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Board game shelves around the world #41

Hi there from beautiful The Hague, my name is Niels. Besides my special interest in board games, I love food (both eating and cooking) and photography. Although I own Nikon cameras, nowadays I mostly shoot pictures with my iPhone. You might have seen some board game pictures on my Instagram account. Apart from shooting images from a viewpoint I like, I try to add stories and people to my images to try and stand out from the many Instagram accounts dedicated to board games. Last but not least, at least once a year I travel to a city I have never visited before and try to find a local person to hang out with in order to experience the city from his or her perspective. The platform I use for this way of traveling is called CouchSurfing and I enjoy it very much. Strangely enough, I have yet to meet fellow board gamers on my CouchSurfing travels. I’d love to and perhaps this blog will be the spark to make that happen. Feel free to check out my profile on Couchsurfing.org.

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How did you get into this world of non-digital games?
I remember having a friend when I was still in elementary school, who I’d visit after school on a daily basis. We always played one game of Stratego and one game of Monopoly (house rules). When I grew older and changed schools, I made new friends with whom I would play classic Risk 2 to 3 times a week. When I moved to Maastricht to go to University, quite some time went by in which I did not play games at all. Until one day I got invited to a student dinner party and the host suggested to play a game of “Kolonisten” (Dutch for Settlers of Catan). I had never seen a modular board nor had I experienced resource management mechanics. It was the first time I played a game loved by both male and female players alike and the – by then – uncommon square game box looked strange, almost exotic to me. The game blew my mind and I decided to start saving money immediately to buy a copy of my own. In 2000, I bought the Catan base game and both big expansions in one buy, which cost me a small fortune as I was still a student and online shopping and easily comparing retail pricing were non existent. These red, blue and orange boxes kick-started my board game collection and soon I found out that many great games could be found second hand on eBay Germany. That’s how I got into non-digital games and my Instagram username pays respect to that quintessential game by Klaus Teuber.

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How often do you play?
With my regular game group, I play every second Friday of the month. In addition, each Fall we go away for an annual board gaming weekend (sometimes combined with a visit to Spiel in Essen). In 2011, we started to keep scores and introduced an award which I am proud to have won 4 years in a row (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). My board game buddy Jan sculpted the award personally and used board game bits to do so. Since I got more involved in board game social media in 2016, I have met new people who organise gaming events several times a month close to where I live. As I enjoy the new, I join these events every now and then and try to introduce guys from my regular group to these new groups. I love my regular group as we have been playing on a monthly basis since I brought us together in 2007 and I really like the new groups as I meet lots of new people and get to play all the games my regular group and I do not have in our combined collections.

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Can you tell us something about your shelves?
This is kind of a painful topic for me. In my student flat, I started stacking games on top of a simple wardrobe. When I moved to a tiny apartment in The Hague, I continued to do so but the combined weight started to have its effect on my wardrobe. I decided to buy the IKEA IVAR series to store and display my games. When I bought my first apartment, I changed from modest IVAR to mighty EXPEDIT. In a spare room, two of those IKEA evergreens proudly carried my collection for more than 2 years. Recently I sold the robust EXPEDIT shelves to a vinyl collector, changed to the more elegant LIATORP and turned that spare room into a proper guest room. Part of my collection now resides in a triple LIATORP, but as it also houses my book collection, the larger (and older) part of my 600+ board game collection is now stored in cardboard moving boxes and plastic crates. A few years ago, I decided to put my games up for sale, but stopped after regretting the sale of my classic copies of Alhambra and Through the Desert. It really hurt to see games leave my collection. One day I’d like to have custom made wooden shelves for all my games to be stored in upright position, which is probably after I move again.

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What is your favorite game at the moment?
I must say it is Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (no worries; this blog does not contain any spoilers). Vanilla Pandemic was my first cooperative game ever and I loved it from the start. The Legacy version introduces storytelling which I absolutely love when injected into board games. Playing a round of Pandemic Legacy just feels different from playing a random board game. Everyone seems to know that something special is about to happen; you can almost literally take a knife and cut the tension in the room. Then suddenly enters destruction. My friends wanted to film me when tearing up the first card, as it is so opposed to how I treat my games. I am a fanatical bagger; all components have their baggies to keep them nice and sorted and protected from wear and tear. I refrain from serving potato chips or any other fatty snacks when playing a board game in order to protect cards and boards from grease stains. You can imagine the horror when I tore up that first card and the laughter and cheers coming from my friends. It was a moment we will all remember forever.

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What is your most special or obscure game?
Most obscure
Theme wise, my most obscure game must be The Bloody Inn. Running an inn to attract guests to kill and rob them for money is as obscure a real life theme as it gets and it is a great game. From my trip to Vietnam I brought home a game looking a bit like checkers yet I have no idea what’s it called or how to play it.

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Most special
The most special game in my collection from the top of my head is probably Störtebeker. It is a modest family weight pirate game with considerable tactical depth published in 2000 and it still brings me great fun, especially when entering into combat with opponents. For many years, I was looking for a copy of Wallenstein after it had gone out of print. It was the imaginary crown on my game collection but when even in Essen I could not get my hands on it, I found a copy of its reimplementation Shogun. Nowadays, I would LOVE to add a Cambridge Games Factory Black Box Edition copy of Glory to Rome to my collection. That is my current holy grail and I just cannot can get my hands on a (reasonably priced) copy of it. If you are reading this blog and would be willing to go on a quest to help me find it or sell your copy to me, please contact me on Instagram @movetherobber; it will be my most special game and I will be ever so thankful.

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Thank you so much for sharing your story! Something you would like to add?
As I mentioned, I like board games, photography, travel, and stories. Therefore, I love what you have created with this blog about people and their board game shelves. Keep rocking and I’ll keep my eyes on those shelves around the world. Thanks for having me! It brings me great pleasure. Love, Niels.

PS: I have to give a shout out to Eerko Vissering. He is the creator of the smart phone app BG Stats. I use it to keep track of all my plays and upload them directly into BGG. If you haven’t tried it yet, I can highly recommend it. Furthermore, I would like to nominate Richard Mulholland to write a blog post for this blog. We have never met in person, yet I recently saw a photo of his custom built shelves on Facebook which blew my mind.



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