Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Games are too expensive, or why I don't need more bones

On Sunday I wrote about the fact that the core box of a board game tends to be priced in the tens or low hundreds of dollars. However, there are also expansions. I checked, and I own about $400 worth of core game and expansions from Too Many Bones. If that sounds a lot to you, I have proof that this is still on the low side: There is a now crowdfunding out on Gamefound for Too Many Bones: Unbreakable, and the all-in pledge that gets you all the games and expansions is $1,100. It even comes with the luxury box included that holds all that content, which usually sells for $150.

Now Too Many Bones, even in the most basic version, is a game of luxury components. Pretty much any other board game would be completely ruined if you spilled a full bottle of soda all over it while playing. Not so Too Many Bones: All the components are either neoprene or plastic, and you could just rinse the game off with water, dry it, and it would be as good as new. And indestructible game components come with a price. So you could pledge $85 for the new standalone Unbreakable, *or* pay $130 for the original Too Many Bones, *or* $90 for the Undertow 2-player standalone game, and given the quality of the components and the fact that this is the 40th best game on BoardGameGeek, I would say that you are getting a reasonably good deal. I would also recommend their neoprene dice tray that has no folds, and rather reliably prevents cocked dice.

But it is damn easy to get sucked into that game and want more expansions. I bought too much Too Many Bones. And the currently 151 people who went for the $1,100 all-in pledge will most certainly end up with far too much game to play. How are you ever going to play through all 17 characters? Especially since it is well worth playing each one several times before you get anywhere close to mastering it. I have 7 of them, and haven't played all of them yet. The $1,100 pledge comes with a serious risk that you will never play the game at all, because just choosing what combination of characters, tyrants, and rules variations to play is too daunting a task. The all-in pledge contains so many boxes with possible rules variations, it might get really confusing.

Speaking from economic theory it is simply a problem of diminishing returns. Twice as much game would cost you twice as much, but not give you twice as much enjoyment. Even if you have new characters battling a new tyrant and new baddies on a new battlemat, the core experience is still the same as in the base game. Which is a very good game, but how often do you want to play it? So I would say that it is a good thing that Unbreakable is the last expansion of the Too Many Bones game. There is too much of a good thing here.


It’s fascinating to see an arguably niche market (board games) find a way to somehow go both mainstream (thinking how Critical Role is the top Twitch stream) yet at the same time manage to go even more niche with these fascinating price tiers.

I guess in a respect, they become market competitors and if there’s a market, then they continue to exist.
Sounds like a roguelike. Except that comes at a reasonable price and you don't feel the need to win with every class. Though you can try if that's what you want.

Good example is Into The Breach (roguelite). A really good game and I defeated it more than once with the default team before unlocking the second team (out of eight.) I haven't really gotten into playing the second team, but that's fine. I got more than my money's worth already. Maybe I will go for it someday.
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