Around the Geek in 80 Clicks
Through The Ages
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A whirlwind tour stopping at many BGG ports of call.
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1. Board Game: In Search of Identity [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Through The Ages
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Search

We begin our tour in lovely "Search." Many geeks are content to stay here their entire lives.

(Type the name of a game (or even a partial name) in the search box. Click the "Go" button. If there are multiple matches, click on the one you think is accurate.)

You came for the search, you stayed for the "I didn't realize there were this many cool games out there."

Many people find their way here via Google in their search for a particular game. They may be looking for something to entertain party guests, to educate children or to recall a childhood experience.

A click on the Google link to BGG provides more information than one could possibly imagine and opens the flood gates of curiosity.

My favorite part of the game page is that the BGG Community--not the game's producer--rates and details each aspect of a game, how many players it's best with, how long it really takes, how much fun it likely will be (ranking), etc... A far cry from the olden days of reading the back of a box and taking the marketers' word that what you're about to spend 50 bucks on is an epic challenge of world conquest and double-dealing that plays from 2 - 10 players in under 2 hours.

We're only a few clicks in and there's much more to see. We must be off to...
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2. Board Game: Advanced Civilization [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked]
Through The Ages
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Advanced Search

The Feature of Hope. People visit hoping to find the game of their dreams.

(Click the "Advanced Search" link on the top of the main page, right next to the "Go" button. (Do pass go. Do allow the opportunity to accumulate a wealth of information.))

Well, if you found that first game, show me a medium-heavy weight political/civilization game with no auctions that plays 6 in under an hour.

(Click, Click, Click, Click, Click...)

Disappointment.

If you check too many boxes in hopes of finding your perfect theme, weight and playing time with every mechanism you love while eliminating those you hate, you're likely to find a "No Matches Found in Main Search" waiting for you.

However, if you KISS, you may find some surprises. For example, there is a page full of
political/civilization games. There are 7 medium to medium-heavy games that play 6 in under an hour.

Ah, we could stay here in Advanced Search forever; but then we'd never witness the raw energy of...
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3. Board Game: Let's Get Personal [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
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Personal Comments

Here, comments crackle like live electric wires on an action movie set. Look, there goes another one!

(Click a game link. Click the number link after "Personal Comments:")

A game's ranking and description can be insufficient to determine your particular enjoyment. Individual ratings accompanied by rationales--personal comments--are invaluable in helping you decide if a game is right for you.

Individual numeric ratings are overall impressions. Personal comments compare and contrast those snapshots to what will likely be your overall impression.

A '10' from the game's designer saying "this rocks" won't help you much; a '5' from someone who says "he likes the quick pace and admires the design, he's just not into negotiation games" will. You might love deal-making and involved haggling. Knowing someone who doesn't but who still acknowledges quality tells you, "try this game!"

Thus, (Click) to all the pages of the Personal Comments. All of them (from the 1s and 2s to the 6.25s and 10s) contribute to the overall picture of how you will like that game.

Let's dig a little deeper by traveling to the subterranean depths of...
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4. Board Game: The Analyst Game [Average Rating:6.30 Unranked]
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Reviews

Some reviews are just a little deep, while some reach unbelievable depths. Breathtaking!

(Find a game. Click the Reviews filter.) -- OR -- (Check the front page under the Reviews heading. Filter for recent, hot or active)

If there are many reviews, you may decide to choose by thumbs--the more of them, the more popular. Thumbs may be one indication of a review's quality--thoroughness, entertainment, insight; but they may also signify a love-fest following with the game itself rather than a evaluation solely of the review. "Yeah, buddy. I love this game too! Here's a thumb."

(Click a Review title that interests you)

As with Personal Comments, Reviews reflect the mood and attitude of the reviewer; but because they are (almost always) more detailed, you'll pick up more true game information mixed in with the personal biases.

Each game's page is its own forum of sorts, so most of the people "hanging out" there are likely to enjoy the game. Would you check in and post often on a page to a game to which you were indifferent?

If a game is highly ranked, there may be a "hater" contingent ready to post counterarguments and to question what anyone sees in this game. To a certain degree, these haters can make things interesting and give you food for thought if you haven't yet played the game.

Negative reviews are often subject to criticism that usually hits on the themes of "misunderstanding the game", "playing rules wrong", and "being inconsistent from game to game." These arguments may be valid, but they may dismiss subjective impressions too readily.

The dilemma is that not many people who dislike a game will play it multiple times just to give it a "fair shake" and discover its nuances.

Reviews are best when read as a collection--the good, the bad and the blah.

We'll climb to the surface now for some fresh air...
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5. Board Game: Therapy, The Second Session [Average Rating:5.39 Overall Rank:12718]
Through The Ages
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Sessions

You don't really know a place until you live with its people; Sessions has them in Spades, Twilight Struggle and most other games too.

(Find a game. Click the Sessions filter.) -- OR -- (Check the front page under the Sessions heading. Filter for recent, hot or active)

(Click a Sessions title that interests you)

Sessions run the gamut from hilarious to bland, engrossing to tedious, informative to obscure. They can be more fun to read than a review because of the "you are there" element and the crazy stuff that happens along the way--weird turns, funny lines, bizarre interruptions and "fantastic finishes" ((c)-Alcoa).

If a Personal Comment is a rough sketch and a Review is the detail, a Session is the color. You may find a great game in theory that doesn't really play out the way you thought it would after you've read a Session or three. Conversely, you may realize a game you thought was boring was mostly due to playing it with the wrong group of people.

At one time on BGG, Sessions were often used as a club's log--"Bob won, Sara came in second. Ted lost. The end."--pretty boring for anyone not in the club. These days, Sessions are usually moderately entertaining and often border on the high-larious and/or insightfully detailed.

Here comes the balloon to whisk us off to...
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6. Board Game: Book of Lists Game [Average Rating:3.71 Overall Rank:14806]
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GeekLists

The Fertile Crescent where games and ideas meet.

(How'd you get to this list? Click similarly, adjusting for specific lists.)

The epitome of geeks being geeks, GeekLists entertain, provoke and inspire by compiling BGG material (games, other lists, threads, etc...) into a cohesive whole. They can also bore (before you say it--"no kidding?!"), sometimes just by the title ("Three random games you are already familiar with that I played last week with two people you don't know, annotated with not a scrap of insight or humor.")

Some folks are fine with GeekLists that have already been done before, thinking that 1) some people weren't around the first time (either new or absent), 2) We may yet mine insights, 3) we want to encourage new users to post.

Others are pained to see retreads--"Dude, try a GeekList search before posting." (author's note: I did a GeekList search and didn't find anything quite like this list. But if there is a similar one, count me in the former camp!)

Don't read it -- or-- Don't clutter the page? "You make the call." ((c)-IBM)

Now, don your flame-resistant suit, we're heading for the hot zone of...
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7. Board Game: Burn Rate [Average Rating:6.04 Overall Rank:4590]
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GeekMod

Why it doesn't seem hot in here at all! Oh, yeah, we're wearing the suits...

(Click Utilities Menu, Click Geek Mod, Click whichever content type (Images, Reviews, Sessions, Data) you wish to mod)

Mod, not short for modern but for moderation--arbitrate BGG content. Mod is also long in controversy.

By reviewing content themselves, the users take partial ownership of the site and relieve the administrators of a time-consuming duty. If enough Geeks okay the content, it's in. If a Geekmodder's vote coincides with the final decision, he/she gets .01 GG for approvals and .1 GG for declines.

The downside of this method is the subjectivity and inconsistency of personal taste. What might be a hilariously creative picture featuring a cat to one, is just another f%^&* cat photo to another. What might be acceptable glare to one is horribly blinding to another. Etc... Etc...

If you submit "Tabby playing Through the Desert on a Beach" when all the feline-hating glare-hypersensitives are sleeping, you may obtain approval.

It's the endless debate of "who are you, modder, to determine the worth of my work?" vs. "who are you, submitter, to think your work is above reproach?"

Maybe there's a better forum for this discussion, you ask...
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8. Board Game: Forum Romanum [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:2777]
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Forums

The Beehive of Activity State.

(Click Forums Menu, Click a forum title that interests you, Click on a topic that interests you.)

A forum is a collection of threads related to a certain overall topic. Many are game or BGG related, but some are of broader interest. They strongly resemble newsgroups and the same rules of conduct and etiquette apply--basically, familiarize yourself with any forum before posting to it.

New User Questions is the best location to ask just about anything without fear of ridicule. I see that (as of this writing) on the first page every question has at least one reply. Likely, if you're savvy enough to find your way to this forum and post a question, you're probably savvy enough to search BGG for the answer before asking. But it's possible you have a unique situation and/or you just need a little pointer in the right direction.

The Chit Chat forum is the BGG hangout.

The Religion, Sex and Politics forum is the only place on the Geek where these topics will be mentioned. If you don't believe me, you're probably one of those cult-following, antidissexual north-wingers.

So many fora, so little time. Is that a question from that Geek in the back...
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9. Board Game: The $64,000 Question [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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GeekQuestions

People don't so much travel to GeekQuestions as they end up there. As I see we are; let's have a look around...

(Click Fun Menu, click GeekQuestions.)

From the banal and obscure to the sublime and topical, but mostly the former, questions of all types are posed one at a time. You may answer them. Or not. You may check other geeks' answers. Or not.

Love killing time, but can't keep up with the fast pace of the forums? GeekQuestions may be for you.

GeekQuestions can occasionally enlighten and entertain. You may learn more about someone from these answers than from any profile.

When you think you're ready, you can even ask your own questions.

Expect nothing and GeekQuestions will at least triple your expectations.

We must make our next destination quickly or we might miss the next big thing at the...
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10. Board Game: Market Madness [Average Rating:5.92 Unranked]
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Marketplace

The area that never sleeps. Deals made, games moved and currency exchanged at all hours, day and night.

(Click Bazaar menu, click Marketplace, Click See Games, Click Browse Recent)

There are almost as many ways to search the marketplace as there are games in the marketplace. OK, not really, but there are at least several good search options.

Personally, I like Browse Recent because it shows games I might not have been actively thinking of but that I am interested in. The best offers usually don't stick around long. There are also good reasons for not using this option--keeping your money and not cluttering your house.

Wait, give me a minute here--Vinci's up for 45 Canadian...

OK, I'm back... The Marketplace keeps tabs on its participants as E-Bay does, so you'll have a reasonable idea whether to trust someone or not. Also, sellers are more likely to be gamers themselves--know packaging, know a game's inventory and value.

At last, we make the final leg...
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11. Board Game: Home Alone [Average Rating:4.10 Unranked]
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My Geek

Home! (Assuming you're a registered member.)

(Click on My Geek menu, then click Profile.) -- OR -- (click your username where it says Welcome _(username)_)

Relax, you're home now. The ratings are aligned to your preference. The microbadges will comfort you.

Your Profile: from one-line entry to unabridged autobiography, this section tells other geeks who you think you are. But what tells them who you really are...

Game Ratings: Tell us how you really feel. (Be sure to add Personal Comments.) If you have many ratings, the Personalized Recommendations link will provide you with accurate suggestions.

Wish List: Mostly useful to let other people know what you want--what you really, really want ((c)-Spice Girls.) This list helps your Secret Santa deliver THE goods or lets others know that you are interested in a game. You can prioritize your list. After this trip, you should be wise enough not to ask, "is anything really a MUST have?" You know the answer to that!

Well, we've hit briefly on a few of BGG's offerings. I think you're ready for your own BGG excursion. Bon voyage!
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