The 10×10 challenge is fairly new in the board gaming community. It originated on BGG when Sarah Reed, one of the hosts of the wonderful podcast Our Turn! and co-designer of Project Dreamscape, was getting into the hobby and like many of us was getting drawn into the cult of the new. She came up with the 10×10 as a remedy, I reached out to Sarah and here is her story of how the 10×10 came about:
I wanted to play a new game every time we sat down, but I was always so frustrated at learning so many new rules and not remembering them months later when we sat down for a second play of a game. So near the end of 2013, I was chatting with some ladies in the Women & Gaming forum on Board Game Geek about my frustrations and how I wanted to focus on learning a game better and really getting into the strategy of it.
In December 2013, I created a GeekList with some really general guidelines on how to join the Play 10 Board Games 10 Times Each Challenge. My friends from the Women & Gaming forum joined in, which was like 10 people. And then 20 other people joined in. Then 50 more people joined. And they started asking questions to clarify the rules of the challenge. And then 100 more people joined. It just exploded and suddenly I was running a huge challenge where I was officiating what was acceptable and what was not. It totally blew my mind! I had hit upon something that really resonated with others – getting burnt out by the cult of the new.
I can certainly relate to this sentiment. I have felt the pressure to play the latest and greatest, to not get left behind, in the fast paced world of board game fandom it can be easy to feel left out if you haven’t played the games on the hotness meter. I still love getting my hands on some new and highly anticipated game, I love learning and playing new games but I have learned that this shouldn’t come at the expense of really digging into and savouring games.
I first read about the 10×10 on BGG but noticed it has spread to the Reddit boardgame community this year and I really got inspired to try when I started using BG Stats to track my plays. BG Stats is a neat little app that allows you to track plays, scores and other data about your gaming but it also has a add-on that will let you set a variety of challenges for yourself like the 10×10. The 10×10 challenge really struck a chord with me, I decided I would choose games that I really want to dig into for a variety of reasons like exploring their depth and studying deeper strategy, they are games I can get quality time with my kids with, or they are games that allow me some great one on one time with my spouse. I think I got a good mix of games:
Since I filled my list with games that I know the people I game with the most like to play, I have no plans to substitute any of these games but I also have no need to label it as hardcore (when you pick 10 games and cannot alter those choices). I don’t see the point in taking something I love and do for leisure and turning into another stress in my life but others may want to challenge themselves.
Now if you have been in the hobby for a while it probably isn’t too hard for you to realistically pick ten games that you could see yourself playing ten times and that you would have the opportunity to do so in the span of a year but if you are a newer gamer Sarah has some tips on getting started so you can get the most out of the challenge:
- If this is your first time doing the challenge, stick to the normal challenge. Keep track of plays, let it go mostly natural to 10 plays of 10 games. Just guide it towards the conclusion
- Make sure you own the game. Don’t include KS games you don’t have as they are always late. And don’t use your friend’s copy because you never know when they’ll move or sell off the game
- If you have a gaming group or gaming partner you’ll be relying on to do the challenge, get them involved in picking games. They’ll be more likely to want to help you finish
- If it becomes a chore to do, stop doing the challenge. Or if you’re doing hardcore, downgrade to normal. This is supposed to be fun. There are enough chores in life without adding one that doesn’t need to be one.
I believe that the 10×10 challenge is a great addition to the board game community. It is a great tool for getting people to think about and possibly change their gaming habits. I think that each person’s 10×10 can have a variety of themes or goals. I’ve stated my goals yours might be to learn and master 10 train games, or to get in a lot of plays of gateway games, or play only 2 player games with your spouse or partner for quality time, the reasons go on and on as to why I think a 10×10 challenge can only help to deepen ones love and appreciation of board games.
I’ll leave you with some more words form Sarah as to what she has appreciated from the growth and acceptance of the 10×10 challenge in our community.
I was so happy with how many people enjoyed my challenge! My favorite part is hearing how positively the challenge has affected people. It’s brought families together, it’s saved unplayed games from being sold before being given a chance and it’s reinvigorated people’s love of the hobby.