Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Martha! The Herd Needs a'Thinnin'!

When I started playing wargames around the age of 11, I was just starting to realize my acquisitive tendencies. I was certainly interested in buying every wargame out there, although since my local store had so many of the old SPI flat/plastic boxes I just didn't go there (and plus my first experience with one of them went so badly - missing a major component combined with plotted movement, never a good choice for me) and stuck with the Avalon Hill catalog.

As I've written here in the meantime, the collection has taken on a bit of a life of it's own. When we moved to Wilsonville in 2007, I got my very own game room, which has been awesome, but it's also given me a very clear sense that the collection is more than I want to move in the future. And we *will* move at some point in the future when the market springs back to a certain extent.

What I've had trouble letting go of in the past is wargames. I've done it before on at least one occasion when I finished my undergrad degree and moved to an apartment in Seattle in the mid-80's. I regretted getting rid of a couple of those games, and it's been a struggle to let wargames go ever since. However, after nearly doubling the size of my collection after moving to Wilsonville over the past four years, I've decided that the wargames are not nearly as sacrosanct as I would like.

So what's going out the door? There are several things that I own multiple editions of (Successors, We the People/Washington's War, Gulf Strike, RAF, etc) that I've been hanging on to for various reasons, and of these only WtP will stay because it's so much different than the follow-on game because of the battle cards. Those are the obvious first choices.

It took Fighting Formations for me to realize that my Panzer Grenadier collection, which is not complete but close enough for most gamers, is not going to get played. I've tried to solitaire exactly one scenario in the four or five years since I picked up Eastern Front, and perhaps two or three more in ftf play. In large part, a lot of these purchases were because of particularly good sales where I'd spend around $100 for several games. The biggest flaw in the PG system (aside from an Assault subsystem that I'm pretty sure no one plays "correctly") is that for every 100 scenarios there are perhaps a dozen worth actually playing. Honestly, how could you have a game with 40 scenarios and all of them are effectively playtested?

Along with PG, pretty much everything published by Avalanche Press is going out the door. That means all of the Great War at Sea/Second World War at Sea games go, again largely picked up through sales. I've tried a couple of these as well, but trying to figure out the correct rules (GWaS in particular has some strange damage distribution rules) as well as having to manage sheets and sheets of record sheets killed the system for me. Also out the door are Rob Markham's Soldier series (Kings, Emperor, Raj).

That alone is quite a bit of stuff, but I also have decided, after quite a bit of agonizing, that GMT's Great Battles of History are going as well. This was painful on more than one level - I own two editions of Alex, two of SPQR, all of the various scenarios from all of the C3i issues, the SPQR Player's Guide, all of the boxes with the exception of Lion of the North (and who owns that?) and every expansion. Plus the countersheet from the Simple GBoH Battle Manual, which duplicates many of the C3i counters. Putting them up for sale means making sure they all have the correct counters in the correct boxes. I've been at *that* task for about 15 hours so far, and the main thing I've discovered is that I have very old eyes. I have about ten issues of C3i to go through with the scenarios, and so far only two counters seem to be missing, which I consider to be a minor miracle. I think they're in the Alex box...

But that wasn't the hardest thing to get rid of. That honor goes to my AH/Smithsonian line, of which I'm getting rid of several - the two PTO games (Midway, Guad), and the two ETO games (Bulge, D-Day). Of these, I've only really played D-Day, which felt half-baked when using the advanced rules (one of which, the requirement that the Allies lose a unit completely, is impossible to pull off because the Allies can rebuild pretty much everything). A big box means too much shelf space devoted to a game I am not going to play. Also going from the same line is New World and Princess Ryan's Star Marines. Yeah, there was a time when I'd buy pretty much anything.

And even then. No, the hardest thing for me to get rid of, despite both of them being designed by the Walker/Fox team that just can't quite get it right no matter how hard they try, are The Thirty Year's War and The Halls of Montezuma. I love CDGs, although I realize many of them have their flaws. TYW has a strong following, but there are just too much minor country chrome and the lack of interceptions means that you just chase each other around the board. HoM failed it's test when there were no rules for what happened when one force moved into a zone with another force and no one could effectively explain how that was supposed to work.

Also going are most of my non-block ancients games. Alexander the Conqueror, Rise of Rome/Carthage, Pax Romana (the world's most complicated non-historical historical game), AmRev (Saratoga through Monmouth), Musket and Pike, I'm sure there are several more. I decided earlier in the year to limit preorders to 20th Century and on conflicts, so pretty much WW1 on, as well as the occasional strategic level game. No more ETO monsters that try to cover the diplomatic situations in a host of countries that always seem to add more weight than they produce fun. That isn't to say I won't pick up monsters, just not grand strategic such as ETO or PTO scale. I will be getting Proud Monster, for example, and I'm hopeful that the preorder I made through my FLGS of Where Eagles Dare is going to actually happen.

Quite a few euros and strategy games are going out the door as well. Panzer General's Russian and Allied Assault games are going, which are fun on the X-Box but unwieldy and with impenetrable rules in the boardgame format. The introductory solitaire scenario in Russian Assault, for example, can't be played as listed in the rules because the victory conditions are unattainable. Combat requires so many steps that it's just not worth the effort. I love novel combat systems, but too many light games confuse heavy combat sequences with "fun," probably because there just isn't enough there to make a game out of to start with. Much better in the console version.

One of the side benefits of doing this, aside from the large amount of time spent making sure the expansions have been separated out correctly, is that I am reclaiming lots of counter trays and card sleeves. As I buy really nice card sleeves, I managed to recover about $50 worth, which I promptly used to resleeve all of the CDGs I own that were originally sleeved with colored sleeves. As my good friend Jesse told me once, "If they're going to put that nice card art on the back, maybe we should see it through the sleeve!" Of course, older games with beat up components (Hannibal, I'm looking at you) need colored sleeves to mask the dog-ears, but in general I'll use clear sleeves in the future. I pulled out 20 counter trays too, which is worth close to $50 as well. I'm making money already.

Because of a long family vacation coming up at the end of the month, I'm not planning to put anything up for sale just yet other than point games that people come to me about. When I do, it will go to the members of my game group, Rip City Gamers, first (although I'm not expecting many things to go to them, they're all in the same boat I am). Then I will try selling locally, and finally I will go to the BGG marketplace although the idea of regular trips to the post office is not something I'm relishing.

There is a handful of games that I believe will do well on eBay, such as Atlantic Storm, Triumph and Glory, and Plan Orange, perhaps a few more OOP modules that you can no longer get.

While it's nice to be purging, at the same time the new games are coming in. Yesterday, Case Yellow and Nightfighter arrived, and I picked up Spectral Rails and the new Junta-themed game recently. I'm just not quite at the point where I will sell a game before I can buy a game, so apparently I'm going to be following the binge/purge cycle for a little longer. Haven't *quite* hit bottom yet. That will probably happen the next time I move...


Eric said...


There goes pretty much the last guy in the area where I've got a shot at playing the AP games.

Tripp said...

Oh there are more, there's me, but yes the Avalanche Press games are not easy to get on the table.