In Episode 4 of the Pub Meeple Podcast we discussed the ideal collection – what we want our collection to become through our buying and culling habits. Answers to this question will differ from person to person as they did between us on the podcast. With that in mind, I realize that this my personal answer and will not apply to most people. I’m not trying to tell you that your collection needs to look like mine but I am trying to say that giving thought to what it looks like and what you want it to look like will do you some good.

In my early days of collecting, I was just filling my shelves with anything and everything I was excited about. This was fun and I think we all go through that phase. But then I started to look at the games on my shelf and notice something – many of them were just sitting. Now, if you have enough games, some will just sit. There’s only so much time to play board games. But these were games that I didn’t see ever hitting the table again so I started working to cull them.

Giving some thought to what your collection currently looks like and what you want it to look like will do you you some good.

I started really thinking about why a game that I had previously been excited about and even enjoyed would now be in a culling pile. The truth was they didn’t serve a purpose in my collection any more. I had other games that fit into my collection that I liked more. The next question was, what did it mean to “fit” my collection? Can I quantify this so that I can make better buying and culling decisions?

The short answer is no, it was much too hard for me to come up with some detailed system of assigning purpose. But I was able to come up with these general categories that helped me better understand how a game fits into my collection.

  • Casual – These are games I can get out in more casual situations where the focus isn’t the game but the group. I have 5 of these including Codenames, Concept, and Hearts of Attraction.
  • Essential – These are my favorite games that I won’t get rid of. They form the core of my collection. I have around 30 of these including El Grande, Carcassonne, Star Wars Rebellion.
  • Gateway – These are games I can confidently get out with people new to hobby board games. I have around 10 of these including Risk Europe, Diamonds, and Forbidden Desert
  • Indulgence – I really enjoy these games but they don’t fit into my core collection. I allow them to stay because I like seeing them on my shelf and for the off chance they will hit the table one day. This is the category newer games usually enter after I’ve played them and the one category I end up culling from most. I have around 15 of these including Betrayal at House on the Hill, Dead of Winter, and Game of Thrones.
  • Kids – I am a planner so these are games I want to keep around to play with my kids now or later. I have around 10 of these including Animal upon Animal, Mice and Mystics and Ticket to Ride: First Journey.
  • Try – My unplayed games fit here but these are ones I’m still excited to try, just haven’t had the time yet. I currently have 7 of these including Castles of Burgundy, Exodus: Proxima Centauri and Planet Steam.
  • Wife – my wife is not a gamer but she does enjoy playing with me now and then so I like to keep the ones I know she likes for these times. I have games in my other categories that she likes too but these are the ones that stay in my collection because of her. I have 3 of these which are Backgammon, Patchwork, and Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective.

From here it became much more hazy and subjective. But, hey, its my collection. I can be as subjective as I want!

The purpose of my collection is ultimately to be played and enjoyed. To that end I want to make sure that the games on my shelf cover as many playing situations, group sizes and types, and interests as possible. When I run into X situation with Y group that is interested in Z thing I want to have a game for that.

The purpose of my collection is ultimately to be played and enjoyed.

I try to make sure my collection covers as many combinations of game elements (mechanisms, components, theme, art) and situations (group types, player counts, time required) as possible. Most times when I am deciding what to cull the one on the chopping block has lots of overlap with other games and just isn’t as interesting to me anymore. Conversely, when I am trying to decide whether to buy a game or not this helps me see if that new game will have a purpose in my collection or if it will just collect dust. Thinking this way has led me to take a break in my buying.

The main thing I want you to take away is this – spend some time thinking about your collection and your collecting habits. No matter the result, it will do you some good.