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What Factors Make a Game Great? How do the Top Games Score Against them?: The Boardgames Decathlon
Tony Ackroyd
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Over a month ago I set up a geeklist called The Games Decathlon. The aim was to determine the key factors that made games great and then assess a number of games against these factors in the style of an athletics competition.

This has lead to other things, but more of that later.
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Tony Ackroyd
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I began by putting together a list of what I thought were the elements that could contribute to a game being great.

This got an interesting response with a few other factors being suggested and some discussion of the ones that were there. Some were renamed as a result.

There was also a terrible pun from dedbob.

And some interesting thinking about the number of decision points from byronczimmer. Unfortunately that didn't fit with the direction I wanted to go, but there is something there for a brave researcher to tackle...

In the end 32 distinct elements were identified.
 
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Tony Ackroyd
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The next step from there was to establish what the key or most important of these elements were. So here the first POLL was seen.

For better or worse I introduced an athletics theme/mechanism to determine the most important elements, where elements/factors were events that the boardgames could take part in. I asked users to decide which were the most important events - firstly the three factors that would make up a Triathlon event and then which ten factors make up a Decathlon event.

Factors could be selected for both Triathlon and Decathlon, with my expectation that the 3 events selected for the Triathlon would also be the top 3 events in the Decathlon.

In the final tally Fun was the number 1 factor we looked for in a game, by a significant margin, with 75% of us picking it for the Triathlon and 86% for the Decathlon.

Replayability and Game Mechanics were clear 2nd and 3rds, both with about 50% of us voting them for the Triathlon and 75-80% for the Decathlon.

The total list was as follows (Importance, sum of votes for Triathlon+Decathlon):

Key Factors: Decathlon
1 152 Fun
2 145 Replayability
3 134 Game mechanics
4 100 Theme
5 94 Tension/Excitement
6 94 Multiple Paths to Victory
7 92 Intellectual Challenge

8 82 Game materials
9 77 Originality
10 73 Player interaction

Important Factors
11 72 # Players Scalability
12 66 Rules clarity
13 63 Time to play
14 54 Artwork
15 52 Value for Money
16 47 Competition
17 44 Ease to learn
18 40 Complexity

Niche Key Factors
19 32 2 Player playability
20 25 Randomness Level
21 21 Set up time
22 15 Chrome
23 11 Ease to obtain
24 11 Solo playability
25 8 Co-operation
26 8 Play anywhere-ness

Non-Key Factors
27 7 Mass appeal
28 7 Wide age range
29 6 Ease to expand/mod
30 4 Portability
31 2 BGG support materials/extras
32 2 Availability of Online play

Most of the factors in the Decathlon make sense to me but I'm kind of shocked to see "Originality" take the 9th spot, beating out a load of more practical Factors: # Players Scalability, Rules clarity, Time to play, Value for Money, Ease to learn. Maybe this reflects a debate that we've seen several times on BGG - where a lot of new games don't actually deliver much that is really new and that we really value it when a game is innovative.

A couple of factors stood out in terms of the proportion who voted for Triathlon vs Decathlon.

Intellectual Challenge had a high proportion of people voting for it as a Triathlon vs. Decathlon. I assess this group as those gamers who really want a brain-burning game. 42% of us had this as a Triathlon event.

To a lesser extent some other elements had a higher than expected Triathlon-Decathlon ratio showing that these elements have a deeper importance to some groups of boardgamers:
-Player Interaction (people who really like interaction/negotiation)
-Time to Play (people who paricularly do/don't like very long/short games)
-Value for Money (people who have a tightly controlled games budget)
-2-Player Playability (people who have 1 main game partner)

Artwork was the main factor with a lower than expected Triathlon (1 user)-Decathlon (54 users) ratio. I take this as showing that game art is appreciated but for the vast majority of us (99.5%) it is not essential to the game.

#Players Scalability also had a low Triathlon-Decathlon ratio. Presumably that is because most of us have sizable game collections, so if we don't have the ideal number of players for a certain game then we just pull out another game.
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Tony Ackroyd
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So the next step was to measure some games against the events. This was where the whole idea had come from - I had played Reiner Knizia's ingenious (free!) Decathlon game for the first time. Part way through my first game an idea came to me - could boardgames compete in a series of events in a battle for supremacy?

The Games Decathlon geeklist brings that idea to reality with polls to score the games against those events.

I used the BGG Top 20 as the main games who entered, but added 10 'wild cards' into the competition as well: Pandemic, Go, Chess, Scrabble, Memoir '44. ASL, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Aquire and Settlers of Catan.

In the polls, BGGeeks rated the games from 0-4. An average was then calculated and translated into a 0-10 score for each game for each event.

The rest of this geeklist presents the results of the events. Will Agricola win? Will Puerto Rico re-take its crown? Will Chess or Go show these upstarts what for?
 
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Tony Ackroyd
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How popular/well known are the games?

Well of the users who rated the games for the 'Fun' element, this list shows the percentage who rated each game. This is something to keep in mind as a measure of popularity of the games - and thus the reliability of the measures of them.

Universal appeal/awareness/availability:

94% Settlers of Catan
89% Chess
88% Carcassonne
83% Ticket to Ride

Wide appeal/awareness/availability
77% Agricola
77% Power Grid
77% Scrabble
76% Puerto Rico
73% Dominion
71% Pandemic
71% Race for the Galaxy

Medium appeal/awareness
65% El Grande
61% Tigris & Euphrates
59% Acquire
57% The Princes of Florence
54% Memoir '44
53% Caylus

Narrow appeal/awareness
43% Goa
42% Go
40% Twilight Struggle
37% War of the Ring
35% Battlestar Galactica
34% Commands & Colors: Ancients
32% Le Havre
31% Age of Steam

Niche appeal/awareness
28% Brass
28% Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
26% Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
22% Advanced Squad Leader
16% Paths of Glory

This means that for the games near the bottom of this list the scores are more questionable than others. For instance the Decathlon event with the lowest number of raters is Interaction with 32. On that there are only 6 raters for Through the Ages and 7 for Brass.
If this geeklist gets a lot of attention and through that a lot more people rate the key elements then I will update the scores in another geeklist.
 
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5. Board Game: Just4Fun [Average Rating:5.79 Overall Rank:4755]
Tony Ackroyd
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Fun

Being by far the most popular event, Fun is the 100m sprint of the game-rating world. Its also almost completely subjective and caused several debates in the threads and geeklist.

The fact is that this is our hobby and Fun is our most important goal is to enjoy playing - having fun - whatever our personal definition of fun.

7.5 Twilight Struggle
7.3 Battlestar Galactica
7.3 Dominion
7.2 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
7.2 Pandemic
7.0 Commands & Colors: Ancients
6.9 Brass
6.9 El Grande
6.9 Ticket to Ride
6.8 Puerto Rico
6.8 Agricola
6.8 Memoir '44
6.7 Acquire
6.7 Power Grid
6.7 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
6.6 War of the Ring
6.4 Race for the Galaxy
6.4 Settlers of Catan
6.3 Le Havre
6.1 Tigris & Euphrates
6.1 Age of Steam
6.0 Carcassonne
5.6 Goa
5.5 Caylus
5.5 Advanced Squad Leader
5.5 The Princes of Florence
4.9 Go
4.5 Scrabble
4.5 Paths of Glory
3.9 Chess

So Twilight Struggle breaks the tape and takes the glory of winning the Fun event. BSG and Dominion are joint 2nd and no surprise there.
Seeing brain-burner Brass come 7th here is a bit of a shock. Fun?! Perhaps this is due to the low number of people having played and rated Brass?
Puerto Rico and Agricola tie for 10th. So for all those people who thought this list would be a mirror of the BGG ratings, it isn't.

And down at the bottom. Well no surprises really. Its the brain-burners and the dry. These games may be intense mental work-outs but it seems that they aren't necessarily fun....
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6. Board Game: Instant Replay [Average Rating:3.75 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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Replayability

The second most important factor for us is Replayability. From my viewpoint that means not investing the money to buy a game or time to learn a complex game if I am only going to want to play it once or twice.

8.7 Advanced Squad Leader
8.3 Age of Steam
8.1 Agricola
7.9 Go
7.9 Dominion
7.8 Brass
7.5 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
7.4 Tigris & Euphrates
7.3 Acquire
7.3 Scrabble
7.2 Le Havre
7.1 Race for the Galaxy
7.1 Commands & Colors: Ancients
7.1 El Grande
7.0 Twilight Struggle
7.0 Power Grid
6.9 Carcassonne
6.8 Memoir '44
6.7 Chess
6.7 Settlers of Catan
6.6 Puerto Rico
6.6 Caylus
6.6 Ticket to Ride
6.4 Goa
6.4 Battlestar Galactica
6.0 The Princes of Florence
5.9 Pandemic
5.6 War of the Ring
5.5 Paths of Glory
5.2 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage

ASL redeems itself for its low Fun score by topping the replayability table, no doubt due to the immense tactical options available in each scenario and the vast number of scenarios available.
Age of Steam is similar. Agricola is there because of the amazingly replayable design (though I am bemused by how much lower its competitor Puerto Rico is).
Replayability has the highest average score (across all games) of all the events in the Decathlon. No doubt that is due to the strong selection of games - you would expect the best board games to be replayable, or what is the point investing the effort to learn them?

Top 10 Leader Board (Triathlon & Decathlon)

15.1 Dominion
14.9 Agricola
14.7 Brass
14.7 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
14.5 Age of Steam
14.5 Twilight Struggle
14.2 Advanced Squad Leader
14.1 Commands & Colors: Ancients
14.0 El Grande
14.0 Acquire

The massive differences between the results of the Fun and Replayability events means that the few games who did pretty well on both take the positions at the top of the leader board.
Twilight Struggle, winner of the 100m event, drops to 6th.
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7. Board Game: Mechanic Mac [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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Mechanics

So how good are the game mechanics/mechanisms? You know when you play a new game and the way a little bit of it (or the interactions between lots of bits) makes you think "Wow! That is brilliant!"

7.8 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
7.8 Twilight Struggle
7.7 Puerto Rico
7.4 El Grande
7.4 Brass
7.3 Acquire
7.3 Pandemic
7.3 Tigris & Euphrates
7.2 Commands & Colors: Ancients
7.2 Power Grid
7.1 Dominion
7.1 Age of Steam
7.0 Agricola
6.9 War of the Ring
6.7 Go
6.7 Race for the Galaxy
6.7 Le Havre
6.7 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
6.6 Battlestar Galactica
6.4 Paths of Glory
6.3 Chess
6.3 Memoir '44
6.2 Ticket to Ride
6.2 Advanced Squad Leader
6.2 The Princes of Florence
6.2 Settlers of Catan
6.1 Carcassonne
6.1 Caylus
5.9 Goa
4.8 Scrabble

I haven't played Through the Ages so can't comment on what mechanic(s) make that top this table. I've read enough about Twilight Struggle to know why that is up there, and finally we see what it is about Puerto Rico that made it the #1 game for so long.
Scrabble at the bottom - well there is only so much you can say about taking tiles from a bag! But what about the brutal reviews for Goa and Caylus?

Leader Board: Triathlon Results

22.5 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
22.3 Dominion
22.2 Twilight Struggle

22.1 Brass
21.9 Agricola
21.6 Age of Steam
21.4 El Grande
21.3 Acquire
21.3 Commands & Colors: Ancients
21.1 Puerto Rico
20.8 Power Grid
20.8 Tigris & Euphrates
20.4 Advanced Squad Leader
20.4 Pandemic
20.3 Race for the Galaxy
20.2 Battlestar Galactica
20.2 Le Havre
19.8 Memoir '44
19.6 Ticket to Ride
19.6 Go
19.2 Settlers of Catan
19.1 War of the Ring
19.1 Carcassonne
18.5 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
18.2 Caylus
17.8 Goa
17.7 The Princes of Florence
17.0 Chess
16.6 Scrabble
16.4 Paths of Glory

A shock winner in the Triathlon for Through the Ages! Dominion at #2 supports its (often disputed) position in the BGG Top 10 - a game that is fun, with great mechanics and replayable!
Twilight Struggle shows how it won Geek Madness...
But, Brass at #4? I am frankly amazed. The poll must have been infiltrated by Brass-lovers. Or maybe, given Age of Steam at #6, it was Martin Wallace fans?
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8. Board Game: Baffle Gab Booster: Themes [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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Brighton
E Sussex
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Theme

Wow, the 4th most important element for is Theme! What a shocker! A chance for the wargames to give the Euros a good kicking....

9.6 Battlestar Galactica
9.6 Twilight Struggle
9.6 War of the Ring
9.0 Advanced Squad Leader
8.3 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
8.1 Pandemic
8.0 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
7.7 Paths of Glory
7.7 Commands & Colors: Ancients
7.2 Memoir '44
7.0 Agricola
6.8 Brass
6.8 Power Grid
5.9 Le Havre
5.6 Puerto Rico
5.4 Race for the Galaxy
5.1 Age of Steam
4.9 Ticket to Ride
4.9 Acquire
4.9 El Grande
4.9 Caylus
4.8 Settlers of Catan
4.8 Tigris & Euphrates
4.7 Goa
4.7 The Princes of Florence
3.9 Carcassonne
3.2 Dominion
2.5 Chess
1.5 Scrabble
1.4 Go

So no surprise to see the abstracts propping up this list and BSG topping it with a load of wargames. First surprises for me are seeing Agricola and Brass so high. Who would have thought that we were bigger fans of farming and the industrial revolution than we are of Space (Race for the Galaxy) and Trains. But of course the rating wasn't necessarily just for the theme but how well the game embraced the theme, and if there is a better boardgame simulation of farm development then I haven't heard of it....

Top Ten Leader Board (Decathlon)


31.8 Twilight Struggle
30.5 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
29.8 Battlestar Galactica
29.4 Advanced Squad Leader
29.0 Commands & Colors: Ancients
28.9 Agricola
28.9 Brass
28.7 War of the Ring
28.4 Pandemic
27.6 Power Grid

Dominion is let down by its loose Theme and falls like a stone from 2nd out of the Top 10! Twilight Struggle strengthens its position, taking top spot and BSG makes it into 3rd. A rash of wargames enter the top 10 too.
 
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9. Board Game: Tension [Average Rating:5.19 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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Tension/Excitement

This is more like it. The games that make you twist your cards in your sweaty hand. The ones that make you drum your feet. Will he go for Israel? Is he a Cylon? Will he take that cube before I can move it? Can I roll a hit on that tank? Will Frodo be uncorrupted? Will there be an outbreak this turn?
Its why we play, right?

8.4 Twilight Struggle
7.7 Battlestar Galactica
7.4 Age of Steam
7.3 Advanced Squad Leader
7.1 Pandemic
6.9 War of the Ring
6.8 Tigris & Euphrates
6.8 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
6.5 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
6.4 Acquire
6.4 Paths of Glory
6.0 El Grande
5.9 Caylus
5.9 Brass
5.9 Power Grid
5.8 Puerto Rico
5.8 Commands & Colors: Ancients
5.7 Go
5.5 Agricola
5.2 The Princes of Florence
5.1 Race for the Galaxy
5.1 Ticket to Ride
5.0 Le Havre
4.9 Chess
4.7 Settlers of Catan
4.6 Memoir '44
4.6 Dominion
4.5 Goa
4.4 Carcassonne
3.9 Scrabble

So, not much to say here, apart from why is Memoir '44 so low? I played it last night and there was much shouting with excitement!
On average this is our lowest scoring event so far. Maybe excitement isn't why we play board games....

Top Ten Leader Board

40.3 Twilight Struggle
37.5 Battlestar Galactica
37.0 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
36.8 Advanced Squad Leader
35.6 War of the Ring
35.5 Pandemic
34.8 Brass
34.8 Commands & Colors: Ancients
34.4 Agricola
34.0 Age of Steam

Twilight Struggle pulls away from the chasing pack and it begins to look like a battle for 2nd.
 
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10. Board Game: Victory By Any Means: The Menagerie [Average Rating:8.67 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.67 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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E Sussex
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Multiple Paths To Victory

Its often heralded as the sign of a great Euro, so is this a chance for Euros to regain some ground?

7.8 Agricola
7.5 Brass
7.4 Race for the Galaxy
7.1 Le Havre
6.9 The Princes of Florence
6.9 Puerto Rico
6.7 Tigris & Euphrates
6.7 Caylus
6.6 Dominion
6.5 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
5.5 Twilight Struggle
5.5 El Grande
5.4 Advanced Squad Leader
5.3 Power Grid
5.2 Goa
5.2 Go
4.8 Carcassonne
4.6 Settlers of Catan
4.6 Battlestar Galactica
4.6 Age of Steam
4.4 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
4.3 Chess
4.2 Paths of Glory
3.8 War of the Ring
3.8 Ticket to Ride
3.4 Pandemic
3.2 Acquire
3.2 Commands & Colors: Ancients
3.1 Memoir '44
2.9 Scrabble

Again strong performances from Agricola & Brass, but I have no argument with them topping the poll. As suspected, Euros dominate and wargames do poorly, with "kill the enemy" as the main path to victory - although arguably innumerable tactical options on how to do so...

Top Ten Leader Board

45.8 Twilight Struggle
43.5 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
42.3 Brass
42.2 Agricola
42.1 Advanced Squad Leader
42.1 Battlestar Galactica
39.5 War of the Ring
39.5 Puerto Rico
39.2 Tigris & Euphrates
39.0 Pandemic

Twilight Struggle loses some of its lead as Brass & Agricola power up the chart. Puerto Rico re-appears as a challenger and T&E pops up for the first time.
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11. Board Game: Mastermind Challenge [Average Rating:5.60 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
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Brighton
E Sussex
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Intellectual Challenge

This was the 4th choice on the 'Triathlon' poll, but 7th for the Decathlon. So it is highly important for a large minority of Einstein-type gamers.

9.0 Go
8.5 Chess
8.4 Age of Steam
8.1 Advanced Squad Leader
7.8 Tigris & Euphrates
7.7 Twilight Struggle
7.7 Brass
7.5 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
7.2 Caylus
6.9 Power Grid
6.9 Paths of Glory
6.9 Le Havre
6.8 Agricola
6.7 Puerto Rico
6.6 War of the Ring
6.6 Scrabble
6.3 Acquire
6.1 El Grande
6.1 The Princes of Florence
6.0 Race for the Galaxy
5.8 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
5.7 Goa
5.0 Commands & Colors: Ancients
4.7 Battlestar Galactica
4.4 Pandemic
4.0 Dominion
3.9 Settlers of Catan
3.7 Memoir '44
3.6 Carcassonne
3.6 Ticket to Ride

Revenge for Go and Chess as we see why they have stood the test of time. Also the reason why Age of Steam and Tigris & Euphrates don't work with your non-gamer friends. ASL is there no doubt for just the challenge of understanding the rules.
Down at the bottom we see our Gateway Kings.

Top Ten Leaderboard: Heptathlon Results

48.0 Twilight Struggle
44.8 Advanced Squad Leader
44.5 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
42.5 Brass
42.4 Age of Steam
42.2 War of the Ring
42.2 Battlestar Galactica
41.3 Agricola
40.4 Power Grid
40.2 Tigris & Euphrates

I'll stop talking about Twilight Struggle now.
Puerto Rico falls back off the list and Agricola nearly joins it. BSG takes a hit to the control room. Power Grid's hard core of mathematics drags it back into the Top 10.
 
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12. Board Game: Material World [Average Rating:5.51 Overall Rank:8641]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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Game Materials

There is then a steep fall in importance levels to Game Materials, so purists may consider the previous (heptathlon) top 10 as the final one.
Here we are with bling, bits and shiny things.

9.1 War of the Ring
7.9 Memoir '44
7.6 Agricola
7.4 Le Havre
7.3 Battlestar Galactica
7.0 Power Grid
6.9 Ticket to Ride
6.9 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
6.8 Puerto Rico
6.5 Chess
6.5 Tigris & Euphrates
6.4 El Grande
6.4 Caylus
6.3 Commands & Colors: Ancients
6.3 Go
6.2 Carcassonne
6.1 Brass
6.1 Settlers of Catan
6.0 Acquire
6.0 Goa
5.9 The Princes of Florence
5.8 Pandemic
5.6 Race for the Galaxy
5.6 Paths of Glory
5.5 Age of Steam
5.4 Scrabble
5.0 Advanced Squad Leader
5.0 Dominion
5.0 Twilight Struggle
4.5 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization

War of the Ring rules over them all. Memoir's plastic men and tanks just about see off the animeeples.
This element just needed more Ameritrash entrants.

Top Ten Leader Board

58.5 Twilight Struggle
56.7 Agricola
56.1 Brass
55.5 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
55.2 Advanced Squad Leader
55.2 War of the Ring
54.1 Battlestar Galactica
53.5 Tigris & Euphrates
52.9 Puerto Rico
52.6 Power Grid

Agricola storms back into 2nd as chits cannot hold the day.
The overall contents of the Top 10 stay pretty stable though with only 1 change, PR displacing Age of Steam.
 
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13. Board Game: Origins [Average Rating:4.81 Overall Rank:10252]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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Originality

"How Original is/was the Game?"

9.4 Go
8.4 Puerto Rico
8.3 Chess
8.2 Pandemic
8.1 Tigris & Euphrates
7.8 Acquire
7.8 Brass
7.7 Dominion
7.7 Twilight Struggle
7.7 Settlers of Catan
7.5 Agricola
7.4 Power Grid
7.3 Carcassonne
7.2 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
7.1 Scrabble
7.0 Battlestar Galactica
6.9 El Grande
6.7 Age of Steam
6.4 The Princes of Florence
6.3 Caylus
6.1 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
6.1 Advanced Squad Leader
5.6 War of the Ring
5.5 Ticket to Ride
5.2 Race for the Galaxy
5.2 Le Havre
4.8 Goa
4.8 Paths of Glory
4.1 Memoir '44
3.0 Commands & Colors: Ancients

Obviously Memoir and C&C are not original because they are very similar to Battle Cry. Most of the rest of this scoring seems fairly predictable.

Top Ten Leader Board

66.2 Twilight Struggle
64.2 Agricola
63.9 Brass
62.7 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
61.6 Tigris & Euphrates
61.3 Puerto Rico
61.3 Advanced Squad Leader
61.1 Battlestar Galactica
60.8 War of the Ring
60.0 Power Grid

No change in the contents of the Top 10, or the order of the Top 4. T&E rises to #5 and Puerto Rico to #6.
 
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14. Board Game: Interaction [Average Rating:5.53 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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Interaction

So player Interaction is the 10th most important element to us and the last chance for a game to steal the decathlon.

9.6 Battlestar Galactica
9.4 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
9.4 Advanced Squad Leader
9.2 Chess
9.0 Twilight Struggle
8.8 War of the Ring
8.8 Commands & Colors: Ancients
8.7 Tigris & Euphrates
8.5 Go
8.4 Paths of Glory
8.4 Memoir '44
8.0 Age of Steam
7.7 Pandemic
7.5 El Grande
7.3 Settlers of Catan
7.1 Power Grid
6.7 Acquire
6.6 Puerto Rico
6.3 Caylus
6.3 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
6.1 Brass
5.9 The Princes of Florence
5.9 Scrabble
5.8 Carcassonne
5.1 Goa
5.0 Ticket to Ride
4.3 Agricola
4.3 Le Havre
3.5 Dominion
3.5 Race for the Galaxy

No surprise to see BSG top the list followed by loads of 2 player wargames.

Decathlon Results


75.2 Twilight Struggle
70.7 Battlestar Galactica
70.6 Advanced Squad Leader

70.3 Tigris & Euphrates
70.0 Brass
69.5 War of the Ring
69.0 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
68.5 Agricola
67.9 Puerto Rico
67.2 Age of Steam
67.2 Power Grid
66.3 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
65.1 Pandemic
64.9 Go
64.7 El Grande
62.7 Acquire
61.9 Caylus
61.8 Le Havre
61.1 Chess
61.0 Commands & Colors: Ancients
60.3 Paths of Glory
58.8 Memoir '44
58.7 The Princes of Florence
58.4 Race for the Galaxy
58.3 Settlers of Catan
56.9 Dominion
55.1 Carcassonne
54.2 Ticket to Ride
53.9 Goa
49.9 Scrabble

BSG's high Interaction score is enough for it to take 2nd spot in the Games Decathlon, but Twilight Struggle reigns supreme.
In the end BGG #1 & #2 end up #8 & #9.
Kind of a shock to see our Triathlon runner-up Dominion end up 5th from last in the Decathlon.

The highest Wild Card entry is ASL at #3, with Pandemic next at #13.
Goa comes 2nd to last! Does it deserve its position in the BGG rankings?
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15. Board Game: Iron Stars [Average Rating:6.62 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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The Iron Game Competition

The Iron Game takes the top 20 factors and gives each of them a weighting based on the number of votes it got (Triathlon+Decathlon) and then gives a total score for each game based on that.

In other words it attempts to create an Overall score for each game, totalling the 20 most important elements, based on their relative importance.

5734 Twilight Struggle
5450 Brass
5407 War of the Ring

5406 Tigris & Euphrates
5385 Agricola
5380 Battlestar Galactica
5374 Puerto Rico
5309 Power Grid
5254 Pandemic
5253 Age of Steam
5250 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
5195 Advanced Squad Leader
5194 Acquire
5162 Le Havre
5150 El Grande
5148 Go
5057 Dominion
5021 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
5006 Commands & Colors: Ancients
5003 Race for the Galaxy
4920 Caylus
4913 Memoir '44
4904 Ticket to Ride
4795 Carcassonne
4741 Chess
4711 The Princes of Florence
4699 Settlers of Catan
4618 Paths of Glory
4542 Goa
4389 Scrabble

So Twilight Struggle is still the clear winner. But BSG and ASL fall and Brass and War of the Ring rise. Goa is still 2nd bottom. Agricola still beats Puerto Rico.
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Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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So where next for this?
Well as you can see by the thread title on this geeklist item I went on to try to convert this idea into a standard set of detailed ratings that could be applied to any game on the site.

This was first trialled with Dominion: Intrigue and got a really good response. I then set up a similar poll for a lot of the Most Wanted games on BGG.

That has met with a mixed response. The main objections have been that there are too many questions - making the poll rather a drag to complete. Also that the questions themselves are either unclear or subjective.

The thread conclusion to date has a revised set of 10 Detailed Rating Questions, but these have not yet been tested. I'm hoping this geeklist will generate more feedback on them.
 
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17. Board Game: What's The Score? [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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For those interested in the individual scores for the other elements in the Iron Game competition, here they are:

Art

8.2 War of the Ring
7.3 Race for the Galaxy
7.0 Battlestar Galactica
6.5 Power Grid
6.5 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
6.3 Twilight Struggle
6.3 Le Havre
6.3 Memoir '44
6.3 Pandemic
6.1 Agricola
6.1 Caylus
6.1 The Princes of Florence
5.9 Ticket to Ride
5.8 Paths of Glory
5.8 Tigris & Euphrates
5.8 Brass
5.8 El Grande
5.7 Carcassonne
5.7 Goa
5.6 Dominion
5.5 Puerto Rico
5.4 Commands & Colors: Ancients
5.3 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
5.2 Settlers of Catan
4.8 Acquire
4.5 Go
4.3 Chess
4.1 Advanced Squad Leader
3.5 Age of Steam
2.9 Scrabble

Not a tremendously high-scoring factor and probably rightfully so.

Scalability (#Players)

9.4 Age of Steam
9.0 Ticket to Ride
8.8 Race for the Galaxy
8.7 Agricola
8.3 Le Havre
8.2 Carcassonne
8.1 Acquire
7.8 Power Grid
7.8 Dominion
7.5 Battlestar Galactica
7.3 Puerto Rico
7.2 Caylus
7.2 Pandemic
6.6 The Princes of Florence
6.5 Scrabble
6.3 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
6.1 El Grande
6.1 Tigris & Euphrates
6.1 Goa
5.8 Settlers of Catan
5.6 Brass
3.3 War of the Ring
2.2 Advanced Squad Leader
1.7 Commands & Colors: Ancients
1.4 Memoir '44
0.4 Paths of Glory
0.2 Chess
0.0 Go
0.0 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
0.0 Twilight Struggle

No shock to see the 2 player games do terribly on this measure. But probably a useful measure for people just starting a game collection with limited funds - buy games which will be good for a wide range of player numbers.

Level of Competition

9.7 Twilight Struggle
9.4 Advanced Squad Leader
9.0 Go
8.5 Age of Steam
8.5 Brass
8.5 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
8.4 Paths of Glory
8.3 War of the Ring
8.2 Commands & Colors: Ancients
8.2 Chess
7.7 Tigris & Euphrates
7.7 Acquire
7.5 Caylus
7.5 El Grande
7.5 Memoir '44
7.5 The Princes of Florence
7.4 Power Grid
7.2 Goa
6.9 Battlestar Galactica
6.6 Puerto Rico
6.4 Race for the Galaxy
6.3 Scrabble
6.3 Settlers of Catan
6.2 Agricola
6.0 Carcassonne
5.9 Ticket to Ride
5.8 Le Havre
5.8 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
5.7 Dominion
1.5 Pandemic

So the 2 player wargames dominate the top of this list along with some of the more unforgiving Heavy Euros. Interesting to see the bottom end has the more 'friendly' type of games, so this is a useful measure for those who don't like player conflict in their games.

Clarity of the Rulebook

9.7 Scrabble
9.2 Ticket to Ride
9.0 Go
8.9 Chess
8.3 Dominion
8.0 Carcassonne
7.9 Acquire
7.9 Memoir '44
7.5 Puerto Rico
7.5 Pandemic
7.3 Settlers of Catan
7.1 The Princes of Florence
7.0 El Grande
7.0 Tigris & Euphrates
6.3 Battlestar Galactica
6.3 Twilight Struggle
6.0 Caylus
5.8 Brass
5.8 Le Havre
5.8 Agricola
5.7 Race for the Galaxy
5.6 Age of Steam
5.6 Goa
5.6 Power Grid
5.0 Commands & Colors: Ancients
5.0 Paths of Glory
5.0 War of the Ring
5.0 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
3.3 Advanced Squad Leader
2.5 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization

A very useful measure for those isolated groups of gamers who are going to have to learn the game from scratch. I haven't seen the Through the Ages rulebook, but it is presumably terrible!

Value for Money

8.9 Go
8.5 War of the Ring
7.9 Acquire
7.5 Le Havre
7.5 Pandemic
7.5 Puerto Rico
7.3 Chess
7.0 Scrabble
6.8 Ticket to Ride
6.7 Carcassonne
6.7 Twilight Struggle
6.6 Race for the Galaxy
6.5 Caylus
6.5 Commands & Colors: Ancients
6.4 Settlers of Catan
6.4 Battlestar Galactica
6.4 Power Grid
6.3 The Princes of Florence
6.1 Dominion
6.0 Age of Steam
6.0 Goa
5.9 Memoir '44
5.8 Brass
5.6 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
5.5 Tigris & Euphrates
5.0 El Grande
4.6 Agricola
4.5 Paths of Glory
4.4 Advanced Squad Leader
4.2 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization

How much bang for your buck? What an interesting list. I didn't expect to see War of the Ring up there or ASL so low.

Ease to Learn

9.2 Ticket to Ride
8.8 Scrabble
8.0 Carcassonne
8.0 Dominion
7.5 Pandemic
7.5 Memoir '44
7.2 Go
7.1 Settlers of Catan
6.9 Acquire
6.7 El Grande
6.7 Le Havre
6.4 Power Grid
6.3 Brass
6.3 Puerto Rico
6.0 Age of Steam
6.0 Commands & Colors: Ancients
6.0 Chess
5.7 Battlestar Galactica
5.7 The Princes of Florence
5.4 Goa
5.2 Agricola
5.0 Caylus
5.0 Tigris & Euphrates
5.0 Twilight Struggle
5.0 War of the Ring
4.7 Race for the Galaxy
4.2 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
4.0 Paths of Glory
3.8 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
2.8 Advanced Squad Leader

Again a very useful list for those thinking about Gateway games or for those who don't like complicated games. Or those who only want a Heavy-weight experience.

Playing Time

7.5 Acquire
7.5 Race for the Galaxy
7.1 Pandemic
7.1 Twilight Struggle
6.9 Ticket to Ride
6.7 Dominion
6.6 Carcassonne
6.5 Goa
6.5 Puerto Rico
6.3 Power Grid
6.3 Brass
6.3 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
6.3 Tigris & Euphrates
6.1 Memoir '44
6.0 Scrabble
6.0 War of the Ring
5.7 El Grande
5.6 Caylus
5.6 Le Havre
5.5 Paths of Glory
5.4 Settlers of Catan
5.4 Age of Steam
5.4 Go
5.4 The Princes of Florence
5.4 Chess
5.3 Advanced Squad Leader
5.0 Battlestar Galactica
5.0 Commands & Colors: Ancients
5.0 Agricola
5.0 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage

Kind of a surprise to see C&C Ancients so low along with Agricola. But actually there is only a very narrow range here 5->7.5.

Complexity

8.2 Paths of Glory
8.0 Advanced Squad Leader
7.7 Go
7.5 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
7.5 Chess
7.3 Tigris & Euphrates
7.3 War of the Ring
7.2 Age of Steam
7.2 Brass
7.1 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
7.1 Power Grid
7.1 El Grande
7.0 Agricola
7.0 Le Havre
7.0 Puerto Rico
6.9 Goa
6.8 The Princes of Florence
6.8 Caylus
6.7 Commands & Colors: Ancients
6.7 Twilight Struggle
6.6 Battlestar Galactica
5.8 Race for the Galaxy
5.7 Acquire
5.6 Pandemic
5.1 Settlers of Catan
5.0 Memoir '44
4.9 Dominion
4.7 Carcassonne
4.4 Scrabble
4.4 Ticket to Ride

Want your brain-burnt? Then play the ones higher up the list. Just fancy a light session? Then pick the ones from lower down.

2 Player Suitability

10.0 Advanced Squad Leader
10.0 Chess
10.0 Commands & Colors: Ancients
10.0 Go
10.0 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
10.0 Memoir '44
10.0 Paths of Glory
10.0 Twilight Struggle
10.0 War of the Ring
8.6 Scrabble
8.1 Le Havre
7.9 Dominion
7.8 Race for the Galaxy
7.2 Agricola
7.2 Pandemic
7.1 Ticket to Ride
6.8 Carcassonne
6.7 Tigris & Euphrates
6.3 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
5.5 Caylus
5.0 Goa
3.8 Puerto Rico
3.2 Power Grid
2.5 Age of Steam
2.5 Acquire
2.5 Brass
1.5 El Grande
1.3 Settlers of Catan
1.3 The Princes of Florence
0.5 Battlestar Galactica

Okay, so not that useful a measure for the games that are purely 2 players, but great for knowing which of the other games still work for 2 people. Of course this information is already available in the shape of the Best With/Recommended With polls.

Level of Randomness

8.1 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
8.1 Pandemic
8.0 Commands & Colors: Ancients
8.0 Goa
7.9 Battlestar Galactica
7.5 Dominion
7.5 Paths of Glory
7.5 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
7.5 Le Havre
7.3 Carcassonne
7.1 Advanced Squad Leader
7.0 War of the Ring
6.7 Brass
6.7 Memoir '44
6.6 Race for the Galaxy
6.5 Tigris & Euphrates
6.5 Power Grid
6.4 El Grande
6.3 Twilight Struggle
6.2 Caylus
6.1 Acquire
6.0 Agricola
6.0 Ticket to Ride
6.0 The Princes of Florence
5.8 Scrabble
5.7 Settlers of Catan
5.6 Go
5.6 Puerto Rico
5.0 Age of Steam
4.8 Chess

This measure was around the 'appropriate' level of randomness. So whether it suggests that the lower ones on the list would benefit from a bit more randomness is probably stretching it a bit far for some of them. But it probably does point at the irritation that can come from excessive randomness in Scrabble, Settlers and Ticket to Ride.
 
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