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Jay
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The Case For 50


Delving into this hobby for only the past year or so I've become quite infatuated with it all. It's an exciting hobby that seems to be in what many call a 'Golden Age' with new games coming out every day (it seems) and the quality and quantity of components and productions are being pushed to new heights constantly with high budget Kick-starters all
over the place.

With this never-ending barrage of excitement and opportunity for something (supposedly) new/different it's hard to not get sucked into buying / pledging for several new games or to-be-released games through crowdfunding. The 'FOMO' factor becomes quite real for many. The obsessive collecting becomes quite real for others.

The result of all of this is the 'Shelfie' - which is typically a collage of the same titles stacked vertically (*shutter* soblue) within an IKEA KALLAX. Never have I seen so many copies of Seasons, Blood Rage and Battle of the Sexes as this hobby goes from cult following to mainstream mania. Even more concerning are the 'shelfies' that boast collections that, by first count, are well into the multiple hundreds - with onlookers happy to compete with their own "My collection is now at 300 games" comments, as if that were a good thing? I suppose it depends who you ask - but in the echo chamber you're often rewarded for your bad
decisions, not criticized.

As I mentioned, I've just been into the hobby in a 'real' way for the past year. I'm a long time Magic: The Gathering player (20+ years) and I've most definitely put tens of thousands of dollars into the game over the decades with some very important difference... in almost all cases, MTG is a serious investment and opportunity for making money via speculation, collection purchasing, etc. whereas most board game purchases will result in a loss. So while I completely understand the desire to 'pimp' out or 'have everything' the contrast is quite stark from a financial perspective.

Additionally, the number of MTG players is far greater than the number of board game players so you can always find a Friday Night Magic to play Magic with. All kinds of Magic! Casual, Vintage, Standard, or just Draft sealed product. Board games, however, are often left lonely on the shelves because you have no one to play them with, or no one who knows how to play your/this particular game.

This leads me to the basis of my argument, in that those who have 100, 200 or even 300+ board game collections are rarely putting those to the table because they simply don't have the players around them to play these games, let alone the time. Every game requires 30 minutes to 3 hours to learn how to play whether it's King of Tokyo or Twilight Struggle and once they've learned that/those games, they have to repeat the process again. And again. And again. Eventually you burn out the average person (your wife, husband, kids, non-gamer friends or co-workers) and you're left to either play the same games or find other people to grind on and pick-up your habit because they prefer to just watch T.V. or what not.

Collecting anything can be fun, it's exciting to seek completion, to curate, I get that. However, few of us have the space and money to do this in a responsible way. You may have plenty of money and no kids so this obsessive behavior is OK for you, and maybe even your spouse - but it's important that we consider if we're that person, or if we're trying to force something into our lives that on it's own is a healthy, rewarding experience and turn it into an addictive money-pit and time sink that takes us from our important duties in life.

It's upon these points that I am an advocate for 50. Yes, fifty. I believe that no game collection should exceed 50 games. This number of games is, by all accounts, more than enough to fulfill every genre, scratch
every itch and ensure a reasonable bank account balance and work/life/gaming balance.

So how do you curate your 50, and how do you maintain it? For the purposes of this article I'm going to use my 50 as an example - but these will certainly differ from your own. First of all, determine your favorite must have games - even if those reside as 'collectors' items more than 'played games'. This allows you to keep some of those nostalgia filled acquisitions, i.e. HeroQuest.

Next, determine your go-to games that you cannot imagine living without and know that you (at least plan to) will be playing these for years to come. It's OK that this list will change as older games are improved upon and dethroned - we'll get to that process, but for now, try to narrow down those games. This should involve you selecting the best game
or say, 2 games, that do something. You will see multiple examples of what I mean by this below:

Example 1: I love Twilight Imperium, but I don't have the player base and it never gets to the table each year but I can always get Forbidden Stars to the table because my friend X always wants to play games.

Example 2: I love Battlestar Galactica, but our friends say it's too long and never really watched the show so they always prefer to play Ultimate Werewolf instead. That really bums me out, but what can I do?

Example 3: I'm a huge Star Wars Fan so I always pick Star Wars Rebellion over War of the Ring - I never really liked those hobbits - all they do is walk around for hours!

These are a few examples of accepting your reality. If year after year you can't get X game to the table and your situation isn't going to change - it's time to let go. Get your money out, and get it into something else, like a new dishwasher or even another game that you WILL get to the table. That feeling you get when you see a bunch of cool games on the wall shelf might feel good for a moment, but ultimately it's a lie - you don't play those games and you may never play them again so what's the point? Let go, young Padawan.

I've also heard some interesting suggestions to justify these massive collections that I thought I would address:

Justification #1: "I'm going to retire someday and then I'll be able to play these games all the time."

Justification #2: "When my kids get a little older I'm hoping that they will start playing them with me."

In an argument based on rules and not exceptions, you're not going to retire until your 60 - 70 years old. You have no idea if you'll even be alive then, or if your health will allow for you to sit for 6 hours and play board games, or that your friends will have even lived or be in the health to do so. Furthermore, your would-be-gamer group might have other plans for their retirement... like... grand kids, or traveling abroad or... making bird houses! Looking into a future 10, 20 or 30 years away that may never come to justify hoarding is not a good mentality.

Regarding your hopeful offspring idea, I can only speak to myself having 2 children, a 13 year old and an 11 year old and there's no doubt that while they'll entertain a board game 1 - 2 a month, they are far more interested in digital media be it Oculus Rift or Overwatch. While I'll force them to read for an hour or play a board game with me, they're always ready to go back to the digital format and that is always going to be the rule, not the exception, for children of this generation and the next. You'd probably have far better luck playing the digital version of Patchwork with them or building a campaign on Neverwinter Nights and playing it together via STEAM. Wishful thinking at best, folks.

As you've narrowed down your 50 games, accepting your reality, remember that it's OK to rotate things in and out. Have you finally accepted that DOMINION is no longer of interest to you? Is it time to retire it from your list and bring in something new? So be it! Is Pandemic just not that interesting or challenging to you anymore? Rest in Peace! Get your money out of it, and get that money back into something new - whatever it is. With this system (of which you can certainly modify to say, 25 games, or 35 games, for instance) you can mitigate your expenses, and your expectations to reasonable levels. I have found it very rewarding in my personal life and I think that it has a lot of merit for others to consider.

While this post is not intended to be a 'list', I am providing mine not with any suggestion that my list is good, bad, better or worse than anyone else but for transparency - you will notice that I'm well below 50 still and try to be very discerning. Below the current list is everything I've played and culled since I started the hobby:

CURRENT:

Heavy-ish:

-Cuba Libre
-Gloomhaven
-Twilight Struggle
-Battlestar Galactica

Mid-Weight:

-Axis & Allies
-Black Orchestra
-Blood Rage
-Forbidden Stars
-A Game of Thrones: 2nd Edition
-Scythe
-HeroQuest
-War of the Ring: 2nd Edition
-Concordia
-INIS
-Memoir '44
-Kemet
-Cosmic Encounter

Lighter Side:

-7 Wonders
-7 Wonders: Duel
-Azul
-CodeNames
-Dominion
-Forbidden Desert
-Hex Casters
-Jamaica
-King of New York
-Love Letter
-Pandemic Iberia
-Risk: Star Wars Edition
-Sagrada
-SKULL
-Sushi Go Party!
-Ihmotep
-Santorini
-Monopoly Deal

CULLED:

-Twilight Imperium
-King of Tokyo
-Stuffed Fables
-House on Haunted Hill
-Ultimate Werewolf
-Vast! The Crystal Caverns
-Coup
-X-Wing Miniatures
-Rock, Paper, Wizard!
-Forbidden Island
-Pandemic
-Conan
-Dead of Winter
-Bang! The Dice Game
-Zombicide
-Tsuro
-Dixit
-The Castles of Burgundy
-Magic The Gathering: Arena of the Planeswalkers
-Killer Bunnies
-Stratego
-Risk
-Monopoly
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Mario Lanza
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There is some merit to culling games to some cap; however, there are new games that I want to experience and so I buy them. Then before I can make the cull-or-keep decision I need time to play/evaluate the game. The problem is that getting our unplayed games to the table is the bottleneck in the buying-evaluating-culling process.

If I had the luxury of playing new games as much as I'd like I could probably avoid a lot of purchases, but since I don't making a purchase at least guarantees me a future opportunity to try a game.
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Jay
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mlanza wrote:
There is some merit to culling games to some cap; however, there are new games that I want to experience and so I buy them. Then before I can make the cull-or-keep decision I need time to play/evaluate the game. The problem is that getting our unplayed games to the table is the bottleneck in the buying-evaluating-culling process.

If I had the luxury of playing new games as much as I'd like I could probably avoid a lot of purchases, but since I don't making a purchase at least guarantees me a future opportunity to try a game.


This is a fair point, I understand the idea, however perhaps acquiring many games (I don't know how many you acquire versus others) isn't reasonable if you won't get them to the table in the coming months or years. This is a personal choice, of course, but I wonder if you don't end up with a massive backlog if you continuously buy year after year and never catch up.
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Ray S
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I to have games I would like to play but have no one to play them with so they immediately get removed from the collection. My games fall in three categories:

1. Games I play with the wife. Pandemic, Splendor, Patchwork, Carcassonne.

2. Games I play with the family. Gloomhaven, Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn, Spectral Rails, Epic Spell Wars, Summoner Wars, Mysterium, Clank!, Mechs vs Minions and Escape the Cursed Temple are some example. A wide range of genres and mechanics that we all like to play.

3. Games I play with a buddy. Both long time miniature gamer's that have moved to competitive board games. Shadows Over Normandie, Heroes of Land, Air and Sea, The Others, Conan, Sedition Wars, Summoner Wars, Crystal Clans, Arcadia Quest, Sentinel Tactics, Ogre, Battle Lore, Forbidden Stars.

When new games come out I do a lot of research and try to play them if I can. If they don't fall into a category above though, I won't even look at it.

I've had hundreds of games in the collection before and have seen many just sit and collect dust. Now, if it doesn't get played over the year I get rid of it.
 
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Danielle :)
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If 50 is what works for you, cool. But that's not gonna be what works for everyone. There is no problem with someone buying/collecting something that brings them joy even if it just sits on the shelf (assuming that person isn't going into debt or severely cluttering their home to the point of being a hoarder or something).

What's the difference between having 300 board games on shelves, and having that same shelf space taken up by oodles of sports memorabilia, or a bunch of fancy liquor bottles that nobody actually drinks because they're so rare/expensive, or maybe some really sweet rocks and geodes they've collected from various vacations... etc.
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XL Jedi
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Could you move this toward the top:
"I believe that no game collection should exceed 50 games"

Or finish the title maybe?

My limited attention span can only read about 50 or so words before I start wandering off to look at the next shiney... OHH! ...look a new Kickstarter ad!
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Ryan James
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JayC707 wrote:
Never have I seen so many copies of Seasons, Blood Rage and Battle of the Sexes


lol what? Battle of the Sexes? You're seriously seeing that game pop up more and more in people's shelfies??
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Kim Williams
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"I believe that no game collection should exceed 50 games"

This is quite a statement, and I don't really see what calculations have lead you to this number. I'd be interested to hear why you think 50 is the max limit rather than ,say, 55 or 45?

Surely it all depends on a myriad of factors making the right number vary hugely for different people.

I have an enthusiastic gaming husband and two children who game as well - meaning that I play at least one game most days, sometimes two or three on an evening and at the weekend we may play many more. We have the money, space, and ability to remember multiple rulesets to mean that around 100 games is perfect for us.

Am I somehow incorrect about the above paragraph? Are you really arguing that I should halve my collection in order to attain greater gaming pleasure despite the fact that my games are getting played and bringing us pleasure?
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Jay
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sevitrm wrote:
I to have games I would like to play but have no one to play them with so they immediately get removed from the collection. My games fall in three categories:

1. Games I play with the wife. Pandemic, Splendor, Patchwork, Carcassonne.

2. Games I play with the family. Gloomhaven, Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn, Spectral Rails, Epic Spell Wars, Summoner Wars, Mysterium, Clank!, Mechs vs Minions and Escape the Cursed Temple are some example. A wide range of genres and mechanics that we all like to play.

3. Games I play with a buddy. Both long time miniature gamer's that have moved to competitive board games. Shadows Over Normandie, Heroes of Land, Air and Sea, The Others, Conan, Sedition Wars, Summoner Wars, Crystal Clans, Arcadia Quest, Sentinel Tactics, Ogre, Battle Lore, Forbidden Stars.

When new games come out I do a lot of research and try to play them if I can. If they don't fall into a category above though, I won't even look at it.

I've had hundreds of games in the collection before and have seen many just sit and collect dust. Now, if it doesn't get played over the year I get rid of it.


I really dig it. This is very much in line with the dynamic I keep. Good on you.
 
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Jay
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Sandmanx82 wrote:
JayC707 wrote:
Never have I seen so many copies of Seasons, Blood Rage and Battle of the Sexes


lol what? Battle of the Sexes? You're seriously seeing that game pop up more and more in people's shelfies??


I do! I mean, it's not every shelfie for sure but I see it and I'm like... whaaaaa!?
 
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Nick S
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I've never really been in favor of placing a cap at a certain number of games, but I'm totally in favor of enforcing a "shelf space cap" so you don't have games in every nook and cranny of your house/apartment/whatever.

The most games I've ever owned was close to 100, and I was 100% out of shelf space so I decided to get rid of stuff I had no desire to play again. Today, it's more of a real-time process -- if I play something and don't like it, it immediately goes up for sale. Things I like and want to play again, I put back on my shelf. Over time, my shelf gets full of things I like and want to play again, so I go through and revisit all the games and get rid of anything that has fallen out of favor. That could be because a newer shinier game does something similar, or maybe the dynamics of my group change, or maybe I bought something and never got it to the table and am no longer interested in it.

Every time I revisit my collection, I seem to end up somewhere between 65-75 games. It's not a hard cap, it's not a conscious target, it's just what happens. It's happened 3 or 4 times now since that initial culling, and is a number that leaves me with open shelf space to acquire and try new games.

I'm much more comfortable with that than having a hard-line limit at 50.
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Ponder Stibbons
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i salute your effort; however, your number (50) is rather arbitrary and your reasons for someone else to begin their cull are a little under-formed. i've recently begun framing my own shelf purge as an effort to raise my H-index. it looks like you might lean that way too, but it comes off more as a crusade against shelfies. do you have minimalist influences or a new outlook on life? is this based on finances or simple expectations of breakdown of future free time? are you sure this isn't just about posting a list?
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Jay Ellis
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Isn't the point of having a hobby to enjoy yourself? If someone wants to buy every game that comes on the market and leave them on their Kallax still in the shrink wrap, more power to them if they are having fun.

People should be free enjoy this (or any) hobby as they please without judgment from others. I don't care how many or what kind of games anyone else has, I'm just worried about what my family and I enjoy and investing there.

I would also like to point out that my girlfriend is the one who introduced me to this hobby and is always up for a game. And my 13 and 15 year old sons are pretty much always willing to put down their phones and play a game. They even like complicated, thinky, historical games like I do. (We're all very excited for Cataclysm).

I dunno, I guess just don't care for some of the generalities in here, but you do you, man.
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^...^ ALIEN ^...^
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I'll bet your the guy who sits in the fast lane on the highway going the speed limit "Because I'm going the speed limit, so no one should want to go any faster." I wonder if you speed up when people try to pass you?

Really, whats the point? I really don't care what you think about how big or small my game collection is. Well, enough to say this article is full of shit.

Why do want to control what other people do?

My wife and I love dice games- we have a lot of dice games. I should give them up because you have come up with some arbitrary belief of what is the correct size of a game collection?

NO!



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Curt Carpenter
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JayC707 wrote:
I'm a long time Magic: The Gathering player (20+ years) and I've most definitely put tens of thousands of dollars into the game over the decades with some very important difference... in almost all cases, MTG is a serious investment and opportunity for making money via speculation, collection purchasing, etc. whereas most board game purchases will result in a loss.

So? Going to the movies results in a loss 100% of the time. Do you also argue that no one should go to the movies?

JayC707 wrote:
Additionally, the number of MTG players is far greater than the number of board game players so you can always find a Friday Night Magic to play Magic with. Board games, however, are often left lonely on the shelves because you have no one to play them with, or no one who knows how to play your/this particular game.

Some of us have like-minded friends and don't need organized events to play our games.

JayC707 wrote:
Eventually you burn out the average person (your wife, husband, kids, non-gamer friends or co-workers) and you're left to either play the same games or find other people to grind on and pick-up your habit because they prefer to just watch T.V. or what not.

What if we and our friends are not average? None of my gamer friends prefer to watch TV.

JayC707 wrote:
Collecting anything can be fun, it's exciting to seek completion, to curate, I get that. However, few of us have the space and money to do this in a responsible way.

What about those of us who do?

JayC707 wrote:
This number of games is, by all accounts, more than enough to fulfill every genre, scratch
every itch and ensure a reasonable bank account balance and work/life/gaming balance.

There's no target amount of itch that needs to be scratched, after which the itch is gone. Has anyone heard all the music they ever want to hear? Read all the books? Or watched all the movies? Or branching beyond entertainment media, traveled to all the locations in the world they want to?

JayC707 wrote:
I've also heard some interesting suggestions to justify these massive collections that I thought I would address:
Justification #1: "I'm going to retire someday and then I'll be able to play these games all the time."
Justification #2: "When my kids get a little older I'm hoping that they will start playing them with me."

You're missing the obvious one: Some people simply want to play the new releases, and I have no compelling need to tie a new game purchase to selling other owned games. And/or selling games takes work, and it's not worth the time to go through that work.

JayC707 wrote:
I believe that no game collection should exceed 50 games.

Sounds like you're really just talking about your game collection.
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Jerry Martin
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You make a lot of assumptions here that may apply to you but certainly don't apply to everyone.

JayC707 wrote:

high budget Kick-starters all over the place.
I have backed about 20 kick starters only one was "high budget"

JayC707 wrote:
it's hard to not get sucked into buying / pledging for several new games or to-be-released games through crowdfunding. The 'FOMO' factor becomes quite real for many. The obsessive collecting becomes quite real for others.


Just because some people become alcoholics doesn't mean alcohol should be illegal.

JayC707 wrote:
(*shutter* soblue)
shudder

JayC707 wrote:
"My collection is now at 300 games" comments, as if that were a good thing?
You haven't convinced me it's a bad thing.

JayC707 wrote:
something about financial value of MTG
I have been making money in Magic for 20 years. You are making a HUGE assumption about value in MTG. It is true if you are REALLY into it you can make money in Magic. But you have to be extremely into it. Know the current trends, values and have a large active community or travel to big tournaments to make it happen. If you took the same approach to boardgames you could take a similar route. (although realistically not be as profitable.) The truth is MOST people don't play game to make money Magic or otherwise.

JayC707 wrote:
Additionally, the number of MTG players is far greater than the number of board game players so you can always find a Friday Night Magic to play Magic with. All kinds of Magic! Casual, Vintage, Standard, or just Draft sealed product. Board games, however, are often left lonely on the shelves because you have no one to play them with, or no one who knows how to play your/this particular game.
Sorry you don't have friends that play boardgames, but I have lots of friends that wouldn't play magic at all but are happy to play many boardgames. Of course I regularly get 8 people over just to play Magic as well. It really doesn't need to be one or the other OR one is better than the other.

JayC707 wrote:
This leads me to the basis of my argument, in that those who have 100, 200 or even 300+ board game collections are rarely putting those to the table because they simply don't have the players around them to play these games, let alone the time. Every game requires 30 minutes to 3 hours to learn how to play whether it's King of Tokyo or Twilight Struggle and once they've learned that/those games, they have to repeat the process again. And again. And again. Eventually you burn out the average person (your wife, husband, kids, non-gamer friends or co-workers) and you're left to either play the same games or find other people to grind on and pick-up your habit because they prefer to just watch T.V. or what not.
This is all your experience and not necessarily what the rest of the community has to deal with. I play boardgames pretty much every day. Pretty much ALL of my friendships are based in gaming. (that doesn't mean we only play games, but most were formed through gaming.) I have 3 weekly gaming groups and then a group of Magic players that gets together occasionally. I am not saying of my games get played all the time, but I get a lot of gaming in. And so do others.

JayC707 wrote:
However, few of us have the space and money to do this in a responsible way. You may have plenty of money and no kids so this obsessive behavior is OK for you, and maybe even your spouse - but it's important that we consider if we're that person, or if we're trying to force something into our lives that on it's own is a healthy, rewarding experience and turn it into an addictive money-pit and time sink that takes us from our important duties in life.
This is a website dedicated to board gaming. It has over 1 million unique people here each month. Even if 1% of the population has collections that you are disparaging here that is still 1000's of people. Going on to call it an obsession is certainly hyperbole. Hobby doesn't mean Obsession though I agree for some it may be. Go to any other hobby website and you are going to find people spending as much time and MUCH more money on their hobby. Trains, Bikes, Model Airplanes, Drones, Cars, Running or what have you.

JayC707 wrote:
It's upon these points that I am an advocate for 50. Yes, fifty. I believe that no game collection should exceed 50 games.
I say 500.

JayC707 wrote:
This number of games is, by all accounts, more than enough to fulfill every genre, scratch
every itch
nope

JayC707 wrote:
and ensure a reasonable bank account balance
I have that.

JayC707 wrote:
and work/life/gaming balance.
I have that too.

You make an enormous amount of assumptions that seem to be a direct correlation of your experience and of course I realize that this is your opinion and I am free to ignore it. Personally I feel you have gotten on a high horse and seem to be chastising those that don't hold your view and instead you should have taken a route focusing on yourself instead of talking points calling out other peoples failings.

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Chris Puram
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OK. Let's just cut Jay some slack here. He said he just got into the hobby and yet he's already started acquiring games at a rate that he'll have him maxed out soon. Let's give him a few more years and then we'll check back in to see if he's still under 50.
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50 is far too few for me. Would never be doable. I think 200 is around where you begin to have a fully fleshed out representation of all mechanics at various weights, mechanical blends, and player counts.

I think my number will be approximately 200 (not counting expansions), as my purchasing has already slowed, but I'm never going to artificially restrict myself to some arbitrary number. That's just silly.
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boardgamesdotEXE wrote:
50 is far too few for me. Would never be doable. I think 200 is around where you begin to have a fully fleshed out representation of all mechanics at various weights, mechanical blends, and player counts.

I think my number will be approximately 200 (not counting expansions), as my purchasing has already slowed, but I'm never going to artificially restrict myself to some arbitrary number. That's just silly.

Arbitrary number, no. I agree with the folks who have mentioned things like shelf space and budget as a realistic constraint.

As for myself, I was approaching 200 (not counting expansions). It was too much for me. Games were sitting on the floor, or wherever they weren't in the way. Also, they weren't getting played. I needed to de-clutter. I've sold a game I rate a 10 because it wasn't getting played (also I have a similar mechanic game coming...). I'm down to around 140 now, but need to keep going. I imagine that at around 100 will be right for me.
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Martin G
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boardgamesdotEXE wrote:
I think 200 is around where you begin to have a fully fleshed out representation of all mechanics at various weights, mechanical blends, and player counts.


Why would I aim for that? There are a lot of mechanics and weights I don't like!
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That's you, not me. I've found that I like games of all weights and all mechanics. It's the specific implementations which I like or dislike. Formula D was a racing game I didn't like, but there are racing games I do like. I thought I HATED all Dexterity games until I found Beasts of Balance and Meeple Circus. I lean towards heavy games, but there are tons of light games I love.

My point was OP's number doesn't work for me or for everyone. Everyone should do what they want. Which is a frequently stated sentiment in this thread.
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Martin G
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boardgamesdotEXE wrote:

My point was OP's number doesn't work for me or for everyone. Everyone should do what they want. Which is a frequently stated sentiment in this thread.


And I agree with that.
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Andrew
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qwertymartin wrote:
boardgamesdotEXE wrote:

My point was OP's number doesn't work for me or for everyone. Everyone should do what they want. Which is a frequently stated sentiment in this thread.


And I agree with that.


I think what a couple of people have mentioned -- "shelf discipline" is a handy measuring stick. I can't buy any more games than I can shelve. I don't think that boils down to a specific number, though.
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Michael Debije
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JayC707 wrote:
The Case For 50


Delving into this hobby for only the past year or so I've become quite infatuated with it all. It's an exciting hobby that seems to be in what many call a 'Golden Age' with new games coming out every day (it seems) and the quality and quantity of components and productions are being pushed to new heights constantly with high budget Kick-starters all
over the place.

With this never-ending barrage of excitement and opportunity for something (supposedly) new/different it's hard to not get sucked into buying / pledging for several new games or to-be-released games through crowdfunding. The 'FOMO' factor becomes quite real for many. The obsessive collecting becomes quite real for others.

The result of all of this is the 'Shelfie' - which is typically a collage of the same titles stacked vertically (*shutter* soblue) within an IKEA KALLAX. Never have I seen so many copies of Seasons, Blood Rage and Battle of the Sexes as this hobby goes from cult following to mainstream mania. Even more concerning are the 'shelfies' that boast collections that, by first count, are well into the multiple hundreds - with onlookers happy to compete with their own "My collection is now at 300 games" comments, as if that were a good thing? I suppose it depends who you ask - but in the echo chamber you're often rewarded for your bad
decisions, not criticized.

As I mentioned, I've just been into the hobby in a 'real' way for the past year. I'm a long time Magic: The Gathering player (20+ years) and I've most definitely put tens of thousands of dollars into the game over the decades with some very important difference... in almost all cases, MTG is a serious investment and opportunity for making money via speculation, collection purchasing, etc. whereas most board game purchases will result in a loss. So while I completely understand the desire to 'pimp' out or 'have everything' the contrast is quite stark from a financial perspective.

Additionally, the number of MTG players is far greater than the number of board game players so you can always find a Friday Night Magic to play Magic with. All kinds of Magic! Casual, Vintage, Standard, or just Draft sealed product. Board games, however, are often left lonely on the shelves because you have no one to play them with, or no one who knows how to play your/this particular game.

This leads me to the basis of my argument, in that those who have 100, 200 or even 300+ board game collections are rarely putting those to the table because they simply don't have the players around them to play these games, let alone the time. Every game requires 30 minutes to 3 hours to learn how to play whether it's King of Tokyo or Twilight Struggle and once they've learned that/those games, they have to repeat the process again. And again. And again. Eventually you burn out the average person (your wife, husband, kids, non-gamer friends or co-workers) and you're left to either play the same games or find other people to grind on and pick-up your habit because they prefer to just watch T.V. or what not.

Collecting anything can be fun, it's exciting to seek completion, to curate, I get that. However, few of us have the space and money to do this in a responsible way. You may have plenty of money and no kids so this obsessive behavior is OK for you, and maybe even your spouse - but it's important that we consider if we're that person, or if we're trying to force something into our lives that on it's own is a healthy, rewarding experience and turn it into an addictive money-pit and time sink that takes us from our important duties in life.

It's upon these points that I am an advocate for 50. Yes, fifty. I believe that no game collection should exceed 50 games. This number of games is, by all accounts, more than enough to fulfill every genre, scratch
every itch and ensure a reasonable bank account balance and work/life/gaming balance.

So how do you curate your 50, and how do you maintain it? For the purposes of this article I'm going to use my 50 as an example - but these will certainly differ from your own. First of all, determine your favorite must have games - even if those reside as 'collectors' items more than 'played games'. This allows you to keep some of those nostalgia filled acquisitions, i.e. HeroQuest.

Next, determine your go-to games that you cannot imagine living without and know that you (at least plan to) will be playing these for years to come. It's OK that this list will change as older games are improved upon and dethroned - we'll get to that process, but for now, try to narrow down those games. This should involve you selecting the best game
or say, 2 games, that do something. You will see multiple examples of what I mean by this below:

Example 1: I love Twilight Imperium, but I don't have the player base and it never gets to the table each year but I can always get Forbidden Stars to the table because my friend X always wants to play games.

Example 2: I love Battlestar Galactica, but our friends say it's too long and never really watched the show so they always prefer to play Ultimate Werewolf instead. That really bums me out, but what can I do?

Example 3: I'm a huge Star Wars Fan so I always pick Star Wars Rebellion over War of the Ring - I never really liked those hobbits - all they do is walk around for hours!

These are a few examples of accepting your reality. If year after year you can't get X game to the table and your situation isn't going to change - it's time to let go. Get your money out, and get it into something else, like a new dishwasher or even another game that you WILL get to the table. That feeling you get when you see a bunch of cool games on the wall shelf might feel good for a moment, but ultimately it's a lie - you don't play those games and you may never play them again so what's the point? Let go, young Padawan.

I've also heard some interesting suggestions to justify these massive collections that I thought I would address:

Justification #1: "I'm going to retire someday and then I'll be able to play these games all the time."

Justification #2: "When my kids get a little older I'm hoping that they will start playing them with me."

In an argument based on rules and not exceptions, you're not going to retire until your 60 - 70 years old. You have no idea if you'll even be alive then, or if your health will allow for you to sit for 6 hours and play board games, or that your friends will have even lived or be in the health to do so. Furthermore, your would-be-gamer group might have other plans for their retirement... like... grand kids, or traveling abroad or... making bird houses! Looking into a future 10, 20 or 30 years away that may never come to justify hoarding is not a good mentality.

Regarding your hopeful offspring idea, I can only speak to myself having 2 children, a 13 year old and an 11 year old and there's no doubt that while they'll entertain a board game 1 - 2 a month, they are far more interested in digital media be it Oculus Rift or Overwatch. While I'll force them to read for an hour or play a board game with me, they're always ready to go back to the digital format and that is always going to be the rule, not the exception, for children of this generation and the next. You'd probably have far better luck playing the digital version of Patchwork with them or building a campaign on Neverwinter Nights and playing it together via STEAM. Wishful thinking at best, folks.

As you've narrowed down your 50 games, accepting your reality, remember that it's OK to rotate things in and out. Have you finally accepted that DOMINION is no longer of interest to you? Is it time to retire it from your list and bring in something new? So be it! Is Pandemic just not that interesting or challenging to you anymore? Rest in Peace! Get your money out of it, and get that money back into something new - whatever it is. With this system (of which you can certainly modify to say, 25 games, or 35 games, for instance) you can mitigate your expenses, and your expectations to reasonable levels. I have found it very rewarding in my personal life and I think that it has a lot of merit for others to consider.

While this post is not intended to be a 'list', I am providing mine not with any suggestion that my list is good, bad, better or worse than anyone else but for transparency - you will notice that I'm well below 50 still and try to be very discerning. Below the current list is everything I've played and culled since I started the hobby:

CURRENT:

Heavy-ish:

-Cuba Libre
-Gloomhaven
-Twilight Struggle
-Battlestar Galactica

Mid-Weight:

-Axis & Allies
-Black Orchestra
-Blood Rage
-Forbidden Stars
-A Game of Thrones: 2nd Edition
-Scythe
-HeroQuest
-War of the Ring: 2nd Edition
-Concordia
-INIS
-Memoir '44
-Kemet
-Cosmic Encounter

Lighter Side:

-7 Wonders
-7 Wonders: Duel
-Azul
-CodeNames
-Dominion
-Forbidden Desert
-Hex Casters
-Jamaica
-King of New York
-Love Letter
-Pandemic Iberia
-Risk: Star Wars Edition
-Sagrada
-SKULL
-Sushi Go Party!
-Ihmotep
-Santorini
-Monopoly Deal

CULLED:

-Twilight Imperium
-King of Tokyo
-Stuffed Fables
-House on Haunted Hill
-Ultimate Werewolf
-Vast! The Crystal Caverns
-Coup
-X-Wing Miniatures
-Rock, Paper, Wizard!
-Forbidden Island
-Pandemic
-Conan
-Dead of Winter
-Bang! The Dice Game
-Zombicide
-Tsuro
-Dixit
-The Castles of Burgundy
-Magic The Gathering: Arena of the Planeswalkers
-Killer Bunnies
-Stratego
-Risk
-Monopoly


What a total pile of self-indulgant bilge. You think 50 is the appropriate amount of games? Goody for you- keep your opinion to yourself, I would say. I find your arguments simplistic and in no way indicative of a situation appropriate to me. Why in the hell do I need to play my games on a regular basis? I have Carthage by GMT mainly for its excellent era map and historical detail: it is a wonderful reference tool. I would say you have a sadly inadequate 'heavyish' collection that misses a huge chunck of interesting historical periods I could not explore. Tough luck your kids are hooked on electronics...mine enjoys playing Robinson Crusoe and Terraforming Mars with me. I really hope you are not serious with this diatribe: if so, I'm really hoping we never meet.
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Peter Strait
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Admit it, you're not playing 50 different games you own in a given year. That should really be 20, tops. devil
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