Highly Regarded Sports-Themed Games
Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
Maryland
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The desire to compete being one of the motivating forces behind game-playing, it's natural that sports-themed games can sometimes have an especial appeal.

A similar impulse lies behind the attraction to wargames. But wargames can often tend towards the highly complex, and are for some an unattractive subject matter.

The ingenuity of much recent Eurogame design lies in the designer's ability to take the competitive drive at the core of sports and other competition, and to render it more subtle and indirect. This is usually done by using another theme entirely.

Still, for me, sports games offer their own unique allure. They remind me of why I like to play games in the first place; they simulate the sorts of clashes that turned me into a spectator sports nut, and which also had me out there as a kid with my friends, casually trying every sport imaginable.

There is something very much fun about seeing this type of competition play out in a boardgame. I wish that more of the outstanding designers would turn their talents towards simulating sports, and away from building and financial games.

I've fantasized on occasion about how the "auction" format would be wonderfully compatible with a sports-themed game in which players play baseball GMs, but that's a discourse for another day.

Here are some highly touted sports-themed games, at least according to the BGG ratings. Feel free to add your own favorite.
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1. Board Game: A Gamut of Games [Average Rating:7.72 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.72 Unranked]
Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
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Among the better games in this collection are Sackson's simulations of bowling and baseball.
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2. Board Game: Daytona 500 [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:1337]
 
Chuck Uherske
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No doubt that one of the reasons I love this is simply watching the cars maneuver their way around the track. I'm not an auto racing fan in the least, but it's just fun to watch a race on the board. Sure, the hand management aspects of this game are wonderful, but it's made more wonderful by the thrill of watching clever play result in your car zooming across the finish line.
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3. Board Game: PitchCar [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:314]
Chuck Uherske
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Wasn't sure whether to include this, but it seems like a sort of racing simulation.
 
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4. Board Game: Blood Bowl (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:248]
Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
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Gets good reviews. Not sure what to make of this -- seems to be part sports, part fantasy, perhaps even part war. But it allegedly simulates a sort of football.
 
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5. Board Game: Strat-O-Matic Baseball [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:1132]
Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
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The baseball classic. I like PTP better as a simulation, but this is the one on which I spent all the hours as a kid. Addictive in the way only a baseball sim can be.
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6. Board Game: Winner's Circle [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:678]
Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
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Clearly, racing themes lend themselves to board games -- there are highly-rated auto, horse, and bicycle racing games. I'd had this one on my "to buy" list for a while, but for some reason lost interest in it. Perhaps I should take another look at it.
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7. Board Game: PeaceBowl [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:7995]
Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
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We go from "Blood Bowl" to "Peace Bowl." This doesn't look that peaceful to me, and I can't even tell what it's about, but it seemed as though it might fit the list.
 
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8. Board Game: Um Reifenbreite [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1124]
Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
Maryland
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Another racing game, this time with bicycles. Seems like a winner.
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9. Board Game: Formula Dé [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:578]
Chuck Uherske
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This game as well as its multiple expansion sets seems to be very popular. I wonder if I should check it out given my love of Daytona 500, or whether it appeals to a different mindset entirely.
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10. Board Game: Das Motorsportspiel [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:2129]
Chuck Uherske
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Never really noticed this one until I made this list, it seems like another fine racing game.
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11. Board Game: Breaking Away [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:1973]
Chuck Uherske
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This one's at the top of my "to-buy" list right now.
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12. Board Game: TurfMaster [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:1365]
Chuck Uherske
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Another horse racing game.
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13. Board Game: StreetSoccer [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1685]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
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I own this cute little soccer sim. Haven't played any stuffed bears, though.
 
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14. Board Game: Strat-O-Matic Pro Football [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:3068]
Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
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Have never tried a truly statistical football sim. This one gets good ratings.
 
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15. Board Game: Top Race [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1582]
Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
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Appropriately, another racing game to round out the group.
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16. Board Game: Strat-O-Matic Hockey [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:3466]
Tony
United States
New Jersey
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Played this one to death as a kid. Still play the computer version of it to this day. Very statistically accurate, and a whole lot of fun. Plus, with the current state of the NHL, this may be the only hockey any of us gets for a while.
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Chris Flynn
United States
Lakeville
Minnesota
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This game has a bit of a learning curve but I find it to be superior to Strat-o-Matic. The downside of longer playing time (about 45 minutes for a single game) is mitigated by the way this game stimulates the imagination with over the shoulder catches, hot liners getting past the shortstop etc. Each season this game has a deeper selection of current and past seasons. It is obvious that the creator understands and loves the sport.
 
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18. Board Game: Sports Illustrated Baseball [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:4439]
Randy Cox
United States
Clemson
South Carolina
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I'm a bit biased. But there is a sizable group out there who, like me, spent a goodly portion of their formative years playing this game head-to-head (though one can play solitaire just fine, but I've never seen any real allure of a solitaire sports simulation). Maybe I should upload a photo of the most recent charts?
 
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19. Board Game: APBA Pro Baseball [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:3962]
Craig Artl
United States
New Berlin
Wisconsin
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I played Strat-o-Matic for years but APBA is now my game of choice. I am currently 400+ games into a replay of the 1969 National League. The game is quick and exciting and the stats are great.
 
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20. Board Game: En Garde [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:1871]
Mark Saya
United States
Los Angeles
California
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A stunningly good fencing game. Amazing what can be done with 25 cards!
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21. Board Game: Regatta [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:3623]
Aaron Sapp
United States
Columbia
Missouri
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This is a nice little sailing simulation.
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22. Board Game: Battleball [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:2193]
Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
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Another highly rated adrenaline-rush football variant.
 
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23. Board Game: Speed Circuit [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:1636]
Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
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I'm more tempted by this racing game than most. It's from the old 3M line, for which I have a sentimental attachment. And it gets the right kind of positive descriptions for my taste.
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24. Board Game: Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1662]
Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
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So many highly rated racing games! The theme just lends itself to boardgame mechanics, I guess.
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25. Board Game: Subbuteo [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:1284]
Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
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A very popular old soccer game -- finger-flicking good, they say.
 
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