There comes a time in the shelf life of every well curated collection when that most dreaded word must be uttered – culling.
Whether you’re aiming for a simpler lifestyle or just trying to keep the games from taking over your house, you’ll find that maintaining a streamlined game library will actually contribute to relaxed, easy game night and more games actually played. By clearing out space, adding some thoughtful organization, and genuinely considering the games you love, you’ll find everything in reach and that you’re happy with whatever comes to the table. When you’re ready to let go, here are some questions to ask yourself.
How many of this type game do you have? Do you have 2 trading in the Mediterranean themed worker placement games? Six? Sixteen? Group your games by mechanic then ask yourself, if I was going to play one ____ game, which would it be? If I was going to teach it to friends? Which has the player count closest to my usual group size? You’ll likely find 2-3 similar games to be enough of a type.
When’s the last time I played this? Tastes and lifestyles change, and that’s entirely ok. If the box has dust or has been sitting on the bottom of a stack for a while, that’s telling. Not 100% sure you want to let it go? Put the maybes on a shelf in the linen closet. If you still haven’t pulled them out in six months its probably ok for it to join someone else’s shelves.
Does it fit your group/playstyle now? Maybe while you were in high school your 6 player games saw a ton of play. Maybe brain burning, 3 hour epic struggles were a staple of dorm life. But if you’re generally pulling party games to the table on dinner party night or you and your partner comprise your entire group now, you should rethink what you’re keeping. Its a popular de-cluttering technique – ask yourself if it fits your life today. You don’t have to give up every old game you have, but keeping a closet of once upon a times isn’t making your gaming life better NOW.
Has it been usurped? 3000+ new games came out last year. There’s a good chance that one of the ones you once played on the regular is now on the bottom shelf. I promise your original copy of Azul is not going to be hurt that all you play is Stained Glass now. We regularly talk about XYZ-killers – did a new purchase kill off an old favorite? Its time to bring out your dead and send them to their next reward.
Do you even like that expansion? Seriously, I entirely get the completionist thing, but if you NEVER play an expansion because you don’t like it or it kind of kills the game for you (Great Western Trail expansion, I’m talking to you) its ok to pass it on. Let someone else give it a whirl and free up that space for something you actually like or enhances your game.
Do you have space? Real talk. If you have to keep your collection scattered around your house or stacked awkwardly to the ceiling, you are not getting to enjoy your collection to the fullest. You’re likely forgetting some things, not playing others because of how inconvenient it is to get to them, or even worse, missing bits because they got separated and something got pushed to the back of a shelf (especially true of smaller expansion boxes). Maintaining a storage space size appropriate collection ensures that you’ll be able to pull out a favorite quickly and get to playing.
Is it still unplayed? The path to organized game shelf hell is paved with good intentions. You should look REALISTICALLY at that shelf of shame. Was last year’s hot kickstarter replaced before you even got it in the mail? Did you get a *sort of* interesting game at a used game sale but still haven’t brought it to the table? Don’t let guilt for the unplayed bring down playing what you genuinely enjoy.
Got a culled stack? Find someone to gift with your treasures! Libraries have started board game lending or selling them for funds to support their programs. Local shelters generally appreciate easier games with small footprints. Teachers are constantly on the lookout for additions to their classroom. And even your somewhat dinged, missing a few bit games would be appreciated by a designer for prototyping components. Free your shelves, and make someone else happy at the same time!