Board Game Potential

We're trying something completely new today. One of our favorite board game blogs is islaythedragon, and this morning they started an intriguing dialogue, all about board game potential. A collection is basically all potential. You might have a game that you play a lot, so its potential is played out fairly often. You might have a game solely because one day you just know you'll have the right group to play it with. That game hasn't yet reached its potential. Others might be collectors items, and you have no intention of ever playing it. So that game has almost no potential. 

So we're going to dive in here and talk about our collections, their potential, and explore the decisions we make when it comes to our collections. 

I (Firestone) grappled with the idea of potential recently. I bought the game San Marco not long after I started playing modern board games (over 10 years now), and I played it quite a bit at first. It's a neat, 3-player-only (IMO) game of area-control, and creating sets of cards for your opponents to choose from, by Alan Moon, of Ticket to Ride fame. But, eventually, we stopped playing it. Because it was bad? No. Because another game did what it did better? No. I'm not really sure why. But after some honest examination, I realized I hadn't played it in over five years, and probably wouldn't in the foreseeable future. So I traded it away a few months ago, and I haven't looked back. 

But why that particular game? Why not Pirate's Cove, which is arguably a worse game than San Marco, and which I haven't played in probably nine years? Potential. I can see playing Pirate's Cove with my kids. (Which reminds me...I should do that soon.) I can't really see myself playing San Marco with them. 

A game such as Risk: Legacy is 100% potential right now. I have plans to hold onto my copy for another ~10 years before playing it with my kids. That's a lot of potential, waiting to be unleashed. That one's unique, too, because it has limited potential, since you can really only play it 15 times. 

Wrapped up in all of this is the Cult of the New idea. Depending on your group, you might not have margin to play older games because you're always playing the "latest and greatest." My group certainly falls into that. We have two members who buy almost everything that comes out--not to mention the Kickstarter previews I receive. So we're constantly playing the latest games, and older ones don't make it to the table as often. 

But when I look at my personal Top 10 games, almost all of them are over 5 years old--and almost all of them haven't been played in a long time. That's a weird thing to consider. I play at least one new game practically every week, but none of them are good enough to supplant anything on my Top 10. But I almost never stop and say, "Hey, does anyone want to play Princes of Florence? Remember how guaranteed-awesome that game is?!"

I miss playing my favorite games. I know their potential, and the potential is just sitting there on a shelf right now.

Speaking of those shelves... How many games is too many? According to The Geek, I have 610 games. (Take that with a grain of salt, since The Geek counts a single promo card as a "game." Still, I have a lot of games.)

If I never bought another game, and played two new games with my family every week (both of which are highly unlikely), it would take YEARS to play every game I own. So why do I own so many? Again, potential. I want to believe I'll play through all of the Adventure Packs of The Lord of the Rings The Card Game that I own. Plus Netrunner. Plus monster games of Twilight Imperium III. Plus, plus, plus. 

If I'm being honest, that's completely unrealistic and unlikely. Still, my game collection grows. 

What's the answer? I dunno. Maybe it's time to take a hard look at my collection and jettison anything with low potential for getting played with my family. 

Or maybe I'll buy another Adventure Pack. They're only 15 bucks!

Thanks, islaythedragon, for starting up this fun dialogue in their new Knight's Forum. Check it out over on their site! We hope to participate in more of these communal discussions in the future. And thanks to you for reading. What are your thoughts on potential and game collections?