Tabletop Chit Chat

FOMO in Board Gaming

Spirits of the Wild Box Art
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FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out, is a real thing in the modern board gaming hobby. Some of us are immune, and I’m jealous of you. If you’ve seen our Shelf of Shame Challenge, you’ll know I am not.

Board Game Evolution 

Back in the day, board games were typically manufactured by large toy companies like Hasbro and Milton Bradley. Companies this size could mass produce games and put them on the shelves of every toy store in the world.

Today, modern board gaming is different. A few thousand new games are published each year. Many of these board games are published by small companies that can only afford limited print runs of their titles. This means many board games are inevitably, rare!

Why does FOMO exist

I think FOMO in board gaming exists because of the uncertainty that surrounds it. If you don’t buy that game today, will it still be available tomorrow? If it’s a small publisher that doesn’t have a distributor, probably not. 

Some will argue that if a game is good enough, then it will be reprinted at some point. Others will argue that if you want a game bad enough, you’ll be able to get it through the boisterous secondhand market that exists in the modern board gaming community. Both are valid points. For me, neither solves the FOMO problem. 

Crowdfunding FOMO

Another cause of FOMO in board gaming is the direct result of campaigns run on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter. Many small publishers (and plenty of bigger ones) rely on crowdfunding to bring their games to market. It’s common for them to lure backers through exclusive content, fancy components, stretch goals, and whatever exciting extras they can come up with.

If you don’t get their games via Kickstarter, you’ll be stuck with the boring retail edition (if it even has a retail distribtion). At least that’s the way my mind interprets these campaigns. It’s all part of the FOMO. Get it now, or lose it forever! Boo.

Don’t misunderstand. I like Kickstarter. It’s fun to follow along with the campaign as your game goes through the production and fulfillment process. I also like supporting independent publishers.

Addressing FOMO in board gaming

For me, FOMO had taken over my buying habits before I even realized what was happening. Now when I add a new board game to our collection, I find myself agonizing over the decision. It’s overcompensation for the first few years spent in the hobby.

Here’s a few things I consider:

  1. If I buy this board game, who will I play it with? There’s no point in adding it to your collection if you can’t get it to the table.
  2. Do I have similar games in my collection? Think hard. You probably do.
  3. Do I know someone else who has this board game? If you do, save yourself some money.
  4. What value will this game add to my collection?
  5. How available is the board game? Popular board games like Wingspan, Dixit, Ticket to Ride, or even Terraforming Mars are going to remain on the shelf. There’s no need to buy them until you are fully ready to play them. (I’m looking at you on the shelf of shame, Sagrada)
  6. Can my budget handle another game right now? This is probably the first thing you should consider.

I still have my struggles with FOMO, but if I work through this list, I feel better about my decision making.

To those of you who are new to the modern board gaming hobby, I encourage you to recognize the FOMO before it takes over your shelves. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new board game. Believe me I get it!

*On a funny note, I was talking about Spirits of the Wild with a friend the other day. Apparently this game is out of print and difficult to find. I grabbed my copy to see who published this board game, and I had to laugh when I realized it was old school Mattel and not an indy publisher! Score 1 for FOMO.

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