Weight is a term that is thrown around a lot in board game circles to refer to the complexity of a game. It’s a shorthand that can quickly convey the type of experience you can expect when you sit down to play. However, weight can mean different things to different people.
For this week’s CMON Feature Friday, we’re taking a look at the various weight classes and naming a few titles that fit in. Let us know if you agree with our assessment.
Introductory Games (Lightweight)
These are the simplest of the simple. They feature rules that can be explained in under a minute, and right off the bat, it’s pretty evident what you’re supposed to do. Sometimes, these can be considered less of a game and more as a shared group activity. Now, this is not to say that there isn’t a lot of fun to be had with these types of games, just that they are not overly deep. Often, party games will fall into the lightweight category. For example, titles like Sherlook, where multiple players race to spot the differences between two nearly identical crime scene images, or Kaleidos, where players search images to find words starting with the same letter, are considered lightweight. These types of games are great for the start or end of an evening, or to fill in gaps between meatier fare.
Gateway Games (Mid-weight)
These games introduce a deeper level of strategy. In modern terms, they may be considered gateway or family games. The idea is that they will make a player think in a more creative and competitive way, than a simple roll and move or party game would. Modern strategy games have mechanics like auctions, worker placement, set collection, action selection, deckbuilding, and, of course, so much more. Mid-weight games will contain some of those ideas, but in an easily-digestible way. The idea of these games is to familiarize people with some of the concepts of heavier games, without overwhelming them. Classic gateway games include titles like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Carcassonne, but a more modern list could include Ethnos, Potion Explosion, and 13 Clues.
Strategy Games (Heavyweight)
These are games that will be best enjoyed by someone with experience in the hobby. They will test your decision-making skills, force you to think ahead, and will reward multiple play sessions. Strategy games are complex, and that’s what is fun about them. They often force you into a position where you won’t be able to do everything you want, and will be forced to make sacrifices along the way to get to your end goal. Good strategy games have multiple paths to victory, and force you to read the state of the board and what the others are playing in order to make the best decisions you can. Games like Blood Rage, Unfair, Council of 4, and Kreus fall into the Strategy Game category.
Deep Strategy (Super-Heavy)
These games have a lot going on in them. They are definitely not recommended for people new to the hobby, as they run the risk of turning them off of it forever. Deep Strategy games can take hours, and that’s just the set up and rules explanation. For many people, this is the ideal. They see a playtime of six hours or more and they get super excited. Challenging yourself against your opponents and a complex set of rules can be draining, taxing, and oh so much fun, if you have the right personality. Classic titles in this weight class include Die Macher, Twilight Imperium, and Dune. CMON doesn’t have a lot of games in this category, but if you want to try some serious brain burners, check out Lorenzo il Magnifico, Rising Sun, or The Grizzled.
It’s hard to categorize all games, and of course, not every single one will fall into these categories, but it does give you an idea of what a gamer means when they mention ‘the weight’ of a game. For most people, the weight they’re interested in playing comes down to the mood they’re in or the crowd they’re playing with. Each weight has a time and place. You just have to find the right title for the right moment and sink your teeth in!
What are your favorite game weights? Reach out to us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #CMONFeatureFriday to let us know!