Recommendations for building a collection

Assume that I own no boardgames. (I own… maybe 8. Assume it’s 0). I have a loooong wishlist, but am still looking for ideas.

  • Which stone-cold classics would you recommend everyone should own?
  • Which recent purchases have become your instant favourites?
  1. Don’t “build a collection”. Buy only games you love, at a rate that allows you to play every purchase a lot.
  2. I think my only recent-ish purchase was Pax Pamir 2e, and that’s great. Oh, and Food Chain Magnate.

Good question.

I have been filling the holes in my own for a while.
What is it you want your collection to achieve?

F.e. I always want to be able to have the right games for the occasion which means varied player counts, varied complexity and varied themes. Know your group.

That said… I also want to cover most of the popular mechanics like worker placement games, tile laying etc.

As it is past midnight I will leave it at that and come back with actual game recs in the morning by which time I am sure this thread will have expanded a lot :slight_smile:

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Yeah, part of it is that I haven’t played each TYPE of game yet, and also want to know the best in each category. So what I want it to achieve is: be a collection which covers all the bases, but also contains the best of each of those types. “If you like area control, X game is in most people’s top 3” etc.
(El Grande is on my list because so many people love it, for example)

But actually that’s too much planning - I’d really rather just see which games people think you “Must own”. If everyone says “You must own X and Y” that would give me a lot to work with!


That seems a very wise way to go. I’m deliberately not buying any more for a bit, because they’ll sit on the shelf while I can’t have people around the house, and that just breaks the momentum. I’d rather buy one when I know it can be played a lot.

But making lists doesn’t require immediate buying! And I figure there’s a big range of players on here. (Some go for much heavier Euros than I would, but I’d still be fascinated to know their top 3 games).


I’d recommend Dominion. Both as a great game you can play endlessly and it doesn’t get boring, and as kind of the quintessential deck building game.


I don’t know if this is helpful, but I can’t think of even a single game that I could safely say that every board gamer “must” own. In the end it depends on who is playing and what they enjoy. If you’re trying to cover every conceivable base, then I suspect that the number of “highly recommended” options out there would run to the hundreds; and you might still find that the games you like the best aren’t even the strongest in their field, but just provide the perfect mix of ingredients for you personally.

Basically, I don’t think there’s any correct set of games that you should ensure that you own; so if you’re enjoying playing the games you have, try not to worry that you’re missing out on better ones. There’s far too many to try them all; and even trying all the “classics” would be utterly impractical for most people. If you’re having a good time, you’re already winning.

All that aside, I think Your ideal 3-game collection is relevant.


Tricky, and interesting question. Getting involved with forums and podcasts has sent my game purchasing up almost exponentially - not especially new ‘hot’ games but learning about classics, like El Grande.

I would never want a game I don’t enjoy and have become a bit better this year at selling things I’m not keen to play.

I think I’d say, do some research and buy 3-5 games you really want. Play them 10 times and work out if you enjoy them, and what you enjoy about them. It’s not just mechanics, there’s the amount of player interaction to consider as well and campaigns/ legacies. You may hate a ‘great’ game, or you and your group might love a game that many say is complete garbage.

If you develop a better sense of what you enjoy (and what reviewers/ peers you have similar tastes to) then it is easier to know what you’ll enjoy. A prime example of this for me is Brass Birmingham - 3 on BGG, on many reviewers top 10 lists. After 5 plays I think it’s ok. I’d like to play it a couple more times (damn Covid), however if I don’t see a path to enjoying it I now would have no issues selling it.

Nobody does it better is a good thread about the classics.


As I wrote above the following games cover a good range of player counts and different complexities (but remaining on the lower end of the spectrum). I was not checking theme at this point though in further collecting that may play a role. I am not recommending any of these games because they are classics but because they are good examples of the type of game I think a starting collection should have. Most of these should be readily available in FLGS or online shops. The order is not ranked in any way and I have omitted a few popular categories because I think these cover the basics of having a bunch of game nights with friends and family. I was going for one game a month for a year… but couldn’t decide among some of the smallest games so I am grouping those.

  • January: Cooperative: Original Pandemic (over time get the expansions). This counts as an actual classic

  • February: Tile laying: Azul (the first one. if you want „more classic“ go for Carcassonne but I promise Azul will be one too)

  • March: Worker Placement: Nusfjord (don’t go for Agricola, it may be the classic but is quite punishing to play. An alternative for the D&D aficionado would be Lords of Waterdeep ). Another one I just remembered is Architects of the Western Kingdom. Pretty and light enough to get everyone to play.

  • April: Partygame: Codenames (that’s a classic now. Decrypto also seems to be quite good but I haven’t played)

  • May: Roll and Write: Railroad Ink , by far the best of these I have encountered.

  • June: Deduction and pattern recognition: Cryptid (it tickles the brain just the right way)

  • July: Deck Building. This category is so huge and varied. but get one of these: Dominion (for endless expansions and a fixed market), Clank! (for random market and play on a map with tons of maps), El Dorado (for a fixed market and play on a map) or Star Realms (for a random market and just two players to check if you like the genre!)

  • August: Tableau Building: Wingspan (few games have seen more debate here. I say: of my bigger games this has seen the table more than any other recently).

  • September: Pretty Images: Detective Club (the classic would be Dixit but this has more game to it)

  • October: Trick Taking: The Crew (already a classic after a year. Just that good)

  • November: Small games: Cockroach Poker/Salad, Sushi Go Party, Coup

  • December: by now you should know what you love and you can buy yourself a personal favorite as a set piece. Mine would be Spirit Island .

So I have written this without reading the rest of the thread. A lot of big game categories are missing here and this is not my favorite 10 games but what I would consider a practical starting set when you are just starting out.

You may want to find the thread where we talked about the ideal 3 game collection. There may be some pointers there if you want to start really slow.

Edit: and I do agree with all of the advice regarding restraining your shopping habits … but making lists is fun too. Try to go slow and get to know a game before you buy the next. One option is to try out games online or even just load them into TTS to see what they look like. Because especially with few games in your collection if one of them doesn’t click…


I agree with Phil: I don’t think there are any games like this. There are games I recommend to a lot of people, but this field is wide enough that there may well be games I think are the best ever and you wouldn’t give house room to, and vice versa.

I try to play games before I buy them, in happier times at a board game café or conventions, now on-line (TTS is particularly good for this). Some people seem to make a fortune off selling their old games, but I’ve never had much joy with it, so I tend to assume that sunk costs are sunk.


Wow, that’s awesome, thank you!

The three-game thread is great, but often has “I like this type, so here are three games of that type” instead of a spread, and I’m still researching what my weak spots are. Also, half of it turns into TI4 :slight_smile:

I’m surprised to see Dominion come up so much - the verdict from a lot of reviewers online is that it started off the genre but has been replaced by much better games after people built on the idea. I know there are big fans of it on here, and I can get a copy to play really easily so I’ll try it out for myself.

>>Nusfjord not Agricola

Yep, Nusfjord is mentioned so often I think I’ll go for it. It’s that or Feast For Odin.

Mind you, I’ve also seen it said that Caverna completely replaces Agricola, but some people still prefer Agricola, so I’m up for hearing everyone’s opinions.

>>The Crew

Youtube has been screaming at me about The Crew, and I’ve just realised it’s a classic trick-taking game. I have played a lot of Hearts in my time. I’ll give it a go.

Here’s a short list based solely on “What I already know I’ll like / What my friends will realistically play”:

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion (Can’t afford the big one, everyone says this is an excellent intro)
Inis, Viticulture
Sushi Go Party, Hive Pocket
El Grande, Everdell
Obsession, Diamant
Brass: Birmingham
Nusfjord, Nemo’s War
Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons (as a gateway Spirit Island)
Shobu, Calico, Photosynthesis, Santorini

And probably Taverns of Tiefenthal or Quacks, if I could find two reviews which agreed on either of them being brilliant or terrible. Similar for Wingspan.

I’m not planning on buying ANY of that soon, and at most once a month, but that barely covers any bases! I need more suggestions!

Does anyone have a “Well, X Game isn’t in there and I think most people would like it / it never fails?” Any big classics? Any “best of their genre”?

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I’ve managed to hold back a bit and concentrate on solo games, but it’s sent my list-making into orbit!

And yes, I’ve got Brass: Birmingham on my list to investigate, but there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll absolutely hate it. Nothing that price gets bought without watching extensive play-throughs.

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Interesting! I can usually tell from watching a playthrough on youtube whether something is for me, and there are plenty that are high up on BGG that I will never go near.

Maybe I’ll just let a list grow organically and buy the number one spot when I’m totally certain about it.

The more involved I am on playing games, the more Im reluctant on recommending games.

People here have already linked to some wonderful threads. So I’ll just post some tips from my experience on curating.

Know what’s your style - does theme matter to you? Are you leaning to player interaction or multiplayer solitaire? Whats the longest durarion you can tolerate? Are you fine with take-that? Is there a mechanism you like?

For example, theme doesnt matter much to me. I love player interaction but I own games on both categories.

What design values that are important to you? Do you like clean elegant games or baroque?

which do you like more: tactics or strategy? Im sure you like both, but when do you actually enjoy tactics or strategy in a game. This isnt “tactics = bad; strategy = good” I know people who play heavy games but hates strategy, and they dont realise that. Or maybe you dont care about both and just want a good narrative.

Are you building a collection based on what your group wants or just a collection that works for you?

And youll be asking “X and Y are too similar. Which one should I keep?” a lot.


Yep, I’m still very much in the middle of finding answers to all those questions.

And a lot of the answers are “I’m fine with take-that but absolutely none of the people I’d regularly play with will be”.

Definitely both. I want a collection where someone can turn up and there will be a very good chance I’ve got something they’ll enjoy. But I also know that my buying choices are usually heavily slanted by looking at the top 5 of a type and picking the one I personally like the most.

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Azul can be surprisingly hard to get in the UK.

The Crew is fantastic.

I have A Feast for Odin and Agricola. The thing about Njusford is that you can often get it for under £25.

I have Azul: Summer Pavilion and can’t wait to play it.
(And Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective Thames, which I love to bits and must buy all the others.)

Apart from that the list of games I already own is very short indeed! Big thanks to everyone on this thread, very useful advice.

There was a mini review of Nemo’s War on Board Game Barrage this week


I’ll add support to the general “don’t build a collection” opinion. I did that when I started out and spent a lot of money on games which I had little chance of ever playing, and plenty which were disappointing also. When I got around to a cull, the spare bedroom looked like a post office for all the boxes and packing material needed to get them sold on ebay.

Remember that the more games you buy, the less each of them will be played. And they’re ultimately just games; there’ll never be a contingency in which you absolutely must have an asymmetrical city building strategy game with an auction mechanic that plays well with 5-6 players.


(And Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective Thames, which I love to bits and must buy all the others.)

At the risk of pouring some tepid water on this, there are a few things you should know:
The red box is a mixed bag - the Ripper cases (1-4) love to linger on the gory details in a way that some people will find uncomfortable. Also, the Ripper murders can’t be “solved” until the 4th case, so the questions for the first 3 cases aren’t really mysteries so much as about little details or plot threads (which you may or may not find as exciting as usual SHCD cases).

The blue box has some errors and translation issues reminiscent of the Ystari editions of SHCD. Whereas the Ystari editions have some pretty good errata which solve most of the big problems without getting spoilery, you’ll find the errata for the blue box scattered among different threads on BGG and some (such as missing directory entries or articles being in the wrong newspaper) can’t really be corrected without giving something away.

We’ve yet to play the green box.