Shelf Statistics, #2

Board gamers love talking about their shelves. Sometimes, that’s literally the piece of furniture – do you use KALLAX shelves or something else? More often, it’s about what’s in them. I did so in the first part of my Shelf Statistics – who designed the games in my collection, who published them, when were they published? In this second part, it’s all about ownership and acquisition – and about the most important part of our hobby (at least to me) – playing!

Ownership and acquisition

I’ve called the games collection in question “mine”. That’s technically not correct – I don’t own all games in there. A few of them are either my wife’s, or were gifts to both of us:

How did we get all these games? One I designed myself (many years ago), the others were in equal parts bought or gifted:

As “buying” can mean a lot of different things, here’s another chart on that:

I tend to buy from online board game stores. Fairs, flea markets, publishers, and brick-and-mortar stores play their role, but a much reduced one.

The Venn diagram is very clear on why I shop online.

In the last statistics post, I’d looked at when the games were published. As for the follow-up question: When were they acquired?

You can easily see that the 2010s were when I played a lot of board games (and had more disposable income than before). The biggest year in terms of board game acquisitions (of games that are still in the collection) was 2016 with more than a quarter of the entire collection – eleven games in total. 2016 is also the median year of acquisition.

The last question in terms of acquisition: Was I in with a game when it was the new hotness or was I latecomer? Here’s the difference between acquisition and publishing year:

The median difference is two years. I guess I’m neither a hype-chaser nor a board game archeologist.

Games with the biggest time between publication and acquisition (not counting chess which does not have a real “publication date”):

Power Grid (Friedemann Friese, 2F-Spiele) is the only game of these which was released during my lifetime.


Finally, let’s get into playing!

Many board gamers have not played individual games in their collection for a long time – sometimes, not at all! (The famous “shelf of shame” or ”shelf of opportunity”, depending on how you see it.) I haven’t played three of the games on my shelves. That does not don’t cause me any shame. Here’s why:

Junta (Vincent Tsao, ASS) and Civilization (Francis Tresham, Edition Spielkunst) are the respective original (German) editions from the 1980s. I found them at a flea market (in February 2020, when such indoor mass events were still innocently possible where I live). I got them at a bargain (€ 5.00 for both of them combined). Even without the pandemic, I did not expect to get long games that are best with 4-5 players like these to the table very often, but I liked the idea of owning such illustrious classics. Guess I am a collector now.

The third unplayed game is a personalized edition of a board game classic which my wife and I got as a gift for our wedding last year – with us and the gifters as playable pieces. Once they come visit, we can inaugurate the game!

Here’s when I last played the other games:

I think I’m doing reasonably fine – but could surely improve. The game which I haven’t played for the longest time is The Starfarers of Catan (Klaus Teuber, KOSMOS) – in 2003 (if my memory does not deceive me). Which is a shame! It’s a pretty good game and deservedly got a new edition recently. Let’s see if I can re-play it soon!

That brings us to the very last infographic: Which time has elapsed between the acquisition of a game and the last time I played it? Or, phrased differently: Which games have staying power beyond being a fad? The median is three years – which sounds slightly disappointing, but given that the median year of acquisition is 2016, it’s probably not that bad. There are four games which have not been played at all after the acquisition year – I guess I either need to play them again or remove them from the collection (if there is not another reason for keeping them, like the game components being useful other purposes). Anyway, let’s not look at games that have been treated unkindly by me (even though that might have partially been their own fault), but rather at those which have received my faithful love: Here are the games which I have kept in my playing rotation for the longest time:

 All of them very solid games!

Maybe those are the best takeaways from my statistics post: Look at your shelves, find the games you love, and remember why you love them. Any games that immediately spring to your mind? Let me know in the comments!

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