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Collections & Hobbies

A deep dive into the city’s biggest board game collection


Brett Trout looks through his extensive board game collection.

Before we could entertain ourselves and our families with the likes of party style-video games such as Mario Party or Jackbox, we needed other ways to pass the time when hosting company or simply enjoying a family game night.

Many childhood years have been spent playing the classics of Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, or a five-hour long Monopoly slugfest.

While these games are entrenched in our memories, and timeworn, tattered versions will be passed on to future generations, the world of board games has become vast and intricate. 

Brett Trout, an attorney at U.S. Bank, has an extensive board game collection to his name, Trout reckons he has 1,240-plus. 

“I think it’s the biggest one in Des Moines, and I don’t know who would have a bigger one in the state,” he said. 

“I’ve only played probably about 500 of them. You know, that’s pretty bad that there’s over 700 that I haven’t even played. But the real goal is to have all the games so that, if somebody wants to play, I can really pick out the perfect game for that person. I don’t really want to play what I want to play. I want to play what the other person wants to play, because then they’re just having a good time, and it’s more fun. I’ll play any of them,” said Trout.

If he had to pick a favorite game, it would be “Mythic Battles,” an ancient mythology card game that pits Greek mythology legends against each other in a one-on-one battle. 

The most expensive game in Trout’s collection, by his estimation, is “Cthulhu Wars” (avert your eyes), a fantasy horror fighting game. While the base game can be found ranging anywhere from $150-250, expansions and figurines have set Trout back $1,000. 

He also owns Kingdom Death Monster and some of its expansions. 

“If you bought everything, it’d be $6,200, but I just have probably $800 worth of that,” said Trout.

Trout has several rare board games hidden within his collection, one of which being “The Mushroom Eaters.” 

“It’s just a super rare game and that will never get reprinted. It’s a psychedelic game you play with 3D glasses and that’s a very odd, very one-off game. And it’s more for a collector than a player,” said Trout. 

Two other games Trout mentioned that eluded him for some time were “Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit,” with the highly coveted game appearing in several websites’ top 10 rarest board game lists. “Camp Grizzly,” a game modeled after the stereotypical horror slasher movies of the 1970s, is another difficult-to-find board game in Trout’s collection. 

Aside from the roughly 200 board games inside his office, Trout keeps the majority of them at his home. 

“They’re on industrial racks in the basement. They’re two-sided, so you can make sure you see them. It’s just like a library that you can’t really get a picture of all the books because they’re so tightly packed. It’s just lots of shelving, and they’re all inside because you have to keep them humidity-controlled so they don’t get mold on them,” said Trout.

Trout has been lucky to not have any of his games become damaged or destroyed, barring one that his dog ate 15 years ago. 

“The main reason that I get the games is, like I said, I don’t care about any game. If somebody says, ‘I want to play a game,’ I don’t have any preference. It’s just that you really build that relationship with people while playing them. I think it’s a great community, and I think it’s a great way to connect with your family or friends or whomever,” said Trout.

Over the past few years, Des Moines has added its own board game convention, the “Cardboard Caucus,” that Trout thanks for not only growing his collection but the board game community in general.

“I probably had about 200 games before Cardboard Caucus. I think it’s a good way to meet a lot of people within the community and really find that niche, because finding your group to play with really depends on what your style is and what their style is,” said Trout. ♦

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