How to Build Your Board Game Collection: A Complete Guide


Maybe you’ve fallen in love with modern board games, and now you want to buy all the games to build your board game collection. That was us. When my husband and I discovered modern board games, we quickly fell into the strong desire that is to buy a lot of board games at once.

I’ve learned a lot along our journey. From new board gamers to now avid hobbyists with a board game library we love, I’m excited to share tips that I’ve gleaned along the way.

In this post, I’m going to share everything you’ll need to know in order to build your board game collection in the best way. I’ll also share a few tips and steps for how you can properly maintain your board game collection.

But before we dive in, I want to address some terminology that actually makes a difference.

Board Game Collection vs. Board Game Library

While several hobbyists use the term “board game collection”, I actually prefer to use the term “board game library”. When I think of the word “collection”, I think of a group of items you just store, keep nice, and only look at but never use.

On the flip side, when someone says “library” it makes me think of a group of items (like books or board games) that will actually get taken off the shelf, used, and loved. The items serve a much greater purpose than just having or collecting them.

Anyways, from this point on, I’ll use the terms “board game collection” and “board game library” interchangeably. But just know that when I refer to both of those terms, I’m talking about a group of board games that will be actively played and used often.

What We Learned While Building Our Board Game Library

When my husband and I first got into modern board games, we started buying a lot of games all at once, without having played many. We were new to the hobby, and new to all of the different types of board games that existed. Everything seemed amazing to us.

So, we started buying a lot of games at once. The issue with this is that instead of trying different types of board games by category, we just bought random ones based off of others’ reviews. So, sometimes we ended up playing four of the same type of board game. This left us with having certain types of board games unexplored, and in the end, it took us longer to find what we loved.

When buying a lot of board games at once, it can also be overwhelming. This overwhelm and exhaustion usually comes from playing and learning so many new games at once. If I’m honest, we still have a handful of board games that are unopened from this period of board-game-buying that happened about 2 years.

It’s because after we found the types of board games we love, we bought and played more of those types, and we let the ones we might not like sitting on the shelf. We still plan to play all of the unopened games on our shelf before we decide if we want to keep them or get rid of them. And we’re slowly making our way through them.

While we now know our favorite types of board games and we own a long list of games we enjoy to play, it was a process to get here. Heed my advice, and be careful not to grow your collection or board game library too quickly.

How to Build A Board Game Collection You’ll Love

So, now that you know what we did wrong, what’s the right way to build a board game collection?

Try Board Games Before You Buy Them

To start, I recommend trying a board game before you buy it (if at all possible). There are a few different ways to try board games without actually adding them to your personal shelf:

  • Go to a board game cafe and play new games
  • Find board game events in your community and go to those

My husband and I did some of this as we started out, but I wish we would have done more. In our community, there’s a weekly board game night at a local coffee shop, and a traveling board game library that goes to different breweries in the city several times per week.

Your own community will most likely have great opportunities like this for you to try out different board games. Doing this will help you to figure out what kinds of board games you like, and it will also give you a great place to start. If you end up playing a board game you love, you can buy it knowing that you’re growing a board game collection you love.

Buy One Or Two Board Games and Evaluate

The second tip I have is to buy one or two board games at a time, play them, evaluate your experience, and then base your next purchase off of what you did or didn’t like. This will help you avoid buying games that you’ll never play.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try a type of board game you’ve never played before. I certainly think that you should! But there are better ways to do this than to just buy all the games without playing and properly evaluating them, one at a time.

Let’s say for example, that you love deck-building games, and you’ve found one or two games that you’ve added to your library that you love. At this point, evaluate what you’d like to do next. You could explore other games that use deck-building, or you could try a new game altogether.

The key is that that when trying a new and different type of board game, only buy one of that type of game at a time (or go try it out before buying it). Then, if you like it, buy more of that kind.

When evaluating your experience, also keep in mind what your friends and family members like to play too. Board game nights are so much more fun when everyone loves what you’re playing.

I’m New To Modern Board Games. Where Should I Start?

If you’re new to modern board games, you might not be sure where to start. Below are a few recommendations for you just to help you get going:

  • 7 Wonders
  • The Quest for El Dorado
  • Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure
  • Pandemic
  • Lords of Waterdeep

And if you’ve already played a few modern board games, below are a few recommendations for you. (For these, I’ve included the type of board game is in parenthesis):

  • Brook City (a cooperative miniatures board game)
  • Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (cooperative campaign game)
  • Scythe (engine-building game)
  • Wingspan (engine-building board game)
  • Western Legends (open world)
  • Massive Darkness (dungeon crawl RPG)
  • Everdell (tableau building and worker placement)

The games listed above are some of my favorite games, and I hope it helps you get started on your board game library! But remember, those are my favorites. Take time, and go slow so that you can find what you like.

You can also use this list of ranked board games as a reference point to help you find games to try.

Maintaining Your Board Game Collection

Once you’ve built a board game collection/library, there are a few important things to keep in mind in order to properly maintain it. One of the first things I recommend doing is to limit your board game collection or library.

The reason this is important is so that you end up loving every single one of the games on your shelf. And it will give you the freedom to truly enjoy what you have. Doing this will also force to you think really hard about board games you plan to buy in the future—you’ll make sure that it’s worth it.

There’s a tip I’ve heard of for clothes that’s a concept we can easily apply to board games. The tip is to turn put all of the clothes on hangers to one side of your closet, with a separator on the right side of them. Then, as you use and wear the clothes you put them to the right side of the separator. After six months, you get rid of all of the clothes to the left that haven’t been used (unless of course, they’re seasonal).

This is a great method we can apply to board games, as it’s an easy way to figure out which games you’re not playing (and should get rid of). There are a few steps you can implement below to maintain your collection. It’s something you have to do over a period of time, but in 6 or 7 months you will have an amazing board game library!

1. Create a master list of every single board game you own.

Write down every single board game you own on a master list. It can be digital or written down on paper (whichever you prefer). Write the date at the top.

2. Every time you play a game, mark it on the master list.

This will help you to easily look back and see which games are actually your favorites.

3. After 6 months, go through and get rid of the games you never touched.

At the end of 6 months, go through your list and look at the games you haven’t played. Get rid of those games. You can donate them, sell them, or you can trade them in for games you’ve been dying to try.

4. Upgrade the handful of games that got played the most.

This is the fun part! Go through and upgrade the games you play the most. Buy the expansions, get organizers from Broken Token, and upgrade the components.

I recommend upgrading your top 3-5 games, but of course, upgrade as many games as you want. Just make sure it’s games you’ve actually played in the last 6 months. This will improve your experience each time you play through those games!

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