This article reprinted by kind permission of Ravage magazine.
I have too many games. Maybe you do too.
My study is one of the largest rooms in the house and yet I hardly have room to move. Games and games paraphernalia are piled everywhere. Despite my attempts to clear out some of the accumulated stuff of several decades’ gaming, I still have way too many games. But too many for what?
Too many for my wife, who looks in and shakes her head. Too many to have a clear painting space which might allow me at least the pretence of finding time to get some models painted. Too many to still fit a gaming table in (that has migrated downstairs). Too many to even get to some of them. Most importantly, I have too many games to let me buy more.
Let me Explain
It’s likely that I have this condition rather worse than most, but perhaps you recognise the symptoms. I actually have a lot of space to store my games, and that’s great. However, I have a lot of games to store. What I really need to do is to go through them and find a way of culling the least worthy so that I have room for new shoots to replace the tired old husks. Easier said than done, of course, for as soon as I start to sift through the boxes I have waves of nostalgia. These are old friends who shared my adventures and the moment I see them again it all comes flooding back. How can I discard them?
A cold (but practical) heart is the only way.
I have a Kickstarter’s worth of Sedition Wars on the way, Spartacus sounds fun and a friend is gently pushing me towards Dystopian Legions. Dropzone Commander looks very shiny and I’ve got a backlog of board games to catch up with. Where will they all go?
So, I have no choice. Some must die so that others may be saved.
I’ve tried asking for volunteers, but that didn’t work. So I’ve decided to work through the boxes with a simple set of rules. If you have similar afflictions, maybe following these steps will help you too.
1) Firstly we have the obvious keepers. These are games which you either play regularly now, or that you have played many times in the past. They are reliable old standbys, your “go to” games, and you know you will play them again. For me, this includes things like Lost Cities, Nuclear War and DBA.
2) Then we have the things that are plainly not needed. Anything that you don’t want or don’t like any more obviously goes in the Ebay/charity/bin pile. You may be surprised how much sits in here – tastes change and new (and better) replacements come out all the time. Something that may have been perfect “way back when” may not be worth keeping now.
3) Once you have siphoned off your current favourites and the utter rejects, you need to sort the remainder. Divide the rest of your collection into games you played in the last year, and games you haven’t played for longer than that. Note that the age of the game itself is irrelevant – it’s the time you last played it that matters.
4) If you played it in the last year and it is not either a keeper or a reject (step 1 or 2), make a death row pile. Their fate is as yet undecided (though it doesn’t look good). They get one more gaming session to either earn themselves a status of keeper, or a slot on Ebay.
5) Finally, dig out anything that you haven’t played in over a year. Ask yourself a hard question: “Am I really going to overcome whatever it is that is stopping me playing this in the next 3 months?” If the honest answer is “No”, then you should probably add this to the discard pile too. If you’re like me, stuff in this category was either bought on a whim, was part of a grand plan that never happened, or was bought because it was fashionable at the time (and now it’s not). Mostly this should be binned.
By the way…
If you could replace all your physical rulebooks with digital copies (saving loads of space) would you do so?
If your house was on fire and you could rescue only one game, which would it be? Why? Is this the same game you would have rescued five years ago? Ten?
I think I would have to save my copy of Arkham horror or my dungeon dice monster stuff. But my indecisiveness would probably turn me to toast.
I find digital copies of rulebooks abhorrent, give me a full colour hardback all the way!
I’ve replaced many of the novels I own with ebook versions and would never go back. I never use an ebook for academic work. The difference being that I can passively read the former but need to actively use the latter and the format is not well suited to active use. All of which means I wouldn’t replace my hardcopy rulebooks with digital versions because I need to use them and not just read them.
I’ve got a fair few games I’ve never played (Dystopian Legions, Firestorm Armada, Brushfire, Alkemy, and Relics all spring to mind) but I still intend to so I’m clinging onto them. If push comes to shove and I need money for a game I really want to pick up then I can be ruthless in moving them on.
Question 1 as a roleplayers with around 200 hard backs not a chance in hell!! I find pdf’s great for referencing things quickly but when I read them I dont absorb the info in the same way I find it strains my eyes… I know a kindle/tablets are better but what happens when you need to check something and you realise you forgot to charge the thing… Give me books any day… Also New Book/Game Smell I love it, makes my toes tingle… dont get that with pdfs….
2nd question WFRP not sure on the edition not really important.. but its because I have had more fun putting my friends characters though that gritty but humorous setting (A mix between editions 1st for gritty humour and 3rd without the ‘Heroic’ aspect and pre SoC for the atmosphere is what I use, with some aspects of the background like fimir I have homebrewed to fit into the very much changed background.) Also its one game and I get to save about 50 books/products… (I have to get it all..)
So just had a couple of extra thoughts, as for cleaning out in my previous house I had an entire room for gaming, glass display cabinets for painted models and 3 book cases – along with scenery and gaming boards/matts and a 3 tiered glass desk for painting and modelling… but as I said currently everything is in storage and I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and as a result decided I would sell off my 20000pts of Dark Elves by painting a unit and putting it up for auction, this money would become my geek cash and if relatively worthwhile I might continue it on with other bits (I have a massive greenskin horde I am thinking of selling) but this will be broken up by painting a unit – squad – team – character for one of the systems/.armies I am currently building mainly to stop me going utterly insane…
The issue with this, is that even though I know the painting tricks to make models look good I do not enjoy painting and have no knack for it, I have always been a gamer though and though…
Wow! That is brutal. Ive never gone through it like that in so much detail. For me its just save or death. I have to be brutal. The wife demands it! Once a year I have a purge. Ebay or bin. Bin is for those thjngs that would never sell on ebay, ruined things like offcuts from conversions that arent useable for others.
And im now reduced to just 4 games. Bloodbowl, warmachine, spacehulk and soon deadzone. Oh and the odd group of models such as a mordheim warband and a selection of characterful conversions for inq28. And half of my warmachine (i have 2 armies) and probably the mordheim band will be put on ebay to replace what I pledged for deadzone.
I agree with everything stated here. Its all about management. Why have something that’s meant to be played with gathering dust?
As for whether I replace all my rulebooks with digital copies, I pretty much have. Scanned them into the computer and made pdfs of them. I clarify this with ‘they are for personal use.’ I don’t share them illegally online etc. I have have however kept a couple of rare items, 1st edition warhammer fantasy roleplay for example, because they are a pleasure to delve into now and again.
Saving stuff from fire however, no game is worth more than my life, my wifes or my cats. But… if had to save anything it would be my warmachine retribution of scyrah. Too much time invested in that to just lose it willynilly!
Right now it would be my God of Battles book. For starters, it’s all in one book, any other system I have I’d have to decide which manuals to grab, core books, etc. We’ve ordered three copies of the thing and each one took forever (in relative gaming need time) to get to my house and I wouldn’t want to go that long without it again.
On an investing side note, a few years back my game room caught fire. (I still blame Brad, don’t make the monkey angry!) I pretty much lost at least a decade, decade and a half of gaming stuff. Plastic melts, fire department isn’t real precise with water, and a cleaning crew isn’t always selective about what they see as “debris.” Anyway, all that to say, I actually got to start my hobby over. Money in hand for all the old gaming stuff that was in there! Now, I’m not recommending you lite anything on fire (even if you do lose the game) but the ideas I learned may apply.
To start, all the nostalgia stuff was now removed. I could buy it back from eBay and the like, but did I really want it? What I decided to do, and for the most part managed, was to pick one game I wanted to do well. In my case it was 7th Ed Fantasy Battle. Not because of the awesomeness of the game, but because of the store, support, and gaming opportunities it provided at the time. Having large batches of terrain that fit the game, most of the armies, army books, etc, drawers full of cards, dice, and templates that all went to the same game made for a place conducive to games getting played… And at the end of the day, playing games is the goal.
God of Battles now let’s me use most of that same stuff in a new way, in a much more interesting game. I still have a few smoke charred figs I couldn’t part with, and I’ve still made some stupid impulse purchases, but over all the adage that “less is more” has really been true for me.
Brad and I once had intricate plans of what to have painted by when, and what was next to be purchased… And we realized we were turning our hobby into stress. (We also realized that if we just painted what we had we should buy anything for a few years, but who really needs to go there?) Too many games, with too many factions, army’s, terrain types, etc, left us scrambling all over the place, buried in our own hobby.
My advice: Pick a few games you like to play. Collect, paint, prep scenery, quality cards and markers (if you like visual management), set up space to play those FEW games and I think you’ll find your hobby much more enjoyable.
Despite your (“1st world” 😉 problems, I envy your pile. I wish my horizon was wider sooner. There are a lot of games I would like to try. Having said that, my dedication to a game tends to be “all or nothing”. This goes for both video games and board/miniature games. Two games essentially never live side by side in my life. That’s something I’m trying to change, partly by moving towards smaller, more casual games. Not because more games = better, but because less all-consuming = healthier for me.
On letting go of games, I feel I’m approaching my capacity for storing miniatures. But 90% of my miniatures I can’t see myself getting rid of. I’ve always done a thorough modeling/paint job, as that has been (at least) half the hobby for me. And I feel that each one of my miniatures is a piece of my progression, my story. New painting techniques have developed and been applied on each new painting project of mine, and it shows. Even if I might not play games with them again, that’s not their main “purpose” to me.
Board game boxes, I don’t own enough of them to throw away any. I tend to get attached though, and don’t like throwing away stuff.
I’m gonna end up like you…
Gonna take note of your steps and put in an envelope labeled “To be opened in 2030”.
Printed books vs digital:
I’m a computer science student, so I naturally like working with computers. But I can’t stand using rulebooks and other gaming materials electronically, for any purpose. If I only have it electronically, I will print it out. (Like I have done with DZ beta rules.) Similarly with army lists etc (like someone mentioned below), I only ever do it by hand. Pen & paper. Always.
Kickstarter is going to make this problem a lot worse for many people. How many different game systems do you think there are going to be three years from now? I’ve gotten rid of tons of stuff and have to constantly fight the urge to pick up anything new.
I ditched all physical rule books for miniature games about 2 years ago. For companies that did not offer digital versions, I scanned and threw away the rule book. Mostly now I won’t even bother with a game if they don’t have a digital rule book.
I just can’t bring myself to throw or sell anything. So many good memories. I know i should, but I just can’t do it. My body shuts down and I sleep until the urge goes away…then I get up to my happy clutter (yes, I do have a family as well). Save one game?…probably my Fallen Dark Angels – they live under my bed (literally) – OK so it’s two cases of figures, but it’s close enough? As for books….love paper, don’t like digital rules…although a digital set of tables and charts are useful…but I would still want my paper rule-book as well, so teh digital equipment is just additional ‘stuff’ to carry around.
I’ll likely be going through a purge of my own once I’ve bought my first house. At the moment, almost all of my gaming stuff is in storage so it’s a little hard to get to.
I think my culling criteria will come down to ‘are other local people playing this or not?’ I’ve bought far too many games (most of these at GenCon) that have never taken off back home. I will make exceptions for particularly nice models, but that’s about it.
As for which game I would save? That’s a tough one. I’ve got a few things that could not be easily replaced, so it would probably be them. I’d leave most of my books however as I do rather like PDFs and eBooks, and replacing them would be little trouble.
Wow! House on fire and one game to save. That’s a tough one. Would I go for settlers of catan as its one of the games i can play with my missus and son or munchkin purely because its the one time I CAN stab my buddies in the back? Dreadball needs consideration because (apart from being a great game 😉 ) it doesnt take long to play; then there’s several different versions of risk and monopoly, formula d, minis and scenery for infinity, minis and scenery for firestorm armada, left over minisand sprues from the now defunct and sold 40k army and dice, I have a thing about dice, loads of them!
I can see why mg partner sometime says there’s too much, but in fairness why not eh? Anyway, next challenge is to sneak in the deadzone stuff when it arrives…
I need to do a little purge… in the past money-related crisis have helped with the culling, but now it seems I’m hoarding too much, sadly 2nd hand market down here sucks. I try to keep 3 miniature games around and I’m pretty much focused on Warmachine. I’m hoping Deadzone will scratch the itch of campaign-based skirmish game I have. In case of fire I’ll save my Warmachine mercs. Hopefully the Deadzone models arrive AFTER the fire so I son’t have to take that choice.
I have your problem and don’t forget all those different types of terrain we have built over the years! But I hear your cry for help. I am willing to store your Sedition Wars kick starter for you? In fact, I’ll use it just enough to remove all that shine that troubles you so much. Ahhhh! It feels so good to help a brother in need!!
I wouldn’t replace my physical copies of rulebooks for PDF’s, I just can’t use an e-book like I could a hard copy rule book. It’s funny I don’t play that many games/collect that many armies compared to I guess a majority of folk that post here and yet I think I have too much. It’s all perspective I suppose.
As for one game I could rescue thats a tough one, are we talking wargame/board game/computer game?
If my house was on fire. Well, if I didn’t die trying to rescue them all and I had a momentary glint of sane rationale, I would save my current favorite game Zombicide. Dreadball would be number two and to be honest, it would be number one if I could play it solo. Zombicide has given me hours upon hours of fun by myself/others and so I would be obliged to return the favor.
Speaking of Solo rulesets, I do believe that it’s quite possible my answer could be very different in a year from now ( winks over to recently funded Mantic Project ).
If I could take out a whole game (including the minis) it would be Blood Bowl (84 teams, 2 boxes, 5 pitches and a few hundreds of custom dice). If it must be a single box it would be “Squillo”, an Italian card game where you are a pimp that must exploit his prostitutes and contend territory with other pimps. 😀
Anyway the time for a purge is coming… soon. 😦
I’ve got rid of games and models in the past (mainly historicals although I did it with all my warhammer stuff when 4th edition came out) only for the game/scale/period to come back into fashion down the club. Nearly always regretted it afterwards.
I have finally got round to throwing out a load of old hand written roleplaying campaigns from 20-28 years ago though, some old memories came back when sorting it out, but I’ll probably never re-capture those days.
My wife has had enough of all my models stuffed into the spare spaces in the house, so I’ve actually bought the semi-derelict house next door and have had it bought back to a liveable standard when funds allowed over the last two years. Now the two rooms upstairs are finished, all of my stuff is going to move next door.
I’ve started to sort it out when I’ve been home from work – I’ve found things in packets I’d forgotten I’ve got, but with now having the space to start things and leave them out when I’m away without upsetting the wife, I think the next year or so is going to see a couple of projects actually get re-purposed or finished. I’ve already put together a couple of the old Techno Bridges to use to trial out Deadzone (conveniently made out of about 3″x6″ sections) which had been at the back of a cupboard for the last 5 years.
Not keen on ebooks over real books – I do use .pdfs to read when I’m away, but much prefer to have something to flick through when playing a game – the same kind of reason I like to make up army lists with paper and pen rather than a spreadsheet like most of my mates (although I might set up a spreadsheet to check the numbers and make a legible copy after I’ve played around with the actually army).
If there was a fire, I’d probably perish in the fire trying to make a choice, but I’d rather make sure the wife and the dogs get out first (not that the wife would believe that at times…).
This isn’t just because it’s you asking but honestly, the game i would save, right now, would be DreadBall. Despite the fact i have spent more money, time, & effort on my Khador & Hordes Gatormen (which is literally the only other games i have having sold off just about everything else).
This is because its a game i can play in an hour, my son enjoys, and i handily all in one easy-to-pick-up-and-run-out-of-a-burning-building carry case. While i love Warmahordes i dont get to play it as often (mainly because i’ve co-opted my gaming group into being a DreadBall league).
I looked at X-Wing, brilliant game, no effort to build the models or board, but i passed in favour of this Kickstarter game that just ended last weekend. it’s called deadzone, not sure if you know it 😉
Incedentally my friends and i had an alpha game of Deadzone last week. I had to pop out for milk on turn 2 and by the time i was back they were all really enthralled in the game and the stories that had developed in it. Cant wait to play more.
i like to have both pdf and physical rulebooks, pdf’s for reading on the train or cheekily at work then physical ones for when i’m playing the games as its easier to flick through.
I am going through this right now with all my stuff. To put a positive spin on it I call it making the house bigger. If you really want to thin things down pitch everything you have not used in a year people who do this have nice tidy living space. Removing everything that was not used in the last year is very hard for most of us including me so part of making the house bigger also includes more compact storage. When I think about it keeping stuff that was not used in over a year is hard to justify but letting go is not easy when you know that you will want some of it later.
However it looks like I will gain from 100 to 200 square feet of floor space from the current effort. Over the years extra stuff has migrated down to the basement which I am currently in the process of reclaiming and finishing as living space. It seems that a few days on a project like this will make your heart harden and you can increase the number of items that must go.
I like Hardcopies over Digital, House on Fire, I would save my Dawn Patrol/Fight in the skies box
Been trying to sell off 40K /Warmahordes for the last sixmonths, to make room for games inbound
I haven’t been in the boardgaming hobby for long, but if my house (appartment) was on fire I would definitely save my copy of HeroQuest, not only was it a christmas present, it’s also out of print and it’s unlikely.I will ever be able to get my hands on another intact copy in my language…. although could just buy an english version of ebay, but that would result in some of the nostalgia and magic being lost.
I use the BGG geeklist of European sellers on a monthly basis so I can keep with the “one comes in, one goes out” sort of rule of thumb.
With all the Kickstater stuff it is getting more taxing every day.
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Love this post, it is unfortunately true ^^