Golden Geek Madness

BoardGameGeek announced the winners of the Golden Geek awards last week, including the Game of the Year – Splendor.  The Opinionated Gamers unsurprisingly have diverse opinions about Splendor.  But we thought, why stop there?  Let’s share our opinions about all of the Golden Geek Game of the Year winners.  So we’ll do this in the same format that we used for Feld Madness last year, where we each individually rated all of Feld’s games on the OG scale and then calculated aggregate ratings to rank his ludography.  This time we’ll try it for the Golden Geeks, and if folks like this, then maybe we’ll do the same thing for other awards or designers.

Aggregate Ratings (4 = Love It; 3 = Like It; 2 = Neutral; 1 = Not For Me)

[Game name – Average rating (Total # of raters, Standard deviation)]

  • Agricola – 3.1  (24, 0.99)
  • Terra Mystica – 3.0  (21, 0.95)
  • Dominion – 2.9  (24, 0.85)
  • Caylus – 2.8  (24, 0.93)
  • Hansa Teutonica – 2.8  (24, 1.07)
  • Splendor – 2.3  (23, 0.93)
  • Dominant Species – 2.1  (16, 1.20)
  • Eclipse – 2.1  (17, 1.11)
  • Shogun – 1.9  (16, 0.68)

Agricola takes the grand prize as the most beloved Golden Geek winner among the OG. Although Dominion is the only game on the list to get no “Not For Me” ratings, with everyone at least “Neutral” toward it or better.  Every single other game had at least a couple “Not For Me” ratings, so I guess Agricola is the favorite and Dominion is the least offensive.  Unsurprisingly, Dominant Species and Eclipse have the highest standard deviations, with opinions on those two games particularly polarized between love it or hate it.  They also have fewer raters, presumably given the time investment required to learn and play those games.  All 24 OG contributors have played Agricola, Dominion, Caylus, and Hansa Teutonica, with Splendor and Terra Mystica close behind.  Below are all of the individual comments and ratings for a bit more detail.

Individual Ratings

Joe Huber

I don’t find the Geek awards useful.  As a result, I didn’t even bother voting this year.  So far, the winners have been:

Caylus – Didn’t appeal initially, and after a second play to check, it’s a game I won’t play again.

Shogun – Not bad, but a poor substitute for Wallenstein; the square map works much better.

Agricola – Not bad, but I have no interest in playing it further.  Easily my favorite of the winners.

Dominion – Sorry, Dale, but the randomly negative cards just don’t work for me.

Hansa Teutonica – Yuck.  Yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck.

Dominant Species – Not played; no interest.

Eclipse – Not played; would be happy to play half a game, but no one ever takes me up on this.

Terra Mystica – Not played; no interest.

Splendor – I’ve been surprised by how positive the reaction to this game have been.  Didn’t do anything for me; I played it a second time because folks wanted to, and it’s enough to keep me from considering a third play.

The Spiel des Jahres hits home with me much more often (i.e., more than a 0% hit rate).  It’s kind of nice that this year’s winner is a game of enough interest that I’ve actually _played_ it – and that it’s not Hansa Teutonica.  But – as weak as I found 2014, Splendor isn’t on my personal top 50 list for the year…

  • Love It – None
  • Like It – None
  • Neutral – Agricola, Shogun, Dominion
  • Not For Me – Caylus, Hansa Teutonica, Splendor

Larry Levy

Okay, I’ll play along:

Caylus – Very good game, but I am far behind the power curve.

Shogun – Never played, because I strongly dislike Wallenstein so much.

Agricola – Excellent game, possibly overtaken by Caverna.

Dominion – Don’t care for deckbuilders.

Hansa Teutonica – Good game, I’m somewhat behind power curve.  Like latest expansion.

Dominant Species – Too overwrought for my tastes.  I might like it more if they lopped off a third of the options.

Eclipse – Nice ideas, but too long and too much luck for my tastes.  I could probably be talked into trying it again.

Terra Mystica – Excellent game; wish I were better at it!

Splendor – Meh.

So by OG standards, that’s 3 Loves, 1 Like, 4 Neutrals, and 1 Not for Me.  Decent, but not great (particularly since Caylus is almost as much a Like as a Love).  Still, it’s a considerably better batting average for me than the SdJs!

  • Love It – Agricola, Terra Mystica, Caylus
  • Like It – Hansa Teutonica
  • Neutral – Splendor, Dominion, Eclipse, Dominant Species
  • Not For Me – Shogun

Tom Rosen

The Golden Geek has a pretty great track record with me since I really love 4 of the winners.  The last couple years have been abysmal though since I really strongly dislike Terra Mystica and Splendor… hope this doesn’t become a trend.  I’m amazed at how much I seem to differ from the rest of the OG crew on Hansa Teutonica and Dominant Species.  I definitely thought those would be more widely beloved.

  • Love It – Caylus, Hansa Teutonica, Dominant Species, Eclipse
  • Like It – Shogun, Agricola
  • Neutral – Dominion
  • Not For Me – Terra Mystica, Splendor

Ben McJunkin

I like Splendor.  Thought about buying it.  But I also kinda like Camel Up, so what do I know?  Also, the Golden Geek seems to work for me.

  • Love It – Hansa Teutonica, Dominant Species, Terra Mystica
  • Like It –  Agricola, Dominion, Splendor
  • Neutral – Caylus
  • Not For Me – Eclipse

Greg Schloesser

Note that my “Love it!” for Caylus is perhaps nostalgic, as I haven’t played the game in years (a situation I must rectify soon).  While I admire the design of Agricola–and really enjoy its offspring Le Havre–I found the game too frustrating for me.

  • Love It – Caylus
  • Like It – Hansa Teutonica, Dominion, Terra Mystica
  • Neutral – Eclipse, Splendor
  • Not For Me – Agricola

Matt Carlson

Caylus – Like it quite a bit

Shogun – Love playing Wallenstein online since there are so few actions.  Otherwise a decent game.

Agricola – Excellent game

Dominion – Very fond of the game, got burned out with the many expansions though (own but don’t play them since they add more work to an already “slow” setup time.)

Hansa Teutonica – Actually a very big fan of this –> would like to try the expansions (hoping the new one comes to the US)

Dominant Species – Like it, but too long…lt falls to neutral or so

Eclipse – Cool looking in many ways, but way too long for the amount of luck that can kick in… (also “take that” in there as well.)

Terra Mystica – Decent game, haven’t played much but not driven to do more

Splendor – OK game, but awfully dry for my taste (bonus pts for easy to teach non-gamers.)

So… Looks like the Golden Geek _used_ to be good for me…

  • Love It – Caylus, Hansa Teutonica, Dominion, Agricola
  • Like It – Shogun
  • Neutral – Terra Mystica
  • Not For Me – Eclipse, Dominant Species (I enjoy both against the computer on my iPad though – so much better when it plays much faster.)


Awards don’t influence my purchasing at all anymore. The SdJ use to have some influence but not anymore. I usually have a very good idea of what I like and more importantly of what I don’t. So I generally pay much attention to what games win which award. My tastes seem to differ quite a bit from most of the geek these days. That said I have owned all of these at one point but have parted with Eclipse and Shogun. Since I tend to host a wide variety of gamers I keep a lot of different types of games regardless of my personal preference.

  • Love It – Dominant Species, Terra Mystica
  • Like It – Agricola, Caylus, Hansa Teutonica
  • Neutral – Dominion, Shogun, Eclipse, Splendor
  • Not For Me – None

Jay Bloodworth

The “Love it” for Caylus is largely nostalgic as I haven’t played in forever. In a world without Caverna, Agricola might have made the top category. And Terra Mystica is really floating between “Like it” and “Neutral”, but I’m rounding down because based on my usual tastes I should really love it, and the times I have played have been at best pleasant. Hansa Teutonica is fine, but always struck me as the epitome of a soulless cube pusher.

  • Love It – Caylus
  • Like It – Dominion, Dominant Species, Splendor, Agricola
  • Neutral – Hansa Teutonica, Terra Mystica
  • Not For Me – None

Alan How

Not surprised, but as I take no interest and never vote for the GG, I am not troubled by the outcome. I thought that Splendor was well presented, but ultimately a one or two play game. It’s ok to introduce to newcomers, but I’d rather teach it than play it again.

  • Love It – Terra Mystica, Agricola, Eclipse,
  • Like It – Caylus, Hansa Teutonica, Dominant Species, Dominion
  • Neutral – Shogun
  • Not (any longer) For Me – Splendor

Michael Weston

Splendor seems most appreciated by those new to modern games. To long-time Euro gamers it seems almost universally judged bland and, at best, inoffensive. I’ll internally roll my eyes if I can’t get something else to the table, but it won’t kill me to play it again. I’m sure there’s something from a decade ago that we felt the same “oooh” about that today we don’t even remember.

As for the rest…

  • Love It – Dominion (though I play rarely), Hansa Teutonica
  • Like It – Shogun (as Wallenstein)
  • Neutral – Caylus, Agricola, Terra Mystica (which I want to like more, and probably would if it came out more often)
  • Not For Me – Splendor

Nathan Beeler

Straight away, I haven’t played Shogun or Eclipse. I’ve only played half a game of Dominant Species, but that was more than enough to tell me it’s way too aggressive for my tastes. I think I might like Terra Mystica more if I played it more frequently and could remember all the little rules. Same for Hansa Teutonica, a game where I have to scour the rulebook before beginning every damn time I play. But I will do that, because it feels like there’s a great experience in there. I like the way the first expansion map plays much better, however, and that bumps the game from a like to a love for me. No one ever calls for a game of Caylus, though it seems like there is general satisfaction with it among my circles. I’m not sure why it doesn’t come out, exactly. Agricola does still come out from time to time, because it’s amazing and fun. So does Dominion, because it’s easy to get to the table, and often it’s also fun.

  • Love It – Agricola, Dominion
  • Like It – Caylus, Hansa Teutonica
  • Neutral – Terra Mystica, Splendor
  • Not For Me – Dominant Species

Brian Leet

Well, I guess i can dodge the title of old curmudgeon, as there doesn’t seem to be any time component to how I rate the Golden Geek winners. It really is a mixed bag, although I’d say Splendor winning this year is a departure towards the significantly less complex and more accessible. It’s a game I’ve enjoyed quite a bit and am glad to bring to people as a gateway to more complex fare. I also believe that it has a bit more depth than some detractors claim. It will be interesting to see if there is a correlation in the future between the growth of the hobby, registration and participation at and voting in more simple and accessible games.

  • Love It – Agricola, Dominion
  • Like It – Terra Mystica, Splendor
  • Neutral – Caylus, Dominant Species
  • Not For Me – Hansa Teutonica


Caylus – It doesn’t come out very often, but is enjoyed when it does.

Shogun – Never played, because I own Wallenstein (which I like, but it is long enough between each time I play it that I forget what I am meant to be doing)

Agricola – Still enjoy playing it

Dominion – It doesn’t come out much though.  iOS Ascension is probably to blame

Hansa Teutonica – I can see it is a good game, but is the poster child for “Dry Euro cube pusher”

Dominant Species – The opportunity does not seem to have arisen to actually play this

Eclipse – I do want to play this and one day I will, after all I have a copy!

Terra Mystica – played it a few times

Splendor – Richly themed poker chips.  It’s a quick engine building game with great poker chips.  It gets a lot of play at home, fighting for time with Machi Koro.  It’s really all about the poker chips!

  • Love It – Agricola, Splendor
  • Like It – Caylus, Dominion, Terra Mystica
  • Neutral – Hansa Teutonica
  • Not For Me – None

Andrea “Liga” Ligabue

I found Golden Geek a nice award like all the awards collecting data/votes from an huge amount of peoples (DSP). I prefer award with a committee since you can start to know the members and have an idea about what they are voting for but of course Golden Geek give us insight of what the community is loving. The BGG users are increasing: years ago it was the cove of gamers but now I think a lot of occasional players are also using, reading and writing on BGG and so I think it will be not a real surprise sometimes have good “casual players” games rising up on the top.

  • Love It – Agricola, Caylus, Dominion
  • Like It – Splendor, Hansa Teutonica, Eclipse, Terra Mystica
  • Neutral – None
  • Not For Me – None

Ted Cheatham

Caylus: Very nice game. I tired and sold my copy. Like it.

Shogun:  Interesting ideas, but not for me.

Agricola: No. Never want to play again.

Dominion: Neutral.

Hansa Teutonica: Like but do not plan to buy.

Dominant Species: Great game design. With screwage. However I am neutral.

Eclipse: Again very neat ideas. I like tech development and many aspects. Combat is just tedious and if you are attacked and lose, you are out of the game. Not for me.

Terra Mystica: Nice design that requires you to play to your power. Neutral.

Splendor: Themeless gateway game to pass the time. Like it.

  • Love It – Neutral
  • Like It – Caylus, Hansa Teutonica, Splendor
  • Neutral – Dominion, Dominant Species, Terra Mystica
  • Not For Me – Shogun, Agricola, Eclipse

Dale Yu

Caylus – I like it.  Used to be an I love it, but then despite the multiple buildings, changing path, honors track, etc – it started to feel one dimensional and scripted.  Could just be because I played it  over 200 times.  Perhaps a game that was hurt due to too many plays?

Shogun – Neutral. I’d much rather play wallenstein

Agricola – I love it. (NB – this is my first “development” credit, albeit volunteer work – so I’m biased).  Much prefer it to Caverna. I love the tightness of play and the constant fight for precious and scarce actions.  Probably why I love Age of Steam as well.  I am in the camp that doesn’t mind the swings from the luck of the draw on the cards, and I feel that it generally evens out

Dominion – I love it. Duh. How can you not love a game you’ve played over 3,000 times. (NB – I’m one of the developers of the game – so I’m really, really biased)

Hansa Teutonica – I like it.  Last month, this may have been a Neutral, but I played it again, and it kinda grew on me.

Dominant Species – Not for me. Too long. Too mean.

Eclipse – Not for me.  Though I might say Neutral if I were playing with Luke because he can make it run at Huberspeed ™.  I would rather play the tech tree game in Splendor and not worry about the exploring and fighting

Terra Mystica – Neutral. I played it  about 10 times.  It’s cute.  I couldn’t help but feel though that each race has a fairly scripted plan, and I’m not as thrilled about that.  Now, I’ll admit that it’s hard to make that judgement in only 10 plays.  But, that’s what I think of it.

Splendor – I love it.  It takes a simple mechanic and makes a whole game out of it.  Same reason why I think I will settle on I love it for Progress.

  • Love It – Agricola, Dominion, Splendor
  • Like It – Caylus, Hansa Teutonica
  • Neutral – Shogun, Terra Mystica
  • Not For Me – Dominant Species, Eclipse

Craig Massey

Yipes, this topic seemed to have brought out the inner curmudgeon in us – myself included.  I pay as much attention to the Golden Geek awards like I pay attention to the People’s Choice awards which is to say not at all. I have my doubts that the award itself says anything about the games as the best of anything.

  • Love It – Terra Mystica
  • Like It – Hansa Teutonica
  • Neutral – Eclipse, Agricola, Caylus, Dominion, Splendor, Shogun (though this is more on my rating of Wallenstein as I haven’t actually played Shogun.  I doubt I’d rate it differently.)
  • Not For Me – None

Jonathan Franklin

  • Love It – Hansa Teutonica, Terra Mystica, Agricola
  • Like It – None
  • Neutral – Dominion, Caylus, Splendor (Caylus would be a like it, but I find the Provost mean/stressful)
  • Not For Me – Dominant Species, Eclipse, Shogun

Mary Prasad

  • Love It – Terra Mystica, Agricola
  • Like It – None
  • Neutral – Caylus, Dominion, Splendor (if it didn’t play fast, it would be one more notch down)
  • Not for Me – Hansa Teutonica (possibly Neutral… haven’t played in a while), Eclipse, Dominant Species, Shogun

Mark Jackson

  • Love It – Agricola, Eclipse (only “Like It” with more than 3 players)
  • Like It – None
  • Neutral – Splendor, Shogun, Dominion (but thankful for the games it spawned)
  • Not For Me – Caylus, Hansa Teutonica, Dominant Species

Dan Blum

  • Love It – None
  • Like It – Splendor, Dominion, Terra Mystica
  • Neutral – Caylus, Agricola, Shogun, Eclipse
  • Not For Me – Hansa Teutonica

John P.

  • Love It – Dominion, Hansa Teutonica
  • Like It – Caylus, Agricola, Terra Mystica
  • Neutral – Shogun, Eclipse, Splendor
  • Not For Me – Dominant Species

W. Eric Martin

  • Love It – Splendor
  • Like It – Caylus, Agricola, Dominion, Hansa Teutonica
  • Neutral – None
  • Not For Me – None

Jennifer Geske

  • Love It – Terra Mystica
  • Like It – Caylus, Agricola, Hansa Teutonica, Dominant Species, Eclipse
  • Neutral – Shogun, Dominion, Splendor
  • Not For Me – None
This entry was posted in Best Of. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Golden Geek Madness

  1. rprasadusa says:

    What a bunch of curmudgeons, indeed!

    Caylus: Good game, but I’ve never really loved it. I like the later worker placement games more, I think. Like it.

    Shogun: Never played it. I did like Wallenstein from way back when, but even there the random resolution order wasn’t a favorite mechanism. I prefer other area-majority fighting weuros like Struggle of Empires. Neutral?

    Agricola: I love Age of Steam, but this is just too much! Having to struggle to do what you want the entire game was more annoying than fun. At least in AoS you (usually) turn a profit part way through! I much prefer Le Havre, and Caverna. Neutral

    Dominion: I loved my first few plays, but then when it became a deck-thinning game rather than a deck-building game, I lost interest. And I’m overwhelmed by all the expansions — makes me less interested in the game (sort of like when I couldn’t keep up in Magic). Besides, I prefer deck building as part of a larger game (A Study in Emerald, for example). Neutral

    Hansa Teutonica: Too dry. Not for me

    Dominant Species: Love it! I think — it’s difficult getting this to the table.

    Eclipse: Fun game, but also difficult getting this played. Like

    Terra Mystica: Good design, but too much “turn zero” for me. Like

    Splendor: They’re just poker chips, what is the big deal?! I wouldn’t mind playing on occasion, but not one I’d seek to play. Seems great for new gamers. Neutral

    Love It – Dominant Species
    Like It – Caylus, Eclipse, Terra Mystica
    Neutral – Shogun, Agricola, Dominion, Splendor
    Not For Me – Hansa Teutonica

    An average of 2 4/9 … color me curmudgeon, too?

  2. bggdeacondavid says:

    I’ll bite…

    Like most awards, I find the Golden Geek awards a mixed bag. I have voted every year.

    Caylus – I enjoyed the game, but it hasn’t aged well – other games have taken worker placement in more interesting directions. I haven’t played it in years. I Like It.

    Shogun – While I have owned this for several years, I have never played it. I would like to, though.

    Agricola – I really enjoy playing this. With the iPad app, I am “rediscovering” this one and still enjoy it. I Like It.

    Dominion – I Love It, but tend to tweak out the “take that” cards. I find that I am not playing it that much these days, but this may be due to the lack of a decent iOS app.

    Hansa Teutonica – I haven’t played it, though I have nothing against giving it a try.

    Dominant Species – My one partial play of this was one of the most painful gaming experiences in my life. Not For Me.

    Eclipse – I haven’t played it. I’m interested, but concerned about the length that the game appears to have.

    Terra Mystica – I love this game. It hasn’t hit the table in a while, but I am hoping that the expansion might spark a return soon.

    Splendor – I like this game. It is not the deepest game, but it is enjoyable and I love how it is getting folks who wouldn’t try a strategy game to give it a try and find that it can be enjoyable.

    Love It – Terra Mystica, Dominion
    Like It – Splendor, Agricola, Caylus
    Neutral –
    Not For Me – Dominent Species

  3. Jason Waeber says:

    Caylus – It’s good, but not amazing. IMHO it was surpassed by its progeny. I don’t really feel compelled to play this, but I might if pushed.

    Shogun – Haven’t played, either this or Wallenstein.

    Agricola – One of the all time greats, I still get itches (usually unfulfilled) to play this more. I’m not even interested in Caverna, since the main reason people cite for liking it is that feeding is less pressure, which I think is a big part of Agricola’s beautiful viciousness.

    Dominion –It’s fine, but the setup-to-fun ratio basically means I don’t ever play this anymore. Also, so many random setups are just duds that I find it’s rarely worth the work.

    Hansa Teutonica – This is also one of my go-to’s. I’m surprised how many people like it considering its dryness, but the game is just the right amount of nasty and clever.

    Dominant Species – Blech, too swingy, busy, and spiteful. Fair disclosure, I’ve only played once, but it was distinctly unpleasant, and I’ve seen it played more, which has done nothing but discourage me from trying it again.

    Eclipse – It’s very good, once you realize it’s all about the combat. It’s very reductive for a 4X type thing, and is occasionally broken, but the decisions are genuinely fun.

    Terra Mystica – I haven’t played this enough for the shine to wear off. I do worry that it’s not dynamic enough to support sustained interest, but I haven’t hit that point yet.

    Splendor – It’s very good, and is a pleasant little optimization puzzle that anyone can pick up quickly. I’m actually surprised at how dynamic it can be inside the same basic structure. There are games I like more, but I understand this has a very deep appeal. This has been a big hit with my work group.

    Love It – Agricola, Hansa Teutonica, Terra Mystica
    Like It – Eclipse, Splendor
    Neutral – Caylus, Dominion
    Not For Me – Dominent Species

  4. Pingback: Today in Board Games Issue #255 - Winner Announced! Shadowstar Corsairs - Today in Board Games

  5. reixou says:

    For what it is worth :
    Love : Terra Mystica / Splendor / Dominion / Caylus
    Love / Like : Agricola
    Like : Hansa Teutonica / Shogun

    Not played : Eclipse / Dominent Species

Leave a Reply