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I've spent the past two days categorizing and researching my board game collection, as the first step in finally divesting myself of my largest remaining "collection." In doing so, I've been attempting to decide on my final "to keep" list, while calculating a fair value for the collection.

Here is a final list of games I intend to keep, along with explanations as to why they made the cut. I have also included 4 "maybes" which will survive the initial cut, but may be culled in the future. This will serve to both help finalize my decision making process, but also perhaps as insight in games to consider for those of you looking for a new game or two. I will likely discuss alternatives to a given selection that I have chosen to sell, and why. I am interested in additional observations or thoughts from those of you informed about board games.

Before I begin, this post should also serve as advanced notice that I intend to sell off the entire remainder of my game collection, which is approximately 280 games worth (at least) $6200. I will be selling it at a significant discount and am hoping to find a buyer for the full collection somewhere in the DFW area, either via BGG or Craig's List. I will, of course, ship it if the purchaser pays for the shipping and packaging costs. I'll post more about that later. For now, on with the keepers!


Games I Will Keep In My Collection

1. Agricola

This is the quintessential economic euro game. It's very fun to play, quite interesting to think about strategically, and most importantly it utilizes an immense amount of cards to create random variables in the strategy each play. Other games I considered were Puerto Rico and Caylus, but they have both been surpassed by Agricola in my esteem. This is primarily due to re-playability factors. Also, I pre-ordered this and it has awesome little wooden animal meeples. No way I'm getting rid of those.

2. Citadels (w/ Dark City Expansion)

This is a very nice card game with quite a small footprint. Players are competing to build the largest Citadel, by carefully managing their resources. In play, they choose a different role each round in order to gain it's benefits. Some roles simply benefit from buildings they already have, while others benefit by predicting other players choices. This adds an element of intrigue to the game which I quite appreciate. In terms of light, easy to teach card games for multiple players, only Bang! was really competition for this. That said, I find that I prefer Citadels to Bang! in actual game play.

3. Command and Colors: Ancients + Expansions

This is a streamlined version of the command and colors system, optimized for playability over flashy components. I think I prefer this to other games in the series such as Battle Lore, therefore it's the one that survives. This fills my two player quick wargame category.

4. Descent + Expansions (limited to expansions that I can cram into the gigantic core game box)

Descent is one of my favorite board games ever. It essentially functions as single-session D&D in which the DM is actively trying to destroy the players. It is highly supported by Fantasy Flight, and I've never had a bad time playing it. This just hits all the right buttons for me. I considered Doom instead, but the Sci Fi theme and increased difficulty made it seem less likely to see the table, and it seems to be mostly dead in terms of expansions. This acts as my "ameri-trash" dungeon crawl game.

5. The Order of the Stick Adventure Game

This game is incredibly flawed out of the box. Play takes most of a day (5-6 hours), and barely fits on a large table. However, it features characters and jokes that are quite amusing, and is actually a very fun way to spend a (long) afternoon if played with the right people. Additionally, there are house rules galore for this game, many of which can shorten it and perhaps make it easier to get on the table. Finally, I enjoy it more than the traditional adventure games such as talisman and prophecy, and I think it's card based game board will make it survive a bit longer than those other offerings.

6. Power Grid (with extra power plant deck and france/italy game board)

This is a classic euro-game, combining area control with resource management and auction elements. I would not hesitate to teach this to a relatively non-gamer crowd, if they were interested in learning it. This game has knocked several auction and euro games out of the running otherwise, including such classics as Settlers of Catan.

7. Primordial Soup (w/ 5-6 player Expansion)

This is a fiddly euro-game, but with unique and fun mechanics, in which each player controls amoeba drifting in the primordial soup, each of whom evolve along different paths. One player may evolve to eat other players, while another may evolve to swim faster, fend off attacks, or require less food to live. Whichever player develops the best evolutionary strategy while reacting to their environment seizes the day.

8. Robo Rally + Expansion Sets

This is one of the first board games I ever purchased, and most of the expansion I have are out of print. It's a classic of american gaming, and is still very fun to play. The pre-programmed game play can lead to frustration, but also to hysterical gaming moments. This fills both the "chaotic" and "racing" slots in my collection.

9. Tales of the Arabian Nights

This game is really nothing like any other game out there. It is essentially a multi-player choose your own adventure book, with often hysterical results. It's extremely casual, but also quite fun. I expect I'll keep it around for quite a while, if only for it's uniqueness.

10. Tichu

A strictly 4 player card game that utilizes a very simple ruleset, and ends up being quite addictive and quite fun. This is one I can throw in my bag when traveling.

11. Werewolf + New Moon Expansion

Werewolf is the greatest party game ever invented, imo. My cards are beaten and torn and used up, but still function fine. And the expansion fits in the same box, so it gets to stay for the day the core rules become less interesting. If that could ever actually happen.


Games I Will Play Before Deciding The Fate Of:

12. Imperial

This is a fascinating game that combines abstracted warfare with unique economic factors. One round you may be attacking germany, only to find the next round that you have taken the controlling stake in their economy, and you want them defended. I intend to keep this until it has another shot to save itself at the game table.

13. Indonesia

I have yet to play this game, but I'm intrigued by this game, and hope to get it to the table quickly. Intrigued enough that I feel it deserves a shot at being played before I rush to divest myself of it. It is a Splotter game, which means that it errs on the side of art and complexity over eurofication. In practice, this means that the components are beautiful in a minimalist way, but that minimalism makes gameplay somewhat intimidating. I've heard there are a few player aids that dramatically increase playability, and will be creating them before it's first outing. It fills the light-medium economic interaction game slot almost perfectly, in a very unique way. It forces players to become co-dependant, despite the inherent competition of only having a single winner. There are not many other games I'd put in the same category with Indonesia.

14. Marvin Marvel's Marvelous Marble Machine

This is a quirky little game played with wooden discs on a cloth board. In it, players compete to refine the "marble machine" to guide marbles to their goal, and away from others. It seems a lot like an inversion of Robo Rally, and may be fun. The concept and small footprint of the game is enough to make it survive the initial cut, but I'm worried that it's going to be too fiddly in practice, which will lead me to remove it from my collection.

15. Space Hulk (3rd Edition)

This game was recently reprinted by Games Workshop, having been out of print since the mid 1980's. It is a two player game, in which one player controls a squad of space marines investigating an abandoned ship, or "space hulk". The other player controls the swarms of alien "genestealers" that have hatched on the ship, and attempts to kill the marines before the marines kill them. It has several unique mechanics, such as timed marine turns, that add tension to the game. This fulfills the same type of game for me as Descent, only with a distinctly 2 player, and far less complicated, ruleset. I do not currently own it, but I intend to purchase it for my collection next month. If it lives up to my expectations, it will find a permanent home.

Game Categories I Do Not Have Covered In The Above List:

1. Cooperative Games
I own Shadows over Camelot, which fulfills the role of a good cooperative, yet tense, game via it's traitor mechanism. That said, it feels rather mechanical to me now, and I'm looking for an alternate candidate. I've got my eye on the Battlestar Galactica board game, but haven't quite made the leap yet. Once I make a decision, I will happily fill the hole in my gaming collection.

2. Lost Cities
I sold my old copy of this in my initial collection trimming. That was a mistake. I will be replacing it eventually.

3. 2 Player abstract-style strategy games
I'm tempted to keep Dungeon Twister to fulfill this role, but I may revert to an old classic game such as Go, for the sake of simplicity of mind, theme, and storage space. Alternatively, Hive is an interesting game that requires very little space, and may take this position.


Games That I Am Not Keeping That May Surprise People:

1. Tigris and Euphrates
This may be one of my favorite games of all time, and I own my favorite edition of it. But I /never/ play it, and teaching it is frustrating as hell. I really appreciate the mechanics, but I don't feel the desire to play it. If I do, I'll buy the new (ugly) edition that comes in a smaller box.

2. Settlers of Catan
I know it's like "the" game to have, but it's played out for me. It's fun sometimes, but I don't need to have it on hand.

3. Battle Lore
I'm ditching it for the more mature C&C: Ancients. I'm pretty confident in this decision, as it prioritizes the gameplay, setup time, and storage space over the colorfulness of the tiles and the amount of cheesy plastic miniatures.

4. Looping Louie
It's a lot of fun. Also, it's not worth the space it takes to store. And it gets old after 20 minutes.
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Ryan Abrams

June 2011

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