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How important is it that your copies of board games get played?

2011 April 4
by Michael Schroeder

If I had to make a quick and dirty estimation in value, of the board games and expansions I currently own, it would be $1,500, conservatively. That’s a good chink of change to invest in these games, that I only acquired since about 2007…and we’re talking “board games” here…not computer equipment or home audio equipment. So if I’m willing to invest all this money into cardboard and plastic to be able to have entertaining fun, these games better get some play!

To me, it’s important that my copy of board games, hits the table. But I’m sure I’m not alone, right? You spent good money on a game, and you did it, so it can be played, not collecting dust on the shelf. You buy a copy of Through the Ages, a game that costs roughly $50 and you buy it, knowing a few of your gamer buddies also has it – why did you buy it then? This happens all the time, and the biggest and most obvious reason is, that your buddies that have that game, won’t always be around for you to partake in that game, so you decide to get a copy for yourself. Understandable.

I am a person that definitely wants to get his money’s worth, in a game. You can even go ahead and break down the number of plays, divided by the total cost of that game and get a rough estimate of what you paid, per play – and hopefully the game comes out more, that it costs less and less! I must say though, in this new and small world of limitless possibilities in these alternative games we play, it’s tough to get many plays of a game that you own, let alone your copy. I myself, have the problem of some board game buying addiction. My addiction is rationalized through the reasoning that, “Hey, I used to buy video games quite a bit that are $50 a pop…and many of these are much less, so what’s the problem?” I’m gold! Not really…as I mentioned above, buying more and more games, will naturally result in you playing that specific copy of a game, less. “But, I wanted to get many grounds covered, in mechanics and theme!” Great! I think I have a good selection now, so I’ve slowed down a little but there’s always that itch, and especially with the advent of the Internet and the ease of online shopping at such stores like, amazon, ebay, thoughthammer, boards and, etc, it’s so easy to pick up more and more copies of games, that may or may not, get played!

Luckily, there is a strong community of board game users on that will partake in trading games. You just have to pay the shipping to get it out of your house! I actually quite recently made a somewhat rash decision on trading a copy of Poseidon, for Tigris and Euphrates. I picked up Poseidon a month or so ago, read the rules, realized they are a bit ambiguous and slightly complex and I have never played a 18XX game (which this refers itself to being as such, just easier), and decided, well, I have enough complicated games, and so many games, I don’t know when this will hit the table, so let’s trade it for a game that’s higher up in the board game geek rankings, and has some age to it…that’s where Tigris and Euphrates came in! So I never even got a chance to play that game, but I’m not disappointed in my decision to trade the game because I already got a game of T and E in.

So, it’s just the nature of the beast here, have too many games, specific ones will probably get played less. Unless you have a hard core group going that plays this same one over and over.

But what about the fact of playing “your” copy of a game. To me, that can be an issue over time. Say my friend and I both have Agricola, and we played my copy a few times, well, its time to stop bringing it to gaming events and let your friends copy hit the table. The poor guy spent all that money on the game, let him get enjoyment with his copy and let him administer the game! Is it a selfish thing to want your copy of a game to come out? Hmmm, I thought about it, and I’m going to say, “no.” It all depends on the situation. Generally, I can’t imaging there would ever be a problem at an event, but who knows, there could be! Person A whips Agricola out of his bag for us all the play, then person B, whom has not had his copy played yet, brings that out, tossing person A’s aside and childishly throws a tantrum saying, “I haven’t played my copy yet, we’re playing it!” That would be a bad situation and I’m curious if any of you, have experienced that…If the person politely says, “Hey, ya know, I’m wondering if we could play my copy of Agricola instead?” Why? As everyone looks at you funny…you just put a smile on your face and say, “Well, I’ve owned this copy for a year and it hasn’t hit the table once yet, so I’d like to get some money’s worth of it…” I’m sure nobody would have a problem with that. They may make comments about you behind your back, but you got your copy played and you didn’t step on any one’s toes. It’s all in your deliver and approach, how you bring it up.

Bottom line, you spent good money on your games to be played, you didn’t spend that money for nothing…

That’s why I think it’s a catch-22 or double edges sword ( I don’t know) when going to a game event. One one side it’s awesome! I’m excited to play some games, I don’t care what we play, as I know the games coming, will be fun! Then there’s the other side of it, “Well, I know so and so always brings a ton of games with them, so more than likely, my games won’t get played…” That is something that hits my mind sometimes, but ya know what, in the end it doesn’t matter as I always have a good time…unless someone wants to play word games, then I’ll sit out, on that one! I love playing games, no matter who’s copy it is, but to me, there is definitely some importance to having the opportunity to play your copies of games from time to time! And generally the person bringing the game, is the admin of that game, and I know I enjoy teaching and talking and demonstrating games and acting like a salesman…maybe that’s why it’s important to me that my copies come out.

Share your thoughts, let me know how you feel about this topic.

4 Responses leave one →
  1. April 4, 2011

    Interesting topic. I don’t have the same problem you do because I’m pretty much THE game depository for my gaming group. But, it is important for my games to hit the table. If a game hasn’t been played in quite some time – and I don’t see that changing – it makes it on the sell/trade/donate pile and I get rid of it. My gaming closet space is, unfortunately, at a premium.

  2. divedeeper permalink
    April 4, 2011

    I personally would count a play of someone else’s copy of a game I own towards my play/cost calculation because it doesn’t matter who’s bits are being used. Now, if it comes to a point where I simply cannot buy another due to space and my copy of something is never hitting the table I would consider selling/trading/donating.

  3. April 11, 2011

    Whether someone already owns a particular game or plays a strong influence in my decision to buy a game or not.

    And when it comes time to weed the shelves, my first question is whether I’ve played the game lately or need to continue owning a copy. Dominion, for instance. Do I really need my own, now that over three-quarters of the local board game community owns it as well?

  4. April 11, 2011

    I buy a fair number of games with no real expectation of ever opening them. I buy them because they’re good games: I want them to be in my collection and I want to support the designers and publishers who produce such quality games. Do I intend to play that game more? Almost always. Do I care whether it’s my copy or not? Yes, but not in the way you would think.

    It’s fairly rare that a copy of a game will ever be worth more than it retailed for and very rare that it will ever be worth more than double that, so I’m not trying to preserve the original packaging for investment purposes. Rather, I’m just OCD and if I can leave a game unsullied while still enjoying it (via others’ copies), why shouldn’t I?

    Perhaps one day I’ll move to an area where no one else owns the games I want to play, and all my games will be opened, but that doesn’t need to happen for me to be satisfied with my purchase.

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