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How do we rate the games we review?

When our channel was started, we decided to make three different kinds of episodes: reviews, gameplays and top lists. Most of our episodes are reviews, the second most frequent are top lists, and gameplay videos lags behind both of them (for various reasons, they are the hardest to shoot, so we can’t make a lot of them).

When I decided to review games, I was sure I want to give my opinion about the games to the viewers too. In our three years of operation, the review episodes became more and more sophisticated, concluding in the current structure; we start with a generic presentation about the game. In the second part, I take a look at the content of the box, and in the third, I present the rules in a non-exhaustive way. In these first three parts, I try to be as objective, as possible. If I have a strong feeling or experiences, I share that subjective information in the first three parts, but the main goal of these parts are objective description.

The fourth part is subjective; I present my opinion based on my own experiences. I watch board game review videos too, and I appreciate their opinion about the games they review. But if you want to give your opinion about a game, it’s easier to do with some kind of rating system, than with verbal descriptions. In the first year of our channel’s „history”, I used the BoardGameGeek’s rating system. If you’re unfamiliar with the rating, you can score games based on how much do you like to play the game. The scores are:

1 – Defies description of a game. You won’t catch me dead playing this. Clearly broken.

2 – Extremely annoying game. Won’t play this ever again.

3 – Likely won’t play this again, although could be convinced. Bad.

4 – Not so good. It doesn’t get me but could be talked into it on occasion.

5 – Average game, slightly boring, take it or leave it.

6 – OK game, some fun or challenge at least, will play sporadically, if in the right mood.

7 – Good game, usually willing to play.

8 – Very good game. I like to play. Probably I’ll suggest it and will never turn down a game.

9 – Excellent game. Always want to play it.

10 – Outstanding. Always want to play and expect this will never change.

I’m sure you can see the problem here: this rating tries to interpret gamers’ willingness to play a game, and thus it’s unsuitable for reviewing the games. About eight months after we started the channel, I decided to change the rating system, because I felt uneasy to rate some games in the BGG system. Besides the obvious, logical reasons, I had a very personal reason for the change; we have a game in our collection, that I like, but we play a few times.

If I had to rate this game in the BoardGameGeek system, I would have to rate my chances to play the game, and because I’m a realist, I would rate it very low. But my chances of playing this game is not based on my love for it, but on the chances, my gaming group is willing to play it (they’re not). There are whole years when I didn’t play Twilight Imperium, but I would rate it the highest in any rating system. To solve the paradox, I chose to change my rating to the traditional, based on the Hungarian school grading system. The reviewed games would get a mark between one and five, according to this subjective system:

1 – Insufficient. This is not a board game, because it’s broken. For instance: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: A Board Game of English Magic.

2 – Sufficient. Not a good game, I don’t want to play it again. I don’t like the gameplay, the experience is more frustration than fun. For instance: Galaxy Truckers.

3 – Mediocre. Not good, but not bad. The gameplay and the experience are not fun enough for me. We won’t put it into our collection, but f you want to play this game with me, I’m ok with that. For instance: Blood Rage, Mage Knight, Troyes.

4 – Good. The game works well, it’s fun, I want to play it again, and there’s a chance for the game to make it into our collection. For instance: Cultistorm, Brass,

5 – Excellent. This game has something, either in the rules and mechanics or in the gameplay experience, that other games don’t have. This is a must-have for our collection. For instance: Twilight Imperium, Kingdomino, Firefly: The Game.

These marks are subjective opinions based on objective facts. In other words, I base my subjective scoring on hard facts and reasonable personal game experiences. I can’t say I don’t like this game in a review, only that based on this or that fact, it isn’t good. Neither the publisher nor the personality of the designer could influence my review. It is also irrelevant if the theme or the mechanics of the game are used in a thousand other. Also, I never take the expansions into account. If I mention them, either in a good or bad way, I still leave them out from the rating, which is always based on the base game only.

Do you have any games you would rate 1 – Insufficient in our system? Please share your thoughts and opinions with us in the comment section below!

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