243 – Purging Board Games – The Family Gamers Podcast

Episode 243
Purging Board Games

We’ve got Nick Martinelli on the podcast today, and we’re hoping we can encourage him in his struggle to purge board games and get down to a manageable number.

243 Fact! Game number 243 on Board Game Geek is Advanced Squad Leader (ASL). https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/243/advanced-squad-leader

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What We’ve Been Playing

Dungeon Mayhem (WizKids)

Block Ness (Blue Orange)

Pandemic Legacy 0 – we beat May!

Fleet: The Dice Game, of course

WWE Legends: Royal Rumble (Ravensburger)

WWE Cage Battle (WizKids) – flick dice! A lot of small touches that make this game fun.

Silver & Gold (Pandasaurus)

Meeple Circus (Matagot) – such a crazy dexterity game.

Dr. Finn’s Mining Colony – a polyomino game Nick has been playing solo.

Floor Plan (Deepwater) – design your house?

Periodic (Genius Games) – glad this game has been very solid at 2 players

Flyin’ Goblin (IELLO) – not Anitra’s favorite. It seems like there should be a lot more strategy here than it is. Instead there’s a ton of randomness.

Claire has created a tally sheet to keep track of how often the “kids shelf” games actually get played.

Abandon All Artichokes (Gamewright)

Quatorze (Eagle-Gryphon Games) – a more complex version of Jason Tagmire’s Seven7s

Isle of Cats (The City of Games) – the regular version of the game is on the heavy end for family games. Resource management, two different drafts, polyomino tiles, etc. Going to try the “family variant” and see how we feel about that.

Draftosaurus (Ankama / Luma) – with Marina expansion. Extend the river and move plesiosaurs (swimming dinosaurs) down the river when you play certain OTHER dinosaurs into the main park. Our only complaint is that now all the dinosaurs don’t fit in the bag (at 5 players). However, both expansions fit in the original box really easily!

Fruit Passion (Eagle-Gryphon Games) – a very challenging memory game. Read our review.

Parfum – Nick’s parents very first light euro game!

Listener Feedback (with Nick)

Nick is jealous that Anitra got to play Carcassonne: The Castle – it’s really hard to find now.

Funny how classic games prove themselves by coming back out over and over again.

Purging Board Games – Why and How

We’re going to start by talking a bit about why we know this is an issue. (Although we’ve mentioned it before – episode 136 was all about “spring cleaning”.) As board game reviewers, we have a constant stream of new games coming in, and they have to go somewhere. We don’t want to become hoarders, so some will have to go.

Let’s start by acknowledging that board game collecting is a hobby, too. Some publishers and Kickstarters really push those “collector” buttons and make it easy to keep buying more and more.

Nick is looking around his basement “I don’t have any more shelf space…”

The Cult of the New

The brand new, shiny games we see coming out from publishers each year. The “hot” games drive demand. With the collector mindset, we become afraid of missing out.

Setting a Good Example

What do we tell our kids? “Everything needs to have a home.”

Buying more shelves will create more space – temporarily. And even the shelves need somewhere to go!

Andrew & Anitra mostly stay away from Kickstarter because of the temptation it presents to spend and acquire far more than we need.

What do our kids see us doing?

“Being critical with your collection is an excellent skill to teach your children.”


Regularly assess your stuff and assess whether it’s worth it to carry all these things forward with you in life.

There’s an emotional attachment to many games, and that’s OK! But let’s be deliberate in assessing that value.

When we can move on from some board games, it’s helpful to us and to other people (by example and because they can receive the fun games!)

What Are Board Games, Truly?

1, Board games are a way to connect with other people.

2. They exercise your mind, and have fun.

3. They’re an experience, you invest time in (usually with other people).

Can you already think of some games on your shelves that don’t feel this way? Games that don’t help you connect, games that you’re not ready to invest the time into learning and/or playing? Those games should be easy to give up. (But sometimes it’s still not easy.)

Andrew tells us his decision to get rid of Twilight Struggle; even though the game is great, it’s just not happening here. (The same thing happened with Tzolk’in).

4. But… a board game is a $40 box of cardboard.

Most board games are eminently replaceable. If we want to play Tzolk’in later, we can probably get another copy.

If it’s going to be hard to replace something (lots of custom pieces and promos or it’s out of print) it becomes a harder decision. But if it’s still never going to get played, it’s better to move on.

Not every game is “evergreen” and will always be in print – but if you really want an out-of-print game, you’ll be able to get it!

Why is This Game Irreplaceable?

This is a very personal question, and will change from game to game and person to person.

We ask ourselves, “what if I get rid of it and can’t get a new copy?” Well, I won’t have the game anymore. All these other games that I do have – will that be enough?

There’s a fear here of losing the unique experience. That’s a valid fear! Andrew relates his reasons for keeping Viral – it’s special because it’s one of the first complex games that Asher really understood right away. Ethnos seems to be a better game.. so why keep Viral? What’s irreplaceable is the memory. We won’t make those exact memories again! But we also won’t lose the memory by getting rid of the game.

The important thing about the board game is not the actual board game; it’s everything else around the board game! And that can be replicated by another board game, whether you want to admit it or not.


We should sit down with Asher and play Ethnos – if he likes it better than Viral, then Viral can go!

This is not about keeping the “good” games and getting rid of the “bad” games.

It is OK to get rid of good games, ones that you enjoy playing!


Getting rid of a game is not a value judgement. It’s more like a breakup – full of emotion.

What about the money? Don’t fall victim to the sunk cost fallacy! The money you spent is gone, no matter where the board game goes. There are ways to get some value back, if it really bothers you (trade-ins, math trades, eBay, etc.)

Practical Tips

Now that you have a pile of board games you’re ready to purge, what do you do with them? There are tons of options, depending on how much time you want to spend vs. how much value you want to receive in return.

If you just need them to be GONE, give it to Goodwill, Savers, or whatever local thrift store you have. You will have made another board gamer’s day!

Want to get your outgrown kids’ games into other kid’s hands? How about putting it into a Little Free Library? (Look for ones near you: https://littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap/ )

Or how about your local public library! Jenn Bartlett (https://www.theboardgamelibrarian.com/ and https://twitter.com/bg_librarian/) helps libraries all over the country (and the world) with board game collections!

See if your local board game club or local convention is taking donations. Then you’ll know that you can “visit” your old board games.

Obviously, you can also tell your friends you’re giving away games (we do this on Facebook).

There are charities that will also take donations, especially ones that serve children, like OneMission.

What We Do

First, local math trades (or convention-connected math trades). Worth it when you don’t have to pay for shipping.

Second, our friendly local game store with a trade-in/used game policy. Andrew explains why this is a win-win (if your local game store does it).

Third, BoardGameCo (listen to our episode w/Alex Radcliffe). Similarities to both math trades and FLGS trade-ins… but with shipping.

All of these are ways we retain some small value as we send these games on to new homes.

For the rest, we give them away (in the various ways listed above).

One last reminder – these strategies work for more than just board games, and we are modeling this behavior for our kids.

Find Nick

Find him in The Family Gamers Community… posting there nearly every day.

Twitter: @shreddemon
Instagram: @shreddemon

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Or, for the most direct method, email us! andrew@thefamilygamers.com and anitra@thefamilygamers.com.

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