The “Heavy” Games – How to Approach Them

There are certain games that the gaming world calls “heavy” games. We call them heavy because they have more complex rules and longer play times. These are my favorite type of game for a few reasons. I like investing in a game for a few hours – watching it develop and change. I also like the reward of seeing a strategy work. There is even some satisfaction in trying bad strategies for kicks.

I decided to write on heavy games because of my family’s “100 Game Challenge.” contains several heavy games. Many folks have commented, saying things like, “Your family plays some heavy games!” They’ve also added, “I wish I could get my family/group into games like that.” My family does tend to play heavier games because I do. To groups that want to up the complexity at the table, I have a few tips. 

Increase Nice and Easy

Every game fits in a particular category of games like “worker placement” or “deck builder.” In that category, there are going to be lighter games and heavier games. Start with lighter games in that category and move up. If you want to play Agricola, you may want to start with Lords of Waterdeep or Champions of Midgard. You aren’t sacrificing quality with those great games, but you are building skills. Those skills will help your group ease into Agricola or others like it much easier.

Plan to Play Twice

With heavy games, there can be many rules with thick rulebooks to go with them. Some rulebooks aren’t the most helpful either. When you group decides to play a heavy game, plan on playing it at least twice in a row. If you have time to do it back to back, that’s great. If not, plan on playing it at your next session. This gives you more familiarity with the rules and mechanics. It also allows you to immediately correct the mistakes you are bound to make in the first play through.

Play to Learn

For heavy games, your group should call the first play through a learning experience. Some people are more competitive than others – this we know. Your group would do well to suspend the competition for a game or two. Instead, walk through each others’ turns and even help one another make decisions. This seems like a bit much for some, but I promise the experience will pay dividends. It also builds a spirit of helpfulness in the group, which is much better than other vibes a group might produce. What is your favorite heavy game and why? How has your group approached playing them?

What is your favorite heavy game and why? How has your group approached playing them?

I'd love to hear your questions and comments!