February 2017

Community Focus: BGG Ratings Part 1: Know Thyself

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The debate about BGG rankings comes up frequently in the BGG forums, on tabletop gaming podcasts, and around the gaming table. In this 6-part series of articles we will look at the BGG ranking system from the perspective of the BGG user ratings: the BGG recommended rating criteria, user rating methods, and some user practices. Given its high visibility in the BGG community, we will pay particular attention to the pandemonium that occurred a year ago (January 2016) as Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (or simply Pandemic Legacy) raced to the top of the charts and made a hot zone of the forums. (I actually started this series then, but am only now getting back to it). Here are the six parts:

Community Focus: BGG Ratings Part 2: Hate Rating – Don’t Mess with #1

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If you are coming to this article first, you may want to start at Part 1 of this series to be sure you have the full context.

The impetus for this article (which became this series) was the rise of “hate rating” (my term) reported to be occurring on BoardGameGeek as Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 rocketed up the rankings and in particular, as it approached the coveted #1 position long held by Twilight Struggle. As Pandemic Legacy approached the top spot on the BGG rankings, some users rated Pandemic Legacy a “1”, apparently attempting to keep it from rising higher in the ranking. Some raters flat out stated in their comments that this was their intent, so we know this was happening. Some stated other reasons (which we will discuss in Part 3) and some remained silent, so we don’t know their intent.

In this part of the article we discuss the practice of “hate rating,” review some of the stats on the ratings and discuss the information gleaned from those ratings and potential impact on the BGG rankings. Although this event was well-covered in the tabletop media, what remains lacking are specifics about the ratings – everything I heard or read was anecdotal.

Analysis Paralysis: Ask “The Geek”

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Some gamers have a problem with spending too much time analyzing the game state before making a move. I usually don’t suffer from this affliction (or should I say my gaming buddies don’t suffer from my affliction), but most gamers will succumb to this to some degree at some point. I usually don’t get too bothered by this. I am by nature an analytical person and can get wrapped around the axel at times when all I really needed was a quick answer. A common example is when I am working on a game design and I wonder if a particular mechanic or theme or combination of these has been used before. Am I doing something new or inadvertently rehashing something already done. I end up doing a lot of research on the subject instead of just plowing through my design iterations. Maybe I am looking for convenient distractions so I don’t have to think so hard on the design.

Missing Mechanics: Many Hands Make Light Work

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I haven’t been a video gamer for several years, so I can only speak about the games that I played – the ones “everyone” played – 10-20 years ago. A common mechanic in video games of that era (think Starcraft, Warcraft, Age of Empires, etc.) was to assign a worker to build something. That’s not so different from Worker Placement in board games, right? Well, maybe…