Recently I was tasked with the impossible… picking a favorite. There are a great number of things at which I am consistently bordering mediocrity… deciding on a favorite of anything is not one of them. In fact, it is significantly lower on my “things I have learned to do good” list (Yes, I’m aware of the grammatical error, but I like to quote movies, and then borrow from quotes and use them a little differently).
You may be thinking, “yeah picking a favorite child is impossible.” Some days it may be. But for me, picking a favorite ‘anything’ is a particularly painful proposition. “But Dave, a favorite song is so easy.” Or, “Everybody has a favorite movie.” Even still, “Mmmm, there is absolutely nothing better than smoked brisket.”
Oh, don’t I wish. I have a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long life, skills that can make me a nightmare if you’re in a hurry. Though very nimble on my feet (at least I was until a couple years ago), I can get stuck searching for strategic solutions for the supposedly simple. I can twist any task to take a torturously long time. You see, I am what the French might call, “Les Incompétents,” or “un basket case.” But don’t worry, I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested.
Back on the 24th of March 2021 Meeple Nation Podcast released episode 364, “Top Five Games.” We each spoke briefly about our individual picks for the top five games. I would love to hear your process for picking a favorite game. Here is a little insight into what goes on inside my head during such an undertaking.
I started by recklessly rummaging ‘round the recesses of my recorded recollections. I’ve been playing games for about 20 years; a lot of games. I have loved most of it, but this attempt was met with me defeatedly dusting off only about 3 titles. The more I thought about where these ranked, the more I realized they were not my most maligned monikers. Fortuitously, they fell flat from the favored as well.
Well, that didn’t work. New method.
Why couldn’t they have just asked which was my favorite child?! I kid.
But seriously, there are only five of those. I can probably list them off with ease. I will definitely call them all by the wrong name, but I can at least come up with something.
I tried asking a few people what some of the games were we most liked playing together. The problem here was that “most liked” somehow became “most often.” That list included a couple titles I knew I loved but was also burdened by bumbling brands that bothered me. I considered them, even some that were lame, more than I thought I would.
We were on to something. This time I had more titles floating around in my head, and some of them were great. “Why did this work,” I wondered. And why was I giving place for the games I thought I didn’t like. It turned out it was because I love playing games with people. A game’s place in my heart really is affected by who I am playing with. I am a social shy-guy. I like people. If games were all solo, I think I would rarely pull any out. So, what games do I get to play with awesome people? I need to be aware that some games get a boost based on this. For example, one of my least favorite mechanics is the hidden role. I’m not a fan when this is a focus. It may be partially because they don’t generally include some of my top mechanics, like engine building, card drafting, deck building, dice rolling etc. Whatever the reason, I don’t like them much. However, when blessed with the opportunity of hanging with HUGG, I want to seize it. Sometimes that means playing a hidden role game. When caught in those difficult circumstances, I may play, and I will enjoy it. Even when it is a game I don’t like.
Now I faced another problem. In ranking games, I am going to have to figure out a way to weigh whether one is weighted wonkily while with wonderfully wacky women. Or men.
Finally, I determined that web of horror forming in my brain was going nowhere, when I heard Nathan mention that he had made a list. What a brilliant idea. I would make a list! But then I remembered where I started; a lowly list of three. Out of which I would find my fab five? Even for me that math didn’t add up (I should double check with Nathan).
Shortly thereafter (I’m sure it wasn’t shortly, but it was thereafter so I’m going with it), I was researching games on Boardgamegeek.com for an episode of the podcast, and I was looking at the list of mechanics involved in whatever game I was working on when I remembered I needed to finish my list of favorites. Suddenly, I had a convergence of thoughts. Mind Blown!
Cue the music:
I… I was standing.
You weren’t there.
Two worlds collided.
And they could never tear us apart!
Yes. INXS did play in my mind. But only for one and a half songs. Then I recalled what had ushered the impromptu concert. I had my answer. I could use BGG to search games with some of the mechanics I love and create a list of many more than five so that I could narrow them down while looking at them.
I created a spreadsheet to list different aspects that I could rank and compare. Ah yes, a spreadsheet (I’m a nerd in more ways than one). From there it was fairly easy (it still took me at least a week) to raise or lower a game compared to others on the list.
I still had to consider several things: When asked “Hey what do you want to play?” it doesn’t always elicit the same answer. Mood can change that. Both the number of and who the people are I will be playing with can change it too. What would I be willing to play (without strongly steering to something dissimilar)? If someone else suggests a game, how do I respond? Am I excited about it? Do I divert to a different delight? Do I lobby for others’ excitement as well? These questions helped with sorting and grouping games on the list.
When narrowing down the top few they had to be games that I would generally suggest, that I would get excited about, and that I would lobby for.
My overall number one would have to be all those things, but it would also have to be one that I would choose to play over all others more often than not. If I had a definite favorite at all, surely it would be one I might recommend. But that’s just it, I don’t have a go to suggestion most of the time. Games that are definitely very high on my list are not games that I want to play exclusively. I like variety.
Huh, “I like variety.” I struggled to select that singularity, until I understood this was the solution I sought. I don’t have a single favorite game. This realization combined with one thing that kept nagging at me. NO! My wife is very supportive and understands my struggles. But the concept kept creeping in, “I love new games.” The new game. The new game offered me the variety. I was always excited about it and would almost always lobby for it once suggested. It was usually the game that I would choose when faced with multiple options. This had to be my number one. I did it!
My favorite game is without name.
The time it took to tally these terrific titles was tremendous, topped only by the time typing this article.
How do you pick your favorites? What is your process? Is it a process at all or is it a simple conversation with yourself?
Do you even have to think about it?
Do you listen to imaginary music?
Comment below or send us a really long-winded reply to let us know both what are your favorites and how did you arrive at that list, and remember, questions can be dangerous. Next time, be careful who you ask.