Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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Some games are easy to rate: Sleuth is a "10" for me and I don't have to think twice about it.

But then there are others -- the ones that are hard to assign a stable number to. Those are the games where, every time I look at the ratings, I think to myself: "No, wait, do I really think Game X is no better than Game Y? Let's move that. . . no, it doesn't look right there, either. . ."

Which games provoke the most mixed feelings in you that make them harder to rate?

A few of mine:

-- Stage II. Drifts a bit in my ratings. I know I love it, but it hasn't always been a 10, the way it is now. Last revision, I moved it up to a 10, simply because I love playing it, every time. But it's really out of date, and eventually we're going to run out of the questions. Does that mean it will then violate the guidelines for rating a game?

-- Wise and Otherwise. Have it at "9", even though each time I play it I enjoy it as much as any game, including Stage II. Strangely I'm less likely to ask to play it than Stage II, but I probably enjoy it more while playing (go figure) so I've got it that one shade lower based on its lower request frequency and my consciousness the eventual limits on its replayability. The fact that we will run out of unused questions in this game is part of what makes me hesitate to move it up to the 10s.

-- I'm the Boss. I keep going back and forth on whether I'm the Boss (and, for that matter, Santiago) is a 9. (At the moment I've got I'm the Boss at 9 and Santiago at 8.) In terms of sheer enjoyment value it's up there comfortably with the other 9s for me. But will we eventually find a point where this game where I decide the results are too random to enjoy? It hasn't hinted at that yet - the players who have played best have won. But I don't know whether that will hold up, and whether 9 is too high a rating as a result.

-- Pursue the Pennant and Stratomatic Baseball. I think I even had PtP at 10 at one point. They're both in the "chess" category of "lifetime achievement awards" -- games that proved themselves to me over many years. But frankly I don't play either much anymore, they don't fit into my lifestyle. So they keep slipping down the rankings. Both are at 8 now. It feels weird because they're surrounded by games I haven't played or enjoyed nearly as much, but at the same time, I am less likely to play these games now than those, so they feel too low and too high at the same time.

-- El Grande. I just don't know what to do with this game. I'm fascinated by the game in principle and really want another chance to play it again. But every time we're together, we all feel too tired or short of time to play it, so we haven't. I like the ideas in the game, but my memories of it are usually tense -- filled with distractions, people screwing up the rules and turn order, etc. I think about it far more than the other games I have rated at 8 or 7 but there are all sorts of deterrents to it that prevent a higher rating. 8 feels about right only because both 9 and 7 feel wrong.

-- Euphrat and Tigris -- I really struggled with rating Modern Art, LOTR: The Confrontation, and T&E -- all 3 games with high reputations that I think I might like more in the future, but have only enjoyed modestly on my early trials. Had T&E at 7, downgraded it to 6, because it is the one that frustrated me most on the last play. I want to try them all again, but mostly to see if I enjoy them more in the future. It feels too low to have T&E as a "6" but when I look at the 7s I generally see games that I enjoyed playing more.

-- Pacal. Don't know what to do with Pacal. There are some games that seem so simple and stripped-down, too much so to give a 9 or a 10 to, they just can't hold one's interest that long, can they? But each time I play Pacal I really enjoy it. Have it at a 7 now, but wonder if it needs to go up at some point.
 
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Who Am I Now?
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Lexington
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Symmetry
Of more interest to me is the perfect symmetry reflected in your game ratings. I presume this was planned, but why?
 
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Pierce Ostrander
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Albuquerque
New Mexico
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Me too
I think about my ratings regularly too. It is my habit to come to the geek and update "games played" after each play session (only about once or twice a week for me) and at the same time, I always look again at my rating and my comment, and most often update one or the other!

This is all subjective - not just the ratings, but the "rules" that we create for ourselves about how we rate games in general. I would suggest that most people do not strictly follow the BGG guidelines, which are based on how much you want to play the game and how you behave when in a group of people and the game is available for play.

For example: is each game a stand-alone or do we rate it relative to the other games we have played? Do we "cut games some slack" because our particular circumstances do not put us in situations that allow us to give it a "fair" rating? Do we try to keep our average rating at a particular number (say 7 or 6 or 5)?

I've seen people discuss their own personal rules for rating here before, and perhaps that is a way to "solve" your "problem" (assuming you are looking for a solution).

The only item I can specifically comment on is E&T. I owned the game for a long time and gave it a "7" based on 3 plays with 2 players (me and my wife). I stated the circumstances in my comment, so folks would know what my rating was based on. Much later, I got two chances to play the game with 4 players - all gamers. It was great. The rating went up and I changed my comment.

I guess my own "rule" for rating games is not ego-centric (in the strictest definition of the word). My ratings are "others-centric". The combination of my ratings and my comments will give you insight into me, the circumstances of my encounter(s) with each game, and also my opinions about the game itself and it's shortcomings. Hopefully, folks who read my ratings will have a bit more information that will enable them to judge whether THEY will like to or be able to play a particular game based on THEIR particular circumstances and preferences.

So, I guess my way of dealing with this is to keep my ratings and comments current and to deal with the nuances using a combination of the number and the comment field.


Foob

 
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Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
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OCD showing again. . .
Mark,

A very good question, one that probably cannot be answered without delving into the various psychological maladies from which I suffer. You'd note the same strange patterns if you actually watched my game playing as well.

Meaning, I'm very distrustful of my own gut. And with good reason. My gut leads me astray all the time. I used to get crushed repeatedly at Lost Cities, because my intuition about what was a smart play and what wasn't was way, way off -- as I discovered when I sat down one afternoon and subjected the game to a lengthy statistical analysis. Now I play according to a "system" and I do really well, conscious of each time the system over-rides my gut. Almost every game I play well is a case of me learning where to rein in my intuition and discipline it with a bit of a system.

My gaming colleagues will tell you that I often do things that make no intuitive sense to any of us, because I'm usually testing what some type of deductive theory is telling me to do. Sometimes it takes me a long time to refine one, during which time I get beaten pretty badly.

What does all this have to do with the weird symmetry of my game ratings? I think it springs from the same source. Most normal people would just sit down and rate games according to what their gut tells them, and let the chips fall where they may with respect to the distribution of results. My gut, however, is such a devalued commodity in my thinking that I am always sort of checking, consciously or subconsciously, whether the distributional results match up with my aggregate view of things. My average game rating is a 6.5, which roughly matches my feeling about a "typical game" in my collection. If I just rated all the games without watching the distribution, the answer might not be near there, might actually be up in the 7s, or down in the 5s. If there were a big discrepancy between my sense of the whole, and what arises from the sum of the parts, something would seem amiss to me, and I would adjust accordingly.

That's a bit weird, I suppose. But that psychological quirk is only part of it. A bigger part is probably that there's very little in life that I do based on gut instinct alone. On the job, I find that my first reaction in every situation is usually a bad one -- my best one comes the next morning, after I sleep on it. So I'm always checking my gut instincts, often limiting them according to some type of larger system of thought. Obviously, in this case, a larger system of thought needn't produce a perfect symmetry, but it would pretty much always in my case, influence the distribution of ratings.
 
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