Dilution Theory – Part I

Regular listeners to the podcast will know that we regularly discuss Game Dilution Theory (GDT), especially when Dave Luff is on the show. The subject of GDT has recently been raised, thanks to a listener email from John which asked me how it has been affecting my gaming, based on my favourite games and projects from previous years. (Don’t you just hate it when people take notes and hold you accountable for things you have said in the past?)

If you aren’t sure what it is, Game Dilution Theory can be summarized in a few brief statements:

  • All gamers have a collection of games from which to choose when playing.
  • There is a finite number of hours in the week in which games can be played.
  • Adding to the collection of games means that there is more choice when choosing a game to play…
  • …however, each additional game in your collection means that every game can be played less often – assuming that the same time is spent playing each game. Hence your gaming is diluted.

Although we joke about how GDT clashes with what appears to be the ‘default’ setting of most gamers, which can usually be summarised:

  • It’s new
  • It’s shiny
  • I must buy it

there is no doubt – however much we hate to admit it – that The Great Guru Luff has a very valid point. The more we purchase, the less chance we get to play with it, although what tends to happen is that we play with our newer acquisitions, and the older stuff gets neglected – which is a shame, as many of us will probably find that if we go back and play games that we used to love, they are still just as good as they always were.

To prove the point, here is the list of games that John had made note of featuring regularly as my ‘top’ or ‘favourite’ games in the past, and how they are currently fairing in my ‘games played’ list.

  • Chain of Command – Probably my current favourite set of wargaming rules, in any period. It’s fair to say that you could easily spend several years gaming WW2. Though we played this game a lot in 2016, this has only seen the table once or twice in 2017. I still have three forces to paint for this game: Waffen SS, Fallschirmjager and US Army. Last played in 2017.
  • Saga – I did actually manage to play Saga earlier this year, after several years of neglect. I played a few games in 2016, which enthused me to try to finish my Breton army for the game – which is where those now-infamous 32 unpainted Norman cavalry feature. I also have a Viking force which I would like to paint so that Josh and I can play this every so often, and have Crusader and Arab forces in boxes too. On this list to come back to. Last played in 2017.
  • Sword & Spear – whilst these are my favourite set of ancients rules, they haven’t seen the table for some time. I have several 6mm armies waiting to be painted. Last played in 2014.
  • Planetfall – Probably my favourite set of sci-fi mass battle rules. Despite the recent demise of Spartan Games, I will continue to play this game with my son, Josh. Half my Terran Alliance force is painted – I’m just waiting for Josh to paint a couple of Dindrenzi Helixes for me to fight. Last played in 2016.
  • I Ain’t Been Shot Mum – Whilst this used to be my ‘go to’ set of WW2 rules, it has been very much usurped by Chain of Command, to the point where I may very well not play this game again. Last played in 2014.
  • Dreadball – This was the very first Kickstarter that I backed. I also backed Dreadball Xtreme. Still like the game, but haven’t played it for a very long time. Definitely one to revisit. Last played in 2013.
  • Command and Colors – in all it’s many guises, this game gets back to the table about once every 3 months, which is far less than it deserves. I have had the models for ‘Samurai Battles’ on my work bench for a few months now, and Josh is keen to play this version – because it’s Samurai. Last played in 2017.
  • Uncharted Seas – I actually have two painted fleets for this game, plus a third that is half-painted. Maybe another game that will come back to the table and I’ll play it with Josh. Last played in 2010.
  • Command Horizon – Another game I have a painted force for. Dave and I enjoyed this game, and we keep talk about getting it back to the table. Having said that, I don’t like the direction the game was taken in after Baccus sold the rules, and Planetfall is, IMO, a better game which scratches the same itch. Last played in 2010.
  • Ex Ilis – Since this game was computer moderated, the death has ultimately spelt death for the game, and we don’t play it anymore. I still have all the miniatures – and whilst many are unpainted, they would actually make a good chaos army for a fantasy set of rules that is currently in development – plus you could always use them for Sword & Spear Fantasy – so not completely dead. Last played in 2012.
  • X-Wing – This game had something of a resurgence for me last year, and I still play every so often with my son. Planning on staring The Heroes of the Aturi Cluster campaign with him. Last played in 2016.
  • Space Hulk – It’s been sat on the shelf for years, but I have been looking at it in recent months and promising myself that I should revisit this, finally paint all the Genestealers and get it back on the table.
  • Cold War Commander – Whilst we played it for a while a few years back, I decided that I didn’t really the rules. I am very keen to do Arab – Israeli wars in 3mm, but will most likely look for another set of modern rules, rather than these. Last played in 2011.
  • Lord of the Rings LCG – This comes out two or three times a year, and should really be played more often than that – especially as it can be played solo. Probably my favourite card game. Last played in 2016.
  • Deadzone – really liked the ideas for the rules. Bought the original game and the expansion via kickstarter…it has never been out of the box. Last played in 2013.
  • Conan – Still a regular favourite. Already played this game several times this year, and we are planning to continue. Last played in 2017.
  • Shogun – One of my favourite baordgames, though it takes 3-4 hours to play. Whilst I am keen to get it back to the table, it may be unlikely in the near future as Mr Luff doesn’t like it much. Last played in 2010.

Traditional miniature wargames have suffered from lack of table time in recent months due to the change in nature of our regular Thursday night gaming group. For several years it was just Dave Luff and I, so we played a lot of wargames. However, in the last year this evening has turned into a 3 or 4 player night, so we tend to feature boardgames more often than not.

We’ve talked about getting together at a weekend to carry on playing wargames, but this has yet to materialise.

So, according to the list above, Gaming Dilution is alive and well, at least in our gaming group. Only 4 games from the above list have been played this year. So what have I been playing instead? Games that I have played multiple times in 2017 include:

  • Dungeon Saga
  • Test of Honour
  • Runewars Miniatures Game
  • Ninja All-Stars
  • Lords of Waterdeep
  • The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire
  • Thunderbirds
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The Temple of Elemental Evil
  • Samurai

This year’s top games could prove to be a lot different from what has gone before.

3 Comments on Dilution Theory – Part I

  1. Mervyn's taxi driver // August 30, 2017 at 18:15 // Reply

    The key thing is not to buy new toys until they have been released for at least 2 years to see if they have any legs and then buy. Oh and,sell something every time you buy as well. Mind you I’ve just bought into forager so shame on me!

  2. This has been top of mind recently. At least one gaming session each month is dedicated to breaking out an older title from the collection. “Old” doesn’t have a certain time stamp but is defined, rather, as a game we bought into, enjoyed, played a lot at one time, and then survived the periodic culls of the game collection to make room for newer games. The result, of course, is the shelves are now packed with really, really good “old” games that have a lot to offer but don’t get the playing time they deserve.

    With a conscious effort and time earmarked for a Retro-Game we are reminded of how good some of the older games are. Last month we broke out Space Hulk and the one-off planned session turned into a playthrough of about half the missions in the book. Most enjoyable and we didn’t mind at all the turn of focus away from the new and shiny.

    If you’re interested in more thoughts, see “Retro-Game Night: Loving What You Have” here:

  3. this is a great idea, I might suggest it to my group and see if we can do something similar

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