The Game Phases with My Board Game Emotion Wheel

Jun 21, 2024 | Articles | 0 comments

Learn more about another way to look at the board game hobby and its many phases with a board game emotion wheel.

Perhaps one of the most valuable elements of playing solo board games is a deeper understanding of what brings me joy. However, the “perfect” game doesn’t exist, owing to the various phases and very different emotions that might pop up from play to play. I went on a little journey to consider how both my feelings and ratings can change over time!

Tracking Emotions

As I looked further at this concept, I realized that I didn’t have a specific set of emotions for a game. In other words, there wasn’t a particular wheel that stuck around.

In many ways, a single play brings out unique emotions. With a little luck, I might feel more fulfillment. But toss in terrible dice rolls, and frustration becomes quite strong!

The way I’m feeling when I sit down to play also has an impact. Am I delighted and excited, or stressed out?

Although I wanted to assign emotion wheels to a handful of games, I was more intrigued by the idea of phases.

Marking Off Emotions and Understanding Games More with My Board Game Emotion Wheel

Looking Further into My Emotion Categories

An Introduction to Crafting my Board Game Emotion Wheel is a great place to start understanding this concept some more. In no way is this a replacement for numerical ratings, nor is it something that anyone absolutely needs to try. In that same manner, sharing emotions is very personal, and I’m not advocating for any sort of required sharing.

What is this then? Simply a tool. It’s something that’s helping me understand my collection, defining the elements of gameplay I truly enjoy, and looking at the mix of emotions in various game experiences. That’s it! If it seems like it might help you, by all means, please take the concept and run with it. I’m just here to keep rambling. Ha ha!

I’ll be back with a post about how to create your own board game emotion wheel with the words that are relevant and meaningful to you. If I can get my basic graphic design skills in order, I’ll also have a few blank templates to share!

First Impressions

Consider a brand new game I researched, felt reasonably confident I would enjoy, and landed in the realm of games I tend to enjoy. What do those first few plays look like?

Such a mix of emotions! Confusion and humiliation are prominent, owing to the process of learning the rules.

I might also be cautious about my decisions, uncertain or even frustrated with the options before me.

But this is all tempered with emotions I could describe as joyful, interested, and absorbed. So exciting! I might not know what I’m doing, yet I’m motivated to learn.

Some of the Emotions Triggered by a New Game Experience and a Board Game Emotion Wheel

A Focused Strategy

Next, consider the same game after I’ve played a few times and feel comfortable with the majority of the rules. In this phase, I’m focused and ready to figure out the strategies!

I still trigger elements of frustration, humiliation, and stress. There are times when I should know better, or might get tangled up in the optimal choice amongst many.

Yet note how many more emotions are checked off in terms of excitement, delight, and fulfillment.

Maybe I’m still losing a lot, and that’s OK! This is where determination sets in for memorable plays and victories.

Highlighting the Emotional Responses of Getting Better with a Board Game Emotion Wheel

Discovering a Favorite

Over time, I will likely get into a space where I know not only the rules, but some of the strategies. If this is a game I thoroughly enjoy, my emotions might shift again.

Now, it’s a design I admire and still get excited to play. It’s almost like an old friend, where I might know a lot about how to win, yet I’m more confident in my choices.

I still might get annoyed or irritated by bad luck or choices… Which might feel like humiliation or foolishness.

Yet the mixture of emotions is overwhelmingly positive, reminding me of past successes and making me happy.

Settling Into a Rhythm with a Favorite Board Game and a Board Game Emotion Wheel

Wearing Out a Game

Sometimes, but not always, there comes a time when it feels like I’ve mastered a game or seen everything . Maybe I can easily win at the highest difficulty level. I’m… Done?

At this point, boredom starts to set in. Notice that it usually doesn’t pop up in the earlier phases with a game I’m enjoying. Yet it’s certainly possible to get here!

This is a game that I might not play all that often, but still appreciate it for those earlier experiences and memories.

Note that this doesn’t mean I didn’t like the game. It simply might be that it’s done enough and used to be fun.

The Struggle to Stay Interested in a Solved Board Game with a Board Game Emotion Wheel

What of No Emotions?

In that last example, there is another phase a game could occupy. Rather than triggering boredom, it might settle in as an old favorite with few emotions. So… Extra boring?

Ah, but I categorize boredom. What happens when there are few to no emotions? It’s a space I like to categorize as cozy, comfortable, relaxing, peaceful, and safe.

These are the games I play when I bring strong emotions to the table. They are emotional palette cleansers.

I think this is worth another lengthy rambling at some point, but suffice to say I have many low emotion games!

The Benefit of an Emotional Palette Cleanser with No Emotions on a Board Game Emotion Wheel

Identifying the Sounds of Board Game Emotions

Another further discussion will tie into figuring out how to identify emotions, which isn’t always as simple as it might seem. However, I’m someone who often talks out loud while playing solo. Just thinking about how some statements tie into emotions has been very helpful! So if you’d like a little interactive exercise, see if you can categorize the following.

I’ll also note that this is all very personal and tailored to myself. You might categorize these differently for yourself, and that’s absolutely correct! These are simply examples from my own perspective to help you see how you might be able to understand your own emotions when playing games, sometimes from a quick sentence. Can you guess correctly?

Quick Instructions and a Bit of Fun

Read a sentence, decide which emotion it could be tied to, then click to reveal the answer to see if you were correct!

"You're Not Going to Win, Solo Opponent!"

Fulfillment: I had a great turn after planning for it, or otherwise found a way to get ahead in a clever way.

"Time to Bring Out the Calico Critters!"

Delight: I found a cute card and am enjoying myself enough to bring over my other fun hobby. Cuteness overload!

"How Did I Miss That?!"

Humilation: I didn’t plan well and made a rather foolish decision I should have been able to see ahead of time.

"This is Taking Forever."

Boredom: I feel like gameplay is dragging on and I can’t wait to be done so I can do something else.

"I Can't Win Unless I Do This... How Can I Make It Happen?"

Stress: I know how to win, but need to play out every option to figure out if it’s even a remote possibility.

"Where Do the Rules Even Explain This?!"

Confusion: I want to do something, but don’t know if the rules allow it, and there is no clear guidance.

"What an Awesome Turn This Will Be!"

Excitement: I plotted and figured out something important and anticipate a really cool sequence of play.

"Who Thought This Was a Good Design Choice?"

Frustration: I ran into an unwinnable situation or found a major flaw in gameplay I don’t want to experience again.

More Board Game Emotion Wheel

Explore related posts about the Board Game Emotion Wheel!

Continue the Conversation

Is the concept of a board game emotion wheel helpful for you? Have you considered the sorts of feelings that games bring out in you? There is no right or wrong answer to emotions, yet this exercise helps give more meaning to the way I rate games and find my favorites. Lots of possibilities! This hobby always surprises me with how much it can offer!


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