I know a lot of people in the board game community joke about addiction to the hobby so I thought I'd say a few words about my growing collection. Is there such a thing as too much? How do you recognise when you reach that point? Is addiction even an issue? Now, my collection of about forty games certainly isn't out of control and is absolutely dwarfed by some collections I've heard of in their hundreds. But then others see my collection and ask why I would need so many games? Let me explain.
For me it all started very innocently, as these things often do, when someone mentioned a game that I was almost genetically predisposed to want, need even. That game was X-Wing Miniatures. This pulled at two separate parts of my being, the Star Wars fan of 30 odd years and the memories of wonderful afternoons lost playing board games, all through my youth and up into my late teens. I mean, c'mon! What chance did I have?
From there I started looking for games that might bring my friends into the hobby. After all, what use is a board game without someone to play it with? So I started buying loads of gateway games like Dominion, 7 Wonders and The Resistance: Avalon. These served their purpose, I had managed to foster a fledgeling board gaming group, Hazaa! But deep down I wanted something meatier, something with more depth or strategy that I could really sink my teeth in to.
So that led me to buy Eldritch Horror and Eclipse. These are both wonderful games and certainly scratched that itch for a heavier experience but I found I couldn't get them to the table as often as I'd like. It's harder to get the whole group to commit to several hours of brain-burning than it is a couple lighter games. There's usually at least one person who has had a hard day and doesn't feel in the mood, sometimes that's me so I can't blame anyone for this.
Then I stumbled across the world of solo gaming. Now, a large part of gaming is about the social experience so I can see why some people just wouldn't get it. For me, I was also after a mechanical system that would challenge me, a puzzle to unwind. Would solo gaming satisfy this need? I jumped in with Lord of the Rings LCG and Mage Knight, right in at the deep end. Turned out that these were just what I was looking for and they are now my two favourite games.
At this point I started noticing holes in my collection and filled them. I didn't have anything for parties: Skull, Wits and Wagers. Dexterity based games: Crokinole. Dice games: Roll for the Galaxy, Quantum. The list grows larger and my collection more rounded with each game.
I had been spending a lot of time on forums, mainly Reddit and BoardGameGeek, researching my purchases. I don't want to buy a dud now, do I (looking at you Pathfinder ACG)? This was drawing me into discussions about the latest hotness and I found it all too easy to get pulled on to the hype train. This is a dangerous train to ride as these games have no proven track record, just lots of people telling you how this game is going to be so awesome, you must want this game, it has this new mechanic that you just have to try, it's only a small print run... No! Stop, stop the madness...!
Taking stock, I realised just how much I had spent on board games, a few of which I hadn't even played. I'd been buying games far faster than I could justify. Is a game a good purchase if I have only played it twice, let alone not at all? Take Lord of the Rings LCG for example, this may be my favourite game but I had bought expansions at such a rate that I found myself getting lost in the collection, cards that I barely knew how to use sitting there looking all lonely. It was here that I started to curb my purchases. I began by stripping back LOTR to just the core set and going through it at a slower pace, I enjoyed the experience all the more for it. Rather than buying a couple games a month I focused on playing the ones I had and only buying games that really leapt out at me.
And so it is that I have curbed my addiction. But was it really a problem to start with? I feel that this is very subjective with different limits for each person dependent on disposable income, how much play time they get and their reasons for purchasing.
This is my main hobby and, although it seems like I have spent a lot on games, I know people who spend a lot more on their hobbies. The money I have spent was disposable income, I'm not spending so much that I have trouble putting food on the table or paying the bills. I even managed to save for a deposit on a house while in the depths of my addiction.
Alright, I haven't played my games as much as I would hope, but they are still there to play when I get around to it. As long as I keep them in good condition then they depreciate very little so I can always sell them for a sizable chunk of what I paid. And I have a nice rounded collection that I'm proud of, it's a talking point when people come over. I always have a game that will fit the situation, be that a quick fire two player game, a multi-hour brain-burner or a party game for ten people. I'm happy with the collection I have and I'm happy with the slower pace I've found.
I'm also happy that I've recently found the joys of Kickstarter... ☺
So, is there a lesson to be taken from my experiences? Something to guide you through your own addiction perhaps? To those new to the hobby I'd suggest that you take things a little slower than myself, savour the games you have and enjoy the experience that comes from learning a game intimately. Although I suspect most will ignore my warnings, for better or worse. And for those deep in the throes of addiction that I have caught too late? Revel in it, it's only a hobby after all.