At the start of the year, my friend Steve approached me and asked if I wanted to take part in the 10×10 challenge at The Dice Cup (my local boardgame café).
“What’s that?” I asked.
“It simple,” he replied, “You just pick 10 games and try to play them 10 times in a year.”
I frowned. It didn’t sound very appealing. I like to be free to play whatever I want to play and not feel constricted. I didn’t want to be in the position of feeling obliged to play certain games over and over again just because they were on my 10×10 list.
“Um, no thanks…”
“Why not?!” he exclaimed.
“Do you get anything for completing it?” I asked. Steve was so enthusiastic about it, I was trying to find some vague motivational hook to inspire me so as not to disappoint him.
“What happens if you fail?”
“So it’s just… for fun?”
I was struggling to see quite how the ‘fun’ bit was supposed to happen.
Over the next week, he must have asked dozens of people and had laminated nice “10×10 Challenge” sheets for people and stuck them up around the café so that they could tick off their games as they played them.
“So have you changed your mind yet?”
Steve is nothing if not persistent when he sets his mind to something. It was maybe the fourth time in a week that he’d asked me about it.
“I’m still not quite sure what the point of it is…” I managed.
“It just helps to promote the hobby I guess,” he explained. “It gives people a focus, something to talk about. And it’s nice to see the sheets around the café gradually fill up as you go through the year.”
“Hmm…” I pondered. Sometimes, I think you need to get onboard with something, even if you can’t see the point of it, just to support the people as much as anything. I think my friendship with Steve was the only thing to really carry me over the line on this one.
“Go on then,” I said, with resignation.
Steve’s face lit up. “Yeah! It’ll be great!”
I then spent the next week trying to decide exactly which games I should pick. It was a harder decision than I thought. You might be keen on a game now, but will you still want to play it in six months time after 6 or 7 plays? Do you go for quick fillers that will be easy to play lots of times or do you go for bigger games that you might enjoy more, but might be difficult to play 10 times?
I told my son Noah about it and he was immediately interested. He’s at that age where getting stickers on a chart as a reward for something is still highly motivational. I think Steve still finds sticker charts motivational! Their collective enthusiasm was contagious though.
I decided campaign games were a good idea. There’s a natural motivation to play a game multiple times if your character is advancing and the story is progressing. I do like a good heavy Euro though. I definitely wanted at least one of those on the list… but which one?
I play a lot of games with Noah so we quickly agreed that we should include at least a couple of games that we were likely to play together on both our lists. After much discussion and thought, my list gradually came together.
We’re now three months in and I’ve been gradually ticking off games on my sheet as I play them. Much to my surprise, my attitude to the whole thing has changed significantly. I’m really enjoying it! I don’t know that I make much of a conscious effort to play the games on my list over others, but because I thought carefully about which games to put on the list, they are naturally getting played as we go through the year.
There’s also something strangely satisfying about ticking the games off as you play them. Maybe I’m still motivated by sticker charts after all!
It’s also had an unusual effect on the Dice Cup. Certain games that you would rarely see played are being played a lot. I think War of the Ring has been played more in the past couple of months than I have ever seen. At least two people have stuck Twilight Imperium on their list. I’ve had more requests to play that this year than I’ve ever had in my life!
So which games did I go for in the end? Find out later this week in The 10×10 Challenge – Part 2.