Losing at Board Games

I’m not entirely sure when it started happening.

I’m the game collector in our family.  Board games is my hobby.  I cut my teeth on chess, poker, and backgammon.  I played tabletop war games in college, for days at a time.

When my wife and I decided that we should play more games, we got into Dominion, Settlers of Catan, and Carcassonne.  There was no going back from that point.  We started getting into Reiner Knizia games, following specific designers and companies, and finding out about release dates for expansion sets.

And when I say “we”… I mean “me”. My wife was simply a willing participant in my gaming hobby, but not much more than that.  She would cast a wary eye at packages arriving from UPS, or bags arriving from the local game store.  It was a sort of tacit approval.  She wouldn’t have suggested it, but it was okay as a hobby.

(My other hobby is roasting coffee, and by comparison board games don’t have the same chance of smoke and fire, and are stored out of sight in a downstairs bookcase — not in canvas bags with green beans spilling out of them.)

And then I looked up a few years later, and realized I wasn’t winning.  Much.

And at some games, I hadn’t won at all.

Hey! That's My Fish!
Hey! That’s My Fish!

The final straw was Campaign Manager 2008.  I picked up this game because I saw it at a good price.  I figured that the reviews were pretty favorable toward it, and it was worth a try.  In this game one player manages the McCain campaign, and one player manages the Obama campaign.  The game is a battle over the swing states that were in play in 2008.

I haven’t won a single game, and we have played 6 times.

My wife has started referring to herself as a “political mastermind,” because we alternate which candidates we are playing in each game, and yet she wins every time.

And here’s the main thing: I think I’m going to win.  In fact, there have been some games that I am sure I am going to win, only to look up and realize that my wife beat me.  Again.

In this column, I will look in detail at a game I’ve played and lost, and figure out why I lost.  I will start by giving a brief summary of the game itself: why it is in our collection and why we play it.  I’ll give a description of a specific play of that game.  I might be highly detailed.  I might not be.  But I will for sure then try to figure out what happened.  Why I lost.

Thanks for reading.  If you love board games, but are losing at them with an alarming consistency, this column is for you.   (If you are regularly winning at board games, you should write a column called “why I am the best”… and I will read it! I have much to learn.)

6 thoughts on “Losing at Board Games

Add yours

  1. Excellent….I enjoyed this blog…Looking forward to the next installment and *expansions* articles…
    Best of luck… 😉


  2. This happens to me a lot too, I love games… Board games, Tabletop RPGs, etc. and I own a lot of them. And I too lose a lot of the time. In fact, I would say that I lose most of the time. My only consolation is that I must do it subconsciously so that people will feel good about winning, and will keep playing with me in the future. It is a way to lose the battle, but win the war. Otherwise, I am horrible at my favorite hobby. 🙂


  3. Thanks, Moe. Appreciate you following along.
    Bryan, that’s the worst part, I think. I love games, all kinds of games… I love to introduce people to new games. But as soon as they learn how to play… everything starts to look a bit ominous.

    I like that line – a way to lose the battle, but win the war.


  4. Jon, I appreciate your perspective, especially defined by, “And then I looked up a few years later, and realized I wasn’t winning. Much.” You can define a good game against the right opponent by not noticing whether you win or lose. Keep playing. And if you find the game where you are the mastermind, well, you may just find yourself losing anyway.


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