Tuesday, 31 August 2010

game collection lockdown

I whine about (me) buying games all the time. It is one of the few tags at this blog with more than 10 occurrences (see Label side bar). I talk about limiting myself to 20 new games every year, including games bought, received as gifts, self-made, traded for etc. The main concern for me is not cost, but spending enough time on each game to truly appreciate it and truly enjoy it.

I created a list of reminders for myself:

  1. You don't need to own every game that you like.
  2. You don't need to play every good game.
  3. You need to play more of the good games that you own.
  4. Wait until your interest wanes.
  5. Don't impulse buy.
  6. Will you play the game more than 5 (or 10) times?

I typed this into the very spreadsheet that I use for keeping track of potential game purchases. It helps. I'm not sure how to measure how effective it is, but I think it does help. I think.

I'm reaching my 20 games quota for 2010 soon. I have already acquired 15, and I have already decided on the remaining 5. Of those 15 already acquired, 10 were purchased, 4 were gifts/rewards, 1 was self-made. No more slot for Innovation if I decide to buy it. Or 7 Wonders, or Inca Empire (Tahuantinsuyu). Or Sid Meier's Civilization the boardgame, or Agricola: Gamer's Deck, or London (Martin Wallace), or Great Fire of London 1666, or Merkator (Uwe Rosenberg). I'm listing all these just to spread the agony (or joy) a little. If I decide to buy any of these, I'll have to wait for 2011. If I want to stick to the 20 per year rule.

One idea that I'm toying with is the collection lockdown. Freeze game purchases for a certain amount of time (say half a year, or one full year), and keep revisiting older games owned, until I feel I know all of them quite well. This is 闭关练功, which is roughly equivalent to a hermit going into the mountains to shut himself from the world until he finds enlightenment. I never went past beginner level at Euphrates & Tigris. I haven't revisited Axis & Allies Guadalcanal which I liked a lot. There are quite many games in my collection that deserve more plays. I probably should keep repeating to myself this mantra: there are just too many good games, so don't try to play every one of them. I should play the ones I already own.

Axis & Allies Guadalcanal

I recently rediscovered the joy of playing Ingenious. I had not played it for a long time. My 5-year-old daughter asked to play a new game. I tried to look for something that I could simplify or modify the rules of to make it playable with young children, something without much text. I pulled out Ingenious and tried to teach it to her. She didn't fully grasp the scoring, but she got the general idea of matching the icons and trying to hit 18pts so that she could cry "Ingenious!". My wife helped her, and basically it was me competing against my wife, while my daughter thought she was the one playing. Ingenious was fun, despite how abstract and themeless it was. I have been missing this because I keep buying and playing new games. BGG is evil.

Another idea I thought about is proactively scheduling games. Keep a list of long games or complex games that are hard to get to the table, and make a conscious effort to schedule gaming events to play them. E.g. Die Macher, Indonesia, Samurai Swords, Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition (and the many different Axis & Allies games), A Game of Thrones, Civilization, Struggle of Empires. This can also apply to good games which are not really that hard to arrange to play, just that I never seem to get around to playing them, like Age of Steam and expansions, Power Grid and expansions, Brass, Amun-Re, Lord of the Rings and expansions, Hammer of the Scots.

Yet another idea is culling my games. If there's a game that I don't think I will ever play more than 10 times, then maybe I should sell it, trade it, or give it away. Even if it is a more recent purchase. If I have played a game enough times to decide whether I like it, even if I have not fully appreciated all its nuances, I probably should let go of the game.

A recent article on www.BoardgameNews.com mentioned a Netflix-like boardgame company in USA. If you subscribe to its service, you can create a list of games you want to play, and they send the games to you one (or more) at a time. You can play a game for as long as you want, and when you're done, you mail the game back, and they'll send you another game from your list. If you like a game enough to want to own a copy, you can buy it. This is quite a cool idea. Malaysia doesn't have the critical mass of boardgamers to do this, but perhaps one alternative is a boardgame library. Members store games at the library which they are willing to lend to others, and they can in turn also borrow games from the library. The library can also become a trading house helping gamers match multi-way trades. This would be a non-profit venture. There would be challenges, like where to store the games, who to manage the inventory and to run the library, etc, but if there are enough people interested and willing, this is probably workable in Malaysia.

Well well, this post started with one idea, and grew to become a messy brainstorming whiteboard. I wonder how many of these ideas I will end up actually executing.


Aik Yong said...

One of the problem with boardgames loaning is missing game pieces. I'm curious to find out how the boardgame 'netflix' deal with this problem (keep a spare parts list?)

Hiew Chok Sien said...

Yes, there will probably need to be a rule of if you lose a component, then you have to buy the game. The librarian will need to be responsible to check the pieces every time before a game goes out, and maybe also every time it comes back. Not exactly very exciting. :-D

Here's the link to the article by Dale Yu. The Netflix-like boardgame website is BoardGameExchange.

themcfadden said...

I think you're right on with imposing a quota of some sort. My wife and I went out a bit on the deep end this last month and, through impulse, picked up 4 board games in the span of 10 days!! We agreed "No more games until we master these!" Hopefully, I can get them to the table and play them consistently enough to give them the attention they deserve.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

Yes, indeed I think many gamers tend to become too much of a game taster. I keep telling myself to not try to own or even play every good game out there. I think it's worth the sacrifice to not try some good games, if it means you can fully appreciate some other good games by playing them more. But I often don't listen to myself. :-D