It’s weird, but sometimes it feels like hearing about a cool new board game, buying it and maybe even going as far as opening the box is more exciting than  actually getting around to playing it.

If you’re anything like me you’ll fight the shrink wrap for a few minutes, pop all the tokens out of their cardboard and then reach for the rule book. This is when the fear sets in. Damn, I’m going to have to learn this game, understand it, assimilate and then I’m going to have to convince some other people they also have to go through that pain.

We all know learning and teaching a board game is the worst. It can often feel like a slow and painful barrier keeping us from fun. You know, those games that you have to play an entire game of before you actually understand how to play it properly. This becomes even more of a turn off when you have a stack of games everyone already knows and loves.

Codenames Playing Red

“Can’t we just play Codenames again?”

All of this is combined with the pile of forgotten Kickstarters I’ve backed and been very grateful for gifts on many birthdays and Christmases, which has effectively resulted in what is commonly known as a giant steaming pile of shame. 

The contents of my pile include the following: Fury of Dracula, Food Chain Magnate, Dice Forge, Condottiere, Fox in the Forest, Lady and the Tiger and more that I don’t want to talk about as even I’m trying to hide how big this pile really is from myself.

What do I do about this? What if this is you? Well here are my tips for clearing your pile of shame.

Option 1 – Learn the damn game

Yes I know, I know, we just talked about how painful this was, but you do still want to play this game – right? If you’re lucky your game has a tutorial mode or an amazingly-written manual. In truth though, it probably doesn’t. So first get someone else to teach you.

Look at our quick Gists to understand the concepts of a game.

Watch a more in-depth rules explanation like this.

Play a test game yourself.

Or watch an epic “Lets play” to see how it all works in action

For some games, this really wont take as long as you think. For others: we’re sorry. Epic 2+ hour games just take some investment to learn. Then yes, that’s right, you’re going to have to teach your friends how to play or perhaps ask them to watch some of the better videos you’ve found ahead of time.

Option 2 – Go to a board game night


If you don’t want to be the teacher of games yourself, then the only other option is to have someone else teach you.

Go to your local board game cafe. They will likely be very excited about teaching you a new game. Or look for a board game night on Meetup and see if anyone there would teach you the game. It is usually a lot smoother to play a game with people that have played it before (even if you haven’t) than a whole table of new comers asking “wait, what does that token do again?”.

Option 3 – Get rid of it!

This is the final resort for tackling your pile of shame. You need to get rid of those games. Or better yet stop buying any more. Start creating some rules around your collection for example:

  1. I have 5 games in my pile of shame already I’m not allowed to buy a new one
  2. Playing a game once, a year ago, puts it back in the pile of shame.
  3. This game in my pile of shame has not been played in the last year. It has to go.

Following these steps will make you actually play games rather than piling on yet more guilt and shame. You might feel the FOMO of selling a game if you have barely played, but unless you have infinite space and infinite money you’re probably better off without it.

You don’t even have to sell it. Perhaps you could gift it to someone else. Who knows? Maybe they’ll bother to learn it and invite you around for a gaming session.

Just stop adding to your piles of shame and start doing the thing that got you into this hobby: actually play some board games, pal.