When I first started buying board games, I had this noble thought in my head that I would keep every game I own in a rotation. Ideally, we’d cycle through the entire lineup so that none of the games get neglected. Instead, I’m in a situation where a handful of games get a ton of play while many others collect dust. Why did my dream of the perfect rotation fall apart? And is it even possible to maintain a rotation as one’s collection grows?
Based on my experiences to-date, there are all sorts of reasons why a rotation falls apart. Below are some of many:
Before Steff and I truly got into board games, we were into deck-building games. Dominion was our entry point, and some of our first purchases after that were other deck-building games, such as the DC Comics Deck-Building Game and Marvel Legendary. Between the three, I think we got more than our fill of the genre. Once we started venturing outside of the genre, our desire to go back has been low. I do have expansions for all three of our deck-builders, but they pretty much never hit the table anymore.
This one hurts. From Star Wars: Imperial Assault, to A Game of Thrones, to Space Cadets, we own a number of amazing games that are really hampered by the level of effort required to play them. With Imperial Assault, our group has very little experience with board game campaigns, so getting everyone to commit to it is tough. A Game of Thrones is an incredible game that is really hard to teach and one that takes a minimum of three hours to play. Most of the time, we don’t even have three free hours as a group. As for the latter, it’s such an awesome co-operative game, but its insane rules and long play time make for another game that is hard to pull out on a whim.
I enjoy Camel Up. It’s a novel betting game where it feels like every aspect of the game was well thought out. The first time I played it with coworkers, we all had a fantastic time. Ever since then, the game has been largely a bust with every other group I’ve played it with. From my observations, my groups either struggle to grasp the aspects of how the camels move around the track and when the best time to bet is, though some also just don’t like the game at all. Despite my high praise for the game, the likelihood of it getting much play in my circles is not good. There are some other games we have that have fallen flat with everyone. If we don’t give those away to a good home, they just buried in the back.
I have two main gaming groups: Steff’s family and my family. Gaming with both is a lot of fun, though both groups couldn’t be more different in terms of dynamics. Including me, Steff’s side is a four-player group that is into games with more strategic punch. Since this is our most active group and the reality that finding great four-player strategic games is really easy, most of our collection is made up of this style of game.
The challenge with this group is two-fold. One, despite how active we are, we don’t have enough time to cycle through all of the games at a reasonable rate. Furthermore, we’re constantly buying new games in this category. As such, almost every game night involves a new game or two, while other new games and old games sit idly on our shelf.
The dynamic of my family is very different. Board gaming is a relatively new phenomenon to them, so they’re not ready for heavier games. Also, the group is very large. Most of the time when we play, there’s eight or more people looking to play. Finding good party and family games that support large player counts is much harder, so we end up playing games like The Resistance, Cash ‘N Guns and Codenames a lot. Maybe someday my family will be cool with splitting into smaller groups to play heavier games, but for now, we play as one very big family.
Never got around to it
This one is the most embarrassing of the bunch. There are some games that we have purchased with the intent of playing. Years later, they sit on my shelf, collecting dust. We bought Settlers of Catan about a year ago and it’s still in the plastic. Despite having brought it to multiple game nights, it’s never made it out. 7 Wonders is a game that we’ve had for over a year and I’ve never brought it out due to my confusion of how the scoring works. The saddest example of this is probably Pixel Tactics, which we bought years ago and haven’t played at all.
As admirable of a goal as it is, keeping to a tight rotation seems to be unrealistic for a number of reasons. Instead, it seems to make more sense to try and get the most out of the games you have. Also, limit the amount of games you buy so that you focus on the ones you have. With almost 100 games now in our collection, I really wish I would listen to myself on that last bit.