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fun with BGG URLs, part III (and an update on El Chupacabra)

Dave Ross
United States
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Note: this content has also appeared on my blog, playing and designing board games.

First up is a URL that takes you to a bunch of different ways to rank the games on BGG: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/topn.php3. My favorites here are sorting by number owned, by number wanted in trade, by number that users have put on their wishlist, and by the total number of pageviews. I was hoping to find a way to break down the number of views by year, to get an idea of when games were generating a lot of interest, but multiple attempts at URL hacking went exactly nowhere.

What I’d really like to do is come up with a relational analysis of all the games in, say, the top 200. Analyze the “recommends” data on each game, for example, to find links between games based on common ownership. Or find a way to do it based on “people who play / rate highly game x also play / rate highly game y.” In other words, first find out which games are “connected” to one another, then present this data graphically. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions for how to go about this (without losing what sanity I have), I’d love to hear them. I suspect that BGG’s xml api might be the way to go, but after an initial assessment of its features, I don’t quite see how. Again, though, I’d welcome any and all suggestions — enlighten me!

Since this relational analysis appears to be beyond me (for the moment), I’ll have to content myself with sharing something much more mundane: the ability to search BGG’s database for games of a particular weight, sorted in pretty much any way you want.

This, for example, looks at all the games with a weight between 1.8 and 2.0 (fairly light, includes both Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride) and sorts them by the number of people who rated the game: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/search/boardgame?sort=numvoters.... And yes, it’s ugly — but the important thing is that it works.

Now for a little URL hacking: change the 1.8 to 2.0 and the 2.0 to 2.2: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/search/boardgame?sort=numvoters.... This does the same search, only it bumps the weight up a little bit — this list includes Citadels, Alhambra, and 7 Wonders.

If you want to look at slightly heavier games again, then change the 2.0 to 2.2 and the 2.2 to 2.4 (this’ll get you games like Dominion, Pandemic, and Settlers of Catan). While you’re at it, change the “numvoters” to “rank” to sort the resulting games by their BGG ranking: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/search/boardgame?sort=rank&advs.... Or change “rank” to “numowned” to sort by the number of BGG users who own the game: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/search/boardgame?sort=numowned&.... Easy, huh?

I’ve always thought it should be easier to get at some of this info, but it’s nothing a little URL hacking can’t take care of. :-)

And, as promised, an update on El Chupacabra. Those who have been following my blog know that the game didn’t work as well with 7 as I had hoped, so I went back to the drawing board to come up with something a little different. I decided that the opportunity to “shoot the moon” offered by the role of El Chupacabra just wasn’t interesting enough to justify its overhead in terms of rules complexity, and I also decided that the mechanism just didn’t fit very well with the push-your-luck gameplay. So I took it out.

I’ve been thinking for some time that it would be fun to design a game that encourages people to cheat, or at the very least encourages people to call one another cheaters. The first step, then, was to check to see if that name had been taken, and sadly, it had: Cheater. I always hate it when a poorly-rated game is taking up a perfectly good name, but what do you do? I mean, aside from turning your copy of Cheater into a perfectly serviceable version of The Bottle Imp.

Naming concerns aside (I can’t decide between Russian Rollette and Cheater’s Dice), I decided to gut the original game, take out all the fussy bits having to do with scoring, and make it a betting and bluffing game pure and simple. Think of it as a dice version of Bullshit (a.k.a. I Doubt It / Cheat) with gambling thrown in. It’ll fall most definitely into the Beer & Pretzels category of gaming….

More anon.
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