For most gamers, I'd imagine that their collection goes through phases. A cycle of mentalities and buying habits that grows and evolves as the gamer dives deeper into the hobby. For some there might be more extreme changes and fast growth between them while others may be more subtle and gradual. Some may never get past certain phases. I figure my own progression would be categorized as a moderate one. Out of my friends, I have one of the larger collections, by in the grand scheme of things, there are larger and more involved people out there.
At first they may just buy a game or two. They are still new to the hobby and don't want to make the wrong decision. Maybe they just try some basic gateway games of some various mechanics. For me this was purchasing Ticket To Ride and Smallworld. I quickly fell in love with Days of Wonder's games and then even added Memoir '44 to my collection.
But then, maybe overnight, the gamer enters the collection phase. At this point, the gamer knows what they're looking for and swarm upon it. Expansions start being purchased without thought, regardless of how much the base game has been played. The one shelf of games quickly take over the entire bookcase and soon the wall. If left unchecked, then the gamer may soon find himself on Hoarders.
If the gamer is lucky, then before their collection reaches critical mass, they will be able to take a step back and re-evaluate. This may come from lack of funds, lack of space or an intervention of loved ones.
This is the phase that I currently find myself in. I recently purchase Fresco and quickly decided to sell it. It wasn't clicking with me as a game and I already had some worker placement type games that I much preferred, Lords of Waterdeep and Alien Frontiers. I felt it didn't have any place in my collection as it would just collect dust and so it went away.
I also recently decided to wait on purchasing the new D&D skirmish game, Dungeon Command. I had participated in the playtest and thought it was a great game, but its not the time for it. I already have a two-player skirmish game, Summoner Wars, that I don't play nearly enough. I couldn't stand the thought of purchasing another game that I knew I would like but wouldn't hit the table enough. Unfortunately, this will also probably slow me down in buying the oncoming Second Summoners. Maybe one day I'll pick it up (it will be hard to pass on the Undead set coming out later.) However, I felt it was better to put my money towards things that would get more playtime.
I'm teetering on the line of this step. As I mentioned, I don't like having games that just sit around and give me dough eyes. I have some great games that sit on my shelf and I just can't get them to the table enough. Some of them have been replaced in my mind by other games in my friends' collections. The original Thunderstone has been overshadowed by Thunderstone Advance and DOOM by Descent 2.0. I'm holding onto them for now, but the day may come.
I often wonder if true balance can be achieved. There are always new games coming out and old games that will sit longer and longer. Perhaps the best that we can hope for is a 'one in, one out' scenario, but even that could be hard to maintain.
I'm happy with my collection. I have a good amount of great games that I enjoy playing with my friends and family. Sure, there's a couple 'white whales' out there that I would love to add. But at the same time, I know that when the time finally comes, I have some games that I could get rid of to free up some shelf space.
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