User Ratings Determine Worst Board Games are Family Favorites

roseofbattle

News Room Contributor
Apr 18, 2011
2,306
0
0
User Ratings Determine Worst Board Games are Family Favorites

Games that rely heavily on luck meet the lowest of rankings on BoardGameGeek.

How do you judge something on how bad it is? BoardGameGeek takes in user ratings from 1 to 10, with 1 being "you won't catch me dead playing this." Using those ratings, FiveThirtyEight found some of the lowest-rated games, which might be in your family's basement.

Using data mined by Rasmus Greve [https://www.dropbox.com/s/znia08czue02grn/Projekt%20Rapport%20-%20Board%20game%20geek.pdf], FiveThirtyEight discovered the games ranked poorly on BoardGameGeek have one thing in common.

Luck-based games get the most negative reviews on a site like BoardGameGeek, which favors games geared toward adults with some kind of strategy and greater player encouragement to continue playing. For example, the highest rated game on the site is Twilight Struggle, a complex game set in the Cold War involving both luck and skill, but that would never be the first board game for a young child to play.

The card game War, Tic-Tac-Toe, Snakes and Ladders, Candy Land, The Game of Life, and Monopoly [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/tag/view/monopoly] are winners of some of the games on BoardGameGeek not only with an average low score, but a whole lot of negative ratings. Games like War, Snakes and Ladders, and Candy Land are probably games many of us played during our childhood. They also place a reliance on luck, as much of the game is flipping card after card to see if it's greater than your opponent's or racing to the end with die rolls or card draws determining your fate. Other games like Monopoly have a lot of luck with some skill, but players can get booted out of the game or easily determine the winner. Tic-Tac-Toe has no luck but is incredibly easy to end in a draw, making it boring.

Of the games FiveThirtyEight points out, Monopoly has the most reviews - over 10,000 - and sits around the 4 mark, making it boring game that you could be talked into playing occasionally. War had only 1,000 ratings, but sits around a 2, an annoying game you wouldn't be likely to play again.

Of course, these are still games that most kids are introduced to as their first board or on-paper games. A part of that could be from nostalgia, and a part of it could be their relative ease to play and teach kids how to follow rules. (Not that it ever stopped me from making up my own rules in Candy Land.)

Source: FiveThirtyEight [http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-worst-board-games-ever-invented/]


Permalink
 

Zontar

Mad Max 2019
Feb 18, 2013
4,931
0
0
I see no mention of risk or its dozens of variants. I feel left out because that's what my family plays (my favorite is 2210AD).
 

Dr.Awkward

New member
Mar 27, 2013
692
0
0
Is it just me or does this article/research make the people on BoadGameGeek sound like they only like games with a 100% chance of a good outcome or winning?

These are board games, people. Cards will be shuffled and drawn, dice will be rolled, and coins will be flipped. Luck cannot simply be removed from the premise of a board game.
 

Scars Unseen

^ ^ v v < > < > B A
May 7, 2009
3,028
0
0
Zontar said:
I see no mention of risk or its dozens of variants. I feel left out because that's what my family plays (my favorite is 2210AD).
Risk games seem to mostly be rated in the 5ish range on that site(keeping mind that the highest ranked game only has an 8.2... no inflated ratings on this site), but Risk Legacy enjoys a solid 7.73 and ranks as the 106th most popular board game and 74th most popular strategy game on the site. Apparently Risk Legacy is a special long term version of Risk where the game is permanently affected by each playthrough.
 

Scars Unseen

^ ^ v v < > < > B A
May 7, 2009
3,028
0
0
Dr.Awkward said:
Is it just me or does this article/research make the people on BoadGameGeek sound like they only like games with a 100% chance of a good outcome or winning?

These are board games, people. Cards will be shuffled and drawn, dice will be rolled, and coins will be flipped. Luck cannot simply be removed from the premise of a board game.
Possibly just you. The article says that the top rated game is a complex game involving both luck and skill. How that correlates to "100% chance of good outcome or winning" isn't something I see.

EDIT: Also, how does your assessment of the luck requirement factor into traditional board games such as chess?
 

4173

New member
Oct 30, 2010
1,020
0
0
War and Snakes and Ladders have their place.

Tic Tac Toe is an abomination.
 

ZodiacBraves

New member
Jun 26, 2008
189
0
0
Scars Unseen said:
Zontar said:
I see no mention of risk or its dozens of variants. I feel left out because that's what my family plays (my favorite is 2210AD).
Risk games seem to mostly be rated in the 5ish range on that site(keeping mind that the highest ranked game only has an 8.2... no inflated ratings on this site), but Risk Legacy enjoys a solid 7.73 and ranks as the 106th most popular board game and 74th most popular strategy game on the site. Apparently Risk Legacy is a special long term version of Risk where the game is permanently affected by each playthrough.
Correct, and a game I have been interested in getting if I ever have a regular playgroup, as the way it is permanently affected seems as though it would work better with consistent players.
 

JoJo

and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Goat šŸ
Moderator
Legacy
Mar 26, 2020
7,132
74
53
Country
šŸ‡¬šŸ‡§
Gender
ā™‚
Yeah, it isn't really a surprise, War is useful when you're playing with a six year old who can't manage any card game more complex than checking whether one number is higher than another but for anything else the lack of any choice gets dull real fast. You might as well roll a dice and say whoever gets the highest number wins, there's effectively no difference except one is drawn out more.
 

oldtaku

New member
Jan 7, 2011
639
0
0
Pure luck means the kids can actually win, and if they don't do well enough they'll get pouty and bored and stop playing (this goes for many 'adults' too).
 

jabrwock

New member
Sep 5, 2007
204
0
0
The reason they are so common is because every store carries them, and everyone knows about them. I don't bother going much to the big box stores because it's endless variants on the classic 5-6 most popular Milton-Bradley games, or 20 copies of "who can say the dirtiest sounding words" game variants. I think the last time I was in a physical store (I live 3 hour drive from the nearest dedicated gaming store), I bought Jenga.

Instead I try to buy gifts for friends and family that are both rated "fun" on BGG (or looked fun in Wil Wheaton's TableTop series), and are age appropriate.

My 9-year old always asks to play "Betrayal at House on the Hill" now, and my 6-year old loves "Settler's of Catan Jr" and "Spot It". I think the last time they picked up "Trouble" they were bored in minutes.

But when you're a grandparent or an average Joe who doesn't know where to buy these things, or even that they exist, your only options are the local stores.

This is why "family & friends" game nights are a good idea. Spread the nerd around. You'd be surprised how much fun people can have, and suddenly want to know where you found all these awesome new games.
 

schmulki

New member
Oct 10, 2012
101
0
0
Dr.Awkward said:
These are board games, people. Cards will be shuffled and drawn, dice will be rolled, and coins will be flipped. Luck cannot simply be removed from the premise of a board game.
Then you haven't played the right kinds of board games ;)
 

Meximagician

Elite Member
May 30, 2020
531
59
33
Country
United States
War is a great game for budding game designers, as it's a simple enough game that you can create variants of it easily. The version I still occasionally play involves having a hand of five cards, picking out one to play like normal War. An additional rule to keep the aces moving was that a two of any suit could beat an ace. I also had the winnings deck reshuffled when the player ran out of cards to draw from, I don't remember if that was a rule from War or not, though.

Also, Candyland at least deserves some laurels for inspiring this entry in Existential Comics:


 

Kenjitsuka

New member
Sep 10, 2009
3,051
0
0
"Tic-Tac-Toe has no luck but is incredibly easy to end in a draw, making it boring."

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that it is impossible for anyone to ever win unless one player makes a (very dumb) mistake.
That's why it works in the movie "War Games"; the supercomputer says "Fuck this nuclear attack business, this stupid simplistic 'game' has shown me that one can never win anyway!". At least, that's the exact quote as *I* remember it ;)
 

Kenjitsuka

New member
Sep 10, 2009
3,051
0
0
RelativityMan said:
Also, Candyland at least deserves some laurels for inspiring this entry in Existential Comics:
Haha, that's quite a good one!
It really *is* an amusing game after all!!! ;)
 

RicoADF

Welcome back Commander
Jun 2, 2009
3,147
0
0
Dr.Awkward said:
Is it just me or does this article/research make the people on BoadGameGeek sound like they only like games with a 100% chance of a good outcome or winning?

These are board games, people. Cards will be shuffled and drawn, dice will be rolled, and coins will be flipped. Luck cannot simply be removed from the premise of a board game.
I think what their saying is that people prefer games where their actions and choices are the deciding factor between victory and defeat, Chess/Checkers etc being perfect examples.
 

Strazdas

Robots will replace your job
May 28, 2011
8,407
0
0
No surprise. if i am to rate a game ill rate game that requires skill above pure luck game because the challenge required in skill based game will give me better satisfaction. when it comes to family meetings though you likely not playing with board game enthusiasts. in which case, bring out the monopoly, youll have more fun than trying to teach extended family play, say, BattleStar Galltactica board game.
 

ricree

New member
Mar 8, 2014
21
0
0
Kenjitsuka said:
Actually, it would be more accurate to say that it is impossible for anyone to ever win unless one player makes a (very dumb) mistake.
That's why it works in the movie "War Games"; the supercomputer says "Fuck this nuclear attack business, this stupid simplistic 'game' has shown me that one can never win anyway!". At least, that's the exact quote as *I* remember it ;)
Or as SMBC put it, "Go first and hope your opponent makes a mistake." [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFCOapq3uYY].
 

FalloutJack

Bah weep grah nah neep ninny bom
Nov 20, 2008
15,489
0
0
We kinda' gave up on "I win!" games around here. What about Trivial Pursuit?
 

Grumman

New member
Sep 11, 2008
254
0
0
Dr.Awkward said:
Is it just me or does this article/research make the people on BoadGameGeek sound like they only like games with a 100% chance of a good outcome or winning?

These are board games, people. Cards will be shuffled and drawn, dice will be rolled, and coins will be flipped. Luck cannot simply be removed from the premise of a board game.
You couldn't be more wrong. The reason these are terrible games is these are games where you do have a 100% chance of a particular result. In War, Candy Land and Snakes & Ladders this is because the players are incapable of making any decisions at all. In Tic-Tac-Toe this is because it's such a simple game that a moderately skilled player is capable of making only one decision: do I deliberately sabotage my own chances of winning?

Luck should be used to add "fog of war" - it should be used to muddy the "correct" solution enough to make alternate strategies viable, and thus to force the player to consider defenses against those alternate strategies. Complexity - as in Chess - can serve the same purpose, but this complexity should be added without making the game complicated.
 

Tumedus

New member
Jul 13, 2010
215
0
0
ricree said:
Kenjitsuka said:
Actually, it would be more accurate to say that it is impossible for anyone to ever win unless one player makes a (very dumb) mistake.
That's why it works in the movie "War Games"; the supercomputer says "Fuck this nuclear attack business, this stupid simplistic 'game' has shown me that one can never win anyway!". At least, that's the exact quote as *I* remember it ;)
Or as SMBC put it, "Go first and hope your opponent makes a mistake." [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFCOapq3uYY].
The interesting this to me is that for all the talk of how easy it is to tie in that game or of people making a dumb move, very few people actually understand the "strategy" of tic-tac-toe at all. Even in the movie, for as much as they talk about how there is no way to win, suggesting they should know the moves not to make, they make the incorrect choice when it comes time for them to demonstrate. Some random guy says "Put X in the center square" and Daniel responds "I know"