FDQ: How Long Do Your Games Stay on the Shelf?


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Gaming can be a tough hobby.  There are so many enjoyable games to play, but it can be challenging to get a group together to play them even on a once-a-week basis. That means many games will go unplayed for long periods of time.

Many geeks have a tendency to be collectors (how many stories have we seen about people with 1,000+ game collections?), but at some point we realize that we’re just not going to get to play every game on our shelf. That leaves two options: keep the game for the rare times that we will play it, or trade it off in hopes to get something we will play all the time (or at least experience a new game). (Technically you also have the options of donating it or trying to sell it for useful cash monies).

So which do you do? Do you constantly rotate your collection to play a variety of games, or are you likely to let a game sit on your shelf so you have it when the time comes around?

@Futurewolfie saaaaays:
Honestly, I have more of a tendency to keep games around.  Even if a game isn’t going to hit the table every other week, if I like it a lot, I want to have it for the times when I do play. And some games, like, say, Eruption, are not going to be played with my regular group of gaming friends, but it’s a good game to play with non-gamers, so it seems worth keeping. You just never know when an old gem is going to come out and be a blast to play.

Plus, if you spread games out more, games that might become dull or repetitive hold on to their luster longer.  You don’t feel like you’re having the same, repeated experience if you only play it every few months. Kill Doctor Lucky may not have much variation on strategy, and the jokes stay the same, but it’s hilarious every time I play because I don’t play it every day.

Really, the only reason I will trade a game is if it’s not that enjoyable, or if it is too similar to other games I like better.

@FarmerLenny declares:
I’m a trader. If something is sitting too long, it’s gone. Though I should qualify.

There are two kinds of sitting: the sitting because an opportunity has not arisen and the sitting because the desire has not arisen. I’m fine with a game sitting because of opportunity. My 1999 Avalon Hill copy of Acquire—the jewel of my collection—is a game that sits because of opportunity. A math-heavy game like Acquire takes a certain group to achieve, and when that group does not come together, it’s okay when it sits.

But then there’s the other kind of sitting: sitting because desire has cooled. In many cases, it’s not even my desire that has cooled. But as games are such a social activity, if I play a game with enough groups that never want to see a game again, I’d rather send it on its way and get something that will get played.

Besides, trading, bartering, wheeling-dealing: these are things I like in board games. Why wouldn’t I like them in the real game of life?

Futurewolfie loves epic games, space, and epic games set in space. You'll find him rolling fistfuls of dice, reveling in thematic goodness, and giving Farmerlenny a hard time for liking boring stuff.

Discussion3 Comments

  1. Ha…at only around 30 of what I would call “hobby” or “strategy” games, we’re not at that point of just taking up shelf space, yet. I suspect it will be a while, if we ever are. Part of that is because I’ve just recently dived into the hobby. Part of that is because I will only acquire a dozen games max per year, if lucky. The other part is I will only get games after thorough research to be as sure as I can be that we’ll like the game and so it won’t be a wasted purchase.

    One day, when I have time…hehe…I will join a local gaming group and make up for my lack of collection by playing another’s…Ha!

    Sorry for starting and ending with “Ha!” 🙂

  2. I would be a collector if not for the limited funds, opportunity and inexperience.

    I am the only real board gamer in the house with my 8 year old daughter as a close second. I do have a game group but I’m lucky if I get to play with them once a week. My recent interest has caused me, like many others, to want to get as many games as I can. I can’t afford many so trading has helped allot. I have traded around a third of my original purchases simply do to the process of learning what I really like and what I can actually get to play. As my small collection has become focused, I see trading becoming less of an event. I’m smarter in what I get so it will work for my daughter and me.

    I do believe in keeping a game just for that chance to play it though. For example; I played REX with my game group and loved it. I know it wont work for my collection as it is not good with two players and may be to much of a real game. Although, if I got an opportunity to get REX in my collection it would never leave. I’d keep it just for that chance it could get played and so I can say “I have it.”

    If storage space is not a problem, there is really only one issue with games you love that sit. Having to go through the rules every time you get to play because it has been so long since you played it last. This is compounded by most games that sit tend to be the more complex ones. Case in point; I have Stronghold in my collection because I love the way the theme and mechanics work together in the game. It is a beautiful and engaging game that I may never get to actually play. If the chance does come up I will have to reread and teach all the complex rules. Then play it once or twice before it doesn’t get touched again for a long time. But there is no other game like it so it will not get traded away. (yet)

  3. Definitely a trader. If people suggest a game and I think, “Nah, I don’t want to play that,” then I know it’s time for a trade.

    That said, I don’t have a magic number of times that a game must be played. My Battlestar copy only gets played about once a year or so, but I love it so much I’m willing to keep it. As long as I still want to play it, I generally don’t trade it.

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