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Board Game Friday: My First Ever Math Trade!

Last month, I participated in my first ever math trade over on BoardGameGeek.  I hadn't heard of math trades until a few months ago, and since that time I looked into them and eventually got the courage to try one out.  The short end of it is that I'm glad I did!  For the slightly longer tale, read on!

In essence, a board game math trade is essentially a way for people to trade board games without requiring a perfect matching between two people.  For example, in a regular trade (whether it be for board games or baseball cards), Person A needs to both want something that Person B has for trade and have something for trade that Person B wants (and then, the kicker, both parties have to be willing to swap those two items).  

As I understand it, math trade does away with that problem.  Instead, imagine this:
Person A has item 1 and wants item 3.
Person B has item 2 and wants item 1.
Person C has item 3 and wants item 2.

In a regular trade, those three people wouldn't match up correctly but in a math trade Person A can send to Person B who can send to Person C who sends to Person A.  In the end, each person mails off one thing and each person gets one thing (and everyone ends up happy)!  

The way that the trade assignments are made are through an algorithm, possibly some fancy graph theory (though I don't know how big the "trade circle" can get within the algorithm).  

For me, I ended up completing three trades.  I figured it'd be fun to go through my immediate thoughts on each swap and also have a record of my math trades as time goes on (I've already entered the June math trade, we'll see if I get any bites there)!

Trade 1:
Giving:  The Quacks of Quedlinburg (NIS)

Receiving:  Ticket to Ride:  Rails and Sails (NIS, slightly dinged)

Thoughts:  This one is an easy win for me.  My son is obsessed with Ticket to Ride and we've played this particular game twice at our local game store.  Getting a game that would cost me $60+ for an extra copy of a game I already own was a no brainer for me.  The Quacks game was in fairly high demand as it turned out but I'm happy with what I ended up getting for it even if Ticket to Ride will never be my favorite game.

Trade 2:
Giving:  First Orchard (used)

Receiving:  Forbidden Desert (used)

Thoughts:  First Orchard was a great game for my son back when he was a toddler.  This was his first cooperative game and I think the game definitely helped to contribute to his current love of playing board games with me.  That being said, this is definitely a game for little kids and so my son has way outgrown this one.  It was kind of sad to let it go, but in the end all the game was doing was gathering dust at our house.  As for what I got in return, my son and I play Forbidden Island a fair bit and Forbidden Desert is basically a follow-up game.  I haven't played the game yet so I can't say whether or not it's any good but the nice thing about trading board games now is that I have an avenue to potentially get rid of games I don't like and/or no longer wish to play!  

Trade 3:
Giving:  Ganz Schon Clever (NIS)

Receiving:  Raptor (used)

Thoughts:  This was my second case of getting rid of a game still in shrink but for which I already own a second copy of.  Raptor is a two-player game that looked interesting so I took a flier on the game.  I haven't gotten this one to the table yet either but hopefully I will before too long.

Overall, I had listed 20 different games for trade and ended up swapping three of them.  Glancing down through the master list of trades, I'd say a 15% trade rate is fairly standard.  I'm certainly pleased with my first ever math trade and hopefully I'll have even more success once the June math trade runs.  Heck, the only bad thing I have to say about my first trade is that I took in more games (in terms of overall box size) than I got rid of which makes storage tight.  It might be time to reprioritize my various collections in order to make room for more board games!


  1. Can you imaging the possibilities doing math trades with sports cards?

    1. It'd definitely be helpful for people (like me) with a somewhat limited want list, that's for sure!

  2. It'd be interesting to hear about some of the largest trade circles that have taken place on BoardGameGeek.


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