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Subject: Rating Expansions rss

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Matt Thrower
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Hi,

It suddenly occurred to me that we might benefit from some guidelines for how we're supposed to go about rating games and expansions on the site.

The game that prompted this thought was Twilight Imperium (Third Edition). Without the expansion that game has a number of problems - the expansion solves most of them. I've seen people improve their rating of the game by 2-3 points when they start using the expansion.

So let's say I'd rate the base game as a 7, but a 9 with the expansion in play. To me that means I ought to rate the base game a seven and the expansion a nine. This seems the sensible way forward since then the ratings of those who've played without the expansion remain valid.

The problem is that that's not what a lot of people are doing - when they acquire the expansion they're rating both a nine because now a nine describes how much they're enjoying the game play experience. TI3 is currently rated 23rd on the site - I'll wager it was nowhere near that high before the expansion was released. When people come to analyse games and read comments from their geekbuddies and others many won't mention whether their rating includes the expansion - and so people might be deceived into trying a game they might need to spend a lot of extra money on to enjoy, or into avoiding a game they might have a great time with if they had the expansion.

Does anyone else think we might benefit from some guidance on this issue, or am I just taking the whole thing waaaay too seriously?

Cheers,
Matt
 
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Mike Bazynski
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in your example I would rate TI 7 and the expansion around 10 - addressing all of the flaws of the original makes the expansion near perfect in my view.

(but hey - I give 5-6 settlers expansion a 10 even though the game sucks for me just as much with the expansion as without it. if a 5-6 expansion adds support to more players in what to me is a perfect way, it deserves a 10. that the game is not so much fun regardless of the expansion is totally irrelevant to me when rating the expansion itself)
 
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Well I've hit all three scenarios. Power Grid I rate a 9, because it's a great game, but with the Italy map, man does it ever dial in on quality, and I give it a 10. But there are expansions that fall into the same level as the game. Many AoS maps don't make the game better, or worse, but "different". So I rate those to be about the same gaming experience. On the other hand some expansions do nothing for me, and actually worsen the gaming experience(like some of the Settlers exps.) So I think they will always range in ratings according to the experience they give to the base game.
 
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Anthony Simons
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Matt, you're spot on about the way in which they ought to be rated. I don't really watch other people's ratings that closely but I know what you mean.

Still, as was discussed recently on FATtie's blog, the ratings here don't hold much sway over most peoples' opinions.
 
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Ken B.
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pwn3d wrote:
fellonmyhead wrote:

Still, as was discussed recently on FATtie's blog, the ratings here don't hold much sway over most peoples' opinions.


Maybe over there they don't. Any game that I own not in the BGG top 500 on this site gets a serious cost/benefit review.




Yeah, see, THAT'S not hive-mindish.


I mean, it's your loss, I suppose...does the very idea of the conformity you're espousing there not trouble you at all?



Matt, if I do bump up a base game due to its expansion I mention this in the rating itself. Nothing wrong with that.



EDIT: I had to have a look--91 of my 173 games fall outside of the top 500. I am SO in need of a "serious cost/benefit review."

yuk
 
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pwn3d wrote:
fellonmyhead wrote:

Still, as was discussed recently on FATtie's blog, the ratings here don't hold much sway over most peoples' opinions.


Maybe over there they don't. Any game that I own not in the BGG top 500 on this site gets a serious cost/benefit review.


A few years ago that would have been true. But with the inclusion of At'ers and wargamers, games like Battlelore and Paths of Glory creeping to the top of the ratings ladder now makes me question the ratings even more. Luckily I only correlate with people I know, and the styles they like compared to mine.
 
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Richard Irving
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Certainly it is reasonable if the game is improved with the expansion, most people give the expansion a higher rating. If the game worse is with the expansion, the expansion gets a lower rating.

The problem with expansions and ratings is that not everyone who plays the base game plays with the expansion and that can have a major affect on averages. People enjoyed the base game are much more likely to try the expansion than those who hated the base game. ("You guys are playing "Twilight Empires" with expansion. I am sorry I have to wash my hair tonight....")

A simple example: 10 raters for a game. Each gives a different rating: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10. The average rating for this group will be 5.5.

Now the expansion comes out. Everyone who hated the base game (rate it 5 or less) decides to wash their hair. The ones who liked the base game (6 or higher) try the expansion and everyone thinks the game is MUCH worse with the expansion and give the expansion 2 rating points below their rating for the base game: 4 5 6 7 8.

The average for the expansion though is 6.0! Despite everyone who tried it hating the expansion, it gets a higher average because the expansion "lost" its non-fans from the rating mix.

So by looking at the average ratings without looking at each individual's opinion, one might think the expansion improves the game when it manifestly does not. To me, this is a much bigger problem than people modifying their rating of the base game because of the expansion--after their are several games that aren't really played without expansions: CCG's, ASL, Up Front, etc.
 
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Darren M
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Personally I rate the base games on essentially how good they are without any expansions... and the expansions I rate up, down or the same based on whether they make the base game better, worse or no different. I can see some people rating based on the expansions included as that's how they actually play the game and their opinion is based on their experiences with the expanded version of the game.

If we look at the big picture... I think overall things even out as some people rate one way and others another way and this is true across all games so relative comparisons are still valid.
 
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Ken B.
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pwn3d wrote:

Sure, But I assumed that people would not banzai and start burning their games that don't meet my quick top 500 criteria.

Anyway I have been using the quick top 500 rule to at least limit the scope of getting my collection size down.




Fair enough. I'd say you're missing out on some great games sometimes but looks like you have your hands full already.

It's like...just because a group of people don't dig something, it doesn't mean YOU won't. But I understand your pain at wanting to winnow down a collection. But then I'm all "Well, this is great in X situation" or "My kids like this game" or "Who knows when I'll have the craving for an abstracted deterministic combat game?"
 
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Ken B.
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pwn3d wrote:
MWChapel wrote:

Luckily I only correlate with people I know, and the styles they like compared to mine.


Do you use the Geekbuddy Game Analyzer or some other tool?

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekbuddy.php3?action=analyze

It would be cool if it could tell me what the average rating for all of my owned games for a group or groups of geekbuddies.

Then of course I don't really use my geekbuddies for rating analysis but as a contact manager for people I have played games with and post neat stuff on here.




You can use Geekbuddy groups to help with this.
 
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Mark McEvoy
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pwn3d wrote:
MWChapel wrote:

Luckily I only correlate with people I know, and the styles they like compared to mine.


Do you use the Geekbuddy Game Analyzer or some other tool?


While he may or may not use this tool, here is friendless' tool for determining which users are 'most correlated' to your tastes. In combination with geekbuddy analysis, it could be quite useful: use the tool to find people whose opinions by-and-large come closest to matching yours (and make them a geekbuddy group), and then for any individual game check to see concensus, deviation, and text descripton from those people.

http://www.lautapelaaja.net/bgg/correlation.php
 
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franklincobb wrote:
.



EDIT: I had to have a look--91 of my 173 games fall outside of the top 500. I am SO in need of a "serious cost/benefit review."

yuk


I don't need a cost/ben review. I just look at what you own and rate high, and I can already ascertain not to buy it. Damn plastic junkie.



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Ken B.
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pwn3d wrote:
But the problem is often I DON'T get to play the games I want to play.

Otherwise I would have played Europa Universalis which still has 'protected' status in my collection, even though it does not look like this game will be played in the next 30 years.



Amen, brotha. I knew eventually you and I would find common ground on something. There just ain't enough time to play, idnit?

laugh
 
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Ken B.
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MWChapel wrote:
franklincobb wrote:
.



EDIT: I had to have a look--91 of my 173 games fall outside of the top 500. I am SO in need of a "serious cost/benefit review."

yuk


I don't need a cost/ben review. I just look at what you own and rate high, and I can already ascertain not to buy it. Damn plastic junkie.






Why I oughta....


Say, do you know a way to melt down plastic and fit it in a hyperdermic needle? Just askin' *shakes*
 
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Ray
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thatmarkguy wrote:
While he may or may not use this tool, here is friendless' tool for determining which users are 'most correlated' to your tastes.

http://www.lautapelaaja.net/bgg/correlation.php

FYI, that's Mikko Saari's (msaari) not Friendless' Tools ( http://www.lautapelaaja.net/bgg ). Friendless just links to them.
 
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Michael Webb
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I had to deal with this a couple of years ago when I started going crazy for Age of Steam. I understand that there is never going to be a consensus on how to rate expansions, but this is the system that works for me...

On games that have a large "line" of expansion (i.e.: system games) I rate the base game for how I feel about the system overall, and then I rate each individual expansion based on 5 as "Does not improve the base game", 4 "Not as good as base game", 6 "mildly improves the base game" and so forth. I use this sytem currently for both Power Grid and Age of Steam because, frankly, if I didn't, my ratings for all of the expansions would be useless because I rate AoS the system as a 10 (hence, any expansion which improves the game would get another 10) and Power Grid, the system as a 9.

For games with very few expansions, I tend to rate each "version" of the game by itself though. Hence, I rate El Grande a 7, King & Intrigue as an 8. I rate Puerto Rico an 8, and the Expansion as a 10. I think on the small scale, and given lower base ratings numbers, doing expansions this way works, but I think the above method (start each expansion as a 5, the "average" experience for that system) works better when you have a LOT of expansions to rate, particularly for games that you rate a 9 or a 10 to begin with.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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Damn, I thought this was going to be about some expansion to the rating system.
 
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Rich Shipley
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fellonmyhead wrote:
Still, as was discussed recently on FATtie's blog, the ratings here don't hold much sway over most peoples' opinions.


The ratings reflect opinions, they shouldn't sway your opinion of a game you have played.
 
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Anthony Simons
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rri1 wrote:
So by looking at the average ratings without looking at each individual's opinion, one might think the expansion improves the game when it manifestly does not. To me, this is a much bigger problem than people modifying their rating of the base game because of the expansion--after their are several games that aren't really played without expansions: CCG's, ASL, Up Front, etc.


Of course, when not one rating is meaningful because nobody adheres to the same rating scale/guide then averages are just as meaningless. Indeed, assessing the worth of any game based on any kind of average rating is asking for trouble (whether or not the rating system is properly followed).

IMO although what you say is true regarding the natural selection producing higher ratings for expansions there is a second problem with looking at it that way. The only people likely to be interested in the expansion will be owners of the base game - outside of those few the ratings are meaningless.

Sure, this might mean the ranking in a system like BGG uses will be rather off the mark; but I'm half-certain there are statistical anomalies in more than just expansions.
 
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Philip Thomas
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I rate the base game as a game without the expansion, and the expansion as played with the basegame. If there was a second expansion, I would rate it as played with the basegame and the first expansion, but would not alter my rating of those.

Of course, this means that my rating of the basegame will tend to get stuck in a timewarp, because I generally like to play a game with its expansion if I have the expansion, so my rating of the basegame will only reflect those plays I had of it before the expansion...
 
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Anthony Simons
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rshipley wrote:
fellonmyhead wrote:
Still, as was discussed recently on FATtie's blog, the ratings here don't hold much sway over most peoples' opinions.


The ratings reflect opinions, they shouldn't sway your opinion of a game you have played.


Remarkable, Mister Shipley! Folks, the Amazing Shipley will now demonstrate how to pick holes in a net.
 
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Kevin H
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Geosphere wrote:
Damn, I thought this was going to be about some expansion to the rating system.


Well maybe we can steer it that way!

The expansions are already separated from the base-game ratings, so why not give them a different scale altogether?

Example:

"When playing the base-game, I use this expansion:
1-Never, and I will never play with it again.
2-Seldom, but sometimes I throw it in to add some flavour.
3-Occassionally, it is good but sometimes prefer to play without it.
4-Usually, I love it and prefer playing with it.
5-Always, and I would never play again without it."

Something like that...

I think that would give you a bit more information than is currently available.

Some expansions are truly MUST haves. Some are crap and useless. Some are nice to throw in every once in a while. Some are fantastic but are sometimes too long or fiddly for a quick game.

I think with a scale like this, gamers will get out of the "recruiting" mindset of "EVERYTHING CARCASSONNE IS PERFECT!!!", and look at it rationally. Which expansions are important, or used often, etc.?
 
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Dan Freedman
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I rate expansions just like I would rate the base game...based on BGG guidelines about how much I like the game and how often I'd like to play it. It does skew the ratings up since, like you said, expansions are mostly going to be played by those already predisposed to liking the game. But I think expansions are excluded from the rankings unless it is a completely seperate game. No system is perfect, but I think they've done a good job w/it.

Someone brought up Age of Steam. I played the Scandinavia map a year or so ago and thought it was good...I might suggest it and would never turn it down...so an 8. So that expansion was rated an 8 for a year. Then I played the flip-side, Korea last night...wow. This is perhaps my favorite expansion. I rated it a 10...as I would always want to play this map. The entire expansion was given a 9 (average). But Korea is so good, I really feel like I should bump up the entire expansion to a 10 as I would buy "the expansion" and always want to play it. It gets "saddled" with a "9" because it has an extra map.
 
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Rich Shipley
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fellonmyhead wrote:
Remarkable, Mister Shipley! Folks, the Amazing Shipley will now demonstrate how to pick holes in a net.


That was MUCH more helpful than explaing what you meant. Good work!

On the original topic, I rate games based on the best way to play them (in my opinion of course). That might include an expansion or house rules (I note this on my ratings comments). If an expansion makes radical changes, I'll rate it as a separate game.
 
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Michael Webb
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Double Dan wrote:
Someone brought up Age of Steam. I played the Scandinavia map a year or so ago and thought it was good...I might suggest it and would never turn it down...so an 8. So that expansion was rated an 8 for a year. Then I played the flip-side, Korea last night...wow. This is perhaps my favorite expansion. I rated it a 10...as I would always want to play this map. The entire expansion was given a 9 (average). But Korea is so good, I really feel like I should bump up the entire expansion to a 10 as I would buy "the expansion" and always want to play it. It gets "saddled" with a "9" because it has an extra map.


As I said though, this example works well only if you have a smaller sample size, or given a lower base rating. Age of Steam is a good example for me, because I'm an Age of Steam nut. I own all of the expansions, I play the game multiple times per month. I rate Age of Steam a 10. I think most of the expansions improve the game system. By baseline criteria, I would have a whole slew of 10's, and there would be no way to actually differentiate which boards I prefer (just ignore my Age of Steam Geeklist rating thing ).

To me, the purpose of ranking is to convey what one thinks of a given game, and to demonstrate preferences. Giving all of the expansions a high rating would not accomplish this, which is why I decided to adopt a different standard for rating expansions for "system games" like AoS.
 
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