Wednesday, 30 August 2017

How to cull the gaming collection

Every wargamer can tell stories about his mountain of lead ... heaps of unpainted miniatures acquired for projects that never materialized. But the same goes for other games: roleplaying and boardgames also have the tendency to pile up in large amounts that never get used, or perhaps only once. Now, if you're a wargamer that has a huge mansion at his disposal, this hoarding of stuff might not be a problem, but for most mortals, it is.

Over the years, I also amassed huge quantitites of games, gaming books, miniatures, cards, etc. But I somehow managed to keep it all under control. The secret? A few real-life moves, and training yourself into emotional detachment towards all the gaming materials.

My gaming purchases were rather limited when I was in high school and university. After all, when you have little money available, stuff doesn't pile up that rapidly. But when I started my career, things quickly started to get out of hand. Between 1989 and 1998, I acquired large heaps of gaming stuff, mostly roleplaying books, but also fantasy miniatures, magic the gathering cards, etc. I was single and earned a salary. A deadly combination for a young gaming geek.

My first big sell-off came in 1998, when I moved from Belgium to the US. I took a position as a post-doc at an American university, so I had to move continents. I started selling off a lot of things - mostly obscure gaming systems, but also all my AD&D material. My MTG cards were sold off a few years before, so I didn't needn't to worry about that. When I look upon it now, I don't regret selling most things, although I had a large collection of flyers and fanzines from various gaming conventions which I tossed out. I wish I had kept them, because they would have given a nice overview of gaming culture during the pre-internet days.

When I lived in the US, the dot-com boom was in full swing, and eBay was still a fun and innocent place. I used eBay to buy a lot of Avalon Hill games I drooled over when I was a youngster, as well as many more wargaming books. Moreover, the "euro boardgames" trend really started as well, so that caused another increase for the pile. After 3 years, it was time to move back, but not before selling off a lot of stuff to American gaming friends. I did ship a sizable amount of loot to Europe, and overall, I think my pile was somewhat bigger than before I left in 1998.

For a number of personal reasons, I did not acquire much during 2001-2005, but actually sold a lot of excess games. At some point I was convinced gaming was not my thing anymore, so that was the motivation to do this. However, the gaming bug bit again around 2005, and I started buying again, but now in much more moderate amounts. I stopped buying miniatures - at some point you realize you'll never have the time to paint them, and I thought hard when buying new games.

In 2008, I hauled a large load to CRISIS, and sold f many games at the Bring&Sell. Ever since, my bying habits are somewhat under control. Occasionally, I bring stuff to the FLGS (they have a 2nd hand section), and price my used stuff at very reasonable prices.

So what do I keep?
- Miniature I painted myself, these take up significant space;
- A few boardgames I am emotionally attached to - but not too many. I have my original copy of Tactics II, my very first wargame. I also have a copy of Starfall, becaue it was a game my dad bought for me when returning from a business trip. I have a few Avalon Hill classics. Whenever I get a serious bout of nostalgia, I simply go to Board Game Geek and look at some images. It makes no sense to keep all those games, if you're only going to open the box every other year just to take a peek.
- Classic wargaming books. Featherstone, Grant, the lot.
- Roleplaying adventures I once GM'd. The entire Enemy Within campaign for Warhammer is one example.
- Old Wargaming magazines
- Etc. Etc.  I guess I'll never learn ... :-) :-)


  1. You are a model of restraint and reasonableness in a land of excess. One day, I must consider downsizing...but not today!