Describe your collection.
I collect board games. I have about 1,400 in my collection plus some duplicates in case a game piece gets lost or damaged. In particular, I like strategy and war games. With duplicates, my collection is closer to 2,000 board games.
When and why did you start collecting board games?
I didn’t really get into board games until 2008. A co-worker introduced me to Carcassonne, a strategy game from Germany, and we often played together over lunch. Carcassonne opened me up to a whole world I didn’t know existed. Board games fit my personality, because I love teaching (I’m a professor at Utah Valley University), strategy, and social connections. My co-worker hosted a couple of game nights and I got hooked. Later, an ad in a local marketplace caught my attention — a guy was selling off some store inventory. I took my pick, arrived home with 400 board games, and announced to my wife, “This is our new hobby!”
Before that day, we had two games in the house. It has grown from there. I didn’t know where to start with playing all the games I brought home that day. I got connected with the online community at boardgamegeek.com and realized I’m not the only one with this hobby. I took a look at their list of most popular games and chose to play those first. The game 7 Wonders is one of our all-time favourites.
How do you display and store your collection?
I have about 150 games at home. The rest of the collection is stored in a warehouse space not too far from my house. I use a spreadsheet to track the storage bin number so I can get to something quickly.
We have a specific place in the house for board-game storage and play. It has a custom-built gaming table that also turns into a dining table by flipping it over. I play the games in my collection with my wife, kids, other family members, and friends. If we’re playing a strategy game, it’s not a social hour; we can’t be nice. My philosophy is that if you can’t win the game yourself, you can at least make someone else lose.
Games are a great way to teach kids about history. We have four kids, ages 2, 5, 7, and 9. They wish they could play more of the games because they are really getting into it and love strategy games.
What do you consider to be the Holy Grail of board games?
One game that has eluded me is Wings of War. I played it once at a technology tradeshow. The game publisher sponsored a game night and it was amazing — everyone was engaged. The other game I would love to have in my collection is Memoir ’44, a war game. It’s always eluded me, too.
I sometimes get a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out) about board games. Not all games become blockbusters but they can still be fantastic. Container is a great example of this. I played it with my brother-in-law and loved it. I looked for one for my collection and found a used one for $200. It was originally a $30 game but it’s now out of print, so the price has increased. The game publisher did release a special 10-year anniversary edition but it sold for $250 new. The value of games really does go up and down depending on what’s happening in the world. The original Donald Trump board game now goes for upwards of $400. I like to find deals; I don’t have a limit as to how much I’ll spend on a game but sometimes it just feels like too much. I have other places to spend that money.
One of the oldest games in my collection is Mille Bornes, a French game created in 1954. When I played it in the 1980s, the instructions were in French only. We really weren’t sure how to play, but someone taught us the basic rules. Mille Bornes isn’t complex but it is old. I also loved playing Masterpiece because it was about real art auctions. I lost it as I got older but re-bought the game when I had the chance.
What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a board game collection?
Start with the games you love and build a collection from there. Many collectors don’t hold on to their games for too long. Board games can take up a lot of space so you can quickly get into trouble. Many people buy games, play them for a while, and then sell or share them with other collectors. Once you master a game, it’s time to move on, in my opinion.
There are board games with a significant number of expansion sets. Not all expansions are created equal, but as a collector, I do want them all.
I can get very competitive while playing board games. My wife has a rule that she’ll play games with me as long as I don’t win every time. You need to continue being friends after the game is over.
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