SALT LAKE CITY — In the current age of self-isolation and quarantine, board games have become a necessary pastime to overcome the monotony of staring at the same four walls of a home. For one Utahn, his collection of approximately 2,000 board games is coming in extra handy.
David Przybyla, a professor of marketing at Utah Valley University, has become somewhat of a board game fanatic over the last 12 years after a former coworker introduced him to the tile-building game Carcassonne in 2008. It was the first modern game he played that really attracted him to strategic board games not named Monopoly or Chutes and Ladders.
“From that moment on, I was hooked; I loved it,” Przybyla said. “From there on, I just said, 'OK, I'm going to start collecting these and playing.”
And collecting he did.
In the year that followed, Przybyla started collecting a few games — in stores or finding them on KSL Classifieds or eBay — on recommendations from his more experienced friend. But about a year after playing Carcassonne for the first time, his friend said a seller that used to own a board game store was getting rid of his inventory, one board game at a time, on KSL Classifieds.
Through the urging of his friend, and his desire to build up his collection, Przybyla offered the seller $2,000 for approximately 400 games. The seller agreed — a steal of a deal at $5 per game — and just like that his collection grew exponentially.
Przybyla’s collection officially became a full-fledged hobby.
Now more than a decade later, Przybyla continues to scour the internet for good deals, in addition to funding several board games on Kickstarter, which has a large number of designers that release new board games every day. In total, Przybyla said he’s funded approximately 150 Kickstarter games and plans to do more over the years.
Przybyla doesn’t have a set budget to buy new games, like a monthly quota or anything, he just buys what he likes.
“If someone introduces me to a new game and I like it, I usually buy it,” he said. “What I've found in the board game industry is unless it becomes super popular, like your Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne or your Catans, they'll go out of print. So if you find one you like, you've got to grab it.
“I'll just randomly search sites like eBay and see who's getting rid of some games,” Przybyla added. “And if the majority of them are not already in my collection, I'll try to scoop them up for a pretty good deal. That's kind of two ways that I keep growing it, little by little. It's fun.”
His collection is now close to 1,500 individual games — he has several duplicate games and expansions — and has each one categorized in bins in a warehouse. A Google spreadsheet helps him know what he has and in what bin it is located so he can easily find it when it comes time to play a game. The spreadsheet also tracks each game’s BoardGameGeek rating, what type of game it is, how many players can play, as well as other notes.
For the games he plays the most, the cards are in protective sleeves and characters are taken care of in a way to avoid damage. Some games have gone out of print and could cost $500 or more to replace.
”I'm pretty particular about it,” he joked.
He had someone build his family a board game table and doesn’t loan out his games to anybody; however, he shares his spreadsheet with others to see if they’re interested in playing games. A graphic he made to share with friends says: “You agree not to ask to borrow any board games. The collection we have is very special to us. Plus, if you borrow games, that means you’re playing with other people and we get jealous of that.”
Another quote from his graphic: “Warning! These games can be addicting. If you like strategy, after a play or two, you may stay up nights thinking about what you could have done differently or better, I know I do.”
Przybyla said anybody that is interested in getting into new board games should start with games like Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne or Splendor. If you want to take the next step, move onto deck-building games like Dominion.
His current favorite is 7 Wonders because “there's a lot of board games that are only four players, and so you can't bring in two couples — you can bring in one couple. To get six people to play a good board game is hard to find.” But Przybyla said he’s only played about 2% of his collection simply due to a busy life.
“So very little have actually been played,” he said. “A lot of them are unopened. A lot of them are just — I really want to play them someday, but I also have that kind of FOMO, I guess, that if I don't buy it now, I'll never be able to find it again because that's happened.
“We've got a long ways to go to play them all, but we do what we can.”
The Guinness World Record for the largest board game collection was set in 2011 by Jeff Bauspies with 1,531 different board games. That record, however, has been disputed by many on BoardGameGeek and likely many others, who claim to have individual collections larger than Bauspies, though none have been validated by the record-keeping business — Guinness charges money to verify a record.
Przybyla said he didn’t previously know the world record, but will now look into breaking it with his collection.