Sunday, June 18, 2006

Bring 'em Back Alive: Disorder in the Court

By Dwayne "okiedokie" Hendrickson

Over at BGG, amongst all the sub groups of gamers, there is a sub group known as "Thrifters". Thrifters are a nice bunch, they have a weekly Geeklist, they have a King, they probably have all the missing pieces you need. The thrifters are constantly searching through thrift stores, yard/estate/garage/boot sales, discount houses, clearance racks, attics, flea markets, anywhere for discounted games. But amongst the thrifters there even sub-sub groups, factions that have differing opinions of behavior and decorum within the Kingdom of Thrifters. Here is a quick overview of what I have noticed.

Catch & Release vs. Filling the Zoos. Since games can be purchased at a discounted price the same games can be resold at a profit. These two groups seem to be split on where the profit comes from and how big a profit should be. The Filling the Zoos side are looking for the games that can be posted on ebay where one can realize a hefty ROI. The profit is the motive for the hunt, so much so that the hunter may actually sell a game that they themselves want. The Catch & Release crowd prefer locating games and then listing in the BGG Marketplace or offering them for trade, getting the games to the gamers. I have read some posts from the C&G group that indicate that the FtZ group really don't love the games as much as the C&G side. If you really, really love a game, you would sell/trade to another true gamer (geek) rather than sulley your gaming fingers with filthy luchre. The FtZ side counters that they are just trying to fulfill a niche in the marketplace. If you can't pay the $300 for Dark Tower, that's just too bad. Ebay is open to everyone, BGG'ers included. The FtZ is just taking advantage of what the market will bear.

Ballot Box Stuffers vs. Earning the Kings Favor. At the end of 2005 I had a lot of downtime at work. So much so that I started going through all the geeklists that had to do with thrift store finds. It was about this same time that the Weekly Thrifting lists appeared (started, I believe, by Pmboos). I rooted through each list, cataloging each game id, reading each entry to determine if the thrifter actually purchased the item or wanted an opinion. I counted each comment to see how many people added "I bought this one today as well". Then in a fit of madness, I decided to rank the thrifters to see who had the most finds, and therefore crown the King of the Thrifters and name his court, vassals, & serfs. It was not unlike taking a backhoe to a levee. The Thrift Geeklists soon grew to almost 5 pages a week and then discussions sprang up about quantity (Ballot Box Stuffers) over quality (Earning the King's Favor). Were folks buying piles of cheap unwanted crap ( Ungame, Hi-Ho Cherrio, Monopoly) at 50 cents a pop just to move up in the rankings? Or was it better to sit back and actually purchase games that are highly ranked (Acquire, Settlers of Catan ) or have a good following (Heroquest, Loopin Louie). Are you stuffing the ballot box to move up the list, or by being selective are you more deserving of being in the King's Court? Sadly, since my workload has increased, I may be unable to handle the statistical monster that the King of Thrifters has become and the coronation ceremony in Jan of 07 looks like it may not happen.

Old Thrift vs. New Thrift. Old thrift is used items, often found in the seedier sides of town, places you may not want to go, meeting people you may not want to meet. It can get depressing, walking among tons of unused, unwanted junk, day after day, week after week. It's kinda like walking across Africa looking for a lion & all you see are crippled muskrats. New Thrifting is going to your FLGS, TRU, or Big Box dealer, waiting for them to mark things down. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting in the air conditioning, waiting while you are surrounded by happy music, new merchandise, and probably within arms reach of a Starbucks. It's like sitting in the clubhouse of your country club and shooting a dear as it walks across the 18th green. Which is the true thrifter? Both watch, both search, both wait. But which carries more weight in the thrifting community, a used copy of TI3 found at Uptown Thrift in Slapout, Oklahoma for $4.99 (with 15% off because it's Cra-a-a-azy Casino days) or a shrinkwrapped copy of TI3 purchased at Barnes & Noble in Downtown Chicago for $8 because for a 90% clearance sale? Does a true thrifter HAVE to smell bad afterwards?

Crapshoot vs. The Blade Brigade. Most types of thrift stores seal their games, either bagging them (hope beyond hope) or taping them shut. The Crapshoot crowd plays by the rules & has learned to possibly discern what is in the game based on various method of shaking or, if they are lucky, finding that the store also has a used X-ray machine that the thrifter can then use to peer inside the box. They do that, or they they plunk down their hard-saved pennies, take their prize home and learn that their copy of Squad Leader contains only 3 chits, half a map, and all the TV Guide Crossword books ever published. Crapshooters take it as part of the hunt. Inside that game box will you find an extra expansion, unopened mail, hidden pr0n, cash, an encrusted hairbrush, or just the game itself? The Blade Brigade, having been burned more times than Helen Keller in Yellowstone Park, makes their own rules and carrys a small knife with them. They will slice the tape and inventory the contents, sometimes taking only the pieces they need (Chandelier for 13 Deadend Drive). Quite often, 'Bladers' will leave a game for someone else to purchase. Also, some thrift stores will not sell games that have been opened, therefore when you get to the counter with a game that has been 'bladed', it could go back into the pricing area until the next day and you go home with nothing.

So there you go, six sub-sub groups that may or may not be at each others throats. & I haven't even gotten into discussing territorial rights.

Until next time, keep your dice on the table & your drinks off the board.

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