Big box, or micro? Table hog or backpack fodder? Which is best? Rather, what would you rather have, many or few?
"Micro-Games" a commonly used term for games that come in very small packages, play in a very small amount of time (dependent of course, but 10-15 minute play times are most common, but so are 30 minute play times) and take up just over a place-mat's worth of space. Price points for these are usually around $10-$25USD as well. The best part about them?
They are everywhere, and their market share is growing.
Arguably the most popular micro-game currently is Love Letter by AEG. Released in 2012, the game is a social deduction game where players are trying to get their 'love letter' to the princes by playing cards and applying their unique effects.
"Love Letter" is credited for launching the Micro-Game into main stream board gaming culture.. The fact is tat they have been around in popular culture for much longer, but for the sake of argument we are going to stick to 2004 onward.
"No Thanks" by Amigo Spiel was published in 2004 and may be the earliest modern micro-game. But micro isn't small enough for us. We need to go deeper.
"Win Lose Banana" by Asmadi is what some call a 'nano-game'. It consists of three cards with then names 'Win', 'Lose' and 'Banana'. In this three player game, cards are dealt out one to each person. If you are dealt the 'Win' card, congratulations! A winner is you! There is a variant where the winner tries to figure out who has the Banana card that can delve into the social deduction aspect, but its technically isn't part of the game.
Michael Eskue re-skinned (intentionally or not) "Win, Lose, Banana" in 2013 and dubbed it "Where Art Thou Romeo?". The game is essentially the same, where instead of Bananas, its Montegues and Capulets convincing Juliet that they are the one true Romeo over multiple rounds while accruing points.
Why do I bring attention a 'nano-game' that was re-skinned 4 years later? Simply put, even though it is only three cards, it implies that it is good enough that it should have a place on the retail shelf.
So if "Win, Lose, Banana" is worth it to reprint, does that mean that it is worth it?
Quantity and Quality
Going back to Micro-games, which are substantially meatier comparatively, are usually one-fifth the price of the average MSRP of a 'standard' size game. For this example, let us consider a 'standard' hobby game to be $60USD and let us use the game Agricola (who's MSRP is actually $69.99USD, but it's one that many people know, so bear with me). Let us also assume that the average MSRP of a micro-game to be $20USD. Are three micro-games worth one 'standard' game?
This falls into the thought of quantity versus quality. Personally, I find mush more enjoyment in a game that will consume my entire evening. I like to be mentally and emotionally invested. Micro-games don't do that for me. Sure, I love "Sushi Go" and "Star Realms", but I prefer the meat of a 'standard' offering.
So why are two of my gaming shelves filled with micro-games when they don't fulfill my gaming needs?
QUANTITY. I can buy more with my twenty bucks now, than saving my money until later. The American in me wants instant gratification, and what better way to do that than slave away to the capitalist machine that will give me my fix now for cheap, rather than save up for the good stuff.
I can spend more time in one session with 'Agricola' than 20 sessions of 'Love Letter', but I can also buy six copies of 'Love Letter' to one 'Agricola". So which is worth more?
Should I buy or Should Save?
Where the distinction lies is the perceived value. If you feel like 20 games of a micro-game is worth one session of a 'standard' game, than go for it. These games have their merits, and they are worth enjoying, but maybe it might be worth it to save that $20 and hold off a bit until you can splurge on a truly deep experience. I'm sure that there is some sort of economical jargon for this that proves one decision is better than the other. Maybe the Sunk Cost fallacy has something to do with it. Probably.
What does all this boil down to? Do what ever you want to do. Reasonably, what do I care? You do You.