The Return of FORM: Sept '04
Tim Benjamin
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By popular demand (I think the email was 3 to 2), I'll catch up on FORM through 20Sept, after taking a few months off (Staying InFORMed: 4 Months Already! http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...). The main dissenting view about FORM by Matt Gray is found in my previous FORM geeklists and Matthew Gray's Top 20 (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...).

Since Matt Gray informed be as to the formula used in the Bayesian Average, I'm even more strongly in favor of replacing it with another metric such as FORM. The Bayesian Average presented here is calculated by the addition to every game of 30 votes with the value of about 5.88. This certainly pulls the real votes towards the middle rankings until a large number are collected; however, the effects are very uneven over the ratings scale. As an example, assume cases of 100 real votes averaging 1, 2, etc and the effects of the 30 Bayesian votes. The real averages less than 5.88 are raised, the higher real averages are lowered:

100 Real - % Change
1 - Up by 113% (more than doubled)
2 - Up by 45%
3 - Up by 22%
4 - Up by 11%
5 - Up by 4%
6 - Down by 1%
7 - Down by 4%
8 - Down by 6%
9 - Down by 8%
10 - Down by 10%

or in another view, how many real votes of a given average are needed to return a Bayesian Average that differs by only 1%?

1 - 14500
2 - 5700
3 - 2800
4 - 1370
5 - 490
6 - 31
7 - 460
8 - 770
9 - 1020
10 - 1220

This uneven effect directly affects the Bayesian rankings (the games ranked 4 and below will never accumulate this many votes). The result is that for higher rated games (>5.88), the Bayesian Ave. will rise with increasing votes while the lower rated games will have decreasing(!) Ave. with additional votes. I'd prefer to let the real votes control the rankings and perhaps raise the minimum bar to 100 votes (as a suggestion).

(As a side note for thought in terms of how the FORM calculation is affected by the actual data: The average Std Dev (~1.50) and its std dev (~0.25) are essentially independent on the number of votes (25 min), the average Std Dev decreases about 0.1 per unit of increasing Average Rating (meaning that low rated games are less susceptible to low Std Dev than are higher rated games), and that the number of votes that a game will eventually reach is highly dependent on the Average Rating of the game (about a factor of 10 for 2 units in the Average Rating)).

This freed-up 'slot' could be used for a metric such as FORM. As Caleb Diffell once noted, FORM could be considered a 'lagging indicator' of popularity as it explicitly include a term for the accumulating number of votes. Another geeklist discussion recently reflected on the frequency a game made it to the table in spite of its perhaps less than stellar ranking (Numbers Missing from the BGG Rating Scale, http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...); this is a very similar view to the FORM rankings.

Continuing the monthly comparison of the FORM ratings which I first compiled on 20 March (thanks again to Aldie et al.). Now that 20 September has come, I can make a few observations. Only 48 games are on both the Bayesian and FORM Top 100 lists. Therefore, it requires a total of 152 games to make a combined Top 100 listing. In September, 2110 games had 25 or more votes (my FORM criterion), increasing by 188 in the three months since the last FORM geeklist. Similarly, the number of games with at least one vote increased from 8840 to 9161, with thousands of games listed having no votes.

The FORM Top 100 for 20 Sept.04
1 Puerto Rico
2 Carcassonne
3 Settlers of Catan, The
4 Euphrat & Tigris
5 Lost Cities
6 El Grande
7 Tikal
8 Citadels
9 Bohnanza
10 Acquire
11 Princes of Florence, The
12 Carcassonne - The Expansion
13 Carcassonne - Hunters and Gatherers
14 Ticket to Ride
15 Samurai
16 San Juan
17 Power Grid
18 Ra
19 Amun-Re
20 Coloretto
21 Lord of the Rings
22 Lord of the Rings - The Confrontation
23 Settlers of Catan Card Game, The
24 Alhambra
25 La Città
26 Modern Art
27 Through the Desert
28 Battle Cry
29 Caesar and Cleopatra
30 Carcassonne - Traders & Builders
31 Seafarers of Catan, The
32 Attika
33 Taj Mahal
34 6 Nimmt!
35 Union Pacific
36 Carcassonne - The Castle
37 San Marco
38 Royal Turf
39 Evo
40 Goa
41 Torres
42 Wyatt Earp
43 Cartagena
44 BANG!
45 Robo Rally
46 Elfenland
47 Formula Dé
48 Cities and Knights of Catan, The
49 New England
50 St. Petersburg
51 Kardinal und König
52 Carcassonne - The River
53 Axis and Allies
54 Hansa
55 Vinci
56 Medici
57 Guillotine
58 Traders of Genoa, The
59 Adel Verpflichtet
60 Scotland Yard
61 Age of Steam
62 Odin's Ravens
63 Balloon Cup
64 Scrabble
65 Cosmic Encounter
66 Löwenherz
67 Mississippi Queen
68 Finstere Flure
69 Clans
70 Settlers of Catan, The - 5-6 Player Expansion
71 Apples to Apples
72 Aladdin's Dragons
73 Wallenstein
74 Shogun
75 Civilization
76 Atlantic Star
77 Risk
78 Mamma Mia!
79 TransAmerica
80 Hera & Zeus
81 Piratenbucht
82 Traumfabrik
83 Kahuna
84 Big City
85 History of the World
86 High Society
87 A Game of Thrones
88 Chess
89 Mexica
90 Manhattan
91 Diplomacy
92 Capitol
93 Memoir '44
94 Lord of the Rings - Friends & Foes
95 Metro
96 Battle Line
97 Can't Stop
98 Babel
99 Frank's Zoo
100 Ursuppe

The following are some of the 'winners' and 'losers' in gaining acceptance by the BGG community since June's list.
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1. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:28]
 
Tim Benjamin
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Power Grid has continued its steady climb towards the top of the FORM ratings, from 61st to 17th. A game I've played since the June list, scalability in number of players and board variation plus random power plant selections keep this game interesting. (FORM value = 182, 0 games within +- 1 unit)

Interestingly, Funkenschlag is stil getting some play, up from 1050th in July to 632nd. (FORM value = 49, 46 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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2. Board Game: Hansa [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:710]
Tim Benjamin
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Also played since the June list, Hansa moves from 85th to 54th. This is a wonderful 2-player game that is intermediate between the truly light Euros (TransAmerica, Carcassonne) and the more middle weight games. Play felt less stellar with 3 (and I assume 4) players. (FORM value = 141, 7 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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3. Board Game: San Juan [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:228]
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San Juan works incredibly well as an primer for Puerto Rico. From a 'cold start' it takes a few games before the new player has seen all the cards but then the transisiton to PR is nearly painless. Up from 37th to 16th place. (FORM value = 185, 0 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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4. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:124] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
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TtR moves from 18th to 14th probably destined to be a longterm TOP 10 game. One of the best 'hooks' ever for bringing in new gamers. (FORM value = 202, 0 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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5. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:107]
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As expected, Goa moves in the TOP 100, from 120th to 40th. Not an easy game to get into, it reveals enough in one playing to lure one back for more. (FORM value = 151, 4 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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6. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:229]
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St. Petersburg (up from 167th to 50th) contrasts strongly with Goa, a new player can start with almost zero instruction (like the first turn of AH's Civilization). This game lures one back by being just plain fun while maintaining enough decisions to avoid going stale. (FORM value = 143, 2 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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7. Board Game: Maharaja: The Game of Palace Building in India [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:506]
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Of the three games predicted in June to head for the TOP 100, only Raja has fallen short (up from 226th to 127th). Still need to play this one (and I know who has a copy). (FORM value = 106, 9 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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8. Board Game: Oasis [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1245]
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Oasis hasn't quite topped out (up from 221st to 160th) but will likely never reach the TOP 100. The board is a little too 'big' with only 3 players but the game is fun and has an amusing amount of screwage. (FORM value = 96, 6 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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9. Board Game: Dos Rios [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:2036]
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Dos Rios may also be close to topping out (up from 329th to 238th). I haven't seen or played it yet but it's popular enough to have me eventually give it a try. (FORM value = 83, 11 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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10. Board Game: La Strada [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:2640]
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La Strada is still moving up but could be nearing its final level (up from 586th to 270th). Quick, easy, and fun but with perhaps just enough first player bias to fix the finishing order among equal players. (FORM value = 79, 17 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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11. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:117] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
Tim Benjamin
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Three games were identified in June as potentially fast-rising newcomers. Memoir '44 has lived up to that assessment, up from 318th into the TOP 100 at 93rd. Another game I need to work into my gaming schedule. (FORM value = 123, 3 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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12. Board Game: Wings of War: Famous Aces [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:787] [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked]
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Wings of War looked to be a big winner in June but seems to have leveled off since (up from 403rd to 262nd). Everyone enjoys playing although the randomness of the damage requires this game be taken as light fun. I'm still planning on buying the expansion(s). (FORM value = 80, 21 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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13. Board Game: Axis & Allies: D-Day [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:2095]
Tim Benjamin
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The third game from June, A&A: D-Day appears to have been less played than anticipated, remaining fairly static (down from 501st to 523rd). (FORM value = 55, 42 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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14. Board Game: Wallenstein (first edition) [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:342]
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Wallenstein has had a slight resurgence, up from 90th to 73rd. Rather atypical behavior which is where I get some of my enjoyment playing with ratings numbers. (FORM value = 129, 11 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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15. Board Game: A Game of Thrones (first edition) [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:312]
Tim Benjamin
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A Game of Throne breaks into the TOP 100 (up from 103rd to 87th). I have no knowledge of the books and the game is one I'll probably never play again. (FORM value = 124, 6 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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16. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:306]
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A couple of games in the June TOP 100 have made significant slips, Taj Mahal from 19th to 33rd. A curious occurence for a mid- to heavy-weight Euro.(FORM value = 157, 3 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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17. Board Game: Clans [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1137]
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Clans also dropped, from 52nd to 69th. Maybe the dominance of the 'weakest player' has helped this fun game lose its luster. (FORM value = 130, 7 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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18. Board Game: Hare & Tortoise [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1072]
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With 4 games entering the TOP 100, 4 have to fall, Hare & Tortoise (89th to 104th), Java (93rd to 109th), Stephenson's Rocket (94th to 113th), and Medina (97th to 103rd). So many good games, maybe a TOP 100 is TOO exclusive. (FORM values from 118 to 114)
 
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19. Board Game: Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:270] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
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A pair of new games are on the rise, to the TOP 100 by December? Heroscape (356th) doesn't look to be my kind of game but there's room for (almost) all here. (FORM value = 70, 19 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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20. Board Game: Betrayal at House on the Hill [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:422]
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Betrayal at House on the Hill (675th) might be worth a play but my $ will certainly not be spent here. (FORM value = 48, 54 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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21. Board Game: Fifth Avenue [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:3748]
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Four games have make big moves in the lower tier, will any of them become a hit? Coda (up from 1235th to 717th), Fifth Avenue (up from 1752nd to 730th), Duell (up from 1618th to 739th), and Tahuantinsuyu (from 1165th to 838th). From among these I've only played Fifth Avenue. It may never be a TOP 100 game but it should be in the TOP 200, eventually.
 
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22. Board Game: Risk [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:14516]
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The old 'favorites' Scrabble (64th), Risk (77th), and Chess (88th) maintain their positions in the TOP 100 in spite of newer 'better' games coming on as a virtual flood. I keep expecting them all to slowly fade away...... but they seem to keep getting to the gaming table, year after year.
 
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23. Board Game: Apples to Apples [Average Rating:5.90 Overall Rank:3152] [Average Rating:5.90 Unranked]
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Apples to Apples is the essence of party game; any number, any age. It must explain why I avoid going to parties.....
(71st and steady). (FORM value = 130, 12 games within +- 1 unit)
 
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24. Board Game: Civilization [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:225] [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked]
Tim Benjamin
United States
Los Alamos
New Mexico
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Only 2 of the old AH style games make the TOP 100, Civilization (75th) and History of the World (85th). Both multi-player games best played with the full complement of players, they contrast strongly in that the former punishes excessive war while the latter is only about war. However, both are well worth the time they take to play (if you have sufficient number of congenial friends).
 
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25. Board Game: Squad Leader [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:473]
Tim Benjamin
United States
Los Alamos
New Mexico
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The highest ranked pure wargame, Squad Leader (236th) does well to be near the top 10% in a geekworld that holds Euros most dear. It explodes with theme and plays in a manner diametrically opposed to mainstream Euros; detail, detail, detail. (FORM value = 83, 12 games within +- 1 unit)

And it could be worse, The Ungame is the FORM anchor at 2110th. (FORM value = 8, only 4 games within + 1 unit)
 
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