The Worst Games--For Real
Doug Faust
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The lowest-ranked games on BoardGameGeek have gained a lot of notoriety, but how much of it is really warranted? Given that there are a lot of really bad games that just don't have the widespread exposure of the tried-and-true clunkers, many of them don't have very many ratings. And when there aren't very many ratings, the Bayesian skew will assume that these games are mediocre, rather than truly bad.

What I've done here is look at the average ratings of the worst games, and compared them to the Bayesian ratings. It turns out, while some games have truly earned their place among the pantheon of bad games, like War and Bingo, others like The Game of Life and Trouble, completely fall off the list.

In any case, this list is just meant to a fun look at what is really bad in the world of board games.
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1. Board Game: Global Survival [Average Rating:1.86 Overall Rank:15280]
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#1 - Global Survival
Average Rating: 1.60 (82 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 4.16 (Rank #16 from the bottom)


With a Bayesian rating over 4.00, you might think this is actually a playable game. In actuality, 63% of the people who rated this game gave it a 1, and only 5 people gave it a 4 or above. Because of the low number of ratings, this game ends up looking a lot better than it is. According to raw averages, this is the WORST GAME EVER.
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2. Board Game: Super Deck! [Average Rating:2.05 Overall Rank:15223]
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#2 - Super Deck!
Average Rating: 1.80 (40 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 4.74 (Rank #28 from the bottom)


Super Deck has a Bayesian rating approaching 5, and doesn't even fall in the traditional BGG bottom 20. This is because only 40 people have rated this game, but almost all of them agree that it's a clunker.
 
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3. Board Game: War [Average Rating:2.19 Overall Rank:15343]
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#3 - War
Average Rating: 2.18 (377 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 3.13 (Rank #4 from the bottom)


Finally, we get to one of the "big boys" of BGG infamy. War's 377 ratings is enough to give it a low Bayesian rating, but it leapfrogs the most-often-rated Tic-Tac-Toe, Bingo, and Snakes and Ladders in terms of pure sucktitude when looking at average ratings. For a game that takes forever and has literally no decisions to be made, I'd have to agree with this assessment.
 
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4. Board Game: Tic-Tac-Toe [Average Rating:2.60 Overall Rank:15347]
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#4 - Tic-Tac-Toe
Average Rating: 2.30 (893 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 2.76 (Rank #1 from the bottom)


Pretty much everyone has played this game at one point in their life, and therefore it has enough ratings to be worst according to the Bayesians. Here, it only ranks fourth. Personally, I think Tic-Tac-Toe gets a bad rap on the Geek. Sure, it's solved, but at least there are decisions to be made, unlike War, Bingo, or LCR.
 
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5. Board Game: LCR [Average Rating:3.18 Overall Rank:15342]
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#5 - LCR
Average Rating: 2.35 (343 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 3.30 (Rank #5 from the bottom)


LCR ranks the same both on the average list and on the Bayesian list. Like War, this game is completely mindless. Unlike War, you'll probably have to spend money on the components.
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6. Board Game: The Ungame [Average Rating:2.83 Overall Rank:15312]
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#6 - The Ungame
Average Rating: 2.41 (135 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 4.07 (Rank #11 from the bottom)


Another clunker with a Bayesian rating over 4.00. Don't let the Bayesians fool you, the 135 people who have actually played this game agree, there's nothing to see here.
 
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7. Board Game: Bingo [Average Rating:2.72 Overall Rank:15344]
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#7 - Bingo
Average Rating: 2.42 (548 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 3.07 (Rank #2 from the bottom)


Bingo is the 2nd worst game on BGG according to the Bayesians, but if we removed their skewed opinions it drops down to #7. One may view Bingo as entirely a game of luck, but really, it's a game about paying attention.
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8. Board Game: Quidditch: The Game [Average Rating:2.67 Overall Rank:15188]
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#8 - Quidditch the Game
Average Rating: 2.42 (36 Ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 4.90 (Rank #40 from the bottom)


Could there be a worse Harry Potter-themed game? The average rating gives you a resounding NO (Harry Potter-themed War nonwithstanding). Not very many people have played this game, leading to an inflated Bayesian rating of nearly 5. Don't let this fool you, though.
 
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9. Board Game: Power Lunch [Average Rating:2.74 Overall Rank:15242]
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#9 - Power Lunch
Average Rating: 2.50 (52 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 4.75 (Rank #29 from the bottom)


Another game that you won't see on the standard BGG bottom 20, because of an inflated Bayesian rating. With an average rating of 2.50, it can't be recommended.
 
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10. Board Game: Bunco [Average Rating:3.00 Overall Rank:15296]
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#10 - Bunco
Average Rating: 2.58 (32 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 4.99 (Rank #47 from the bottom)


With only 32 ratings, Bunco just barely qualifies for a Bayesian rating. Of course, this gives it a Bayesian rating of 4.99, despite the fact that over half of the raters gave it a 1 or 2.
 
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11. Board Game: Chutes and Ladders [Average Rating:2.79 Overall Rank:15346]
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#11 - Snakes and Ladders
Average Rating: 2.69 (769 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 3.13 (Rank #3 from the bottom)


I bet a lot of you were surprised not to see this perenially-panned game before now. Snakes and Ladders has a very wide exposure, driving the Bayesian rating down. Compared to some of the other horrible games out there, maybe it's not so bad. And certainly kids don't complain about the mindlessness.
 
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12. Board Game: The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Game [Average Rating:3.26 Overall Rank:15323]
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#12 - The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Game
Average Rating: 2.73 (175 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 4.02 (Rank #9 from the bottom)


I have to admit, I've seen this game at Barnes & Nobles and have been curious. And while no one calls it the worst game ever, both the average ratings and the Bayesians agree that it's one to be avoided.
 
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13. Board Game: Slap Jack [Average Rating:3.25 Overall Rank:15276]
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#13 - Slap Jack
Average Rating: 2.78 (50 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 4.84 (Rank #35 from the bottom)


Here we have another lowly-rated game whose Bayesian rating makes it appear much better than it is. I don't know anything about this game, and after looking at the ratings, I really have no desire to learn.
 
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14. Board Game: Game of Goose [Average Rating:3.33 Overall Rank:15324]
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#14 - Game of Goose
Average Rating: 2.85 (110 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 4.38 (Rank #21 from the bottom)


With 110 ratings, this game appears to have had a decent exposure. I've never heard of it, though.
 
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15. Board Game: Urban Myth [Average Rating:3.41 Overall Rank:15274]
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#15 - Urban Myth
Average Rating: 2.86
Bayesian Rating: 5.04 (Rank #51 from the bottom)


If you pay attention to the Bayesians, a rating of over 5 would seem to indicate that this is an "average game". If you look at the average ratings, though, the game is worse than "bad".
 
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16. Board Game: Strike Force One [Average Rating:4.68 Overall Rank:15013]
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#16 - Strike Force One
Average Rating: 2.95 (47 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 4.91 (#41 from the bottom)


Another game I know nothing about that is overvalued by the Bayesians...
 
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17. Board Game: Transformers 3D Battle Card Game [Average Rating:3.36 Overall Rank:15114]
 
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#17 - Transformers 3D Battle Card Game
Average Rating: 3.11 (38 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 5.00 (#48 from the bottom)


...and another...
 
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18. Board Game: Eagle Kingdoms [Average Rating:3.28 Overall Rank:15032]
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#18 - Eagle Kingdoms
Average Rating: 3.11 (31 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 5.09 (Rank #58 from the bottom)


...and another...
 
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19. Board Game: Doctor Who Collectible Card Game [Average Rating:3.30 Overall Rank:15154]
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#19 - Doctor Who Collectible Card Game
Average Rating: 3.13 (47 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 4.98 (Rank #46 from the bottom)


...and another.
 
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20. Board Game: Old Maid [Average Rating:3.58 Overall Rank:15335]
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#20 - Old Maid
Average Rating: 3.15 (210 ratings)
Bayesian Rating: 4.16 (Rank #14 from the bottom)


Finally, another popular and well-disliked game. While Old Maid may be bad, perhaps it's not as bad as some of the other games on this list.
 
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