Insidious, that’s what it is. You see a game on Kickstarter or at your local game store and it speaks to you. The heft of the pieces, the cardboard inlays, the amazing artwork; you must have this game! Pay no attention to the overflowing cupboard, the sprawling heaps of games on your selves; it’s just one more game. One more won’t hurt, will it?

Maybe it’s time to have a discussion about board game collections. Over the next few articles, I’m going to ask some hard questions, and challenge you to really look at your accumulation of board games. A collection has order, theme and direction; otherwise what you have is more of an accretion. Given that most board games cost as much money as many fine wines, we can draw many parallels between board game and wine collecting. Like wine collecting, board game collections vary wildly in size, from a few stacked on a shelf, to a devoted room with space for displaying prized pieces. Also like wines, board games are best enjoyed in the company of others, so some thought should go to who you will be sharing the game with. Finally, wine collections are dynamic, with items moving in and out constantly. A wine has a peak consumption period, and I would put it to you , dear reader, that many board games do as well.

The author’s collection, in need of some maintenance

So for Part 1 of our discussion, is there such a thing as too many games? If so, what is the upper limit? What constraints am I looking at when viewing my (soon to be) collection? Let’s tackle the easy one first. Yes, there is such thing as too many games. I have heard of some avid gamers who house over 900 games in their homes! Some of you may be thinking, “900, that’s no big deal!”, and to you I put the question, “Do you play an average of 3 games a day?” Because that’s about how many games you would be playing, without repetition, in order to play each of your games ONCE A YEAR. Now, if you’re the type of person who enjoys discovering and playing new games, that may seem like heaven, and we will talk more about motivations for ownership in Parts 2 & 3, but let’s assume we can agree that yes, there is an upper limit on the number of games that should go into a playing collection.

If there is an upper limit, what should it be? This is a much more difficult question to answer. You need to take your budget, storage space, and spare time into account. As a thought experiment, let’s assume you have unlimited money, space and time. Without those constraints, we must ask ourselves some questions. How many games out there would I consider “favorites”, in that I would want to play them more than, say, twice a year? On the other hand, how much do I enjoy discovering the latest and greatest board game? More to the point, what about the people I play with? Do they have favorites that they are going to want to play? Even assuming you are playing with totally like minded people and you only have a list of 10 games that you would play more than once a year, you are still going to be coming in at around 300 unique game plays in a year. Add back in reality and that number is going to go waaaaay down.

How many copies of Pandemic does one guy need?

“Reality” is the constraints that your particular circumstances impose on your collection size. The big three, as mentioned above, would be space, budget and time. Many other considerations would ultimately lead back to these considerations. As an example, I can imagine some people thinking that compromises with your housemate/partner would me a major constraint. If you think about it though, the root of those negotiations will likely center around money, or the encroachment of your games on available living space. Some other considerations would be your willingness to trade or resell your games and buying games for investment potential, both of which will be discussed further in Parts 2 & 3.

What do you think? Are there any other considerations I have missed? Does an upper limit of 300 games sound reasonable? Please let me know in the comments below and we can carry on the conversation in Part 2, in which I will talk about how/why to curate the composition of a board game collection.