The vast majority of board games are designed to be short and replayable experiences where the nuances of the game come from repeated plays in different groups, trying out different strategies, and have some variability via random setup or inclusion/exclusion of modular expansions.
However, there is another genre of games that seems to be sweeping over the hobby, and it’s campaign games. These games tend to be long and epic story driven games that often lack replayability.
These games tend to have secret components that you unlock over time and even may have destructible components. Many would use this as an argument against campaign games, but, in an age where board game collections are overrun with shrink-wrapped boxes and unpunched components, it is highly unlikely that any given game gets more than a few plays a year.
So realistically, how replayable do you really need that 30 hour campaign game to be?
When you can have a few friends come together and commit to the best campaign board games, even if you only play them once, it’s hard to argue that you didn’t get your money’s worth when you factor in 4-8 people, dozens of hours of entertainment each… even legacy games rank among the cheapest hobbies.
Types of Campaign Games
Replayable Campaign Games:
This is a bit of a misnomer for sure, because while these games offer enough randomizers or divigernt paths that you can play it again and discover some new things here and there, it is only as replayable as your willingness to re-experience something.
These games offer big and verbose experiences so maybe just once is enough for you anyhow, especially given the sense of discovery eventually wears off. Think of it like a movie with a suprise ending. Once you have seen the movie once, the excitement and edge-of-your-seat phenomena fade away and you are left with just a series of moving pictures leading up to an expected conclusion. Sometimes this is OK and it is what you want, but movies that rely on these big suprise story elements tend to have a very short shelf-life.
Similarly in games, you cannot unsee something and therefore coming back and playing the game again will likely not be the same. Here are some “replayable” campaign games:
What are Legacy Board Games?
Legacy games are games that embrace the one-and-done and they are meant to be played only once. In fact, most legacy games require that you destroy the components by writing/drawing on the board, placing stickers on the board and on cards, and tearing cards.
Like in many campaign games, there are things to discover, secret envelopes, boxes to open, and all those really cool moments that you just do not get from a non-campaign game.
However, once you are done playing this game, you are truly done. You cannot undo the damage you’ve done to the board and the components and you are left with only the memory of the experience you had. It was a great memory indeed.
Some legacy games do offer more than one play-through, but they’ll never be the same as your first place.