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The 2022 Board Game Shelf Analysis

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Here’s that long-promised write-up of our 2022 board game cupboard clearance–yay, lists! Yay, statistics! Since I’ve never done this kind of post before, it might be best to start off with a list—obviously—of everything we own, after cleaning up. From hereon, we could go forward with a yearly post discussing the delta’s: the old games that left the closet and the new games that entered it. This has been a small side project for a few weeks: throwing out and rearranging everything, carefully constructing a list, adding color-coded scores, applying some statistics, scrolling through others' GeekLists, thinking about what to buy next, …—all these things made me happy, so mission accomplished.

'The List' in the making, and the cleaned up board game shelves, with the crossed-out games given the boot. I did my best to hide all Magic stuff.

Since I had to digitize the list anyway to gather some more interesting insights, here’s a crude table with columns as follows: game name, BoardGameGeek average score (1-10), own score (4: Great!, 3: Good, 2: Average, 1: Bad, see my grading systems discussion), BoardGameGeek weight (1-5), estimated plays (From ++; played a lot, to -; barely played1).

Game Score (BGG/Own) Weight Plays
Café International 6.2 (2) 1.7 ++
Imperial Settlers 7.4 (4) 2.8 +
Carson City 7.2 (3) 3.2 -
Paris Cité de la Lumière 7.4 (3) 2.04 -
Time’s Up! 7.3 (1) 1.2 -
Machi Koro 6.6 (2) 1.5 +
Uxmal 5.6 (1) 2.0 -
Tiny Epic Zombies 7.0 (3) 2.5 -
Mille Bornes 5.8 (2) 1.3 ++
Othello 6.1 (2) 2.1 -
Watergate 7.9 (3) 2.3 -
Wool Rules 6.0 (2) 1.5 -
Llamaland 7.4 (4) 2.0 -
Heckmeck Deluxe 7.1 (2) 1.1 -
Pay Day 4.9 (1) 1.2 +
Kid-Cala 6.8 (3) 1.5 ++
Ramses II 5.8 (1) 1.3 -
Star Wars Risk 7.0 (2) 1.9 -
Agricola 7.9 (4) 3.6 ++
Ora & Labora 7.7 (4) 3.9 -
Le Havre 7.9 (4) 3.7 -
Patchwork 7.6 (4) 1.6 ++
Robin of Locksley 7.0 (2) 1.9 -
Nightfall 6.5 (3) 2.6 -
At the Gates of Loyang 7.4 (4) 3.1 +
Fields of Arle 8.1 (4) 3.9 -
Memoir ‘44 7.6 (4) 2.3 -
Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries 7.6 (3) 2.0 ++
Glasgow 7.2 (3) 2.1 -
Mr. Jack 7.0 (4) 2.2 ++
Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers 7.1 (3) 1.9 +
Race for the Galaxy 7.8 (4) 3.0 ++
Dominion 7.6 (4) 2.4 +
Friday 7.1 (4) 2.2 -
Al Cabohne 6.0 (3) 1.8 -
Bohnanza 7.0 (4) 1.7 ++
Hero Realms 7.6 (4) 1.9 +
Hive Pocket 7.7 (4) 2.3 ++
Guillotine 6.5 (3) 1.3 +
Saboteur: The Duel 6.0 (1) 1.3 -
Morels 7.0 (3) 1.7 +
The Bottle Imp 6.7 (2) 1.9 -
13 Dead End Drive 6.0 (1) 1.4 -
Labyrinth: The Card Game 5.6 (2) 1.2 ++
The Quest for El Dorado 7.6 (4) 1.9 -

I had some “research questions” (this academitis fever is getting worse, sorry) that might accompany the data so I came up with two scatter plots: one with BGG’s average score and one with my own rating applied to each game. The symbols and colors encode the plays column: red/upside-down triangle is barely played (-), orange/block is played quite a bit (+) and the green/upwards-pointing triangle represents many plays (++):

A scatter plot of scores (x-axis) and game weight (y-axis) with plays encoded in the symbol.

All right, so what does that teach us?

  1. BoardGameGeek’s opinion nicely overlaps with mine. Correlations between the BGG score and my own score are as follows, grouped per play symbol -, +, and ++ respectively: 0.74, 0.94, 0.86. Those are some surprisingly strong correlations! Some games though, such as Labyrinth, Guillotine, and Al-Cabohne, I rate (much) higher than the BGG community does. (I like planting beans. Sorry!)
  2. There seems to be a relation between weight and BGG score—at least for the games in my collection. Indeed: 0.63, a moderate to strong correlation.
  3. What’s up with all those red triangles floating on top of the rest? The heavier a game, the less likely it sees the table! I know many people judge the staying power of a board game by the amount of times it is actually played, but I disagree. My wife dislikes heavy hitters such as Fields of Arle while I love them. Since we mostly play together, the simpler games also see a fair bit of playtime. That could also mean that…
  4. Since I also tend to rate heavier games higher (same correlation, 0.63), I urgently need to meet up more with friends to play the heavier games in the - range! “We should make this a recurring thing." For how long have we been saying that now?
  5. Judging from the second plot, there are too many games I don’t like still in this list, and don’t even see many play time. Again, this is a bit unfair since my wife likes to keep hold of nostalgic simple games from her childhood such as Dead End Drive or Ramses, even though we don’t play them often. This is my personal score, not hers, and we obviously collectively own everything.
  6. Averages: BGG score 6.94/10, own score 2.89/4 (7.23/10), weight 2.09/5. Perhaps that means I could be a tad more critical—or it just means we indeed made the right decisions keeping the games we love and getting rid of the ones we don’t like.
  7. Average plays: 1.69/3. Not something to be particularly proud of… I should look into playing more games in solo mode, some like Arle are an excellent fit for it.

Okay, I know it, the graph shows it, the photograph shows it… We’ll have to talk about the elephant in the room: the overload of “Euro” Uwe Rosenberg games that are heavy and never see play. There are still games in the closet that need to be replayed and then perhaps let go of: Le Havre (too similar to Agricola and Arle), Nightfall (Dominion with direct interaction and weird chaining that my play group doesn’t like), Carson City (yet another worker placement game that’s better with 3, but I love the theme), some only mildly entertaining smaller card games we’re not yet sure of, etc.

I tried including a “optimal number of players” property in there, but it would be a bit too much. A quick count says the following about the collection:

  1. 26 out of 45 games (58%) play great with two players—14 of those (31%) even exclusively. We try to keep an eye on that.
  2. 15 games (33%) are card-based. I love card games. Including Magic, of course.
  3. Only 24% of our games see regular play (++). 20% now and then (+), and 56% almost never (-). Ouch. This again isn’t a very accurate statistic: we bought The Quest for El Dorado last week and so far we think it’s awesome but it’s obviously only seen play three or so times. It’s a fairly telling estimation though.

The following games were cleared out for this 2022 edition: Amon-Ra, Rock, Paper, Wizard, Waku-Waku, Revolver, Stratego Legends, Cottage Garden, King of Tokyo, Cartagena, The Big Book of Madness, Spyfall 2, Exploding Kittens, Escape the Labyrinth, Munchkin Cthulhu.

So what’s next? I just ordered Jaipur and Dice Realms! I was on the edge between Dice Realms and Roll for the Galaxy, which I played and loved, but since I already own Race, it would probably see more “shelf time” than “table time”. Do you have any recommendations based on the above list? I’d love to hear about your collection!

Dang it, now I need to make a top 5 or top 10… I’ll leave that for Christmas.

  1. I know you can keep track of your plays with your BoardGameGeek account. I gave up a long time ago, so these are estimated guesses put into three rough categories. ↩︎

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I'm Wouter Groeneveld, a Brain Baker, and I love the smell of freshly baked thoughts (and bread) in the morning. I sometimes convince others to bake their brain (and bread) too.

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