It was an impressive film!

For anyone who hasn’t heard of the term ‘Date Night’, it’s when an established couple take a night for themselves where they relive the dates they had as a courting couple. These often take the form of a dinner out followed by a movie. Those of us with children often just take the opportunity for an early night and a few more hours sleep, and those of us with a passion for board games find something to play, pour the wine and settle in for some cardboard manoeuvres.

Sometimes though it can be difficult to justify the brand-new board game. Whilst you’re stood in your local bricks and mortar board game shop, looking at the prices of the latest and greatest, or even the modern classic, you’re often looking at between £30 and £40, for cardboard! If your partner isn’t as into board games as you are this can often be met with a rebuttal of, “We could have a night out for that”.

Maybe not, however. Your local modern cinema doesn’t let people in for free, and certainly in our case, our local multiplex charges a whopping £13.50 for an adult ticket. Once you’ve made a booking for two it’s £27. We all know you can’t go into the cinema without the snacks, and yes, those more organised of us will have pre-bought their sweets and bottles of drink, but where’s the romanticism in that – plus it wouldn’t make for a great article if we discussed how to see films at the cinema on the cheap, this is a board game expo after all!

Anyhow, back to the popcorn, which, for a box large enough for two people to share, adds another £5.50 to the running total. Then add in some drinks, two mediums for the law of averages, and that’s another £8.00. So far we’re up to a running total of £40.50 – and how much was the board game?

No Avengers here!

Okay, so playing a board game doesn’t quite match the sensory-overload of a full cinematic experience. A run through of Ticket To Ride doesn’t give you the same out-of-world experience that one of those modern metal-tin-man with blue-suit-shield-carrying-friend films does.

What Board Games do give you though is replay-ability. Even the most ardent board game collector manages two play-throughs of a game, before it’s consigned to the last space left on the Kallax (other shelving units are available!) Watching the same film for the second time is great if you want to catch some details you missed, but the ending is forever the same – the Titanic always sinks. The same doesn’t apply to Board Games, and the story of the game is always different (unless you’re playing my wife at Patchwork, in which case, the story is always the same – you lose), and that is why Board Games will always trump the cinema.

Let’s break it down into pure numbers. The cinema, for two people, for a two-hour film is £40. That’s £20 an hour, or if you want to break it down even more, that £10 per person per hour. Let’s apply the same equation to a board game. For our first example we’ll use the recently released Altiplano. It’s a two-hour game, for two to five players, but in keeping with the date-night equation we’ll keep it at two players. Using Board Game Geek we can find Altiplano for sale at about £44. So that’s £22 per person, or £11 per person per hour, for one play-through. Using two playthroughs as our benchmark turns that into £5.50 per person per hour. Much better than the £10 for the cinema.

So let’s try a shorter game, something like Potion Explosion. It’s supposed to be a 30-45 minute game, but I’ve never played one that hasn’t taken twice that, so we’ll round it up to an hour. Back to Board Game Geek and you can pick up Potion Explosion for about £32. Using the same maths, that’s £16 per person, and at a one-hour game, for two play-throughs, that’s £8 per person per hour.

If we extend our comparison to a family of four then the cinema cost jumps up. From our two adult tickets at £27 we jump to £44 for a “Family of four” ticket. Add in two medium popcorns (£4 x 2) and two medium drinks (£4 x 2) for the ankle-biters and we’ve got a grand total of £60, for a two-hour film! For a “per person” cost that’s £15, and per person per hour it’s £7.50 – okay, looking a little more reasonable.

But it gets blown out of the water by the board games. Let’s compare it to Potion Explosion. We’ve now got four players. So our £32 for the game becomes £8 per person. For two play-throughs we’re now looking at £4 pp/ph. If we bring in something like the amazing 2017 Spiel des Jahres winner, Kingdomino, then the sums get even better.

What Board Games do give you though is replay-ability. Even the most ardent board game collector manages two play-throughs of a game, before it’s consigned to the last space left on the Kallax.

Spiel des Jahres 2014 Winner!

Kingdomino retails at around £22. It’s supposed to be a 30 minute game, but with four players fighting to fit their fields of corn between the swamp and the river, you’re looking at more like an hour. That makes it £5.50 per person per hour, and with two play-throughs that’s just £2.75 pp/ph. That beats the cinema at £7.50 pp/ph.

In every single case, buying a board game beats the cinema for value for money. Of course, the cinema is a full-on sensory experience, but with board games you can interact with people, talk to them, laugh and joke with them (or in our case, entering in to heavy discussions over interpretations of ‘that’ rule), have you tried doing that in a cinema whilst the film is on!

Okay, so it’s not very scientific, and yes, we’ve gone with how long it takes us to play a game, rather than the seasoned professionals but we firmly believe that if you apply the ‘Date-Night Equation’ to any board game purchase you’ll find that the cardboard always wins!

(This article was written by Board Game Crate and first appeared in the UK Games Expo 2018 programme.)

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