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Board Game Diary: Uncluttered

Dear Board Game Diary,

I want to play a game. Unusual as this may appear, be calm for this is a normal occurrence. I venture to the great wall of games and start my ritualistic serpentine visual down the shelves to look for the perfect game for for this moment. It can be a challenge, but how often does anybody really ask themselves what they want to play before they look.

A question like this can be tedious when your collection surges to gluttonous proportions. Even without the forethought, I don’t do myself any favors as my games tend to be jumbled into racks with only space efficiency in mind. Not the situation that lends itself to quick and decisive decisions. Often I will locate a game that sounds fun, then to continue through the entire collection and forget the game by the time I finish. A far too common occurrence that could use a remedy.

How are you today?

The right frame of mind before entry into the gauntlet of games is critical and often looked over. I may be presumptuous, but I tend to think most fall into the trap of leaping before looking: enter analogy of the dog and a squirrel. This may not be the path of expedience to a more fulfilling tabletop gaming experience. Foresight into how you’re feeling can be a helpful tool in your decision making.

Anxiety ridden? Possibly stay away from anything that demands too much focus and steer toward a more calming gaming experience. A game like Tokaido may be perfect for a relaxing unwind.

Looking to break the tedium? Social or mental engagement may be what the doctor ordered. Codenames for some social engagement with a bit of strategy. Terraforming Mars or Everdell if your days are less than mentally engaging.

Just need a break from your current problems of life? Give yourself a little time away with a tabletop roleplaying game. Dungeons and Dragons is the perfect example of this.

Addressing your moods and feelings will help inform the decision of a game to play. Contrast should be the focus as games are made for a mood enhancement and escapism. These don’t occur when your games match too closely to normal life.

Organizing the Mess

We have addressed how you’re feeling and what type of game but where to look becomes a relevant question. Even a smaller collection could benefit from organization. But as the collection grows, so does the importance of keeping things tidy. Several hundred games sneaks up pretty quickly and you might find yourself lost in a sea of chits and bits. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and put some order to your chaos by shrinking the sample size of potential games.

Many have different strategies for organization depending on their personality. Some desire the aesthetic approach and like the box sizes to match up: Odd box sizes and tins be damned. I’ve fallen prey to this style of organization but I find it doesn’t exactly fit into the previous stated strategy, so I cannot recommend this regardless of your demands for visual perfection.

Given our previous state of self awareness, we need to know how to address our current mood with a place to look. That is why our games should be organized by using two different strategies: complexity and mechanics. Each one can be easily zeroed in with a mood or feeling in mind which will directly address the kind of escapism we need.

Complexity and Mechanics

Complexity is critical when considering your current state of being. Commonly, complexity pairs with stress.


Yes, but it doesn’t imply your stress reactions are not real. Especially if your life is full of stress, then your time to relax wouldn’t involve adding more onto the dung heap. Here is where complexity really matters. Our games should be arranged in such a way to accommodate for any moods or feelings. Each game down the line, or however you may have them displayed, should increase in complexity. Displayed almost like a scale with players able to pin point there tolerance to stress without compromising there fun. Place games in groupings on a scale of 1-5 and have them arranged on the shelves as such. This is not unlike how the complexity scale works, but this this should be catered specifically to you as everyone determines complexity different.

Mechanics are merely another tactic to maximize fun in the potential players at the table. Within our previously stated complexity rating, we should start placing these games into subgroups based on either mechanics or style.

Mechanics like worker placement, area control, resource management, and even roll and move are core mechanics. They drive the gameplay of a game and are a valuable tool to assess your love of a game. Many seasoned gamers, who are guiding a potential board game fanatic to their next favorite game, will often use similar mechanics to link up the games they know and don’t know. It’s solid strategy that yields dividends. Why not organize the collection of games to reflect this? Along with complexity, this can be a powerful tool to further the enjoyment of the players at the table. Players looking for something new can find a complexity they are comfortable with and choose the preferred mechanic.

The Final Word

The purpose of playing these games is to maximize our enjoyment of this life. There are some many wonderful things to appreciate and love that spending an exorbitant amount of time wondering what should we play seems silly. Having a system in place that has your enjoyment in mind is just plain smart. All it requires is a little more thought, and we can get to the table faster and have more fun while we play.

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