How my collection was built, a look back before I move forward
Jeff Miller
United States
Ogden
Utah
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Not long ago I went over 50 games in my collection. It was actually a bit of a surprise to me as it was a 10 game increase in little more then a month or so. No, it wasn't a big order from Thoughthammer finally coming in with all kinds of hot new goodies, but a rash of bargain hunting spending no more then $10 (most in the $1-2 category) on a single game.

So the idea for this stems from there always being a sense of Buyers Remorse when pulling the trigger on something I wasn't even planning on ever wanting five minutes earlier. I thought to myself, "Crap! Am I going to go on filling my closet with whatever games come cheap? Sure it's cheap but is it worth it?"

Well I wanted to know just that, so in an effort to save money and closet space, I've broken my games up into categories representing how they came to be in my collection. I've used some number crunching and a little critical thinking to determine what's worked and what hasn't.


A few notes before I begin:

1- Generally I like all the games I rate a "6" or above and find satisfaction in playing them. Ratings change depending on how much I'll like them over time or my admiration of the design in general, but my enjoyment level during play doesn't swing too wildly.

2- I rarely get the chance to "try before I buy."

3- If you'd like to know more about what I think of a specific game, I try to keep detailed comments up-to-date in my profile.



Feel free to add your own experiences, make your own evaluation, or share what you think!

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1. Board Game: The Crazy Gift Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Jeff Miller
United States
Ogden
Utah
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These are the gifts.
These games were all surprises. I probably had little thought of whether I wanted them or not:

Game and My Rating

Apples to Apples 5.5
Blokus 7
Carcassonne: Expansion 3 – The Princess & The Dragon 4.5
Scrabble 5
Polarity 7.5

Total number of Games: 5
Percentage of my collection: 9.6%
Number of Un-played games: 0
Avg. Rating: 5.9

Notes:

* I have other games which were gifts, but I don't list them here because I was planning on buying them anyway.

* The Avg. Rating could easily have been driven further down had I not given away some early childhood gifts (Monopoly, etc.) I'd been hanging on to. These are games strictly in my collection.

* I'd played and liked Blokus before it was given to me. Given time, I might have bitten and picked it up, but it was gifted to me long before I could get to that point.


Conclusion:

This category just edges out the next one for having the lowest average rating (but as I noted; it could be lower). That might be expected as I played virtually no part in the selection process. That said, they remain in my collection because there's enough value to make them stick. The smaller sample size may be a factor, but this is the only category with ZERO un-played games. I'd like to think it's because I put a focus on giving more attention to what was given.

This group is different then the others because whatever my overall conclusion becomes of this process, it won't change how my collection builds in the future. Gifts will always be welcome.
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2. Board Game: The Price Is Right [Average Rating:4.61 Overall Rank:14798]
Jeff Miller
United States
Ogden
Utah
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Low-risk Cheap Games.
I paid full price for all these games, and gladly did so because they were cheap enough that the risk wasn't all that high:

Game and My Rating

The Battle for Hill 218 5.5
Bohnanza 6.5
Carcassonne: The River II 6
Coloretto 6
No Thanks! 6
Puerto Rico: Expansion I – New Buildings unplayed
Catan: Event Cards unplayed

Total number of Games: 7
Percentage of my collection: 13.5%
Number of Un-played games: 2
Avg. Rating: 6

Notes:

* The games in this group are here because I heard enough good things about them.

* The expansions in this group are for games I'd played and already liked. The Puerto Rico Expansion might be a bit of a deviation as I got it because the Base game was perceived to be good.

* It's been my attitude towards expansions that I generally don't play them until I feel the base game has grown stale or at least repetitive. I'd like to try the Event Cards, but only play SoC with new people not suited for a twist.

* Hive could have fallen in this category as the Wooden version seems to have a set, cheaper price. But the Hot Deal showing "Hive for $5" is what ultimately sold me, so it falls into the next category.


Conclusion:

The first thing that stands out to me here is the small amount of deviation in the ratings. My thought is there isn't enough depth typically in a sub-$10 game to warrant a higher rating. And generally knowing a game is a good filler beforehand; combined with a softer attitude towards games listed at a fair price point, keep them from being rated any lower.

My attitude towards expansions and these un-played ones, leads me to think I should just wait for the base game to need them before buying them. That's been my attitude towards more expensive ones (see: Arkham Horror) and it probably should be here too.

Overall, I wouldn't expect more from this group of games, and feel I've gotten adequate value for my dollar.
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3. Board Game: Bargain Hunter [Average Rating:4.60 Overall Rank:15043]
Jeff Miller
United States
Ogden
Utah
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Impulse / Bargains Buys.
I don't think one game in this list has spent a single day on my wish-list. Some cost me $1, others $20, but I bought them all because they were at least 50% or more off:

Game and My Rating

Aquädukt 6
Arkadia 6.5
Battleball 5.5
Bobbin' Bumblebee 7
Booby-Trap 6.5
Double or Nothing 4
GIPF 6
Hansa 7.5
Heroscape Master Set: Swarm of the Marro unplayed
Hive 7
Dream Factory 7
How to Host a Murder: The Class of '54 unplayed
Nexus Ops 8
Nottingham unplayed
Pecking Order unplayed
Ra 8.5
Blokus 3D 6.5
San Juan 8
Slamwich unplayed
Blokus Duo 7
Vegas Showdown 8
Villa Paletti 6.5

Total number of Games: 22
Percentage of my collection: 42.3%
Number of Un-played games: 5
Avg. Rating: 6.8

BONUS STATS-- (break-down of where I got them):

Thrift Stores: 7 (31.8%)
Retail Stores (on sale): 4 (18.2%)
Tanga: 5 (22.7%)
Online Misc.: 6 (27.3%)

Notes:

* I generally know the perceived public value of a game from general knowledge, or quick research before I pull the trigger on a deal.

* That doesn't necessarily mean I evaluate whether it's something I'm personally interested in. RA, Hansa, and Vegas Showdown are just a few examples of games I didn't have an opinion on whether I'd like them or not; I just bought them based on $ and Rank. I estimate that's the case with the majority of them.


Conclusion:

Honestly, I was astonished to see how big of a chunk of my collection is made up of these impulse type buys! Thankfully it's been based on enough research that I knew before hand there was a game worth playing and impressively, there's been many a pleasant surprise.

It appears I'm more likely to buy based on price rather then rank. I've bought a few more games of little more then visual interest (Booby-Trap, Slamwich) because they were $1-2 thrift buys and passed on good deals for top ranked games (recently Tanga's deal on AoE:III) that cost +$20.

The downside perhaps is my willingness to buy them and let them sit on a shelf. Un-played games aren't something I'm proud of and this is the driving category. There's also four other games on this list I've only played once.

In all, it seems I have an attitude of "buy cheap now, you can play it later." That's left me with equal parts welcome values-- and regrettably lost shelf space.


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4. Board Game: Natural Selection [Average Rating:4.67 Unranked]
Jeff Miller
United States
Ogden
Utah
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Carefully Selected.
These are the games I paid full price for with little thought of cost because I felt they must be in my collection:

Game and My Rating

Arkham Horror 8
Battle Line 7
Carcassonne 9
Carcassonne: Expansion 1 – Inns & Cathedrals 7
El Grande unplayed
Ingenious 8.5
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation 7
Lost Cities 6.5
Pandemic 7.5
PitchCar 8
PitchCar Extension 6
PitchCar Extension 2: More Speed More Fun 6.5
Puerto Rico 6
Race for the Galaxy 4.5
Catan: Portable Edition 6
Through the Desert 6
Ticket to Ride: Europe 9
Tigris & Euphrates 10

Total number of Games: 18
Percentage of my collection: 34.6%
Number of Un-played games: 1
Avg. Rating: 7.21

Notes:

* This is a little different then other categories in that my selection process has evolved over time. I've learned from what I've picked before and it's altered how I choose a game today.

* I now choose games that I feel are most likely to be played. Mostly these are shorter games with higher re-playability and meant to fill a niche.

* Lost Cities is the only game I tried before buying, although I had played Catan and Ticket to Ride before getting the Travel and Europe versions respectively.


Conclusion:

Here's the category with the highest overall rating average and I'm thankful that it is because it's the one I've spent the most money on. Also (I don't have the hard numbers worked out), it seems these are the games that hit the table most often with all but a few games showing at least five recorded plays. However, that's most likely a result of how hard I push to play these over the others in an attempt to justify my purchase and not so much because the games are that much better.

Even with an evolving list of criteria I use to select my games, there still seems to be good and bad picks through the entire time-line so it's far from a guaranteed method.
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5. Board Game: State the Facts [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Jeff Miller
United States
Ogden
Utah
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What have I learned?
I went into this process thinking it might be a good way of convincing myself not to make so many impulse purchases. I don't think it's worked out that way though:

The Past:

I think what's driven me to pay full retail for games is high recommendations, fancy promises of excellent game-play and a level of enjoyment not found in other games. In hindsight, I've really been happy playing any game with merit because ultimately it's not about the game; it's the people and the time I get to spend with them.

Also, as I already noted, there seems to be games which have met or exceeded expectiaions and others that have flopped. It appears that those results are immune to the categories I've put them in above. So what I've been spending extra money on is not insurance I'll enjoy the game more but rather for the privilege of selection.


The Present:

I mentioned from the beginning that games I rate a 6 or above I'll happily play anytime in moderation. The difference between my impulse vs. planned buys are both far enough above that 6 point line of playability that I feel they are not exceptionally different in terms of gaming value.

Where there is a big gap of course is in price. I'd estimate the cost of my impulse buys to average $10 a game; full price games around $30. In reality, I can't say it's been worth it. If I stripped out all the carefully selected games from my collection (leaving room for a couple exceptions) I doubt I'd spend any less time playing games nor would I enjoy it less with only cheaper, bargain-buys remaining.


Looking Forward:

Spending so much more for the privilege of selection seems a little ridiculous now. I think I'll look more lightly on good games that come along at a really good price. There seems to be a new one every week! There's bound to be disappointments but with past evidence of that happening regardless of price, it'll be easier to swallow when a $5 thrift store game is a flop rather then a $30 hot title.

But first I have to convince myself that Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game isn't potentially going to be the savior of my gaming life, like Pandemic was before; and Race for the Galaxy was before that; and Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation.... shake
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