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Q&A: How Do You Cull Your Game Collection?

Q&A: How Do You Cull Your Game Collection?

Q&A: How Do You Cull Your Game Collection?

This will be my third and final post in the impromptu series on purchasing and culling games. It started with a discussion in The Tavern Facebook Group about How Do You Determine What Tabletop Games To Purchase? then a follow-up post per request of the Mad Cleric of How Do You Determine What Roleplaying Games To Purchase?. Today, I am going to discuss a more difficult question, one that some people never ask and others, like me, have to ask constantly…How Do You Cull Your Game Collection?

Some gamers are blessed with large game rooms, huge basements, and/or a spouse willing to give up every square inch of storage and shelving to games. Some of you are collectors of games and keep every board game, card game, and/or RPG you have ever purchased. If that describes you, then you can stop reading right here, enjoy your growing collection, and just wait for my next blog post. If the previous did not describe you and you have limited space to store games like I do, then read on and let’s mull over the difficult decisions we have to make to cull our collections every time we run out of shelving.

My wife has been very generous in allowing me to expand my game collection with some additional shelving, but there comes a point when we reach an agreement that enough is enough. So, that means if the game doesn’t fit on my existing shelves, then a game (or two) has to leave the library to make room for the new game. Many times, I make room for a new game before acquiring it by trading to get the new game, so it is a one-to-one swap of game and shelf space, trading two or three other games for one to free up space for the new game as well, or giving away games first to free up space on the shelf. So how do I make the choice of what game shall be culled and leave the collection?

On to the culling criteria. When I need space in my game library, I will scan the shelves looking for games that have not been played recently and ask myself “Why?”

  • “No one in my family likes the game.” If the game is going to sit on the shelf gathering dust because none of us wants to play it, then it is likely the first to be culled when the time comes. The game gets offered in a multi-game trade or gifted. That is the simple choice. From here, it gets more difficult.
  • “We like another game better.” If we have another game in the library that we play instead of another game game, because of related theme or mechanics, then the forgotten game likely will get culled. Sometimes you just have a game that fits a niche better than others, which leaves a similar game gathering dust. Recently for us, that was Star Trek Panic versus Castle Panic. We found any time we wanted to play a survive the onslaught type of game that Star Trek Panic was coming off the shelf and Castle Panic saw no playing time. We enjoyed the theme and the role card mechanic so much more. Thus, Castle Panic found a new home.
  • “Gathering dust as we lost interest.” Sadly, we purchase games, acquire games in trade, or even get given games that just never make it to the table. Or they made it to the table long ago and since then have sit gathering dust on the shelf. So many reasons could cause that. A new game we liked better as discussed in the previous reason why. Could be the game never truly captured our attention and thus just didn’t make it to the table. Could be we like it ok but not enough to want to play it over other games. For whatever the reason, this game has been sitting on the shelf for over a year without ever getting played and when we discuss it, none of us have an urge to play it now.

Did you really think it was that easy for me to make those decision? No. You are right. I wish it was that easy. Here are my five exceptions to the three criteria above (and I realize I have more exceptions than criteria…deal with it).

  • EXCEPTION 1: I host community game nights, so I have a special collection of games I maintain for just that reason. If a game is useful while hosting a community board game night (such as a classic like Parcheesi or Aggravation, popular card games like Uno, or party games like Dixit), then it remains in the collection and is not up for culling. I have a special shelf where I keep most of those games for just that purpose.
  • EXCEPTION 2: Small box games and card games don’t leave the collection as often because they do not take up as much space as a large box board game. I just toss the small boxes into a set of drawers. Usually if I decide to get rid of one it is because it is completely worn out or I have passed it onto a friend who loves it even more.
  • EXCEPTION 3: Games I use as reference, which mostly applies to RPGs in the collection. There are many RPG books and box sets in my collection that “No one in my family likes,” “We like another game better,” and “Gathering dust as we lost interest.” But, I still keep many of those games because I know I will use them in a future campaign as reference material. Being a game master/storyteller for over thirty years, I often will pull out a book, campaign, or module from ten, twenty, or more years ago to start a new campaign with a twist on the old classic. So an RPG has to REALLY be one I don’t enjoy at all and see no use for it for me to part with it. That was not always the case in the past, I have had my purges (and regretted most of them). Now I am much more particular about any RPGs that leave my collection.
  • EXCEPTION 4: Games I have worked on as a freelancer, RPGs and Tabletop Games, I keep on a special shelf. So far, I haven’t worked on so many that it has become an issue. In the future, I might have to change my decision on that and consider games I worked on in the culling criteria.
  • EXCEPTION 5: What can throw a curve in this decision is the sentimental value of a game. Was it one I have strong nostalgic feelings for? Was it a gift for a special occasion? Was it purchased on a trip as a memory? If so, I have a valid reason to keep it, at least for now.

Wow, this was much more difficult to write up than expected. I hadn’t really put into words what I have been doing in my head each time I cull a game. My daughter found it ironic that a post about culling and shrinking a collection turned into such a long post. Something philosophical about that. I would love to hear your thoughts and practices for culling your collection.


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