Sunday, 8 September 2013

The Beer Standard

Sometimes I feel the need to justify my gaming purchases in terms other than their utility for planned games. Most recently I have applied this to board games, because figure games are justified by my endless arms race with Steve. Board games do not require one of us to buy an opposing force, so their purchase must be justified in terms of how much play they should get. To do this, I apply the beer standard.
The premise is quite simple and is based on the price of a pint of beer. I look at the playing time of the game and think how quickly I would normally drink a pint of beer. The rest is maths. Of course, this justification does not really hold now that I rarely get to the pub, but I still consider its application to be valid. Perhaps I should update it based on the price of a bottle of wine drunk at home instead ...

Anyway, changes in my lifestyle aside, it is a standard that has stood me in good stead for justifying buying games. One example of my need to justify games buying is in the area of Advanced Squad Leader modules. I really like ASL and bought into too many Third Party Publisher modules once I had the core modules. These days I only buy the new core modules and historical sets to keep up to date. I have literally thousands of scenarios kicking around and could probably play ASL every day for the rest of my life without repeating a scenario. With the core modules, I have 122 scenarios. Each will take on average about three hours to complete. Some are longer, while some are shorter, but three hours is probably a good average. That means that I have 366 hours of playing time. I used to drink a pint in the pub at a rate of about one per 20-30 minutes. That means that my expenditure on ASL core modules should have been between 732 pints and 1098 pints. At current local prices of £2.30 per pint, that equals an expenditure of between £1683.60 and £2525.40. That seems like ASL is good value to me.

What? You mean I should calculate it on the basis of actual playing time, not projected playing time? That does not sound useful to me. Oh well. Let's have a look at that. According to ROAR, the site where I have logged some of my games, I have played 47 games of ASL since 1999. I know that figure to be wrong, because there are gaps where I know I was at Intensive Fire, the big ASL tournament in Bournemouth. At one of those tournaments, I even played 13 games over one weekend. I did not get much sleep that time. So, I can safely double the 47 games played. I could probably triple it, but won't. Let's look at the recorded games. 47 games with an average playing time of three hours equals 141 hours or between 282 and 423 pints. At current beer prices, that means that my ASL habit is only justifiable if I have spent less than £650 on supplements. That's a bit close for comfort to what I have really spent. Let's double the number of games, because I think I can justify that. Less than £1300 on ASL modules? Yes, that sounds much better. My ASL habit is fully justified in terms of the beer standard, and is becoming even more justified because I have not spent much on it in recent years, while I am now getting more games played thanks to a new ASL friend moving into the area. So, the next time my wife asks if I really need a new module, I need only point out that I could be spending that much down the pub instead.


  1. I like this beer standard. You see, when the wife gets on my arse about spending money on games, I respond with "Well, hon, I could always go get on a hunting lease instead. Or buy a fishing boat." Since both of those would be immensely more expensive than my gaming expenses, this usually quiets her down.

  2. The principle works for me.


  3. Yup, hunting lease and fishing boat are good alternatives too. I wonder how they would stack up to the beer standard. :)

  4. Hmm. Your analysis works as long as you don't drink beer whilst playing games. Personally I don't keep the two mutually exclusive.

  5. This is true, Counterpane. I don't drink while playing, because I am already clumsy enough as it is. Also, I play a number of boardgames with high counter density.