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How to keep your game collection manageable
Daniel Karp
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This list comes from a BGGBlog post I made ages ago, with some changes.

If you are trying to keep your collection from growing out of control, I have some recommendations that have helped me. I have about 180 games now, but would have many more if I hadn't adopted the following policies. Of course, this only applies to people trying to keep their collections small--if what you want is a HUGE game collection, full of games you are unlikely ever to play, go for it! I buy games to play them, and collect them so that I have the games I want to play.

None of these are hard and fast rules--just general guidelines, and I break them all from time to time. I repeat: these are general guidelines, and don't always apply--break them whenever it seems like a good idea. But following these guidelines has kept my collection under control--the total number of games in my collection now is only 15 more than when I first posted these guidelines, almost a year ago. My collection now consists mostly of games I truly enjoy, and hope to continue playing.

Oh, and all of the examples are only my opinions--I've purposely chosen game other people tend to like for these examples to emphasize rule #9.

Have any suggestions for more guidelines? Feel free to suggest them in the comments, and I'll add them if I think they belong.
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1. Board Game: StreetSoccer [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1151]
Daniel Karp
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1. Try before you buy, when at all possible.

Sometimes I fall back on old habits, buying untested games, but usually I try to keep to this rule. You'd be surprised how many games you'll find you don't care much for despite their high ratings, or despite the fact that everyone KNOWS that they will be the best game since Puerto Rico. And it is significantly easier to honestly evaluate a game you haven't just spent $40 on. Of course, sometimes you have to be the one to buy first, but in that case, be extra careful in your selection.

My example game here is a game I was all ready to buy based on the reviews, until I actually played it, and decided that it wasn't for me.
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2. Board Game: Evo [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:511]
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2. Don't buy "OK" games.

There are so many great games out there--why would you want one that you think is merely OK? It almost worse to have an OK game in your collection than a bad one; a bad one you will get rid of, but an OK game sits on your shelf, a bit too good to trade away, not quite good enough to play.

Evo, to me, is one of classic OK games. It is fun to play, but there are so many other great games in that niche (3-5 players, medium duration, light-to-medium weight) that I never really want to play it.
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3. Board Game: Amun-Re [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:172]
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3. Trim your collection mercilessly.

If you don't enjoy a game, or if it merely an OK game in a crowded category (four player mid-weight games that take about 90 minutes, for example), sell it or trade it away. Pay no attention to the ratings if you think you have given the game a fair shake and still don't like it. I've traded away plenty of very highly ranked games that I don't miss even a little--Tikal, El Grande (well, maybe I miss that one a little), Amun-Re, Union Pacific--the list goes on (I actually have a geeklist for this, called "Highlights from my 'formerly owned games' list.")
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...
The trick to keeping a collection small is to make sure that every game earns its place. It also helps to re-evalute constantly--is there a game that you liked at first, but haven't played in a while? Do you honestly think you will want to play it again, considering all of the other games you have (or will have) to choose from? Maybe it is time to put it on the trade or sale list.
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4. Board Game: Fightball [Average Rating:5.88 Overall Rank:5635]
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4. Avoid suspiciously good deals on games you've never tried.

Most often, the deal is good because the game is not. The $3 I spent on Fightball (about 80% off) is $3 I'll never see again, with only some dead weight in my collection to show for it. A good board game that you will play many times is a good deal at full price. Guideline #4 applies primarily to games which have been individually reduced in price; by all means take advantage of general sales (the recent Hasbro "Buy 1 get 1 free", for example), but try to limit yourself to games you would have bought at full price. If it wasn't worth it at full price, you probably won't play it much at half price.
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5. Board Game: Europe Engulfed [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:488]
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5. Pay attention to what your friends like.

If all of your gaming friends enjoy primarily short, mid-weight German games, no matter how much you think you will enjoy Europe Engulfed or Twilight Imperium, they would probably be bad purchases. Of course, if you are so interested in a game that you are willing to meet new people to play it, by all means do so--but in that case, you should be able to find someone who owns the game, so that you will be able to follow guideline number 1, and try before you buy.
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6. Board Game: Dragonland [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:1963]
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6. Pay attention to the overall Boardgamegeek ratings, especially when buying a game that you have not tried.

Even if you have read the rules and are sure that you will love a game, a low rating should be a warning sign. And even if you have PLAYED the game and enjoyed it, you should be wary of low ratings. Why? Because you can't play games alone, and if most people are not so crazy about a game, I guarantee you that it won't get played often, however much you may like it. Of course, if you already know your group likes a game, this rule does not apply.
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7. Board Game: Die Siedler von Catan: Historische Szenarien [Average Rating:6.60 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.60 Unranked]
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7. Don't buy games "just in case."

Buy the ones you want to play now. With the advent of eBay and Boardgamegeek Marketplace, you will always be able to get a copy of a game later if you want to play it later. Think that someday you might need another Settlers expansion to keep it fresh? Then buy it then, not now. You may say, "But it will be much more expensive then, when it is out of print." Maybe. But so what? The money you save by not buying games that sit uplayed on your shelf will more than make up for the difference in price.
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8. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:27]
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8. Don't buy (or keep) great games that you don't like.

There will be some games that everyone but you loves. You may give them a more-than-fair chance, and still not enjoy them the way it seems that you should. You don't have to own those games--pay no attention to the people who tell you you are crazy. Owning such a game will only increase the odds that you will end up having to play it, when you would rather play something else.
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9. Board Game: Master Labyrinth [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:1625]
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9. Sell (or give away) games that you want to get rid of, but can't trade away.

You will always do better in a trade than in a sale. Unless you are actually trying to make your collection much smaller, trading is usually the way to go. But if a game sits on your trade list with no interest for a long time, it may be time to sell it.
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10. Board Game: Attila [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1309]
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10. Apply these rules to trades.

Don't lower your requirements (much) when trading for a game. Just because you are made a fair offer to trade for an "OK" game doesn't mean you have to trade. Remember, you are going to pay for shipping at your end. Consider your trades as carefullly as you consider your purchases.

This is an example of a game I traded for after playing it once, and finding it to be OK. Predictably, I ended up trading it away again--I should have realized that if it wasn't worth buying, it wasn't worth trading for.
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11. Board Game: Tal der Könige [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:2514]
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11. Avoid games that are very impractical to play.

Some games that you might otherwise want are highly impractical to play. For example, they might be very long or hard to teach. Or, if you always play games at other people's homes, the box size for a game might make it impractical to actually take anywhere (see my example). A good game that everyone likes that still never gets played is just wasting space on your shelf.
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12. Board Game: Die Fugger [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1911]
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12. Don't spend money to save money.

(Thansk Chris R!) Don't buy a game you otherwise weren't planning to get in order to "save" money. For example, don't add another item to reach the limit for free shipping--wait until you actually want enough games to qualify for free shipping, THEN place your order.

Don't pre-order a game you don't know much about just because it will be a bit cheaper--wait until it has come out and you have tried it, or at least read some reviews, before buying.
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13. Board Game: Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:282]
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13. Avoid redundant games.

(Thanks, Togu!) If two games are very similar in theme or mechanic (or both), you may find that, although you like both of them, you prefer one to the extent that you would rarely pull out the other. That second choice game can go--believe me, you won't miss it.
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