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A guide to trading games on board game geek and etiquette

2011 June 9
by Michael Schroeder

Those of you that have been on boardgamegeek for awhile, should know about the trades feature. If you don’t, or have never used it, you should consider giving it a try. The board game geek trading feature allows two parties to basically trade their games to each other. I’ve noticed this feature awhile back and never considered using it as I’m a type of person that would rather have a brand new and undamaged game. But as time went on, I embraced the idea and I try my best effort to find out the condition of the games I’m receiving before hand. I expect the same treatment of the games I’m receiving, as I treat my games.

How do you use it?

Well, if you have stored any games in your collection on board game geek, you can hover over the respective cell for a game, under the status box. In the dialog box, click, for trade, on the games you wish to get rid of, or trade. Then Submit/save.

Now, you must search out the games you wish to receive in trade. To do this, you can either type in the game of the game, in board game geek’s main search bar, then repeat the above process, only clicking, want in trade. Or if you have stored plays of a game in your profile/collection – you may add it this way. Now you’re ready to see what’s available to trade!

Now, hover over the bazaar drop down navigation text on the top of the site, then click trades. You are presented with two options, direct match and custom search. Try direct match for now. What you’ll see next is a list of users in table format, split up according to a match of what both parties are looking for, neat huh?

Say you are looking to trade a specific game, you can back up and try the custom search  Say, you’re looking to trade, ohhhh…Monopoly.  In the 2nd list to the left, you will see a list of your games that you are willing to trade. Click on Monopoly. Then, it’s suggested on the far right, to click on the check box, “search my country only”, then click search at the bottom. You’ll be presented with a more catered result set of who’s looking to Monopoly only. The custom search has a few more options as well, such as selecting more than 1 game from a list, to searching for specifically a game you want, to searching only in your state.

I have found I use the trade feature more and more. It’s a great way to get games that you want, for a fraction of the price. Well, at this time, you already paid the cost of the game you are trading. But trading is a great tool for when you are tired of a game or just want to try something else and don’t want to spend the full price of it! For instance, I recently traded some games for Descent: Journey’s in the Dark. The game is expensive, and I only ended paying for what it cost me to ship my games to the previous owner of Descent.

Here lies the problem though…

Problems with trading

It’s all up to you if you wish to trade a game or games, but I feel there are some people on the site that I feel (I can’t prove this) will only trade if they are purely at a cost advantage over you. Now you’re saying, “well, hey it’s Joe Schmo’s choice if he wants to trade with me or not.” You’re right, but I think this has resulted in me receiving a lot of no-responses.


I have a huge problem on board game geek, where people will simply not respond to trade proposals. This is extremely and utterly rude. I equate this to not returning a phone call. With people like me, I’m impatient, I’d like to know as soon as possible, if you’re interested in a trade or not, so I can move on to the next person. Don’t leave me hanging.

See what happens is, on the site, if you make a trade proposal to someone, there’s a 3 day minimum that the proposal stays active, if the other end does not respond within X days, the trader expires. But I know myself, I want to move on as soon as possible to find someone else to trade with, if you are not interested in trading. So when people don’t accept or decline…it leaves the other person waiting and unable to propose a trade with someone else.

Multiple trades going on at the same time…with the same game

I’ve had a case where someone proposed a trade with me, and I was interested and then the user responds where he’s sorry and that the previous person he proposed a trade with, accepted. My advice, if you are not extremely positive that the initial person you proposed a trade is interested, hold off on proposing a trade with someone else. That’s why I also wish BGG would lower the trade day limit to a day. I have done this myself. But I will assure that the person proposed with, has logged in on the day or after I proposed a trade with, and even wait a bit longer. Most likely, they are not interested in trading so it’s safe to propose a trade with someone else.

To attempt to solve this problem, I try to message the user first, with a subject of potential trade, or something along those lines. I basically just ask the user if they are interested in a trade, rather than proposing a trade and getting committed to wait and potentially stuck with receiving neutral or negative feedback.  I think this is a completely acceptable thing to do. But I often find that people largely do not respond…you’ve got to be kidding me. That is extremely rude not to respond, similar to never returning someones call. It takes two seconds to reply and say, “not interested, but thanks.” Which I’ve had many people do, which I appreciate.

Peoples goals behind trading

Well, I trust it’s everyone’s goal to get the best bang for their buck, which is completely understandable. But I’m sure there’s many moments when someone is getting a better deal. It all depends on what you’re willing to part with for what you’re receiving. I don’t know, but I’d suspect many people trade on values of games. I try to do that, to make the trade fair. Everyone’s rating on fairness is probably different though. I try to find the lowest price available on a game from an online retailer first, to determine what is a fair trade value. But of course, there’s always the degradation of components. For instance, if I’m looking to trade my brand new copy of Settlers of Catan, which is valued, around $33 from an online retailer, well, it would be fair to trade that game for a copy of maybe a moderately used copy of a game that’s around $40.

Many people I find though, won’t trade a single game, they will trade in bulk to save money. Which I don’t understand really, as isn’t the weight a large determining factor in the cost of your item your shipping?

My suggestions to Board Game Geek on trade

When packing up your games, you should make an effort to use packing peanuts or bubble wrap or something to pad the game in the box. Never, ever, send a game without an external box, and never put anything that sticks on the box, such as tape. I don’t know about you, but I like my boxes in as pristine shape as possible.

Also, you should also get a delivery confirmation. If you ship via USPS, this can be a free service, if you sign up for an account and print your labels from home, which will also end up being cheaper, all around. When I first started trading, I didn’t always get delivery confirmation but I noticed that everyone I traded with, would..that’s just how its done. So do it.

Don’t mislead or lie about the condition of the games.

Requests on trading to board game geek

In closing, I think trading on board game geek, is a good option for getting a game and paying a large fraction of its cost. Of course, be careful who your trading with though – which is why board game geek has trade ratings on members. Most from what I’ve seen, are positive…this is a small industry – most people are very nice and don’t want to risk tarnishing their reputation. I do have some recommendations to board game geek that I’d like to see though…

  1. A check box for smoke-free/or smoking home. This is important to me. Smoke really stains things and I don’t want my games smelling like smoke.
  2. Under the users names, on the trade listings, I’d like to see an open text field where users can fill out their trade preferences. I’ve noticed on some user’s profiles, that they’ll fill out their preferences in their basic user description. How about making their trade preferences a separate field that shows up below their user name on the trade listing?
  3. A flag that informs the proposer if the other party has opened the mail that contains the initial request. Just for more accuracy, again, something that could be considered when seeing when they last logged on and really making an assessment if they are interested or not.

There you go folks! Warning…I didn’t proofread this entry, at all.

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