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Thoughts on “Over-Produced” Games

Recently in many of the board gaming groups I follow, I have been seeing a trend of people complaining about games being over produced. This is a somewhat puzzling statement to me, after all I find a lot of joy in games that go a step above and beyond. Generally when I see this statement, I find that people are discussing games with miniatures and complaining that the miniatures are not a necessity and just become an added cost to the game.

While I personally don’t view games with miniatures this way, I can see where people are coming from. In almost any miniatures game, the minis could be replaced with a variety of things like cardboard standees, pawns, cards or even meeples. For the most part, this would make the games cost less, and therefor be more accessible to more people.

There is definitely appeal in games being more affordable, but a lot of my enjoyment comes from the aesthetics of the games I am playing. Even more so when there are miniatures to paint, and expand my hobby even further. I often cringe when players call for games to not have miniatures to cut costs. I do like that some publishers are offering multiple pledge levels in their Kickstarters now. One pledge level with cardboard standees, and another with miniatures. It really is the best of both worlds.

All that being said, I do believe there is such a thing as an over produced game. It is very rare for me to say something is over produced. However, in cases where a game’s components interfere or make game play more difficult for the sheer reason of looking aesthetically better, that is when I start considering games to be overproduced. An example of this would be Everdell. The tree in Everdell looks absolutely magnificent, and gives the game wonderful table presence. That being said, often times in Everdell, components fall off of the beautiful tree and scatter the game board. This becomes an added frustration that would not exist if there was a flat game board. Players really have to consider if the added aesthetic is worth the added difficulty of having to reset the board on a wobbly table.

I won’t say that the tree is necessarily a bad thing, because many people love it. However, I dislike that it can detract from game play.  It is only in cases like that, I would say a game is overproduced. Are there any games you think are over-produced? What makes a game over produced to you?

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on “Over-Produced” Games

  1. This is a concept I’ve never considered before. I can see how meeples can replace minis, but what would Stuffed Fables be without the minis? What about Anachrony with its billion chits? They are not all used every game, but for all the variants, they get used. Sometimes thematics enhances my enjoyment of a game, so while I can see where you are coming from, I don’t think any of my games are what I would call overproduced. (I don’t have Everdell).

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  2. Thank you for another great article. I must say, I do think how a game looks is important to the game experience for me. So, cool minis, beautiful illustrations, wooden resources and metal coins are a plus to me. However, like you I think, there does come a point for me at which it’s unnecessary and is just expensive fluff. Many people love buying realistic resources for their games, which I think is over the top and I’d rather spend my money on something else. However, I have no personal experience with games that I think are overproduced. Everdell is a good example though where the tree is clearly not needed to play the game and more of a hindrance – but I’ve not played that myself yet.

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  3. At first glance I feel like this issue has a dichotomy that I feel might be the reason that people feel differently depending on which side of the dichotomy you fall on. I feel like you can fall in to 2 camps on this issue:
    1. Games as toys – if you fall into this camp you probably enjoy the aesthetic of a game due to the fact that it is an object that you enjoy “playing with”. I think people in this camp want to see their games beefed up to make them more immersive and fun to play.
    2. Games as competition and social interaction – I think that people in this camp want their games to be challenging and thought provoking. Mechanics and player interaction are definitely more important to these gamers which might lead them to want more streamlined games.
    I don’t want to say that these two camps are the only camps nor that everyone fits in to one camp or the other. I’m sure that many people fit in to both camps and enjoy both aspects of games and therefore have a more difficult time with this question.
    Personally, I feel that a game is overproduced if the aesthetic of the game does not contribute to the experience or if the game has seemingly used production quality to “make up for” good game mechanics and experience.

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  4. For me the classic overproduced game was the Space Hulk from a few years ago. It was expensive, it looked _amazing_ and then you tried to play it and those awesome minis were suddenly a massive pain – they didn’t fit inside the game squares, they were unstable and fell over a lot, their hundreds of arms just ended up all getting tangled up together, making it hard to move them one at a time.

    It did look super cool though :-/

    Cheers,

    Jack

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