Updated: Mar 14, 2022
They say not all that glitters is gold, but what they don’t say is that, if it’s not gold, it’s probably a new board game. According to BGG (Board Game Geek) there have been more than 4000 games published every year since 2016. While many of these games quietly come and go without much notice, there are still dozens that generate significant buzz every month. Even with game reviewers, walkthrough videos, and bloggers to help weed out the bad ones, there are still more good games out there than anyone could reasonably expect to play in their lifetime. And yet, the glitter and gold of the latest hotness still seems to beckon players like a siren's song.
Personally, I enjoy the anticipation of something new. I have a decent list of upcoming games on my radar, and there are several kickstarter projects I can’t wait to show up in the mail this year. I just received my deluxe edition of Merchants of the Dark Road this week, and it’s just screaming at me from the shelf, begging to be played. And therein lies the problem. Like many of my board game compatriots, there are too many unplayed games on my shelves.
Collectively, I think we have a “cult of the new” problem. Before we even take time to really enjoy the games we have, the allure of the “latest and greatest” sets its hooks. We get so caught up in chasing down the newest trending title, that we forget about the neglected boxes already sitting on the shelf. Not only can this deprive us of playing the games we already have, it can deprive us of truly enjoying the games we already have. The kind of enjoyment that can only come when players deploy different strategies, explore new areas, change characters, or alter difficulty settings over the course of multiple plays. How can games be enjoyed this way if players set them down and immediately rush off to the next popular thing?
Over the recent holiday break, I took some time to take inventory and reorganize my game room. This is something I try to do every so often, usually with the intent to cull a few games that didn’t really land with my groups. During this process, I started collecting all of my unplayed games on one shelf. A game here, a game there…no big deal right? When the process was finished, I was shocked to discover more than twenty games on my newly minted “shelf of shame.” With the new year upon me…it was time to make some resolutions.
My gaming goals for 2022 are now focused on reducing the number of new games I acquire, culling games that don’t get played, and delving deeper into the great games I already own. After almost a month into the year, I am already enjoying the fruits of this effort. I have a few friends that still suffer from “game acquisition disorder,” so knowing that I can always just play their games really helps.
Working on these goals has helped me realize that, when it comes to games, I definitely struggle with FOMO (fear of missing out). It takes a lot of discipline, and faith in the industry, to accept that I’ll have to wait for future printings to play some games, and that there may be games I don’t get to play at all…at least not anytime soon. What I am finding though, is that my excitement has been rekindled toward the games already at my disposal.
Just this week I dusted off A Feast for Odin. This is one of my all-time favorite games, and I didn’t log a single play of it last year. I find I’m just as excited to get A Feast for Odin back to the table as I am to play any of the recent hotness. The more I focus on the games I already have, the less I struggle with the games I don’t.
Looking to Year’s End
It’s only January and my goals are still fresh. “Cult of the new” goals for a “cult of the new” player right? However, finding a better balance with my game collection really is my desire this year. Some of the motivation I had for writing this article was to create some accountability for myself. Not just accountability from others, but as a reference point for a follow-up article I hope to write at the end of the year. Hopefully it will document success and not a cautionary tale.
What games are sitting on your “shelf of shame,” and what do you intend to do about it?