Collection Curation 101
For those of us on the “collector’s” side of the board gaming hobby, a question that always comes up is how one curates their collection - what process do we use to decide which games to purchase, keep, or remove from those overloaded shelves in our homes? Everyone’s got their own secret formula, but here’s a few things to consider.
Step one of any board game collection is buying games. The effort required in that purchase can range from picking the prettiest box you see at your local game store, to spending hours watching/reading reviews and analyzing the game’s entry on BoardGameGeek. I personally trend towards the research side of the equation, mostly because as my collection has grown to a point where new games have to fight for a place on the shelf (more on that below).
There really is no set rule of thumb when it comes to what games you should purchase - it really comes down to personal preference. If you and your group are big into zombie games, buy zombie games! There’s a few things I look for when considering a game however:
- Theme: I’m a big sucker for themed games, to the point where I will completely pass over a box with drab euro-like artwork before anything else. If it’s a unique, sci-fi, or Lovecraftian theme it will at least get me to look more into it
- Player count: I rarely, if ever, play 2 player games. A game needs to either support solo play, or at least 4 players (more is better, particularly for games less than one hour)
- Game length: If it’s a lighter game, it should be less than 60 minutes (and they often are). Otherwise I tend towards 2 hour games, but the longer games I am often more critical of since I have less opportunity to play longer games.
- Mechanics: Does this game bring something new and unique to the table? Or is it just a re-themed version of something I already have?
Those are the main factors for me, but most of them are rooted in one golden rule: are you going to play it? Unless you’re collecting for the sake of collecting (as many do for specific franchises) the value for your dollar is actually getting your purchase to the table.
After you’ve got a few opportunities to play your new game, you probably face a decision - do I keep it? This becomes more of a problem the more games you have; at first keeping something on your relatively empty shelf isn’t a big deal, but as your collection grows you’ll probably reach a tipping point where your game boxes exceed the space for them.
…probably not keeping this one…
This process is actually somewhat similar to the purchase process. It’s a simple matter of identifying if you’ll play the game again. Often when it’s time to make some room I’ll glance at my collection one game at a time and ask “Do I actually want to try playing this game again?” Often through acquiring and playing other games you’ll find a board game that does a mechanic better or explores a theme in a more interesting way. Sometimes after exploring a certain style of game you figure out it’s just not for you. A few games I’ve gotten rid of recently:
- Space Cadets: I’ve found that I’m enjoying Geoff Engelstein’s games less and less, they seem to consist of about three-too-many interesting mechanics.
- London Dread: As stated in the review, while I really enjoyed the theme and gameplay of London Dread, the end-game didn’t sit well with me
- Concept: This party game is a bit too freeform of a game for me, and suffers from the “you should’ve done this instead” angle that I don’t enjoy after every round
- Sheriff of Nottingham: I’ve found through playing Sheriff and other games that I don’t like direct-bluffing games, so this is off the shelf
- Tide of Iron: A neat WW II squad combat game that I could never convince other people to play.
Again there’s no right way to do this, but the golden rule can be generally applied. On the flip side there are games that I’m keeping because they do something unique or the game is hard to find. Each collector will have their own criteria, and that’s why our collections are unique and meaningful.