Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Too Much Stuff

This post is probably both exactly what you think it is and not what you think it is.

If you think I meant that I have too many games, well... it is true (and I have committed to trying to reduce the collection size this year) that's not quite what I was shooting for here today. No, this is about expansions. I get why they are popular with the game companies - they have a dedicated consumer base already, are cheaper to produce (and they almost have to have a higher ROI or we wouldn't see so many), have artwork already in place (yes, new cards and such need new artwork, but things like card backs are already done) and maybe require a lot less development work to get out the door.

For us gamers, they are great too - they can expand existing game worlds (Arkham/Eldritch Horror, Mansions of Madness, Descent, Combat Commander, Memoir 44), add needed diversity (Smash Up!, PitchCar, Ticket To Ride, Power Grid, Kingdom Builder), new mechanics (Aquaretto, Eldritch Horror (again), Viticulture, Fresco, Carcassonne, Alhambra), additional player counts (sometimes reduced player counts if the game didn't support 2-player or solo when it was released), expanded libraries to keep the game fresh (every CCG and LCG), etc etc.

But I'm not here to talk about a Power Grid or Age of Steam maps. Nor the next NetRunner or Game of Thrones LCG set (though those may fall in this realm of discussion I guess). No, I'm going to talk about - when is enough, enough? How many Smash Up decks do I really need? If Epic taught me anything, its that a well designed game can offer a huge amount of enjoyment without needing a bazillion expansions. But that isn't necessarily a good enough argument against the expansion craze. I think Eldritch Horror is a wonderfully designed game (better in every way than Arkham Horror), but if you only ever got the base game, I think your enjoyment of the game would go down after not so many plays. Why? Because at its heart, Eldritch Horror is something of a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book and if you remember those, you could only read one a few times before you landed on the same stories over and over again - that's why there were a bazillion of those written. The same basic problem exists for EH as well. Once you mix in a couple of expansions, the card mix is high enough that the repeat stories will still happen, just not anywhere near as frequently as without the expansions.

And here is where we start to have problems. Storage. You knew that was where I was going with this right? Currently there are three big box (same box size as the original) expansions and four small box expansions for Eldritch Horror. That is somewhere in the realm of 200-250 full sized cards per large expansion (plus 100-150 small cards) and 100-150 full (plus 50-100 small) sized cards per small expansion. Now, I don't have the last big nor small box expansions, and this is what my collection of this game looks like:

That right there is a wooden artists case with a Broken Token card organizer. That is not all the cards. I have one of the small expansion boxes with a 3d printed rack that has a subset of the small cards. I suspect that if I got the two expansions I don't have, I'd pretty much fill this box and have to move the non-card things to another box. So what do you do if you are normal Joe Consumer and don't want to also buy a box and organizer? Spread out your collection over all the expansion boxes? That sucks and makes setup/pickup painful. It is doable, but this game is mostly cards, so that works ok I guess. What if you are a fan of other FFG games? (and FFG is not the only perpetrator here, but there are in my collection) - like say Descent 2nd edition? Aside from the base game, I own:

  • 12 Lieutenant Packs
  • 2 Big Box expansions
  • 4 Small Box expansions
  • 2 Co-op expansions
  • 4 Hero and Monster sets
That doesn't even come close to fitting well in the boxes the game came in. Here is what it looks like for me so far:

Map pieces sorted by number to make building maps faster
More map stuff from an expansion 
Quest books and a lot of cards from expansions
Under the lid of my tackle box - lots of card boxes and rules
The Plano trays and a foam tray for all the monsters and heroes
Did I mention there are still like 5 Hero and Monster sets, another small box expansion and numerous lieutenant expansions I don't have? Where the heck are you supposed to put all this stuff? Would it fit in all the original boxes? Probably, but it'd be a huge pain to try and sort through every box to try and play the game. Come on already FFG, give us some way to store all of this. I'm sure Imperial Assault players feel exactly the same way. Having to keep all the boxes is a pain - having to use them all even worse. I'm not sure where having to come up with a custom solution fits. 

For the record, the only thing on my radar for Descent is the newest small box expansion. Maybe the lieutenants (eventually, if I work through the campaigns that far). If you didn't notice, I like to paint the figures, so I have about three years of work left to do in those pictures - I don't need any more (also, if you want to check out the pictures of the painted work, there is a link on the right of the page to my Geeklist of the paint work I've done already). Currently, I still have to paint 22 monster sets and about 15 more heroes. Oh and half dozen lieutenants. PLENTY.

Seriously, it'd be nice if FFG (or someone) would make a nice coffin box with custom dividers that could hold this monster. Queen games is the king (or queen) of making a coffin box for their games and packing everything into them. Kingdom Builder, Alhambra, Carcassonne, Fresco, Escape!, Shogun, etc - more companies should look into this sort of thing.

So how much is enough? For me it is starting to look like: when I've run out of space. I have a HUGE variety of stuff for Descent. If I only played The Delve (random dungeons in the Road to Legend app), I'd have more than enough variety. Same thing for Eldritch Horror. While I love the expanding story, I'd really have to play the hell out of the game to start knowing all the cards at this point. So maybe I've reached the point of enough. Maybe I just need to play this stuff some more so I can justify buying more and finding yet another solution to my storage nightmare (speaking of - have I told you about all the tote bins and Plano boxes I have in my garage with my Heroscape collection...)

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