[The Gentleman Nerd is a weekly column written by Jason McMaster and is dedicated to the more discerning tastes of the refined dork. Due to Jason's extreme nature, most of his columns will be subtitled 'Why I Love...' or 'Why I Hate...' - in case you were wondering.]

Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. I love board games, but absolutely hate collecting them. Wait, no, it’s not that either because I actually love collecting them. What the hell am I talking about? Maybe I should start from the beginning.

BAMI’ve always been a sucker for games and puzzles, but my obsession with figurines and cardboard didn’t happen until I was in my late teens. I moved out of my home and into an apartment with one of my friends. He worked at a comic book shop that held Warhammer tournaments, and offered to teach me how to play 40k. That’s where it all began.

In my younger days, I had quite a large collection of Games Workshop games. From Tyranid Attack to Talisman, I had them all and their respective expansions. Then ‘The Great Board Game Disaster of 99’ happened. I had moved to another apartment and left my collection at a friends place for safe keeping. While I was getting my place set up, he was evicted and they ‘cleaned’ his apartment. For those of you who don’t know, ‘cleaned’ actually means ‘we threw everything into the dumpster because you are a low life’. I was notably depressed. So much that I didn’t start collecting board games again until a couple of years ago.

I started off slow by purchasing a few social games that everyone knows before ramping up to my old, eccentric ways. I don’t think that I’d even planned on starting up again, but I found my old Space Hulk box and started getting the itch to collect again. There are two places to go when you need your board game fix: eBay and Board Game Geeks. Oddly enough, these are also the two places you go when you want your wife to call you a nerd and get mad at you.

Gloom and doom!So, the first game I look up on eBay is Talisman. That was a mistake. The board game that I had (3rd edition with all the expansions) now costs well over 200 dollars for the base boxed set. I immediately feel that same nausea that I felt back in 1999. Not only had all of my games been thrown away, but most of them are now worth at least five times the amount of money that I bought them for. You see, while I took my hiatus, most of the games I really liked went out of print. Now, we’re getting to the part of board games that I hate: the complete lack of game stability.

That’s not to say that there aren’t other collectibles that are the same way, but with board games it seems worse. If you find a game you like, you had better purchase it and any expansions it has immediately because it may be gone tomorrow. Let’s just take a quick look at Talisman as an example. There were three different versions of Talisman and two had different expansions. Same thing goes for Robo Rally, Cosmic Encounter and any number of other games out there. Even though this is frustrating, it’s not even the worst part.

I recently purchased Cosmic Encounter from a friend’s comic shop in my hometown. After my wife and I got back home, I opened it up to discover that one of the templates is missing. Normally I wouldn’t think this is a problem, but boy was I wrong this time. I began my replacement piece quest by trying to contact Hasbro. Hasbro sent me to Wizards of the Coast who, in turn, sent me to a random board game retailer. The retailer never responded to my inquiries, so I then started emailing enthusiasts and hobby shop owners. No one could help me. I’ve basically come to the conclusion that I’ll have to make my own. What a nightmare for an obsessive like me.

Stupid, stupid green pieceReally, much like all of my other hobbies, it’s a love/hate relationship. I take great pleasure from tracking down and acquiring cool games, but the obsessive nerd in me can never rest because there will always be a game out there that I don’t own. Maybe one day, when I shuffle off this mortal coil, I’ll find sweet repose. Until then, however, if you have the green planet template for the Avalon Hill Cosmic Encounter, drop me a line.

[Jason McMaster is a freelance writer who has written for GameSpy, Firing Squad and several other publications. He’s currently working on a few small projects and updating his blog, Lamethrower, as often as he can.]