If you’re a gamer, chances are that you have a collection of games, including at least some titles you like playing on a regular basis. Since games are things made primarily of cardboard and paper, they suffer wear and tear. Here’s a short list of ideas how to make your games last longer – and not go mad in the process.
Discussions about how we treat our games – and how we allow others to treat them – seem to crop up on Boardgamegeek (and more recently on Facebook) very regularly. It usually starts from someone asking a question about sleeving cards or laminating components, and ends up with a lively (to put it generously) discussion on merits of any kind of game protection.
While I am probably far from the most maniacal of those who wish to preserve their games as long as possible no matter the cost, I also believe that introducing a few good practices can prolong life of your games quite significantly. So, if you’re interested with a few tips (that – at least in my opinion – are still reasonable suggestions), let me start with something else than the obvious matter of sleeves.
Stacking your games
Basically, there are two schools of keeping games: horizontally (stacking boxes on each other) or vertically. As an owner of a moderately large collection, and an ex-owner of a few different shelving solutions, I see some good arguments for both – while somewhat leaning towards vertical storage myself.
Keeping games vertically works pretty well for most boxes. It makes your shelf a bit more elegant, as a nice row of games invokes a feeling of a library, and not just a pile of games. That being said, it really does not work for most games with elaborate inserts, unless those inserts are designed really well. Also, keeping the boards vertically inside boxes may sometimes result in a certain degree of warping.
On the other hand, stacking boxes quite often makes the ones on the bottom of the pile – even if the pile consists of three or four games – warp out of shape a bit. Prolonged storage may also leave some permanent markings, as well as some friction damage – especially if you keep sliding the top box on the bottom one, as you take a game out to play.
Ultimately, the choice is yours, mitigated only somewhat by the shelves you have. Leaning on the side of vertical storage, I still keep many of my games simply stacked. In most cases it’s because they would not fit anywhere on my shelves vertically.
Sleeving your cards
While I’m far from putting each and every card I own in a sleeve, protecting cards from damage is a must for my in some cases. Simply put, if cards are shuffled once during the game, or just placed on the table without them ever going into a player’s hand, I simply don’t sleeve them. There’s little point in protecting cards from damage they will most likely never sustain.
However, if a game has stacks or decks of cards shuffled on a regular basis (like most dekcbuilders), I always look into the possibilities of sleeving. I don’t consider myself compulsive when it comes to sleeving, but I believe that with many games spending just a few more dollars prolongs their looks – and some of their gameplay functions – almost indefinitely.
Still to come…
In the second part of this article I will come back to sleeving, just to give you a few of my personal sleeving rules, and I will also tell you of a few stranger things I’ve done to protect my games.