Collecting my Thoughts – 2018 editon

It’s that time of year that I stare deep into the eyes of my collection and ask ‘Do I still need this?’. I had an ambition at the start of the year to have reviewed all the games in my collection. I’ve definitely added some more to the docket, reducing the disparity between games I own and those I have reviewed. I was also keeping a tighter eye on what I was playing via the rather good BGstats app. Whilst I have definitely missed some plays across the year, I think I have a reasonable picture of what I have played.

What I’ve played

Here is a link to the games I’ve played over the last year, according to BGG which is linked to my BGstats app. I really do rate that app and would recommend it to you if you are wanting to keep track of your own plays.

What I’ve played

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There is a slight disparity between my app and my BGG played list so I am going to go via the app. I’ve got in 167 plays across 64 different games 56 of which were new to me. That’s a pretty good hit rate of trying out new things. A lot of those new games will be preview and review copies I’ve been sent with the occasional copy from friends.

I think I’ve covered a wide range of bases in the games I’ve played. My one major regret is that I haven’t been playing the Arkham Horror LCG as much as I would have liked. I’ll hopefully be getting back to that in the not too distant future, as well as picking up Gloomhaven again (still loving that game).

This list doesn’t have any roleplaying games attached. I have a weekly group that alternates between board games and RPGs. That group has just wrapped up a Dungeons and Dragons (5th edition) chapter and we will be moving to Scum and Villainy in the new year. I’ve also had the pleasure of running two concurrent Blades in the Dark games, one local, one online. Both of those were set in the same version of Doskvol which was a really fun thing to do and allowed each group to influence the events the other saw. Those both wrapped earlier in the year and taught me some new lessons with regards to player agency and GMing games.

The Purge

Whenever a game is added to my collection I think long and hard about doing so. I read reviews, get a demo in where I can and think about how it fits in my collection: am I replicating a mechanic, does another game fill the same gap? What I’m saying is that I can love a game, but not have a space for it to enter my collection, only games I think will actually get played belong there.

With that in mind it is worth casting an eye over what I have played and what is currently in my collection. It seems that none of the following have hit my table in the last year:

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Most of these did not hit the table this year

Now, I am pretty sure I have missed some plays throughout the year. Despite not being played some of these are definitely going to stay for reasons of fondness or showing off the best of the hobby. Lords of Vegas is amazing and will remain a firm favourite along with Takenoko as a great gateway game. I had gone off Eldritch Horror quite a bit with the advent of the Arkham Horror LCG and I was hoping that Arkham Horror 3rd edition would bring together what I loved about both those games. Unfortunately I don’t think it is for my group and I will be keeping Eldritch to come back to if I need a large player co-op game. Whilst I really like Mage Knight, I just don’t find the time for that length of game anymore. I played a lot of Yomi when I first got it and I really like Sirlin as a designer but I just don’t really have the opportunity to play a lot of 2 player games.

I have way too many small games so some of those are going to go. I am going to keep Dobble, Death Angel (as it’s pretty hard to find now and a good co-op with a small footprint), Skull, Cockroach Poker and Jaipur. Honestly I think the rest can go. I really like games with a small footprint that have a really tight focus but I think I got a little too enthusiastic with picking these up. Easy to do with so many excellent games out there.

Over the last couple of years I had been aiming my collection towards having a broad range of mechanic types, a sort of game design library. Towards the end of 2018 I started to realise that I didn’t need that anymore and that I wanted to have more games that would find an easy route to the table on a regular basis. I’m hoping this purge will leave me with about 20-30 games that see a more active lifestyle, don’t want to see those lovely boxes gathering dust.

Looking forward

Over 2019 I’ll be hoping to dive deeper into the games in my collection especially titles like Kemet where I have only scratched the surface of the play. I will no doubt pick up the occasional new game and I will certainly be continuing to collect Arkham Horror and get that back into regular play.

The last year has seen my writing improve, the podcast launch and the breadth of articles on the site expand. I’ve refined my First Thoughts articles more as you can see in this look at Civilisation: A New Dawn, to become a shorter more emotional focused breakdown of a game. Reviews will change a bit in the coming year, being a deeper dive into a game: rulebook clarity, depth etc. I hope to distinguish these two more with this new direction and that both types of article will be of use to you when it comes to deciding on what games to add to your own collection.

I love the variety that has emerged in the hobby over the last few years and I think we are really starting to see designers and companies push the boundaries of the experiences these games can give us. As an enthusiast for the hobby all that I care about is that people give tabletop games a shot. It doesn’t matter if you have a large, small or no collection. It doesn’t matter if you only play a couple of times or a couple of hundred a year. Everyone is welcome to the table.

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