Topic of the Week: The "correct" size for a game collection

So… how many games should a person, ideally, own? How many do you need?

I don’t want any of that “well, it depends” hedging. This isn’t a matter of opinion. Your answer is right or wrong, and should be stated and defended as such :slight_smile:

But some clarifying assumptions:

  • Let’s assume you are geographically stable. We’re not worried about dorm rooms or what-if-I’m-deployed-on-an-American-destroyer situations.
  • Your collection should be self-sufficient. Not to say you can’t play your mate’s games, just that you can’t rely on someone, wholesale, to provide you with a genre or situation that you would otherwise need.

Extra credit: How does your collection line up to your ideal?


Half the size it currently is.


Early on, I settled on about 80. This is based on 12 buckets I thought I needed to fill (e.g., skirmisher, small social, large social, quick to teach, heavy, etc). Then going 5 deep in each bucket to allow for some variety and cover different flavors.

That gets 60, then add 20 to this for temporary games (like My City or Consulting Detective, play and pass on) and games I’m evaluating for room in the canon.

This number still seems about right to me.


As many as will fit in the room that the games live in. Which is rather more ETA: fewer than I have now.

Rather than aim for a limit, when I look at my shelves and think “I have no enthusiasm for playing that” it goes on the sell/trade list. When I go to a convention I take some of those games for the bring and buy. But most UK bring and buys involve searching for one’s own unsold games at the end of the show, which I find dispiriting.


In terms of overlaps, how would you classify Flash Point and V-Commandos? I know someone who, having the former, found the latter too similar to be worth owning. That surprised me at first because of course they have quite different themes and settings, but this person was thinking mechanics—and they’re both Forbidden Island- or Pandemic-style “you do your N actions then the crisis gets worse” games.


Less than 100, more like 60.

Like @Acacia It gives room for a variety of ‘genres’, length and depth whilst not feeling too restrictive. I also like be bale to keep the broad utline of every game I own in my head so I can pick up and play with relative ease.


Point of clarification: does “my” collection also include games that my husband bought?


I have a climate-controlled basement, and yet I’m still able to walk through it comfortably without stumbling over stacks of games. Please, don’t tell the police; I promise to get more games eventually!

The “correct” size of a game collection has never been a number or boxes or a number of shelves in my mind; it’s always been, “Do I have the right game for the right occasion?”

Unfortunately, the number of “occasions” a clever mind can come up with, especially when trying to figure out whether you need a shiny, new box on your shelves, is quite staggering. And, even in my case, sans the clever mind bit, it hasn’t been too difficult.

“Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, huh? Is there an occasion for that where nothing else would fit?”

Obviously! What else would we play if 7 shifty people came over after watching some police-procedure TV drama!? Do I know 7 shifty people who watch police-procedure TV dramas? Not yet!

Okay, so… that’s a dangerous game to play. And, seeing how my household’s disposable income has been obliterated by inflation of the last couple of years, I have all but stopped buying new games. Mostly at this point, new things entering my collection are by one of 2 mechanisms: no-ship math trades and birthday/Christmas gifts.

BGG/GeekGroup claims I have 770 games (not including expansions). I went through the list and brought it down to ~670 by filtering out things that are squarely in the for-trade pile, duplicates database entries (I have both Petrichor and Petrichor: Collectors Edition marked as Owned in my collection, for example), and things that I consider to be one thing split between many boxes (Unmatched, for example).

Honestly, that’s pretty good. I could certainly trim the fat a bit – something I’ve been trying to do for a while, but have been unable to adequately gather people around my table to hold auditions for permanent cast members in my collection.

I have ~160 solo-able games shelved in my home office that I am working through to hold the solo-auditions, at least. I’m hoping to clear out at least half of those.


I have 83 listed on BGG, 4 I don’t count as the expandalones shouldn’t be a separate slot for me. Horizons of Spirit Island isn’t a plus one as I only use it’s spirits in the normal base game as an example. I have 3 in a sell pile so the correct answer is a collection should be 76 games. All of you with a different number are doing games all wrong, obvs.

The nuances of a what goes in to a good collection size though are I think an interesting discussion. As I have a fairly settled gaming group I think my collection can be smaller. As a group playing the same games repeatedly are unlikely to leave anyone behind on a skill curve so smaller collection of played games is therefore more feasible to me currently. I used to play with more different people so I had more games and bought more. I didn’t want to be so far ahead of other players in terms of game practice for one title so everyone had more room for exploration and experimentation. Often with more euro or economic games which I mainly played the efficiency you’d develop could really squeeze a game space and that is often less fun for people figuring it out and is more apparent with a disparity of plays.

In some ways I have too many 18xx currently but I feel I need to know more before deciding which to trim further on, so maybe I should be another 10 games lower than I am currently. Another category of game that in some ways inflates the number are games I don’t play much anymore but nostalgia and a past love give them a permanent spot. Attika, Murano and Burgle Bros definitely fall in to this category with a few more besides. As I have the space I’m down with this fuzzy feeling nostalgia boxes sitting on my shelves rarely getting played, this may change as circumstances change. Also @pillbox has too many games, have less than pillbox is a good goal for the rest of us.


I think ideally the size of the collection is not really a number based but something closer to being able to say about each thing: okay this thing deserves to exist in my house for this unique reason.

I also agree with Roger: it’s good to have a space and define the collection by that space as well as you can it’s quite a cool way of doing it. If you decide to make or actively construct a larger space for games then I think that shows you care enough about games to put effort to make more space for it.

Also I discard a lot of games but I don’t assume I’ll ever get good value for them which is probably why almost everything I took got banished at UK games expo. Godspeed to the person who managed to snag the Gallerist for chips last year!


And a goal that is remarkably easy to achieve!

I have at least twice as many games as I think I’d be happy with, and I’ve probably got a bit over a hundred. I’m seriously working on getting the number down, which I really want to do as I find having too many actually means I play games less, as choosing one is sometimes overwhelming.

I actually think about twenty would be a good number, but I can’t see that ever happening as I simply like too many of the ones I have too much. So maybe a collection of fifty-ish is achievable and would be manageable.


I have too many games. Not sure what the correct number is, but definitely less than I currently have. If you play two games a week and never duplicate, that’s 104 games that could be played in a year. Three a week is 156. I have way more than either of those numbers and no realistic expectation of reaching those weekly play counts. I still have room in my game room (barely) for new games, but I also have games I haven’t played since I started keeping track in October 2017. If I haven’t played a game in 6 years, do I need to own it?


I think games can have sentimental value or cool value. I won’t get rid of infiltration because it was one of the first two games I bought to show my partner (it was a disaster) but it has some nostalgia for me that I don’t think will come in another box. I also will keep my box of King of Tokyo with the old art where King and Gigazaur don’t look lame.


If that game is TI4 or Sidereal Confluence, YES :slight_smile:


Nice topic. I was thinking about my collection and needed some talking space.

I’m pretty much a London rentoid. My place is pretty neat atm, but I need to think of a scenario where I move to a smaller space (thanks… uhhh… housing crisis). The more I’ve been focused on playing games repeatedly, the more I am seeing which I now prefer to keep. Which is great. I used to struggle on the previous years, but now the collection is smaller than ever! I’m currently putting up a sell list for my group again and would like to see these gone.

Now I am hacking down my collection where it is separated into heavy, mid, and non-filler light (think Knizia games on this one). So far I have reduced down heavy at 12, mid at 15, and non-filler light at 31. But wherever I try to cut down, it becomes very difficult. But I think I might be able to do 10/10/20.

My fillers are too many. Y’all seen me buying up a lot of trick taking games.

I am now aiming for a good variety, rather than pigeonholing on a few genres. TFM is a good example of wanting theme, while having RTFG for the dense card game that I need. Qualities like rules weight, box size, and player interaction are still wanted. I will be selling a few of my Cube Rails because whenever I wanted to play Cube Rails, I always resort to Chicago Express!


That’s a philosophical question. And I think it hinges on his taste. How many would you still own if he were suddenly spirited away?

This is my guide as well and I think it led to my 12 buckets. But I recently found I didn’t have a very specific game, 20-40 minutes but “full game feel” (most games in this timeslot are very focused, and do it well, but there’s no sprawl). The result was World’s Fair, First Rat, and Harvest (Trey Chambers farming game, not this other Harvest y’all keep jawing about). Yes, it’s dangerous every time you find an itch you can’t scratch!

I feel you. There’s a lot of clusters in my collection where I can say “I don’t need all three of you, but I don’t know who has to go.” More frequently, “It’s probably you, but you need a proper send-off party before you go into the box.”

I also find that unboxing, bagging, finding a place for, re-queueing, updating collection spreadsheets, etc sometimes get’s stressful. I’m happier playing through what I have and very happy when I pull out that favorite I’ve been meaning to get back to! Somehow this doesn’t settle in, though, and I start chasing something new again.


I have ~130 games and he has ~100. Applying the “what would you rebuy if the house burned down” test reveals that I would keep ~70 of mine and ~30 of his. Given that this leaves me with fewer than half of the number of games that we currently own, you could convincingly argue that >200 games is too many :laughing:

I think I agree with the principle that the “correct” size of collection is whatever covers all of the situations in which you play games. For us that’s:

  • in the pub with colleagues (light + high player count)
  • in the pub with our games group (anything that will fit on the pub table and takes < 4 hours)
  • games days/conventions (anything up to and including sprawling, day-long strategy games)
  • with my parents (approx Wingspan-level complexity)
  • with my husband’s children (max 2 hours, highly competitive and interactive preferred)
  • with a variety of regular gaming friends (3-4 players, any length)

In the next year or so we’re planning to try and play more 2-player games, which previously I wouldn’t have bothered buying.

I used to be pretty good at asking myself whether a shiny new game did anything that none of my other games did in terms of niche, theme, mechanics, etc. However, I’ve been a bit lax with this lately.


Ah. The classic “reverse Kondo”


In that line: one of them is a sprawling political history game that online suggests just turn 0 (for setup) can take 1-2 hours for new players. I bought it to celebrate finishing my dissertation and earning my PhD in late 2017 because the topic of the game is background to my research topic. Still haven’t played it once.


So what you’re saying here is ‘play by forum?’