How Many Is Too Many?

So I've often heard of this first world board game enthusiast problem of shelf space, or rather a lack of it.

You have too many games that you have no shelf space to put them, and that's a problem?!

That's what I used to think, but I think I am starting to understand.

My library / collection started with the goodness that is 7 Wonders roughly two years ago and for just over a year it was about all we played.  I bought all the expansions, and enjoyed as our games of wonders got bigger and more complicated. I'm not sure how many people I introduced it to, but anyone I had the opportunity to bring it out with I would and it was hard to find someone who didn't enjoy a bit of wonders.  It was the only game we really needed and after countless plays nobody seemed bored of it.

But one day I decided to get a new game, just to mix it up a little.
I came across 'The Resistance' which I read about online (about when I first came across and all the buzz seemed positive.
Great game
Most fun ever
Must buy

Well I thought it was okay.
I didn't get the fuss and have played it only about 4 times as none of us seemed to really enjoy it.

Back to Wonders it was, and resistance hasn't been played since (I love hidden role games, may try it again one day but would almost just rather play werewolf!).

Things carried on as they did before with us all gathering for some Wonders which now included the massive Babel expansion (that we never quite got to memorise what every tile did) and that was about when I bought Ticket To Ride: Europe and Love Letters.

I enjoyed both games and was excited to have a short little game like Love letters to play when we didn't have a lot of time, as well as ticket to ride, a game for when our brains were a bit too fried for the complexities of wonders with 4 expansions.

Our usual 7 Wonders group however, was mixed on both games.
Some liked Love Letters and some liked Ticket To Ride, but we couldn't get the whole group to agree on a game we all liked as much as Wonders.

That was when the search to find something else that we'd all enjoy started  In came Codenames, Bang! The Dice, Saboteur, Sheriff Of Nottingham, Sushi Go!, Ultimate Werewolf, Through The Ages, King of Tokyo while travelling to Canada last Christmas.  Suddenly I was hooked.

That was about 11 months ago..

Fast forward to today and there's now just over 80 board games in the library to choose from on our weekly board game nights and other opportunities arise.

Not only that - but I've started a blog and instagram page in the last few months just to be able to share the board gaming passion and for times when I don't have a group to game with, I can write about games or take pictures of them!  Things have come a long way from sitting around for a simple night of vanilla 7 Wonders.

Winter has been great for game nights as there isn't a whole lot of other options making it easy to get people around for a gaming night.  We've averaged about 30 plays a month the last 5 or so months and 7 Wonders hasn't been played once.  It's not that I don't like it, because it will always be one of my favourite games simply for the fact that not only is it an amazing game but its literally what started it all for me - but there's a whole world of board games waiting to be discovered and played.

So many card board cut outs to be popped
Confusing rule books to be read
Horrible inserts to complain to myself about
And of course nights filled with fun, adventure, frustration and laughs.

It's addictive which is why we all love it!

But time is a precious commodity these days.
Most of us have work, families, sport, other hobbies and plain old life all to balance and juggle as they fight for our time.

So how many games can we really play?
How many games is too many games?

Someone recently mentioned on an instagram post I posted. It was a picture of a mousepad I got for my birthday. Written on it is just about every game mechanic you could think of, so I posed a challenge to my instagram followers to see if they could find a gaming mechanic that wasn't in the picture.

Someone said they found one, a meta game mechanic.
'Collecting board games'

First reaction was a small chuckle and a quick reply.
But later it actually got me thinking.. collecting games, hunting for rare titles, coming across online specials or rare FLGS sales, getting the latest game or expansion from that designer or publisher we all love.
Maybe it is a bit of a game?
A solo one where every new purchase makes you feel like a winner.

There's strategy and planning as you decide where best to spend your hard earned dollars, mixed with elements of racing as you seek to get the latest buzz worthy game before it sells out, a bit of luck as you know not every purchase will be as good as the latest, and a whole lot of set collecting purchasing games in a series, by designer and by publisher.

Lately I've started to wonder about this 'metagame' - are you actually winning in the race to the biggest and broadest collection of board games known to mankind?  Winning a game is 100% not necessary, but it certainly can add a cherry of happiness on top to the nights experience.

Let me digress for a moment and I'll come back to this.

Recently i came across an Instagram post of a collection of over 2000 board games.  It had me drooling jealously over how impressive it looked. Every wall, every where you looked was board games, followed by more board games.

I couldn't actually tell you the color of the walls as stacked in shelves from floor to ceiling, ominously powering over the gaming table in the centre of the room - was just board games.  It looked like the perfect library of games that was just begging for a challenger to try and find something that was missing. A rare game, one overlooked, something long out of print, or a limited kickstarter board game.

Realistically as impressive as this library of games is, I know there would be thousands of games missing.  It would be impossible to own every game, but I would be surprised if this collection didn't include just about every game in the BGG top 500 and then some.  An impressive feat for sure and just about every board gamers dream to have, but at what point is it enough?

I'll go back to 'winning the metagame'.

As mentioned I currently have a humble library of about 80 games.  These games include: Alcatraz, Crisis, Dead Of Winter:The Long Night, Elder Sign, Forbidden Desert, Hollywood, Power Grid, Saboteur 2, Space Alert, T.I.M.E Stories, Time's Up as well as expansions for Elder Sign (two), Istanbul, Lords Of Waterdeep, and Mascarade.

I just listed 16 games and expansions - some are well known and liked games and others that might not find a place on many gamers tables.  It might look like a random group of games, but they actually all share one thing in common - at least to me anyway.

I have never played any of them!

If you think that's bad - I'll give you another list.

Bang! The Dice, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Biblios, Blood Rage, Chinatown, Dead of Winter (original), Fury Of Dracula, Jamaica, Jane Austen's Matchmaker, Lanterns, Last Will, Legends of Andor, Mansions of Madness, Mascarade, Munchkin, Mysterium, Port Royal, Pretense, The Resistance, Sheriff of Nottingham, Spyfall, Sushi Go!, and Through The Ages.

That's another 23 games listed, all of which I've played less then five times.

If we round off to an 80 game library:
16 games not played = 20%
23 games with less than 5 plays = 29%

Together they make up a library of games that is nearly 50% not really played.

There are a few reasons why these games haven't been played, but the biggest factor is time.

What good is having a million board games that you can't actually or never get the chance to play?

It's hard enough to keep track of the rules and set up for the 40 odd games that I do play, but having 2000 would mean setting aside extra time before each game night to remember how to play the games we were about to play.  We don't have a lot of time as it is and now we need to spend time on our own reading the rules plus time with the whole group explaining them to make sure everyone knows how to play.

Yes, board games and their boxes can look amazing and in a living room they can be a showcase in replace of artwork hanging on the wall.  But - in a world where there is always something demanding our time, am I still a winner with an 80 game library when half of them aren't actually played?

So I've come to realise that while I've been playing this collecting metagame - I've actually lost a lot more than I like to admit.

It's made me change my focus.  Instead of endeavouring to acquire every game that looks appealing, is from a favourite designer/publisher, or is being touted as the next best thing - I'm now focused on having a board game library that has a game I can bring to the table regardless of who is actually sitting at it.  Young or old, gamer or not - I'd love to have a game for every occasion because I know they'd actually get played.

I know I won't be able to resist and will still purchase games that I'll know I'll rarely get to play, but sometimes you just have to.

How many is too many?

There's no definitive answer to that.

I no longer plan to have a massive collection and have given myself a 'soft cap' of 100 games that I own.  To some I'm sure it's not enough games yet to others 100 is excessive.  Really it's just a round number that I'm close to and it'll mean selling and trading out ones that I don't enjoy that much.

I love board games and as a result I'll still always be jealous when I see a 2000+ library of games - but I envy more those who have happened upon a few games that they can share with friends, and have the time to play until their hearts content.

Gift or a Curse? - credit to