So I like heavy games, and my Geekbuddies like heavy games...what are our top 25? (2006 Edition)
Michael Webb
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About 1 year ago the GeekBuddy ranking filters were introduced by the kind folks who run the Geek. At that time, I was overjoyed, and immediately celebrated by putting together a Geeklist showing the top 50 games of myself and my Geekbuddies.

Now that some time has passed, a little over a year, I thought it would be interesting to see how things have changed, and how things have stayed the same with this analysis; the games which have gained ground with my buddies, and the ones which have fallen off.

A word of caution at the start, my GeekBuddy list has altered a bit from last year, and this is undoubtedly going to be reflected in the rankings.

My current crop of buddies:

(Alashar)
(AlexBrown)
(cfarrell)
(Chris R)
(citizen k)
(clearclaw)
(cornjob)
(cypar7)
(Dan Bosley)
(David Vander Ark)
(Denise)
(derk)
(dr glaze et al)
(dwarf)
(easterly1)
(Fawkes)
(fellonmyhead)
(Gecko23)
(Glamorous Mucus)
(Gola)
(HavocIsHere)
(icheyne)
(ignatosr)
(jcarvin)
(jedimike)
(lohroffc)
(Luke the Flaming)
(modboy)
(MWChapel)
(otrex)
(PaleHorse)
(PieMan)
(POvidiusNaso)
(qzhdad)
(RaffertyA)
(rochs77)
(Sal M)
(shugyosha)
(shumyum)
(sisteray)
(slowcorner)
(snoozefest)
(verandi)
(Warhammer)
(Windopaene)
(Yekrats)
(Zambo)

Because my group of buddies has inflated slightly (up to 48 when I include myself for this analysis) I have also slightly inflated the rating threshold and will require 5 ratings for a game to make the list. I will mention the alterations to the rankings in the game entries, but for reference, last year's list is at:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...
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1. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion #1: England & Ireland [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Age of Steam Expansion #1

13 rankings at 8.77 average
I rate it 6

Last year's ranking: #1 (No change)

This year, Age of Steam Expansion #1 again comes out on top. 5 more people have rated it than last year's list, and the average ranking has gone up .08 points.

Interestingly, this is in spite of the fact that my own ranking for this map has dropped slightly because of my new system for rating AoS maps.

That said, as I said last year, the Irish side of this board is excellent, and is worth owning the expansion for by itself. Ireland is probably my favourite AoS map (perhaps fighting with the Moon) and is something that I am always pleased to see hit the table.
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2. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:61]
Michael Webb
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Age of Steam

35 ratings with 8.56 average
I rate it 10

Last year's ranking: #6 (+4)

This year, the base Age of Steam game gains 4 spots and settles in comfortably to the #2 position. This is largely because my new GeekBuddy additions are people who are fans of this game. That said, some of my old buddies must have also gotten to this, because there are 10 more rankings for the game this year than last.

Age of Steam is currently my favourite board game, which is reflected in the fact that I've given it a 10, one of only 4 games to currently achieve that for me. AoS is brutal, calculating, and partially due to the surfeit of expansions, extremely variable. All of this results in a very high ranking for me, and apparently, for my buddies.
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3. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:33]
Michael Webb
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Euphrat & Tigris

41 ratings with 8.47 average
I rate it 8

Last year's ranking: #2 (-1)

This year 8 more people have ranked Euphrat, but it has lost a ranking position because of the rise of Age of Steam, and has additionally seen its average drop slightly.

Euphrat & Tigris is a classic German tile laying game. Playable either fast or slow, cut throat, or slightly more light hearted. There is a tonne of interaction in the game, and the random element of the tiles helps to insure that you can never be entirely sure what the other players are capable of.

My rating for this has stayed the same since last year, but I am slowly gaining a greater appreciation for this title. I could very well end up bumping this game to a 9 at some point.
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4. Board Game: Die Macher [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:96]
Michael Webb
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Die Macher

23 ratings with 8.43 average
I rate it 9

Last year's ranking: #5 (+1)

This year 5 more people have ranked Macher, and both its ranking and average rating have risen slightly.

Macher is a meat grinder of a game, and it takes a dedicated Euro gamer to sit down to it, largely because of the long (for a Euro) rulebook, and 4 hour playing time. My buddies are seemingly willing to play a longer game, as long as it is compelling though, and Macher has settled in very comfortably to #5, gaining a spot even as the AoS base game moved past it.
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5. Board Game: El Grande: König & Intrigant [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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El Grande: Koenig & Intrigant

5 ratings with 8.4 average
I rate it 8

Last year's ranking: Unrated

Koenig & Intrigant is a new entry in the list this year, and this is largely because it was played a couple of times at game sessions with the Grand Rapids Area Boardgamers, and it went over quite well within that group.

K&I changes El Grande considerably; it eliminates the action cards, and instead allows players to build a deck of actions for the game out of a larger pool of possibilities. I prefer it to basic El Grande, and with more play, could raise this rating to a 9.

I imagine this entry will gain more ratings by next year because of the release of the El Grande Decennial box, which contains this expansion.
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6. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.14 Overall Rank:5]
Michael Webb
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Puerto Rico

46 ratings with 8.37 average
I rate it 8

Last year's ranking: #3 (-3)

Puerto Rico has lost 3 ranking spots this year, and a large number of average points, almost 3/10, which for this sort of analysis, is quite considerable.

PR is a very fine game, and there is very little left to be said about it. Variable, tactical, and everything fits together like a well oiled machine. If anything, I think PR's own success has led to this eventual drop in ranking, because the game has been played so much that many people have burned out on it to some degree. I myself rank this an 8 because I strongly prefer the expansion variant.
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7. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:95]
Michael Webb
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Ra

42 ratings with 8.35 average
I rate it 9

Last year's ranking: #8 (+1)

Ra has also managed to gain a single spot in the rankings, and this year 10 more of my buddies have played the game. I attribute this largely to the new uberplay re-release of the game, which has made this a more likely sight at board game events and gatherings of all sorts.

I myself have given this game an additional point, putting it up to 9 this year, as I have found that the replay value of this game is tremendous, and that burnout does not seem to last with this title. It is an extremely well put together game, and to me stands at the top as the best pure auction game going.
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8. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:26]
Michael Webb
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El Grande

41 ratings with 8.32 average
I rate it 8

Last year's ranking: #13 (+5)

El Grande has leapt up the rankings this year. This probably shouldn't be surprising given the emergence of the K&I expansion up above, but still, the gains in this case were rather dramatic.

El Grande is the venerable grandfather of the modern area influence genre, but it still has aged gracefully, and exceeds nearly all of the AIG that have been released after it. Clearly my buddies feel the same way, as they have rated only the K&I expansion above it within that mechanic.
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9. Board Game: 1856 [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:516]
Michael Webb
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1856

8 ratings with 8.17 average
I have not played it

Last year's ranking: #19 (+10)

1856 made extremely dramatic gains this year, and that is largely due to the high rankings that some of my new buddies gave to it.

I have not played 1856, but I can speak from a limited experience within the 18XX genre at this point, and say that this series of games is of limited appeal because of the length, and somewhat fiddly nature of the games, but that those who like heavy games will really like titles within the series, and that is reflected in this high average ranking for 1856.
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10. Board Game: Cosmic Eidex [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1741]
Michael Webb
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Cosmic Eidex

7 ratings with 8.14 average (tied with PoF, below)
I rate it 9

Last year's ranking: #14 (+4)

Cosmic Eidex made a measurable gain of 4 ranking spots this year, and this is because the one new person who ranked it (me) gave it a rating of 9.

Eidex is a meaty little 3 player trick taking game with an elaborate scoring system, special powers, and great art. I bought it last year largely based on the high ranking that my buddies gave to it, and, obviously by my 9 ranking, have enjoyed it immensely. My favourite 3 player card game at this point.
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11. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:62]
Michael Webb
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Princes of Florence

36 ratings with 8.14 average (tied with Eidex, above)
I rate it 10

Last year's ranking: #7 (-3)

Princes of Florence dipped slightly this year, both in terms of rank and average, but to me it is still the best pure Euro style game going. At one point, PoF was at the same vaunted position that PR is now, the crown king of the Euro gaming world, but as time has gone by more people have been bothered by its fairly low amount of player interaction and quiet play style.

There are still a vocal core of my buddies who absolutely love this game, but on average Princes is losing a few rankings here with my GeekBuddies just as it did in the Geekwide rankings over the course of the last year.
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12. Board Game: Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:69]
Michael Webb
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Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage

10 ratings with 8.1 average
I have not played it

Last year's ranking: #12 (Same)

Though Hannibal's average has gone up slightly, its rank on this list has remained the same. I still have not played this game, largely because of the scarcity of the game, but still am interested in it, largely because of this strong recommendation by my GeekBuddies.
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13. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:188]
Michael Webb
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Taj Mahal

35 ratings with 8.08 average
I rate it 7

Last year's ranking: #11 (-2)

Taj Mahal has lost a couple of ranks, but that seems to be more as a result of the gains made by other games than loss of esteem in its own right.

This is a game that I will always acknowledge respect for, but which I will never request with anything but 4 players at the table. It is certainly a unique title among Euros because of the very nasty card play which borders on Poker-esque (in feel) at times because of the high stakes involved.
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14. Board Game: The Republic of Rome [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:211]
Michael Webb
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Republic of Rome

11 ratings with 8.07 average
I have not played it

Last year's ranking: (Unranked)

Wow, now this is a change out of left field. Republic of Rome was not even ranked in the top 50 last year, but now it has leaped up into spot #14 with an average of above 8 with my buddies!

RoR is an old school, AH game which seems to have a strong appeal to those who like heavier games, but who don't mind a bit of randomness and fiddle at their table. This is a title which, like Hannibal (and Dune) that I have never played simply because it is somewhat scarce.
 
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15. Board Game: Power Grid: France/Italy [Average Rating:7.97 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.97 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Power Grid Italy/France Expansion

11 ratings with 8.05 average
I rate it 6

Last year's ranking: (Unranked)

Another expansion that was unranked (actually unreleased) last year has made the list, this time it's Power Grid's Italy and France board.

I personally am a big fan of Power Grid, but rank this map quite low because I do not think that it changes Power Grid significantly enough to be worthy of a rating very far above average. Clearly, my buddies either disagree or use a different rankings sytem, because this map has far outclassed the base game in the rankings here. Of course, some of this is the self-selection mechanism at work. I do find the Italian map more visually appealing than the base game though, and the price on this one is hard to beat.
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16. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:56]
Michael Webb
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Goa

36 ratings with 8.01 average
I rate it 9

Last year's ranking: #10 (-6)

2004's darling has lost both average points, and 6 ranking spots with my GeekBuddies. Goa is a rather unique mish-mash of mechanisms and ideas as it incorporates auctions and money management, but the central focus of the game seems to be the attempt to save time. This game saw heavy play when it was first released, but has not been as regular of a sight on local tables for one reason or other.

I personally still rate this a 9, and it is likely going to be the next game that I raise to a full 10 ranking. I think that it scales exceptionally well, and I always enjoy playing it.
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17. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion #3: Scandinavia and Korea [Average Rating:7.85 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.85 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Age of Steam: Expansion #3

9 ratings with 8 average
I rate it 7

Last year's ranking: (Unranked)

Given more time, more of the AoS expansions are sneaking onto this list, as my buddies get a chance to play them. AoS Expansion #3 is probably my pick for the best overall board in terms of both sides being interesting and playable. The Scandinavian ferry is somewhat of an issue for me, but the board is at least good for several plays. Korea, while evil, is also an exceptionally different take on the AoS system, and is definitely worth owning this board for.
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18. Board Game: Bonaparte at Marengo [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:686]
Michael Webb
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Bonaparte at Marengo

7 ratings with 7.97 average
I have not played it

Last year's ranking: (Unranked)

War games really aren't my thing, but they seem to be popular with some of the heavy game fans out there, and Bonaparte's presence on this list speaks to that. I really don't know anything about this game other than the fact my buddies are giving it a very solid, near 8 point average.
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19. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion #2: Western US and Germany [Average Rating:7.85 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.85 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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Age of Steam: Expansion #2

8 ratings with 7.88 average
I rate it 5

Last year's ranking: (Unranked)

Yet another Age of Steam expansion has made the list, this time it's #2. I feel that this board is flawed, like #1, in that it has one very solid side (Germany) paired with a very weak side (the Western US). My Geekbuddies seem to be quite fond of it though, and despite my curmudgeonly 5 rating, the board still almost manages to achieve an 8 point average.
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20. Board Game: Reef Encounter [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:316]
Michael Webb
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Reef Encounter

21 ratings with 7.86 average
I rate it 7

Last year's ranking: 15 (-5)

Reef Encounter has quite a few more ratings this year, but it has also dropped 5 rankings with my Geekbuddies. The fact that it is easier to purchase because of the Z-Man reprint has undoubtedly increased the number of ratings on this, but my buddies, overall, seem to be slightly less impressed with it this year than last.

I still feel that the game is a solid tile layer, but that the defensive strategies are too strong, and that the game is just a bit too fiddly for what it is. Still good though, and deserving of its rank here.
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21. Board Game: Merchants of the Middle Ages [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:984]
Michael Webb
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Die Haendler

18 ratings with 7.85 average
I rate it 8

Last year's ranking: 9 (-12)

Die Haendler plummeted in the rankings this year, for reasons which are not quite apparent to me. I find this to be one of the better negotiation titles out there, and very much enjoy the strange collection of blind bidding, commodity speculation, pick up and deliver, special powers, and special action chits that this game throws at you.

Still, even with its current ranking, my buddies rank this much higher than the Geek at large, and currently have it pegged as their favourite negotiation game.
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22. Board Game: Was sticht? [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:1335]
Michael Webb
United States
Western Mitten
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Was Sticht?

6 ratings with 7.83 average
I have not played it

Last year's ranking: (Unranked)

Was Sticht is a trick taking game designed by Karl Heinz Schmiel (of Die Macher fame) and one that I, suprisingly, have not gotten around to. The concept of the game sounds very interesting though, as players draft their hands off the table rather than simply have them dealt to them.

I will have to try this one out based on this high recommendation!
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23. Board Game: Through the Desert [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:319]
Michael Webb
United States
Western Mitten
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Through the Desert

36 ratings with 7.82 average
I rate it 5

Last year's ranking: #24 (+1)

Durch snuck up one ranking this year, and also gained a tiny bit of average rating as well. This title is a fast playing, zero luck tile laying game, but it also can have a considerable degree of chaos if one plays it with more than 3 at the table.

I used to quite like this game, but as my rating reflects, I find myself somewhat bored with it these days. My buddies are still quite enamored with it though, and, to be honest, the game is so fast that I don't mind playing it all that much myself.
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24. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:184]
Michael Webb
United States
Western Mitten
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Modern Art

35 ratings with 7.8 average
I rate it 8

Last year's ranking: #18 (-6)

Modern Art has dropped a bit in ranking this year, and it's difficult to say why that is. This game is essentially, as Morgan puts it, the greatest hits of the auction genre. Virtually every type of auction is included in this game, and it also incorporates hand management and psychology.

The #24 rank is still quite respectable, but slightly below that of the BGG average. Personally, I would rate this only slightly below Ra as my favourite auction game, and with an ideal table (all experienced group), I would probably rate this above Ra.
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25. Board Game: Ruhe in Frieden [Average Rating:4.36 Unranked]
Michael Webb
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The rest of the top 50, with ranking changes noted:

25. Scepter of Zavandor (12 at 7.79) (was #4, -21)
26. Dune (16 at 7.77) (was #31, +5)
27. Santiago (29 at 7.74) (was #49, +22)
28. Traders of Genoa (29 at 7.71) (was unranked)
29. El Grande Expansions (10 at 7.70) (was unranked)
29. City and Guilds (5 at 7.70) (was unranked)
29. Ende des Triumvirats (10 at 7.70) (was unranked)
32. Princes of the Renaissance (27 at 7.68) (was #32, same)
33. Caylus (32 at 7.66) (was unranked)
33. Struggle of Empires (23 at 7.66) (was #30, -3)
35. TAMSK (11 at 7.64) (was unranked)
36. Survive! (15 at 7.63) (was #33, -3)
36. Carcassonne - The Castle (15 at 7.63) (was #23, -13)
36. La Città (30 at 7.63) (was #46, +10)
36. Up Front (8 at 7.63) (was #22, -14)
36. Lord of the Rings - Friends & Foes (14 at 7.63) (was #16, -20)
41. Paths of Glory (6 at 7.61) (was unranked)
42. Hammer of the Scots (14 at 7.60) (was #17, -25)
42. GemBlo (5 at 7.60) (was unranked)
42. 1870 (5 at 7.60) (was #41, -1)
42. Power Grid (41 at 7.60) (was #36, -6)
46. Daytona 500 (16 at 7.59) (was unranked)
46. Union Pacific (28 at 7.59) (was #20, -26)
48. Siedler von Nürnberg (6 at 7.58) (was unranked)
49. Lord of the Rings - The Confrontation (28 at 7.57) (was #35, -14)
50. Medici (30 at 7.56) (was unranked)

Some analysis: Major losses were suffered by Zepter, Carc the Castle, LotR: F&F, LotR: TC, UP, Hammer of the Scots and Up Front. This is a fairly wide swath to cut...clearly Zepter has lost some favour as more people have played it, and have potentially played it out. Carc is probably suffering because there are so many variants available that it makes it difficult for a single one to gain a consensus high rating. I really have no idea what caused the sudden drop for UP and the war games, none of which have recently been reprinted, or had other similar events occur.

On the plus end, Santiago made significant gains this year, and a number of new titles have leapt into the rankings including TAMSK, Caylus, and Traders of Genoa.

Games which have completely dropped out of the top 50 which were present last year:

Hive (was #21)
For Sale (was #25)
Carabande Action Set (was #26)
Robo Rally - Crash & Burn (was #27)
Wallenstein (was #28)
Magna Grecia (was #29)
Razzia! (was #34)
Traumfabrik (was #37)
Moderne Zeiten (was #38)
Löwenherz (was #39)
Schotten Totten (was #40)
1830 - Railroads and Robber Barons (was #42)
Einfach Genial (was #43)
Edel, Stein & Reich (was #44)
YINSH (was #45)
Puerto Rico Expansion (was #47)
Acquire (was #48)
Santa Fe Rails (was #50)

This list is mainly notable because my Geekbuddies have left TAMSK as the only representative of the GIPF project in the top 50, and they rank it much higher than YINSH, the BGG consensus pick, which is not even present in this year's top 50. Wallenstein, 1830, and Acquire are other consensus BGG picks which my I and my buddies have seen drop out of our collective top 50.

It is not surprising to see Razzia drop because the full game, Ra, has become more widely available again. 1830 is an odd change because it has disappeared from the top 50 entirely while its more complicated sibling, 1856 has gained a number of ranking positions.

Overall the lower half of our top 50 has been much more volatile than the top half, with over 1/2 of the games that were there last year being completely missing from this year's installment.
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