Collecting my Thoughts – 2019 Edition

It’s been a good year for The Giant Brain: articles posted, discussion started, podcasts recorded and conventions attended. I’ve had a pretty good year myself as well but neither the site or myself is where I want to turn my attention to now. As has become a tradition on the site in the last few years, it’s time to look back on the year from the point of view of my collection: the games that have come and gone, what I’ll be getting rid of and the status of my ambition to review every game I own.

The Plays the Thing

I see my collection as a living thing, to be cared and catered for. It needs to be kept active by which I mean the games in it should be seeing the table at least once a year and if they aren’t they should not be in it. Let’s take a look at my top level data from my BGstats app.

I’m down in number of plays on last year, 159 vs 167, but across more games, 71 instead of 64. 50 of those games were new to me, which is a pretty decent hit rate of trying new things, but not quite as good as last year. H-Index is down which is basically a measure of how deep into my collection I’ve dived. I would like to see this increase ideally as I curate the collection to be better suited to my group.

Arkham Horror LCG remains my most played and I’m pretty sure I’ve missed a play or two here and there over the course of the year. Tiny Towns entered the collection this year and it has really done well in terms of number of plays. Villagers and Barenpark, also both in the collection, trail just behind. The latter one I am especially pleased with as it has become a game that my wife likes to play with me.

I’m definitely finding that games with a lower play time just make it to my table more often. I’m hoping that in 2020 I can get another small group together to play some longer experiences and try out different types of games. My Wednesday night group is who I curate my collection for, meaning the tastes of that group and the length of time we have to play are major factors in what makes it to my shelves.

I had an ambition to get the collection down to about 20-30 titles mark but it is currently sitting at 48 titles so it really is time to look at games with no plays and consider their removal. I’ve actually done reasonably well at ensuring games get to the table at least once over the course of the year, leaving me with only a few that need to be purged.

I restrict myself to 12 kallax spaces for my collection. I’ve got some RPGs and CCG collections on another one

I’m actually pretty pleased with the size of the purge this year, definitely getting rid of less games than I did at the same time last year. I’m getting rid of 5 titles for sure to take my collection down to 43 games and will be having another look at what to get rid of after Christmas (potentially getting some new games). Although my ambitions are for a smaller collection I think in the immediate future I’ll be aiming under the 40 mark and then hope to keep under that number for the coming year. A lot of people commit to a one in one out policy but I find it easier to periodically scale back the collection to keep the number of games in check.

In Review

I have an ambition to review all the games in my collection and every year I get a little closer to this goal. The reason I want to do this is two-fold:

  1. If I’ve decided to add a game to my collection, it better pass my own critical muster
  2. To help my readers understand why I choose to keep the games I do. I believe this will help you to learn more about me and my own preferences that of course have an effect on my reviews.

Out of the 43 titles I have at the moment, I’ve reviewed 19 of them (all now marked reviewed on my BGG collection). A further 4 I am not going to review as I don’t feel I can really add anything by reviewing Chess, Go, Scrabble or Netrunner. One of the titles in my collection is one I designed, so definitely not reviewing that, and arguably it shouldn’t really count as part of my collection. That leaves us with 24 games not needing reviewed and 19 requiring some words to be written. Looks like I’ve got some work to do. I’ve added every one of the games that I feel comfortable reviewing into my writing queue. The others will need to get played a bit more before putting pen to paper.

The point of it all

Curating a collection well is something I take pride in. With thousands of releases each year, even collections numbering in the hundreds are only scratching the surface of what is available. I prefer to keep a tight collection in a relatively small space as it means I have a limit on the number of games I can buy, giving me reason to consider each one carefully.

With the rise in boardgame cafes, conventions and clubs if you don’t want to keep a big collection, or any collection at all, you don’t have to. Sites like Tabletopia or software like Tabletop Simulator can give you a taster before committing to buying a game and often you can try Kickstarter games before they release. All these methods all you to try out the latest hotness, classics and everything in between before deciding if you want those things for yourself.

If you do want to start putting a collection together, then use whatever criteria you want to do so. It is easy to get caught up in the fear of missing out, but keep in mind that there are loads of games out there and that just because it’s new doesn’t mean a game is good. I guarantee that you will get satisfaction from a well curated collection that just contains games you can actually get to the table, as opposed to having piles of shrink wrapped games that never see the light of day.

Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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