Rating Games on BoardGameGeek

I’ve been using BoardGameGeek for many years now, but I don’t take advantage of all the things the site has to offer. You can track your collection. You can access useful files developed by other users or sell your unwanted games in the marketplace. There are so many cool things to do on BGG that it would require an entire series of posts dedicated to just that topic.

One of the many things you can do on BoardGameGeek is rate games that you have played. I have been terrible about rating games that I’ve played. It seemed too difficult to assign a value based on the ranking system suggested by the BGG wiki page:

1 Awful – defies game description
2 Very bad – won’t play ever again
3 Bad – likely won’t play this again
4 Not so good – but could play again
5 Mediocre – take it or leave it
6 Ok – will play if in the mood
7 Good – usually willing to play
8 Very good – enjoy playing and would suggest it
9 Excellent – very much enjoy playing
10 Outstanding – will always enjoy playing

Now I liked the explanation part of this guide better than the descriptive rating, because it helped me really consider how I was measuring my interest. There’s just not enough of a difference between the words excellent and outstanding for me to apply them to games that I enjoy.

My thought was to create a set of benchmark games so that it would be easier to place a game on the rating scale. If I played a new game and wanted to give it a rating, I would just compare it to the benchmark games on my list by asking a single question.

Would I rather play this new game more than the benchmark game?

If the answer is yes, then I move on to the next benchmark game until the answer is no. At that point, I can assign the new game a value one lower than the benchmark game I liked better.

My benchmark games

1 Win, Lose, or Banana – defies game description
2 Diplomacy – won’t play ever again
3 Chess – likely won’t play this again
4 Monopoly – but could play again
5 Munchkin – take it or leave it
6 Settlers of Catan – will play if in the mood
7 Agricola – usually willing to play
8 Ticket to Ride – enjoy playing and would suggest it
9 Walnut Grove – very much enjoy playing
10 Thurn and Taxis – will always enjoy playing

Examples of ratings

Let’s use the game Cacao as an example. I start at the bottom until I get to a game that I would rather play, in this case, Cacao made it all the way up to Walnut Grove. I would rather play Walnut Grove over Cacao, so I go back down to Ticket to Ride. Given the choice between Cacao and Ticket to Ride, I could go either way. That makes Cacao another 8 for me.

Karuba is a game I recently purchased after a few plays. Karuba makes it to Walnut Grove as well, but I really like them both. I’m going to put Karuba as an 9, even though I like Walnut Grove just a tiny bit more. Now as I rate more games using this system I could eventually have games that are 7.5 or 9.5 depending on how much time I want to spend considering placement. I will probably leave it at whole numbers.

What’s the point of doing this?

I don’t know really. It’s just one of those things that can be fun.

I created a Geeklist on BGG since that’s where I would be doing the ratings.

If this seems like a good idea, make your own rating Geeklist and send me the link. I would love to see it. I figure this way, if I play a new game and I’m ready to rate it then I can just pull up my geeklist and ask that question, “What would I rather play?”

9 Comments

  1. Mike M

    I started rating my games before BGG put up it’s official guide to how to rate games, so my system is pretty much like yours — rating games relative to other games already rated. But I now see that most of my ratings relate to what I thought of any given game when I first played it, which may not be what I think of it now, so my ratings are more of a historical system of rating of games than it is a current view. Whenever I try to update things, I find there are a huge number of games I want to give a ’10’ since I know there are times any given game may be exactly what I want to play at a given moment, even if I don’t think it’s the greatest game ever. …. To make a long story short, my ratings are a farce. 🙂

    • I think that was the part I where I had trouble. Lots of games could be a 10 in a particular situation at a certain time with the right people. I tried to think of this benchmark system as a way to ask a more generalized question.

  2. Davebo

    I agree the bgg guidelines are too hard to follow. I abandoned the ten point scale for the five point scale (which I of course double).

    The problem with a ten point scale is it’s interpreted as 7 being “good enough”, probably influenced by the US grading system’s 70% being a “pass”. This leaves us with six different numbers of “nah”, and only four numbers of truely interesting ratings.

    I feel 7 is also a “decision killer”. Come on, is it good, or not? Plus, from a “do I REALLY like this game” point of view, what’s the difference between 9 and 10?

    So, here’s my rating system:
    1 bgg : 0 star (bgg doesn’t allow zeros) – terrible. I’m surprised anyone can like this game. Flawed deeply, or broke.

    2 bgg: 1 star – really bad. I guess others like this, but, it probably made me angry playing this. Not playing again.

    4 bgg: 2 star – rather not play again. Perhaps there’s room for a revisit if persuaded to play again.

    6 bgg: 3 star – good. Would play again. A perfectly adequate game.

    8 bgg: 4 star – really good. Just about always willing to play.

    10 bgg; 5 star – love this game, probably always will.

    It makes rating easier, and I think more useful. By killing the seven, it forces one to make a real decision, “come on, three or four stars?”

  3. John Snyder

    I do basically the same thing, the problem for me is that I only ever bother to rate a game if I really like it or really don’t like it. So I have a ton of 8+ ratings and a good number of 3- ratings, but very little in the 4-7 “meh” range.

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