Reader Poll: Do you prefer BGG high ranking games or Spiel Des Jahres?

Recently, Stephen Glenn put together a list of the highest ranked game on BoardGameGeek, for every year from 1979 to present; just for contrast, he also included the Spiel des Jahres winner. I found the list particularly interesting, as there is a fair amount of disdain on BGG for the Spiel des Jahres – but as I looked through the list, I found that among each pair of games, I more often preferred the Spiel des Jahres winner, in spite of some bent towards the classic Avalon Hill games that dominate the earlier years.

So I thought it might be interesting to open the question to readers here – how often do you prefer the highest ranked game, and how often do you prefer the Spiel des Jahres? To get a feel for the likely range, I invited all of the Opinionated Gamers writes to answer in advance, and the results were interesting…

On average, we’re split – preferring the BGG leader in 17 cases, and the Spiel des Jahres winner in 17 cases. The range isn’t large – no one selected fewer than 10 BGG leaders or 11 Spiel des Jahres winners. And the results are fairly evenly distributed.

Based upon the fairly even distribution, folks can be divided into five groups:

  • Strong alignment with BGG – siding with the BGG leader in 22 or more cases
  • Weak alignment with BGG – siding with the BGG leader in 19-21 cases
  • Split – siding with the BGG leader in 16-18 cases and with the SdJ winner in 16-18 cases
  • Weak alignment with SdJ – siding with the SdJ winner in 19-21 cases
  • Strong alignment with SdJ – siding with the SdJ winner in 22 or more cases

Of course, all of this data proves nothing. As you’ll note, there are a number of games which appear on both lists, due to the Spiel des Jahres not being aligned to a calendar year and being aligned to the first German release of a game rather than the first release overall. But it is suggestive – the writers for Opinionated Gamers, at least, seem to have opinions less congruous with BoardGameGeek than I would have expected. That my own preferences didn’t align was not a surprise – I preferred the Spiel des Jahres winner 23 times, slightly more often in the past decade – but that others didn’t align closer to BGG was a bit of a shock. I do believe that the rankings on BoardGameGeek have value, but that value doesn’t always translate well to the individual gamer.

So – please go ahead and take the poll, and mark which group you fit into. (For games you haven’t played, go ahead and take your best guess, based upon what you know of the games in question.) Do your results surprise you?

Ready – set – go…

(A) Dune / (B) Hare & Tortoise
(A) Civlization / (B) Rummikub
(A) Sherlock Homes Consulting Detective / (B) Focus
(A) Survive / (B) Enchanted Forest
(A) Up Front / (B) Scotland Yard

(A) Wizard / (B) Railway Rivals
(A) Advanced Squad Leader / (B) Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
(A) Die Macher / (B) Heimlich & Co.
(A) Liar’s Dice / (B) Auf Achse
(A) Merchant of Venus / (B) Barbarossa [the clay game]

(A) Space Hulk / (B) Cafe International
(A) The Republic of Rome / (B) Adel Verpflichtet
(A) Tichu / (B) Drunter und Drüber
(A) Modern Art / (B) Um Reifenbreite
(A) Magic: The Gathering / (B) Liar’s Dice

(A) Blood Bowl / (B) Manhattan
(A) El Grande / (B) Die Siedler von Catan
(A) Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage / (B) El Grande
(A) Euphrat & Tigris / (B) Mississippi Queen
(A) Samurai / (B) Elfenland

(A) Paths of Glory / (B) Tikal
(A) Princes of Florence / (B) Torres
(A) Hive / (B) Carcassonne
(A) Puerto Rico / (B) Villa Paletti
(A) Yinsh / (B) Alhambra

(A) Power Grid / (B) Ticket to Ride
(A) Twilight Struggle / (B) Niagara
(A) Through the Ages / (B) Thurn und Taxis
(A) Agricola / (B) Zooloretto
(A) Le Havre / (B) Keltis

(A) Dominion: Intrigue / (B) Dominion
(A) 7 Wonders / (B) Dixit
(A) Eclipse / (B) Qwirkle
(A) Lords of Waterdeep / (B) Kingdom Builder

When you are done – classify yourself in the poll below

If you’re interested, you can also indicate your preference in each matchup in the following polls:

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8 Responses to Reader Poll: Do you prefer BGG high ranking games or Spiel Des Jahres?

  1. Matt J Carlson says:

    Interesting. I was one of the columnists in the BGG-aligned group, but barely (with 22 votes for BGG titles.) While I favored those titles, if one were to ask how many I actually play, for those I’ve tried it would have probably favored the SdJ ones – mostly due to the circles I play in and the time I have to play games. (The BGG games tend to average far longer play times…)

  2. Interesting but the real news is that Wil Wheaton was not chosen for a pez figurine, in the New Star Trek Set.

  3. Doug says:

    21 BGG, but could have inserted several abstentions when I didn’t care for either choice.

    Can I have my 3 minutes back ;)

  4. Randy Cox says:

    Did I miss the link to Stephen’s geek list. I want to see how it compares with the Spiel des BGG rankings back when I created my first geek list in 2003.

  5. Chuck Waterman says:

    Huh? I don’t even get what the basis would be for this comparison. As I perceive it, the SdJ is for “family games” or light strategy games, and the BGG crowd is for medium to high level strategy games. There doesn’t seem to be much point to comparing them other than to say I fall more into the light strategy camp or the heavy strategy camp. Are we still viewing the SdJ as a measure of the best strategy
    game of the year? Surely, that is NOT what that award is measuring.

    • Joe Huber says:

      The SdJ is not explicitly for family games, but is looking for the best game for the overall German market, which typically essentially equates to the same thing.

      But the SdJ draws a lot of criticism on BGG, and I found it interesting that, as a group, the writers here preferred the SdJ winner as often as they preferred the BGG ranking leader. It’s no surprise that the readers align more closely with BGG – there’s obviously a reason that the BGG leaders have attained that perch.

      Personally, I view the SdJ winner as more likely to pick a game I’d enjoy playing than the BGG ranking leader. That’s it. But isn’t it useful to know that the writers here are much more split on their preferences than the readers?

      • huzonfirst says:

        Frankly, I’m not even sure the majority of *individual* BGG readers would strongly prefer the BGG list to the SdJ one. The readers “choose” the ratings as a group, which often doesn’t translate into individual preferences. For example, I’m rarely enthusiastic about the SdJ winning game and much prefer the high ranking games on the Geek. But the first half of the BGG list includes a lot of wargames and AT-style games that I don’t care for at all, so overall, my preferences were split pretty evenly between the two lists. Since many BGG readers (maybe the majority) won’t *simultaneously* like games as diverse as Survive, Up Front, Puerto Rico, Wizard, Republic of Rome, Liar’s Dice, Le Havre, and Hive, they might find themselves preferring the SdJ selection in many years, if only by default, just as the OG writers did. The BGG list is anything but a homogeneous group of games.

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