Rating System (Games)

Hi! Thanks for visiting the site and for giving your time to read what’s here. I’m just a guy with opinions, like anybody else; I hope you find something useful here. If there’s anything you’d like me to review, please let me know!

On this page, I’ve explained my rating system for tabletop games. This way, you can gauge just how far off base my values are from yours, and you’ll have a solid foundation for ignoring my advice.

I love a wide range of games in a variety of themes and genres, with varying levels of complexity and random interference. I have different circles of friends and family with whom I play different types of games. In general, I prefer games of medium complexity and length, which stoke the strategic and tactical fires a bit, but which do not consume entire weekends or days, nor tax my ever-failing brain too much. I’m a family man, after all; my lost weekends of Dungeons & Dragons are in the past, I’m afraid. But there are always exceptions. On this site, I’ll evaluate games based on five criteria: Complexity, Random Interference, Components, Aesthetics. Then I offer a final, overall score. Here’s what my categories mean:

This is a loose aggregation of three things: (a) how easy it is to memorize the rules without having to reference the manual or charts, (b) the number of decisions a player typically has to choose from or make, and (c) the amount of agony suffered by the player who is either fearing or experiencing the ramifications of the wrong decision. I rate complexity on a five-level scale, as shown below. Personally, I enjoy a wide range of games with varying complexity levels, but I like them more or less in the middle range. Anything at either extreme end I usually find unenjoyable. Here are my levels with what I’d consider a typical example of each level:

  • very low/simplistic  (Candy Land)
  • light/fun  (Risk)
  • medium/competitive  (Ticket to Ride)
  • high/intense  (Axis & Allies)
  • extremely high/insane  (Advanced Third Reich)

Random Interference
This is a measurement, expressed as a somewhat arbitrary percentage, of how heavily random chance influences the outcome of the game. This does not include secrecy, deception, or hidden information. For example, Stratego units are invisible to their opponent until attacked, but they have not been randomly placed, nor can their positions or strength be altered or affected by truly random interference, such as dice rolls or shuffled cards. As far as my personal preference, I can handle up to about 50% random interference and still enjoy the game.  Any more than that, and I feel that you’re not really playing a game anymore; you’re just practicing math and reading activities.  Here are my arbitrary levels with typical examples:

  • total  (Chutes & Ladders)
  • high  (Monopoly)
  • medium  (Blackbeard)
  • low  (Settlers of Catan)
  • negligible to none  (Diplomacy)

This is a traditional “letter grade,” evaluating the quality, sturdiness, durabiliy, etc., of the game components. As you might expect, “A” is high-quality, sturdy stuff; “D” is chincy, paper-thin stuff that won’t last you long.

Also expressed as a “letter grade,” aesthetics is distinguished from components in that aesthetics is concerned primarily with artwork, graphics, color schemes, and so on.

This last piece is just my all-in-all, holistic grade on the game. It isn’t derived from any sort of mathematical formula involving the other scores. It’s based totally on my personal enjoyment of the game and the likelihood of me playing it again.