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Subject: Geek of the Week #705 — Board Game Minimalist (Kajax101) rss

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Daniel Thurot
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Let's give a warm welcome to Kareem, more commonly known as the Board Game Minimalist, our newest Geek of the Week!

When I was considering successors for the GotW crown, there was no question that Minimalist was at the forefront of my thoughts. Although he's a relative newcomer to the review scene, his core ethos cuts straight to the essence of our hobby, paring away the hype to focus on density rather than volume. A compact collection, every single entry representing an exemplar of its form: more than a lovely sentiment, this is a workable entry point for newcomers, both achievable and sustainable for hobbyists who might desire or be able to afford a sprawling collection.

But that's enough from me. Let's hear it straight from the fellow's mouth!


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It's a massive honour to be picked as GotW, a big thank you to Dan / Space Biff!

My earliest experience of board games can be traced back to family games of monopoly and Cluedo (as we call Clue here in the UK). I also had a brief infatuation with Chess, spending a couple of my formative years in the school chess club. But despite a brief dalliance with DnD in high school and a few games of Hero Quest I wasn't really aware of modern board games.

But one winter I was trying to come up with some fun activities for a family Xmas and figured that in our age of innovative technology, and app-powered services - someone must have come up with an improved version of Monopoly. Unfortunately I couldn't find anything that fit the bill, but I did stumble on BGG. When I first saw the board game ranking, it was like gazing up at the clear night sky and seeing thousands of stars for the first time. I was amazed at this hidden (to me) world of amazing games, all waiting to be discovered...and I'm still discovering them.

After boring all my non-board-gamer friends and family with my exuberance, I turned online to share my thoughts and came up with the idea of a profile based on 'board game minimalism'. This suited my personal enthusiasm for minimalism in general, I also knew I'd never have the space or time to own and play 100s of games so why not share my experience maintaining a compact collection of 20-30 games.

This approach isn't perfect, though. I end up agonising over any new games I bring into my collection and still end up having to make painful decisions about letting games go (even very good ones!) if I feel they've outlived their stay in my collection. Sometimes I dream of a day when I can pair my collection down to 10 or so games and maintain but that's hard - even for minimalists!

If you want to follow my adventures you'll find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/GameMinimalist) and more recently on YouTube ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHsnvbN_194-GAAuDsiOfaQ) where I specifically cover games I've let go of and why.

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Travis Hill
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Congratulations!
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Patrick Hillier
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A minimal congratulations
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Chad Ackerman
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I share your minimalist struggles. Have had to let go of many great games to maintain my dedicated space of about 20-30 games (only keeping games that I still want to explore solo, or get played often with family/friends).


Questions:

1.) What are your Top 5 most painful cuts to your collection?

2.) Are there any games you would love to have, but can’t, because of your minimalist mentality?

For me, it’s a lot of the complex, big box games. I love playing them at my freiends houses, but just can’t justify the expense and space for my own collection. Things like Kingdom: Death Monter, 7th Continent, Millennium Blades, Middara, and Gloomhaven.

Have fun with your honors this week!
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Nicola Gambetti
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Congratulations, Kajax, enjoy your week!
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Josh Chen
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Congratulations and enjoy your week!

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Board Game Minimalist
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Evenhope wrote:

Questions:

1.) What are your Top 5 most painful cuts to your collection?

2.) Are there any games you would love to have, but can’t, because of your minimalist mentality?


Thanks for the kind words Chad and happy to see other minimalists out there!

As for your questions...

1) Concordia / Viticulture / Legends of Andor / Castles of Burgundy / (base) Pandemic. A lot of cuts I made initially were down to games not working so well for two or play with non-gamers. Now I've gotten a bit better at selecting games I feel I'll actually get to play, but shelf space is still finite!

2) Part of me would love to try something like Gloomhaven but I don't think I'd ever be able to find the space or the time!
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Board Game Minimalist
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A big 'thank you' again to Dan and for all the well-wishers here!
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Rand Lemley
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Well deserved!
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T. Nomad
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'Gratz
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Chris Yi
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Congratulations! For some riveting questions:

1. Does your minimalism stem from more than just living in a London flat?

2. What would be your ideal game night?

3. Are you fairly well traveled?

4. Do you have a favorite dad joke or pun?
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Patrick Brophy
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Congrats on being Geek of the Week. We interact on Twitter a bit, but I thought I'd pop over here for some additional questions!

Is your minimalist collection based on an absolute number of games (eg. 20-30) or is it restricted by space?

For example, 30 copies of Gloomhaven sized games is very different to 30 copies of The Mind sized games.
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Board Game Minimalist
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PizzaAroma wrote:
Congratulations! For some riveting questions:

1. Does your minimalism stem from more than just living in a London flat?

2. What would be your ideal game night?

3. Are you fairly well traveled?

4. Do you have a favorite dad joke or pun?


Thanks for the questions - Chris.

1) For sure my enthusiasm for minimalism does go beyond a smaller living space. I've always felt draw to a lifestyle approach with fewer 'things' - less clothes, gadgets, paraphernalia etc. Maybe this was down to moving around quite a bit as a kid growing up, making it harder to accumulate lots of things.

2) I really love my weekly game nights at my gaming club. But I think my ideal game night would be with my wife, family and friends (all mostly non-gamers) where we can experience one or two great games. I actually feel my experience playing Pandemic Legacy with those folks still ranks as one of my top 'gaming' experiences.

3) I would say I am, I have lived in the UK, Italy and North Africa and travelled a fair bit between those regions growing up and further abroad as I got older. My most memorable recent Trip was to Japan a few years back.

4) I'm quite a fan of the traditional British 'one liner' one of the classics by a legendary British Comedian called Tommy Cooper is:

I went to the doctor. He said 'you've got a very serious illness'.
I said 'I want a second opinion'.
He said 'all right, you're ugly as well'.


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PaddyB wrote:
Congrats on being Geek of the Week. We interact on Twitter a bit, but I thought I'd pop over here for some additional questions!

Is your minimalist collection based on an absolute number of games (eg. 20-30) or is it restricted by space?

For example, 30 copies of Gloomhaven sized games is very different to 30 copies of The Mind sized games.


Nice to see you, Patrick and thank you!

As for your question I would say it's predominantly a question of space. I think I could own many more small box games, or much fewer big box games.

I actually went through a phase where I was determined to shift my entire collection to small box games, but by and large these smaller box games give you a 'smaller experience'. That being said I do really get annoyed by games that have egregiously oversized boxes!

One more radical idea I had was to ditch the boxes for my games and just keep them in containers - I'd probably save a lot of space but I can't quite bring myself to do that! cry
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Ben Blanton
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Congratulations!
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Jeff Warrender
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Congrats Kareem! I always enjoy your thought-provoking questions on Twitter (I'm @belltowergames). Seems like it's time to return the favor! Here are questions!

1. When thinking about a game's place in your collection, do you seek to identify the 30 (or whatever) best games, or a collection whose every member serves a particular purpose? Or something else?

2. It sounds like you're starting to dabble in design, which is great. How do we as designers, who are also concerned about the "churn" economy in gaming, reconcile these apparently contradictory views: that there are too many games, but that I also want my game to exist?

3. I like that in your pursuit of excellent games you're reaching back and exploring some 'classic' games. What have you found as you've done this?

4. Is your pursuit of games for your collection an objective or subjective one? Meaning, do you seek games that you like especially well, or games that you believe to be of intrinsic worth and merit? If the latter, what are some of the qualities of such games? If the former, what kinds of things do you find that you especially like?

Enjoy your week!
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Board Game Minimalist
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Nice to see you on this side, Jeff!

As for your questions:


jwarrend wrote:

1. When thinking about a game's place in your collection, do you seek to identify the 30 (or whatever) best games, or a collection whose every member serves a particular purpose? Or something else?


I think my collection is a bit too dynamic for a '30 Best' games approach. Rather, I try to optimise for differing styles, types and game themes. For example a solid deck builder, area control, worker placement game etc. As my palette has developed I've gotten a bit better at choosing these. Although I did initially fall into the trap of trying to buy games I thought others would enjoy more, rather than focusing on games that I'd enjoy primarily.

jwarrend wrote:
2. It sounds like you're starting to dabble in design, which is great. How do we as designers, who are also concerned about the "churn" economy in gaming, reconcile these apparently contradictory views: that there are too many games, but that I also want my game to exist?


Good question! With the humility of a very neophyte designer, I would say it's difficult but maybe creating a personal link to a design or seeking out to tell a more unique story is the way to reach the right audience. I feel looking into game niches is also a key to differentiate designs. If we create games that we will enjoy or scratch a particular itch for ourselves, it's likely some others will find this interesting as well.

jwarrend wrote:
3. I like that in your pursuit of excellent games you're reaching back and exploring some 'classic' games. What have you found as you've done this?


It's a real treat to be able to reach back through time to older games that have stood the test of time and emerged as true classics. Also, as a long time Video and PC gamer, some of the aesthetics and simplicity of older games, while perhaps outdated, do carry a certain nostalgia for me. I also feel a lot of the highly rated games of yore seem to pack a rich gaming experience with minimal overhead and fluff - something that really speaks to me as a minimalist!


jwarrend wrote:
4. Is your pursuit of games for your collection an objective or subjective one? Meaning, do you seek games that you like especially well, or games that you believe to be of intrinsic worth and merit? If the latter, what are some of the qualities of such games? If the former, what kinds of things do you find that you especially like?



I think it's a mixture of both - Initially I sought out games that were 'objectively' considered to be very good. As my tastes are developing I'm better able to discern games that I particularly enjoy - even if they perhaps aren't as highly rated.


Thank you - really appreciate how interesting the questions were!
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Geoffrey Burrell
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Congrats Kajax101! Have a fun and fruitful week of gaming!
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Mark Leaman
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Congratulations, and well deserved!

Do you have a grail game that has eluded finding a home in your collection?
 
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Steve
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Congratulations, Kareem!
 
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Chris Stanton
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Given your heritage (? Not sure if that's the right or appropriate word) & comments you've made regarding games that are a little...free with with it,
Which games do you think have managed to cover such themes well (and should be sought out)?

Also,
Given the amount of churn so far, how do you move on games that no longer make the cut?
 
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Randall Thompson
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Congratulations!!
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C. Rexford
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Congratulations Kareem!
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Toc13 wrote:
Given your heritage (? Not sure if that's the right or appropriate word) & comments you've made regarding games that are a little...free with with it,
Which games do you think have managed to cover such themes well (and should be sought out)?

Also,
Given the amount of churn so far, how do you move on games that no longer make the cut?


Hey Chris!

Although I have played a few colonial themed games set in Africa, I'm not sure I've every played a game with an Arab/Middle Eastern (my heritage) theme asides Istanbul. Which is a great game but has a few oddities (e.g. lack of women and treatment of Mosques).

I'd really need to explore some more games with Arabian themes to be able to recommend any!

As for the second point re moving games out....I tend to either donate games or sell them online. Often via the BGG marketplace. I'm lucky enough that the UK has a pretty active market for board games and affordable postage!
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Jessica Eccles
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Congratulations.

Have you seen the K-Index discussion over on the Minimalist Gamers guild?

What is your K-Index?
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