Monday, July 10, 2006

GAME STORE CONFIDENTIAL ~ Does this copy of Gettysburg make me look phat?

For the last couple of weeks I've been carrying on about 2-player games, war games and the meatier, edgier side of board gaming. Before anyone gets the idea that I don't like multi-player games, just remember, I am the most vocal apologist for Railroad Tycoon in existence, I rate Power Grid right up there at a "9" on BGG's near perfect rating system and I own all 27 of the various Ticket to Ride games, expansions, modules, add-ons and underground maps.

I suspect though, that I'm having the gamer equivalent of a mid-life crisis. I may be a deeply troubled individual... no really, I mean it... despite the fact that I appear to be completely normal... there may be issues.

I'll start off with Hannibal: Rome Vs. Carthage.

I have a copy sitting in a Priority Mail cardboard box leaning on my couch. Still in the shrinkwrap. And I'm wondering why I have it. The nice gamer Geek I traded with will certainly be happy with what he got from me. But still... I have enough problems getting people to play war games as it is, why take one of these gems off the market? In fact, why do I own as many games as I do?

When I go out into my garage I see about 200 games on the shelves. And then I look at the boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes of accumulated games, miniatures, RPG books, CCG's and other assorted merchandise, all collected over 23 years of owning a store... and I ask myself: do I need this? In fact, do I want it?

The answer is... no.

For nearly 25 years I collected, painted and played miniature games. I lived for it. Board games, which I also collected and played were well loved, but it was miniature games that ruled my life. I estimated about three years ago that I had acquired 40,000 to 50,000 miniatures. While it's true that 70% are unsold product from my store, that still leaves 10,000 or so that I actually deluded myself into thinking I was going to paint... or something.

Same thing with RPG's. I haven't played D&D since 1986. I did play some GURPS in the 90's, but that's it. Yet I bought probably 300 RPG books for myself. What the hell was I thinking?

Board games haven't escaped either. I don't particularly like Carcassonne. So why do I own two copies? Plus an expansion or two and the Castle one... which is a dumb ass game if there ever was one. Every week it seems I open up another mystery box from one of my storage units and find it full of board games that I wanted to save. Most of which I really don't want to play. That's because when 4 to 6 of us get together it's too easy to play what we know. Fortunately, we also enjoy the games we play. For the most part.

Back about 6 years ago I concluded that I wanted a simpler life. I was single and my house was too big. It was as if the realization that I was at a crossroads where I could sell off the big house, dump an amazing amount of stuff on eBay and somehow refocus my life to be more harmoniously aligned with my gaming hobby was a signal to create mass confusion and yet more insanity.

That's about the time I met my most recent romantic partner, took her and her three warped out little girls in, got her pregnant, bought a ranch and accelerated my personal game buying binge to ludicrous levels. So now, 6 years later, I have sold the ranch, disentangled myself from what was a doomed relationship anyway, worked out a custody arrangement that is so mellow that I won't want to embarrass most "normal" people with the details. And I have a huge garage full of games and game related stuff. And I still have a 10x15 storage unit full. Oh yeah, and an 8X10 storage shed full... that last one is back at the ranch, padlocked to keep the warped girls (now insane teenaged girls) out.

It'll take me another three years to sell all of this stuff on eBay. But I have to get rid of it or I'll never be able to focus.

My acquisition of Hannibal has brought this whole seething mess lurching back into the forefront of my pitiful little mind. Boardgamegeek is an interesting place to go read one sad tale after another from people like me... who buy games but often wonder why they do it. I wanted Hannibal to play it. And if I'm lucky, I'll play it as many as ten whole times. It's probably going to end up being another Fortress America for me. I refuse to sell my copy of Fortress America, even though I haven't played it for at least 15 years. What if I want to play it... and I had already dumped it on eBay for a measly $80? That would be a disaster. Must keep Fortress America.

My lovely wife from the 70's and 80's, Cinthia, the Sicilian one, used to ask me why I never got rid of any clothes. I usually didn't have an answer, but once, during a period where the Survivalists were all the rage and Red Dawn was a hit movie, I pointed out that when the Marxists conquered the weakened and greedy America, we'd have plenty of clothes. So she asked, "Does that goes for the 2,500 albums you have stacked to the rafters too? You want music to listen to between mortar rounds?"

I feel like a heroin addict at times with all this game buying. I have a list of at least 15 board games I NEED that are either recently published or coming out soon. And yes, I am down with GMT for at least 5 titles on their P500 list. And I scour eBay and BGG once or twice a week looking for inspiration... buying inspiration, that is. And all the while I'm doing that I'm on eBay selling off stuff that I really, really needed but now can't stand to even look at.

I'm selling my Undead army. All 5,000 points. I've sold a collection of Man O' War ships that made a noticable dent in what my Harley cost me... except I kept 2,000 points of Bretonnians, 2000 points of Empire and 1500 points of Chaos Dwarves. You never know when someone may want to throw down and play Man O' War. If they ever do... I'm ready. And almost every day I look over the mountains of boxes in my garage and have to make decisions as to what stays and what goes. If I was any weaker I'd just figure out how to go on welfare and use my eBay profits to rent storage units everywhere so I could buy and store yet more games.

Stupid huh?

Like earlier this year, I sold my copy of El Grande, for more than I paid for it. Also my copy of Warrior Knights. As well as several other games that had seen quite a bit of play. Why the hell did I do that? Duh, because they're being reprinted dummy. And I want the new one! The new Warrior Knights has already been played at my table and I'll probably call the local store this week and have them get me the El Grande reprint. But you've never done anything like that... right? Right. And now I'm reading all about Eagle's new game... what is it? Something III or something like that? No matter, I want it. And I shall have it. Besides which, not only do I like the games Eagle publishes, my boards never warp.

Anyway, I think I figured the whole thing out today. About why some people like myself buy games we don't play, won't play or can't play. I was reading a novel I bought at the local thrift store... because the little burg I live in doesn't have actual retail stores... and there was this hugely obese chick in it. And she's being transported to Wyoming by the main character, Fletch, who despite the fact that Chevy Chase, who is as idiotic and retarded as a box of rocks because he won't shut his mouth about politics, despite the fact that Chevy Chase played Fletch in a movie or two, I like Fletch. So he was telling the fat chick that she really wasn't hungry. That she just thought she was. To which she replied, then what am I feeling when I feel hunger pains. Fletch, who is a towering mountain of intellect and clarity when compared to the bottom-feeding retard who played him in the movies, replies that she is feeling what normal people feel but normal people understand that they aren't hungry. Normal people realize when they overeat that the ensuing hunger pains are just the body signalling that it can process food again.

So this dialog about why some people eat more than they require and others don't really opened my eyes a bit about people who acquire games they will most likely never play. And I'm not talking about real collecters here. Real collectors build shelves, have their games entered dutifully into spreadsheets and become founts of knowledge about arcane publishers and products that most of us could care less about. Game collectors are aliens who defy understanding. According to Fletch, I'm the gaming equivalent of a fat person. People like me don't actually need all these games... we just think we do.

I'm not suggesting that any of us ought to cut our game collections down to just those we play... I still won't sell Fortress America or my Man O' War fleets... I'm just relating an insight I had, on a personal level, about the possible malady I've been suffering from for nearly 40 years. Game Obesity.

Every so often some FNG on boardgamegeek does a list that asks what 10 games (or 5 or 20, pick a number) you'd take if you were stranded somewhere... possibly a desert island? Ten games? That's a bit severe. But I am starting to feel like there is an optimum game number for each Geek. Like those optimum weight charts... every body has certain requirements and not all bodies are the same. Ten games would be starvation for most of us, except those few gamers who have only their wifey and inlaws to game with... and she's a Canasta Whore. I think my number is actually closer to 100 games.

So that's my resolution. To cut back on my games collection until it reaches a nice, even 100 games. Then I'm going to get a cheap spreadsheet and start keeping track of the games I actually play. Except for the ones I'm probably never going to play but will keep because, well, because they're cool. And then I'll have to make allowances for that selection of Richard Berg games that are really, really good, but are just a bit over-the-top rules-wise. And I should hang onto several that might bring a healthy eBay profit. I also don't think card games should count either. Games like Bang! and Fairy Tale and Battle Line are pretty small and how about those decks of that fantasy card game that plays like miniatures? I have some and I think they are too small to count as actual games. Another thought is having emergency back up copies... they shouldn't count against the 100. I have two copies of at least 10 games, just in case they go out of print or my dog chews one up or something.

Yes, now that I think about it I do believe that this game reduction program will work out mighty fine. If I cut back enough I'd have room in my garage for my 100 games (plus the exceptions) and I'd be able to fit a VR1000 in there next to my Fat Boy. Hmmm... maybe I'll be calling the game store and the Harley dealer this week. One can't be too thin now, can one?


Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

I am in tears... it's like in the otherwise awful Steve Martin film, "The Lonely Guy", when the police officer shows up at his door for the noise complaint only to find him in an apartment filled with cardboard cutouts of people with the stereo turned up high. And he says, "You mean you're..." "Yeah, a lonely cop."

DW, meet your fat friend, Fluff Daddy. (Or, maybe in this case, Puff Daddy.)

I actually was able to ditch Fortress America a few years back - but I struggled mightily for the same reasons. Conquest of the Empire left long ago - but I've contemplated picking up the Eagle games reprint.

This was a brilliant addition to your already (mostly) illustrious blogging career - thanks!

Coldfoot said...

I've heard that everyone should have at least one good rationalization a day and this is yours!

BTW, I'm surprised to hear you like TtR. Maybe I should re-think that one. After all, I don't have nearly as many games as YOU do, especially if we're not counting card games. :)

Unknown said...

Two words, buddy. "Impulse control."

Anonymous said...

The only difference between you and me is magnitude. I'm getting ready to step onto a 40-foot sail boat and spend a year in the Caribbean. Imagine spending a year living out of appx 1,000 CUBIC feet of space containing all you food, furnishings, entertainments, tools, etc.

Our goal is to leave no more than one 10x10 storage unit behind to return to.

Now think about the sale, givaway and bonfire that would preceed such a downsizing - we have about 3 months to do it.

Clensing is nearly always thereputic.

Anonymous said...

I look at this every day and think to myself. WHY can't I get get of it. WHY!!??? Why do I have to drag all my crap with me every where I go? It is a true conundrum.

DWTripp said...

Sure Ryan, as if it was that easy. Take a look at Mark's picture (Mark may be one of those alien "collectors", his shelves look way too neat) or the one Mike Chapel linked... it's much more sinister than just self control.

Maybe the sailboat guy has the answer. Nah. He probably thinks that sounds cool but every guy I know who did that came back a little weird... never wanted to talk about anything except "The year I spent sailing the 7 seas". Although I do agree with him on one thing... cleansing is healthy.

Anonymous said...

Most of us just want to know one thing: What is your Ebay Username?