The Completionist Mindset

I was just going to do one post today, but something that I saw last night made me wonder.

And making me wonder is a really dangerous thing sometimes.

On Boardgame Geek in the Smash Up forum, there’s a thread called “Play mat unavailable?

In it, “Michael” asks an innocent question to start it off:

“Just wondering why this is only available to retailers and scalpers. Would be nice if us regular people could get ahold of it.”

Smash Up Mat
Look at that beautiful play mat! Photo permission graciously provided by Rob Kalajian over at A Pawn’s Perspective. Thanks, Rob!

A representative from Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) answers that they are using promotional materials for retailers to give them some reason to notice Smash Up (Editor: Dave would love that job!) and that their policy is to have promotional factions available to the general public in some fashion around a year after the retailer material is released.

While this applies to factions, items like the playmat are too cost-prohibitive to produce for retail sale. The money made from them wouldn’t equal the cost to produce them.

This set off a couple of completionists who must have everything for a game and don’t understand why they can’t.

It’s gotten a bit heated.

That got me to thinking about that mindset.

I just don’t understand the attitude of the die-hard completionists.

Sure, I can understand the desire to have everything. I’ve seen the mat, and it’s gorgeous! It would definitely make playing the game a lot easier.

But this attitude I just don’t get (from a poster named “The Bat”):

“I wonder if you have considered how much exclusive stuff like this is a turn off to many customers and actually damages your image rather than getting the attention of new players. I had a complete collection of Smash Up until you started in with the exclusive items. Making me buy a bigger box to get promotional items has encouraged me to stop buying new product. (Bolding is mine – Dave) Smash up is a fun filler game with friends and family, but definitely not something I am interested in playing in a competitive tournament environment in an effort to complete my collection. If that is the route you want to take your game I wish you the best with that.”


Why would the inability to get something, or at least not wanting to buy the “Bigger, Geekier Box” to get the All-Stars faction, make you not want to buy any other expansions?

“I’m generally a completionist, but not at those costs. Your marketing has made it easy to break the habit with Smash Up, and I have plenty of expansions to continue to play from time to time without having to buy any more.”


Of course you have plenty of expansions to continue to play from time to time without having to buy any more.

But that’s true even if there were no promotional items.

Why is this the deal-breaker for you? Why would you buy all of the expansions originally, but oh no, there’s stuff you can’t get, so now you’re done?


I’m not meaning to pick on “The Bat” here, but it’s just the latest example of a feeling that I have never understood.

I’ve seen people say they won’t buy any of a certain game franchise because there are a few bits of it that they can’t get, or they’d have to pay exorbitant prices to get those items.

Is there something in our DNA, or the DNA of people like this anyway, that explains it?

It’s a serious question (ok, maybe not the DNA bit).

If you like a game, support it. If you don’t like a game, don’t support it.

But I just can’t fathom an “I like this game, but if I can’t get everything for it, then it’s dead to me” attitude.

Dead to Me

Can any of you give me any insight? Tell me what I’m missing.

Please. I’m begging.

10 Comments on “The Completionist Mindset

  1. I kind of get this way with Kickstarter exclusives. Arcadia Quest is a good example, by itself it’s expensive, but you feel like you’re getting ripped off having not gotten the Kickstarter items.

    For competitive games I kind of get it as well. If someone in your group has an exclusive card

    Liked by 1 person

    • Then it’s kind of a dick move to tell them not to play it. At the same time it kind of sucks that they have that advantage over you.

      For normal games I’m more relaxed. Sure I have a tinge of sadness when I can’t get everything. However never enough to complain publicly about it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • A competitive card? You mean like Magic: the Gathering or something? If that’s the case, I do think it should be held out if both players don’t have access to it (unless you’re playing with your own created deck, of course where you wouldn’t be using that card anyway, or something like that).

        And I’m glad we’re mostly on the same page on this. 🙂


  2. I guess it is more about the joys of collecting than those of playing for the completionists. That is utterly alien to me. I outright love The War of the Ring, but I do not own any of the expansions to my (Second) edition. As long as I play this somewhat long game two or three times a year, the base game keeps me sufficiently entertained and does not feel samey (side note: It’s also a hallmark of good game design if a base game works by itself for many times).
    So no completionism for me. My miserly heart thanks me 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay, another one! I can kind of understand the disappointment, but I don’t understand the anger.

      I guess I also have a miserly heart (though I am more apt to buy expansions even I don’t really need them). 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Buying expansions which make a great game not really better (or just end up unplayed) is fine by my miserly heart. It’s like tipping for the great base game.
        So I got the Twilight Struggle: Turn Zero expansion which I’ve played once. Transatlantic shipping was as expensive as those few cards themselves. Still no regrets.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s a good viewpoint. A nice “way to go!” for game designers of a great game.

    Totally different subject, but I find it hilarious that the emails that I get for your comments on my blog are in English for the first comment but then German for subsequent ones. Can’t post a screenshot, but here’s what it says:

    “Neue Kommentare zu Dude! Take Your Turn!”

    ” cliosboardgames kommentierte zu The Completionist Mindset ”

    (This is the big “see comment” button) “Kommentar ansehen Papierkorb | Als Spam markieren”

    It always makes me laugh.


  4. Pingback: Smash Up: International Incident Coming March 22! – Dude! Take Your Turn!

  5. The dude’s not saying Smash Up is dead to him, only that he has two motivations for buying stuff: playing and collecting. For playing, he’s already so set that there’s really no need for any more. He’ll keep playing, but his need for variety is sated. He has an independent desire to own everything there is to own. Since he can’t do that, he plans to stop trying.

    I suspect much of what strikes us non-collectors as weird is just the apparent sense of entitlement in his word choice. My assumption is that those who have this desire believe it to be common enough that it is reasonably expected to shape market offerings. By supporting completionists for years, and even making use of completionist impulses to sell the box, AEG seems to have courted this expectation. It’s all vague suggestion rather than a commitment, but I imagine lots of people would be sort of irritated if, for example, we never get an end to The Name of the Wind or A Song of Ice and Fire. Or, even more parallel, if the last book were only available to a few people, and fetched absurd prices on the secondary market.

    All of which said, it’s not my approach. The closest I get is wanting enough X-Wing ships to play Heroes of the Aturi Cluster, which I have yet to actually do.


    • Hey, Kelsey! For some reason, this comment was flagged as spam so I didn’t even see it.

      Thanks for dropping by.

      I do get what you’re saying, but the poster on that thread seems to basically be saying “if I can’t get everything that you put out for this game, I don’t feel like I need any of it.” Maybe our interpretations are different, but I have heard that mindset from other people on BGG as well.

      Though we both know that many people on BGG are insane, so there is that. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and sorry I didn’t see this earlier!


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