So you’ve decided to dive into the world of board gaming? Congratulations and welcome! With thousands of board games released each year, it can be overwhelming! Especially once you get really deep and basically want to get all the new hotness right when it is released.
I know that when I first started, my collection of board games was meager, but eventually I turned the corner and had my eyes opened to the wonderful world of board gaming. However, I had the problem of not being sure how to manage my games, the expansions, and plays.
And that’s where I come in! Let’s talk about some of the best ways to manage your board game collection!
Your first stop should be BoardGameGeek (BGG), a website completely dedicated to board games. There are a ton of great features on the site, including photo galleries, forums, reviews, and user-created Geeklists of content.
The best part, and main reason for the site, is the dedicated board game repository. Every game has its own page complete with a ton of information. Here are the things you can expect to find:
- Description – what is the game about? Generally these come directly from the publisher and include some of the backstory and mechanical aspects of the game.
- Links – related URLs to find the game, typically to the publisher’s website or pre-order pages.
- Videos – User-created videos that might be previews, how-to-plays, rules overviews, and more.
- Reviews – Text and video-based reviews from people who have played the game.
- Fans Also Like – BGG recommends similar games that you might like if you’re a fan of this particular game.
- Forums – Tons of user-submitted content like questions, comments, concerns, harangs, and debates.
- Files – Downloadable content for the game. This could include rulebooks, player aids, and more.
- Images – Gallery images submitted by the publisher or other users. Includes artistic shots and functional shots of the game.
You can easily subscribe to anything posted on a game’s page so that you don’t miss a single conversation. This is a good way to stay current on games that have been announced, but not released yet.
I also like BGG because all of the game’s attributes are hyperlinked throughout the site. You can click on a game’s designer to see other games that they’ve worked on. Same thing with mechanics, artists, publishers, and more. There is so much information that it can be a lot to take in, but you can peruse at your own pace. Think of it like an open-source board game encyclopedia!
Once you have a BGG account, you can add games to your collection. Then, you’re able to view all the games in your collection, their ratings, times played (if you log them), personal comments, the BGG community’s rating of the game, and the Status (pre-ordered, for trade, etc).
This is the best way to keep track of the games that you own, sell, trade, etc. Sure, you could always do this in an Excel spreadsheet or a Google Sheets page, but all of the metadata is already on BGG, so why invent the wheel?
BGStats is an application that further eases your connection with BoardGameGeek. Because it’s mobile, you can quickly log plays, adjust your collection, set challenges for yourself, and see detailed stats about your various board game plays.
There’s a lot of detailed information that you can pack into your plays, like setting up players, roles, images, and tracking scores of each player. It seems like a lot of data entry for just playing games, but I’ve found that it gives me actionable information. For example, when I play Gaia Project now, I can look at my previous plays when determining which faction to play as. Should I play with a faction that I’m not as good with to get better? Or should I play with the faction I’m best at?
The advent of BGStats was important because, up until recently, BoardGameGeek didn’t have a mobile application. BGStats syncs directly with BGG so that you can manage your collection and plays on the go. What’s even better is that you can easily single out plays entered on BGStats from BGG because they’re all tagged with #bgstats.
Dedicated Board Game Shelves
I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures a thousand times over, but board gamers love to display their collections affectionately on their own, prominent shelves. Gone are the days of shoving your games into the back closet, hidden from view. Nope – board games have essentially replaced bookcases in contemporary interior design.
The ‘gold standard’ board game shelf is the KALLAX line from IKEA. Why? The shelves fit most standard board game boxes, and they aren’t too tall where the games on the bottom of a stack would get crushed. You just slide a couple boxes into each section and you’re off to the races.
Of course, you don’t have to fall in line with the board game shelving of the masses. Some people store their games on the lower shelves of a television stand, or in bookcases. Typically, people like to store games on their sides, like books, to prevent the aforementioned crushing problem. One thing to keep in mind is that contents of the boxes may shift, and can lead to some messy box openings in your future.
Photo Boxes for Small Box Games
A huge gripe with people who store their board games on shelves is that there are plenty of “non-standard” board game box sizes. What do you do with all of your small boxes, oblong boxes, and metal tins? They keep your collection from being *gasp* UNIFORM!
I saw a thread on BGG awhile back about someone storing their smaller box games in Photo & Craft boxes. I’ve linked an example of the one I picked up, which contains 16 interior boxes. Then, I put labels on the side and just like that I have a portable collection of 16 games that I can easily bring to game night. Or, if I just want to bring a single game, it’s easy to just take the box out for that single title.
The one downside of this is that you may need to store or get rid of the original boxes. For example, Machi Koro is a regular-sized box that surprisingly fits in one of these smaller containers. Purists will say it’s blasphemy for getting rid of the original box, but honestly it’s just extra clutter that you probably don’t need.
Board Game Extras
This last tip is for actual management of the components inside your board games. As you get deeper into the hobby, you’ll be faced with a multitude of choices. It’s important to think ahead, as all of them don’t apply to every single game. I recommend only giving the premium treatment to games that you absolutely enjoy and don’t see yourself getting rid of in the future.
Here are a couple options:
- Card Sleeves – perfect for protecting your cards from the elements or spilled beverages. Do your research beforehand, as there are tons of card sizes and their associated sleeve sizes. Here’s a good thread on BGG to get you started.
- Premium Components – resin bits, game mats, painted wooden meeples, metal coins…sometimes you just want to UPGRADE. MeepleSource is a solid place to find updated parts for some of the industry’s most beloved games.
- Board Game Box Inserts – not every game comes with a great insert to keep components organized. A good insert can drastically speed-up your setup and tear-down times to keep you gaming longer. There are plenty of great options out there, but one that I particularly enjoy is Folded Space.
You should now have everything you need to throw yourself into a hobby of cardboard and camaraderie!