Top-Ranked (Old) Games We Still Play

As part of the Oldies week, in addition to listing their top-rated games released before 2009, OG contributors are also taking a look at the old games that they still play. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to find out how much the top 50 ranked games on BGG (presumably the most popular among board game enthusiasts) are still being brought to the table on a regular basis. For the purpose of this exercise, we are considering only games released on or before 2009. We also divide the frequency of plays into the following categories:

  • Regular – at least 5 times in each of the last 3 years
  • Frequent – at least 3 times in each of the last 3 years
  • Sometimes – at least once in each of the last 3 years
  • Occasional – at least once in the last 3 years
  • Not in a While – have not played in the last 3 years
  • Never – have never played the game

So here’s the raw data from 14 of the OG contributors:

Most Played Games:

Many on the most played list are games OG contributors have rated in their top 3 of the era. It is probably also not surprising that most of the top 10 most-played games are 30-60 minute games, as they are easier to fit in between learning new games. Agricola and Age of Steam are the only two long games to make the list.

  • Dominion
  • Tichu
  • Stone Age
  • Pandemic
  • Agricola
  • Puerto Rico
  • Race for the Galaxy
  • Crokinole
  • Ra
  • Age of Steam

Least Played Games:

Four of the games on the BGG top-50 list have not been played by any of the contributors in the last 3 years. Eight more titles are played only 4 or fewer times collectively. Several of the games on the list are either quite long or are war games/games with direct confrontation. Most of these games are also never played at all by majority of the respondents.

  • Path of Glory
  • Here I Stand
  • Blood Bowl: Living Rule Book
  • Advanced Squad Leader
  • Railways of the World
  • Go
  • Twilight Imperium
  • Combat Commander: Europe
  • Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
  • Shogun
  • Chaos of the Old World
  • Imperial 2030

If we rule out the games that most of the respondents have never played (fewer than 6 people have never played), then the ‘least played’ games are:

  • Go
  • Shogun
  • Ticket to Ride: Europe
  • Ticket to Ride: Nordic Country
  • Die Macher
  • Railroad Tycoon
  • Age of Empires III
  • Imperial
  • El Grande
  • Space Alert
  • Dungeon Lords

It’s interesting that El Grande, a game that is rated in the top 3 of games released in 1990-1999 by the OG contributors, also is one of the least played top-ranked games.

Games that Everyone Has Played:

They may not have played the games in the last 3 years, but the following lists games that everyone has played at least once since the games’ release.

  • Agricola
  • Puerto Rico
  • Through the Ages
  • Power Grid
  • Dominion
  • Race for the Galaxy
  • El Grande
  • Tigris & Euphrates
  • The Princes of Florence
  • Tichu
  • Pandemic
  • Ra

As you can see, we do still play games more than 3 years old from time to time. However, none of the titles has been played by all respondents in the last 3 years. It may be that some of these games are difficult to get to the table, or it may be that some of the games are once-and-done for some of the respondents.

Respondents for the articles include: Ted Cheatham, Mark Jackson, Larry Levy, Matt Carlson, Joe Huber, Tom Rosen, Andrea Ligabue, Patrick Brennan, Fraser McHarg, Stephanie Kelleher, Jennifer Geske, Erik Arneson, Nate Beeler and Lorna Wong.

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7 Responses to Top-Ranked (Old) Games We Still Play

  1. Matt J Carlson says:

    Man, I’d LOVE to get El Grande to the table again soon… I find its largest barrier to entry is its length. By itself it doesn’t _have_ to be a long game, but people unfamiliar with the game or AP prone players can considerably up the playing time, making it go on too long for what it offers… maybe I can get it to the table this weekend at my local gaming convention…

    • huzonfirst says:

      Matt, the last time I played El Grande, it was with four other players with very limited experience with the game. It took over 3.5 hours and was VERY painful. After that, since none of my other games of it had been at all enjoyable, I decided it just wasn’t the game for me and have been happily avoiding it ever since.

  2. Eric Brosius says:

    I’m delighted to be able to say that I’ve played El Grande 45 times in the past 10 years. Every time I play it, I say to myself, “I should play El Grande more often.” If someone keeps the game moving, it takes less than two hours (at least, in the groups I play with.) It’s one of those games that lends itself well to having someone serve as “master of ceremonies” (for example, by reading the action cards each round as they are revealed—“well, Pat, first we have … Move the King!”)

  3. jgeske says:

    Someone who used to be part of one of my game groups would always mention El Grande as a possibility whenever there were 5 players and we were trying to figure out what to play, but as a running joke (of sorts), we never played the game when he requested. Someone we always managed to play it at least once a year when he wasn’t around (and would tell him about it later, of course). For me, it’s usually at a game convention when I get to play the game.

  4. Adam D says:

    El Grande is my favourite game, but I haven’t played it in about a year. It is such an intense game that those who don’t love it NEVER suggest it – and aren’t excited about playing it. That leaves a small window of opportunity, but when it has been mentioned in one group where I can get 3-5 interested, everyone thinks about the tough decision making and ends up playing Ascension instead.

    I think it’s the three tiered decision making – selecting Power Cards, choosing Action Cards, resolving Action Cards… that’s tough work.

  5. Adam D says:

    Those “least played” games are all pretty awesome. But I’m happy to play them just once a year – unless you play via Vassal or ACTS, difficult to get games such as Paths of Glory, Hannibal or ASL in.

    I’m surprised not many have played Railways of the World. Much preferable to Age of Steam or Steam, as it does away with the auctions and leaves the delivery system intact.

  6. Eric Brosius says:

    I’ve also played Paths of Glory at least once every year since I learned it in 2006. It is my favorite wargame. But it is a very different game than most of the games discussed on The Opinionated Gamers.

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