Tomorrow night I’m going out to my local game store to meet up with some friends to play Archipelago. This is a game where each player is exploring and colonizing a chain of islands, which sounds like standard Eurogame fare until you realize that it’s going for theme instead of strategy. This will mark the second time I’ve played, after a learning game not quite a month ago where everyone lost (yes, that can happen). I also have review copies of Relic Runner and Duel of Ages II sitting around. Not only that, but I’ve participated in two math trades in 2013, and I still have a couple of unplayed games from the one in March, to say nothing of the one we held in August. And then there are all those games that I’ve only played once or twice, but that I want to play more because they interest me. And this isn’t an unusual thing for board gamers. We all have unplayed or underplayed games in our collections.
This eats away at me, because there are plenty of old favorites that I am pretty much always in the mood to play. I haven’t played Cosmic Encounter in months, which is rare for me. I would love to set up an epic game of Talisman, but I’m one of the only people I know who likes it. And of course I have a copy of Dune lying around that is waiting for the right six-player situation when everyone can commit to a game that’s as likely to take two hours as six. That’s what I want to play. If I had my druthers, most of my gaming time would be spent on familiar stuff. But increasingly, I feel like I need to play new stuff, or stuff that’s new to me.
Part of this is just the life of a game critic, where things need to be reviewed because someone was decent enough to send you a free copy. But I don’t think that’s all of it. Most of the games in the queue are from trades, which mostly involved stuff that didn’t come from publishers. It’s just a constant push to stay afloat. I feel like I’m being somehow wasteful if I’m not pushing to play the underplayed games in my collection.
I don’t mean this to come off as a rant against consumeristic tendencies in gamers, which is a well-travelled topic that doesn’t need to be revisited. I don’t even mean to say I need to acquire less stuff, though that probably wouldn’t hurt. And I’m definitely aware that complaining about having too many games to play is the most first-world of first-world problems. But I do think I need to keep in mind that I’m in this hobby for one reason: because it’s fun. It’s fun to sit down with a board game with my buddies and lose ourselves for a few hours. It’s fun to crack open a new title and learn it together. And yes, it’s fun (for me) to sit down and write about my hobby. I hope I can never forget that, because lately I feel like there’s a timer on every game I own to play them before it’s too late. Subconsciously I’m worried that if I don’t get in a half-dozen plays of Through the Ages in the next year, some unseen force will compel me to trade it, and I don’t really want to. It’s alright if something sits on the shelf. Aside from my review obligations, I need to learn to just be alright with playing what I want. My point is, I’m dangerously close to making this like work. I need to be careful, because the minute I do that I’m missing the point.