid-weight game this time. You can just ask on the forum for recommendations. There are probably other players who have had similar questions so you may even be able to find an existing forum thread with existing recommendations. Both websites also feature lists of what are the current popular games that you can check out as well, if you don’t have a specific game in mind. 

The other big factor for me in buying a new game is, “What is my budget? What can I afford to spend?” Although BGG has price information, I really feel BGA shines when it comes to showcasing prices of individual games as well as general board game sale information. This is probably due in part to their affiliation with BoardGamePrices.com. From any page on the site, you can access the Deals menu option and choose from the drop down. I check the Historic Lows and Clearance pages daily. They also have a very nice price layout on their individual game pages, and you don’t usually have to scroll very far to find what prices the different vendors featured are selling the board game for.

I feel both sites are great to use for making purchase determinations. Almost every known game has a page on both websites. BGG does have a slight advantage in that it’s been around since 2000 and so has 19 years over BGA as far as user generated content contributions go. BGA has a very nice user interface and it’s very easy to navigate, making it in my opinion an easier site to ease yourself into the ocean of games and content available to board game players. Regardless of which website you prefer or if you use both, as we do, I hope you were able to find some useful tips to help in making your board game purchasing decisions.

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