Saturday, May 13, 2006

Ratings where BGG and I agree the least.

A while back Melissa did an audio blog on the largest disparaties between her ratings and the BGG ratings. The raw data comes from John Farrell's extract from BGG. Now it is my turn, although you will not be hearing my dulcet tones, you will just have to read along :-)

Scrolling through the data that John has extracted the thing that I notice the most is that there are lot of games that I haven't rated yet that I should. Secondly I should revisit the ratings on quite a few, especially the first twenty or so game I rated which tend to rate a little higher than I would rate them now based on a small random sample.

GameMy RatingBGG Rating
Poisson d'Avril4.07.39
Cosmic Encounter - Eon Expansion #63.56.7
LEGO Creator8.05.22
Dawn of the Dead3.05.53
Crocodile Pool Party6.54.55
Dwarves and Dice4.05.75

With my ratings I try to base them on ideal game group and conditions, i.e. Civilization is being played with seven people who want to play, have no other commitments for the day and Daughter the Younger and Daughter the Elder are at their grandparents. Kids games are being played with the appropriately aged children, not a bunch of adults who would rather being playing ASL or Caylus. Thus there are games that I have not played in years that rate very highly simply because given the ideal conditions I would play them a lot and enjoy it. You can consider this the beginnings of my ratings mission statement. The mission however, is not complete. There are ratings that need to be reviewed and a lot more need to be added - with comments too.

Anyway, back to those disparaties.

Set - My position on this is that Set is not a game. It is competitive IQ testing, if I wanted to IQ tests I would do them, but I wouldn't try and pretend that it is a game. I have "played" this once and never to intend to "play" it again. A friend of mine who has also played it once and is not intending to play it again gave a brief session report of his game - "I sat there and didn't say a word, I came second". If I remember correctly there were five or six players. There are those who say people who don't like Set aren't any good at it. I am actually quite good at IQ tests, I just don't appreciate mutton being dressed up as lamb and being passed off as a game. I have better things to do with my life than pretend this is a game.

Poisson d'Avril - I really can't say much about this, otherwise the Secret Masters of Gaming would hunt me down. This is one the games that I should probably rerate.

Cosmic Encounter - Expansion #6 - I can sum this up in two words "Luchre sucks". Never liked them, disliked the majority of the ten powers introduced with this expansion. Played with luchre quite a few times which just reinforced my original opinion. Our set has them permanently removed (moons too, but that is another story).

Basari - I have only played this once, but I really did not enjoy the experience at all. Possibly it was the way it was taught, maybe it was the people, maybe it was the game. One thing that I do recognise as an irritating game mechanic is the resolution of the rock, paper, scissors action. In Basari if two players select the same thing, they are penalised, where as in Goldbräu two people who select the same action get the action they select but if you uniquely select an action you get a bonus. Basari uses a stick, where as Goldbräu uses a carrot. I prefer the carrot and this is part of the reason for my low rating.

LEGO Creator - One of the best roll and move children's games around. The game is so well designed that children who cannot read can play the game without any help from adults after less than one game. You get to collect LEGO pieces and build models and there is even decision making involved. My rating of 8.0 is possibly a touch too high, but I would still say you would be hard pressed to come up with a better game for children around five.

Dawn of the Dead - Many years ago, and we are talking pre Settlers of Catan years, a friend and I where down at his family's beach house. It was raining and cold. We broke out Dawn of the Dead, we reached the point that neither of us were going to take an excessive risk to win and were both playing it safe. The rain set it in and it didn't get any warmer and we had nothing better to do. Many hours passed. Without risking losing the game, neither of us were going to win. We eventually gave it up as a stalemate. The theme worked, the mechanics were good, with less even opponents we may have got a result, but with us nothing was going to ever happen. Thus my rating is fair, it is unlikely that I will ever play this again.

Spellmaker - There are some nice mechanics buried under some of the worst written rules you will ever come across and gameplay that stretches out towards infinity which is why this game lost many ratings points. One player gets close to achieving victory and the others jump on him or her, some turns later another player is close to achieving victory - rinse, lather and repeat. Ad infinitum. Playing this game brought up one of the few occasions I think Kingmaking is valid. The "Please make it stop, I can't bear it any more" reason. You will do whatever is in your power to let one player, any player win, just to stop the torment from continuing. The other option is to just pack the game away and play something decent, but for all the pain and suffering that has been endured, at least one person should get the satisfaction of winning. This game would be OK for a cold rainy day at the beach house when the person with the good games hasn't arrived yet, because eventually it will finish, but just not in a hurry!

Crocodile Pool Pary - There just may be a conspiracy amongst the minions of Tom Vasel to mark this game down. Now admittedly the theme is best described as fanciful to be polite, or just plain stupid to be accurate, however there is actually a nice little mathematical game buried in there. It's never going to hit the sevens in ratings but it should be well above a five in my book.

Guillotine - One of the very first games I rated on BGG. 8.5 is possibly a little high in retrospect, but not much. We have this since it was brand new and it still gets played and is popular with people who have never played it before.

Dwarves amd Dice - On the plus side this is a fun little colour recognition game for small children around three or four and up. In terms of a game it works quite well under you get towards the end of the tiles and realise that nobody had any thoughts past lets match the colours on the dice with the colours on the dwarves and their playtesting obviously ended before they were half way through the dwarves. Daughter the Elder and I introduced some house rules to stop the continuous re-rolling until you roll something that matches one of the tiles that is left. A nice educational tool, but not much of a game.

It may be interesting to revisit this some months down the track after I have gotten around to reviewing my existing ratings and filling in all the blanks for the games I haven't rated yet.

Mmm meeples taste like...


Anonymous said...

In Basari, I've never viewed picking the same action as one other player(and having to negotiate) as a penalty. If Basari used the same system you described in Goldbräu it would be awfully boring, but as it is now bartering is the heart of the game.

Bartering gives me an opportunity to take gems from an opponent, give useless gems to an opponent in exchange for the action, or even to give enough gems to an opponent to tie for the gem-lead with another opponent. In a tie, the bonus for the gem majority is halved, but you turn in more than half of the gems you would have if you had a sole majority.

Another useful purpose for causing a barter(or even a no-go if 3 people choose the same action) is to protect your gem majorities. If a player is on a gem space that would result in me losing a gem majority, then I'll also take gems to make sure the opponent has to pay me a lot to take the majority from me.

Anyway, give the game another chance because thinking of it as a stick is missing the point of the game.

meowsqueak said...

I don't enjoy Basari much, but Lowenherz has a similar mechanic, where a doubly-selected action goes to a negotiation phase (I'll pay you X if you let me have the action) and then, if no decision is reached, a "Duel" (blind bid). I enjoy Lowenherz.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the criticism of Set. All games are intelligence tests. Some games focus on social intelligence, others blend social and analytical intelligence, still others tax memory. Set is a competitive puzzle-solving game. If you don't like it, that's fine with me. But it is a game.