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Subject: On Board Games 19: The Dirty Dozen rss

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Donald Dennis
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Round Table
The twelve lowest ranked games on BGG discussed, Scott, Erik, & Donald (Thanks to Erik for doing the heavy lifting editing this one.)

Correspondent Segments
Games in Education - Giles discusses the ways he has used games in schools.
A Guide to the Geek - Ben covers the user ranking system on Board Game Geek

Interview
Donald interviews Steve LeShay of Sherco Games http://www.shercogames.com/

Reviews
* Kingsburg reviewed by Scott

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Episode discussion
*How many of the 12 worst games have you played?
*How many did you predict you had played?
*Give us some justification or good uses of the bottom 12 games!
*Are all of the bottom twelve games actually games, or are some of them just game like activities?
*Are there any Board Game Geek features you'd like covered?
*What about the pink Candy Land cards Erik was asking about?
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Ben Lott
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A little information gathered just from our guild members about the Dirty Dozen:

Tic-Tac-Toe = Avg. Rating 1.79 from 19 raters.
Comments:
1 - Important First game to teach a young one. Sadly once they truly understand it's over.
2 - Yawn.
3 - Not only a solved game, but solvable by a child!


Bingo = Avg. Rating 2.10 from 10 raters.
Comments:
1 - What is this game doing here? And, even stranger, why am I rating it?
2 - I don't understand the point of this game at all, especially at home, when there's no prizes or anything. It's like BINGO, I win, Wanna play again?
3 - No choices here, so no game...


Snakes and Ladders = Avg. Rating 2.62 from 16 raters.
Comments:
1 - Run away, run away! No decision making here....
2 - OK not a great game for an adult, but really good for small children. They enjoy it and they learn a lot about numbers whilst they are playing. We started Daughter the Elder on this when she was 4 1/4 and she knew all the numbers to 100 within a couple of games.
3 - Pure randomness, with no pretence at decision making.


War = Avg. Rating 1.47 from 15 raters.
Comments:
1 - A diversion, but not a fun one. Still, I suppose it's better than sitting around, arguing politics. No, not really. Okay, it's better than beating your head into the wall. Nope, same thing. All right, just don't play this, and you'll be fine!
2 - War, what is it good for. Absolutely nothing. (I wonder how many people have this exact same comment.) Not only is it totally Random. But it takes forever to boot.
3 - The game that never ends...


LCR = Avg. Rating 3.10 from 10 raters.
Comments:
1 - Just a crazy quick filler for the gambler in you. There is no strategy, and not very much game. But the game is so fast it really doesn't bother me that much.
2 - I thought this game was a joke when I first heard about it. Then I saw a copy. You'd have to be completely braindead to see this as anything resembling a game.
3 - Basically an analog slot machine. Okay, but not really my thing.


Candy Land = Avg. Rating 2.79 from 14 raters.
Comments:
1 - Horrible, horrible game. But, you gotta play it with your 2 year old.
2 - Great game for a 3 year old (as evidenced by his delight) and not to difficult to manipulate into a quick win for the young one.
3 - Try to move your kids away from this as soon as you can. It's good for teaching them not to cheat and to go in turn order, but beyond that, try to ween your kids from this ASAP.


Game of Life = Avg. Rating 3.57 from 26 raters.
Comments:
1 - An old classic that just doesn't entertain adults. The changes they have made over the years haven't added anything to the game either.
2 - Not sure why, but going over the little mountain was always the highlight of the game. That, and getting hitched to a hot, fertile, pink peg.
3 - MUCH MUCH BETTER than Monopoly, with a definite endgame condition in sight. This limits the length of 1 game, which is good.


Trouble = Avg. Rating 2.76 from 17 raters.
Comments:
1 - The only thing that makes this game any fun at all is the pop-o-matic dice roller. If it didn't have that, and you just rolled the dice, nobody would even remember this thing. Essentially Mindless Roll and Move. Very limited decision making when multiple pieces are out.
2 - Hate it hate it hate it. I have nightmares from the d*mned popping sound... Could be used as a method of torture. Should by all means be banned by the UN
3 - It's just boring.


Worst-Case Scenario Survival Game = Avg. Rating 2.80 from 5 raters.
Comments:
1 - If I never have to play this game again, it will be too soon. But I have to keep it, after all its still a game
2 - I kept saying this game was the worst game ever, and it is. It's HORRIBLE. It's so bad, that we had a ball playing it by making fun of how horrible the questions are. I will admit that I had a great time and lots of laughs playing this, but I hope we can find ways to laugh that much without this horrible horrible game involved.
3 - Had some laughs playing it but it's really not a very good game.


Cootie = Avg. Rating 2.30 from 5 raters.
Comments:
1 - Acceptable kids game (they love the completed cooties), but use two dice rather than one. We give another turn for doubles. This speeds the game to a passable level. Can add doubles allow one to take away a part of an opponent matching the number unless it's a body or a head with other parts connected.
2 - This one is even barely fun for even for Kids. We use it more as a toy, making gruesome looking bugs. Maybe it could be an expansion for Fearsome Floors. As a game, this is essentially Broken. It's totally Random and has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.


Ungame = Avg. Rating 2.50 from 6 raters.
Comments:
1 - Warning: This is not really a game! This is a conversation-starter. It helps you get to know people, but there is no strategy involved.
2 - I want to play a real game!
3 - I hate this game soooo much.


Operation = Avg. Rating 4.51 from 17 raters.
Comments:
1 - When you have kids in the house you have the games that come with them. This is a good game for teaching the little ones fine motor skills.
2 - I probably am not a big fan of this game because I don't have the patience to try to pull the charlie horse. I never can get that thing. It is fun to see your kids get zapped though.
3 - dexterity game for kids with a cynical view of medicine thrown in
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Ben Lott
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Walsfeo wrote:
*How many of the 12 worst games have you played?

All 12 gulp


Walsfeo wrote:
*How many did you predict you had played?

I already knew them before the show, so 12.


Walsfeo wrote:
*Give us some justification or good uses of the bottom 12 games!

LCR = So short that you really shouldn't feel the need to hate it.
Operation = Not that different from dexterity games of our present day. Probably only hated because of the annoying-factor.
Ungame = Works OK as a conversation starter in our youth group, and helps people to open up and start talking (breaks through the shyness barrier.)


Walsfeo wrote:
*Are all of the bottom twelve games actually games, or are some of them just game like activities?

Not to sound too much like Bill Clinton, but define "game". The Ungame merely based on it's name seems to be not a game, it really is more of a conversation starter.

Oh, one other comment I have. Erik, how can you say that Battleship is a "solid" game?!? Here's the comment I have posted on BGG for Battleship:

Hey, let's play a game with less strategy than pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey!

Random Guess #1 - Where is a ship? When/If you find one...
Random Guess #2 - Which way is it facing? When/If you figure that out...
Random Guess #3 - How long is it?

For 5 minutes...Maybe. For 25 minutes...FORGET IT!
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Donald Dennis
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Blott wrote:
Not to sound too much like Bill Clinton, but define "game". The Ungame merely based on it's name seems to be not a game, it really is more of a conversation starter.

Oh, that's easy! (For me it is easy, though perhaps it'd be a great topic for a round table.)

A game is an interactive intellectual competition with fixed rules. Even many agility games still have a conscious decision making path that qualifies them as a kind of game that has an additional agility component.

Anything that does not have competition or interaction is not a game. If all of the competition is against the game and not other players it is really more of a puzzle than a game. Don't get angry, puzzles are still fun. Some game like activities don't let you know if it is a puzzle or a game at the start, e.g., Shadows over Camelot which it is just a puzzle if there is no traitor, and a game if there is. (Yeah, it can get kind of fuzzy around the edges, but I'm just fine with that.)
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Ben Lott
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Walsfeo wrote:
A game is an interactive intellectual competition with fixed rules.

I guess this would be an interesting round table discussion, because now I'm tempted to ask "What do you consider interactive & intellectual?" "How much interaction is necessary to make it a game?" "How much intelligence should be required in order to make it a game?"

...I can keep going like this all day
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Donald Dennis
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Blott wrote:
I guess this would be an interesting round table discussion, because now I'm tempted to ask "What do you consider interactive & intellectual?" "How much interaction is necessary to make it a game?" "How much intelligence should be required in order to make it a game?"

By intelligence I just mean conscious decision making has impact on the game. If you don't have any choices, or your choices don't have any impact on outcome, then it isn't really a game.

By interaction I mean if the game could be played in isolation from the other players without having any impact on the outcome or the basic play experience, then it is not a game.

Competition is also essential!
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Ben Lott
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So based on your definition Don, only 5 of the Dirty Dozen are actual games: Tic-Tac-Toe, Life, Trouble, Worst-Case Scenario, & Operation.

Do you believe the others belong on this website? If not, then what about 100% co-operative games, do they belong?

By the way, from a true co-op lover, I don't really take offense to them being called a puzzle any more. I understand why people feel this way, and I really can't hold it against anyone that their opinion differs from my own. What does bother me is when people rate one of these games a 1 simply because they feel it "Defies the Description of a Game". This seems to be completely ignoring the merit of the game and the game experience and their likelihood of playing again, only to pick on it because it doesn't fit their chosen definition of the word game.
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Donald Dennis
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Blott wrote:
Do you believe the others belong on this website? If not, then what about 100% co-operative games, do they belong?


Absolutely. In the same way card games and dice games are on the site, these other products do directly relate to games. Some are games, some are game like activities, some are educational exorcises that teach the conventions that are used in many games.

Blott wrote:
By the way, from a true co-op lover, I don't really take offense to them being called a puzzle any more. I understand why people feel this way, and I really can't hold it against anyone that their opinion differs from my own. What does bother me is when people rate one of these games a 1 simply because they feel it "Defies the Description of a Game". This seems to be completely ignoring the merit of the game and the game experience and their likelihood of playing again, only to pick on it because it doesn't fit their chosen definition of the word game.

I agree. I will rate something a one or a ten if it fits the subjective rating system on the BGG which only really reflects the frequency I'd consider using that product; be it a game, puzzle, or whatever. Many puzzles are game like, and fairly indistinguishable from a game, so I don't usually argue the point. Here at the low end, it seems like a valuable exorcise.
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Scott Nicholson
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The working definition I've been using for game is from Kevin Maroney at The Games Journal:

A game is a form of play with goals and structure.


I like this as it's got three big parts:
1 - Play. A game is a form of play, as compared to work. (and there are books on defining what play is)
2 - Goals. To be a game, it needs some type of goal. Second Life isn't a game, but there can be a game that goes on within the world if you set a goal.
3 - Structure. The rules, the guidelines to play.

I've looked at a number of definitions, but this is the simplest one that allows us to move on from the discussion of what a game is.

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Donald Dennis
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snicholson wrote:
The working definition I've been using for game is from Kevin Maroney at The Games Journal:

A game is a form of play with goals and structure.


I like this as it's got three big parts:
1 - Play. A game is a form of play, as compared to work. (and there are books on defining what play is)
2 - Goals. To be a game, it needs some type of goal. Second Life isn't a game, but there can be a game that goes on within the world if you set a goal.
3 - Structure. The rules, the guidelines to play.

I've looked at a number of definitions, but this is the simplest one that allows us to move on from the discussion of what a game is.



So puzzles are a kind of game? I can deal with that, but the definition seems to broaden the definition of game quite a bit.
 
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Walsfeo wrote:

So puzzles are a kind of game? I can deal with that, but the definition seems to broaden the definition of game quite a bit.


Yes, if this is the definition you use, puzzles are a game. Puzzles are games with a fixed outcome (as compared to games with unknown outcomes).

For my purposes - that is, looking at the game experience, then a puzzle that multiple people work on (like a common jigsaw puzzle) is very akin to a cooperative game experience... so close that it's worthwhile to consider them.

The other advantage of being more open with the definition is that it opens the door to people who like puzzles as potential targets for other types of games.


The other type of activity that comes into play here is sports. This definition of a game does bring sports into it. These become games that focus on dexterity and have very little intellectual component.

All of that said, you can argue definitions of a game for a long time, but you need to consider why you are defining games in the first place. That can guide you as to which definition you select.

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Eric Brosius
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Blott wrote:
Hey, let's play a game with less strategy than pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey!


One important strategy is to avoid placing a ship on I1. Everyone knows it's fun to say "I won!" to provoke your opponent into saying "no you didn't!" You can then say "I meant the letter 'I' followed by the number '1'!" It would really be foolish to allow your opponent to have the fun of saying "I1" and also hit your ship with the very same shot!
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Walsfeo wrote:
Episode discussion
*How many of the 12 worst games have you played?
*How many did you predict you had played?
*Give us some justification or good uses of the bottom 12 games!
*Are all of the bottom twelve games actually games, or are some of them just game like activities?
*Are there any Board Game Geek features you'd like covered?
*What about the pink Candy Land cards Erik was asking about?


1/2 I have played 8 (all but Trouble, Ungame, Worst Case Survival, LCR). Predicted 4.

3 OK - you guys covered all the educational uses at age appropriate times. I guess they are all ways to introduce kids to games and move them on to better games.
4 All are games. Just not good in most cases.
5 Not sure. How to effectively watch the forums?
6 I seem to remember the pink cards in the version of Candyland I played in the 60s.

As for Operation's low rating, I suspect it is anti-Hasbro snobbery.
 
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Donald Dennis
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Eric Brosius wrote:
One important strategy is to avoid placing a ship on I1. Everyone knows it's fun to say "I won!" to provoke your opponent into saying "no you didn't!" You can then say "I meant the letter 'I' followed by the number '1'!" It would really be foolish to allow your opponent to have the fun of saying "I1" and also hit your ship with the very same shot!

That's very funny!

Anybody else have cool game quirks like that to share?
 
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Walsfeo wrote:

Episode discussion
*How many of the 12 worst games have you played?
*How many did you predict you had played?
*Give us some justification or good uses of the bottom 12 games!
*Are all of the bottom twelve games actually games, or are some of them just game like activities?
*Are there any Board Game Geek features you'd like covered?
*What about the pink Candy Land cards Erik was asking about?


(1) 6: Tic-Tac-Toe, Bingo, Snakes and Ladders, Trouble(played it the first time about a year ago), Game of Life, Operation
(2) 3
(3) A bunch of them are *fun* to play with the right folks and the right version (e.g. Operation, Game of Life)
(4) Plain Bingo and the Ungame seem to be activities to me.
(5) nothing right now
(6) I have never in my life seen an open copy of Candy Land and would like to keep it that way.
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David Kahnt
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It's fun, it's healthy, it's good exercise. The kids will just love it. And we put a little sand inside to make the experience more pleasant.
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Shill...
A Tic-Tac-Toe session report:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/294578

Hehe...

-DK
 
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Donald Dennis
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DKahnt wrote:
A Tic-Tac-Toe session report:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/294578

Hehe...

-DK


That was great!
 
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Erik Dewey
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(Sorry, this is in response to Ben, I thought I clicked Quote)

Well, compared to many of the other games on the list it is pretty solid. There is strategy in where to place your ships (do you do the L thing so it confuses your opponent, do you head for the corners, etc.)

I also enjoy using the salvo rules where you fire five rounds at a time. Really speeds up the sinking.

It's certainly no Puerto Rico, but it does have some good tatical elements and requires quite a bit of prediciton based on what you think your opponent would do.
 
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Scott Bolderson
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And here I actually (still) enjoy The Game of Life...has to be the original version though. No LIFE tiles here! I recently just bought the bookshelf edition from Target. Good stuff there I admit most of my enjoyment comes from the nostalgia of it all, but one of the reasons I enjoy playing games is that I believe play (in any form) keeps you young.

I also kind of like Operation, although some of the enjoyment of that is directly related to the amount of alcohol that has been consumed prior to playing.
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Donald Dennis
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scooterb23 wrote:
And here I actually (still) enjoy The Game of Life...has to be the original version though. No LIFE tiles here! I recently just bought the bookshelf edition from Target. Good stuff there I admit most of my enjoyment comes from the nostalgia of it all, but one of the reasons I enjoy playing games is that I believe play (in any form) keeps you young.

I also kind of like Operation, although some of the enjoyment of that is directly related to the amount of alcohol that has been consumed prior to playing.


That's very interesting. I wonder how many game enthusiasts enjoy games due to nostalgia vs. gamers who have joined the cult of the new-shunning treasured classics in favor of the shiny and new.
 
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Walsfeo wrote:
That's very interesting. I wonder how many game enthusiasts enjoy games due to nostalgia vs. gamers who have joined the cult of the new-shunning treasured classics in favor of the shiny and new.


How about gamers who have a foot in both camps?
I'm a big fan of the old classics, and I usually pick up any new twist on these old games. But I'm also a fan of the new, and am always teaching my family new and interesting games.
 
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Quote:
Anybody else have cool game quirks like that to share?

Well, it's not as entertaining a quirk, but we always played War as a role-playing game. It was all about the smack talk between the cards. You pick up the the card, not showing your opponent, and as the card, say something about its strength and its confidence that it will win. The smack talk overlapped into the time after the cards were revealed.

Yes, it lengthened a game that was already ridiculously long. But as a child, I thought it was pretty funny.
 
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Scott Bolderson
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Walsfeo wrote:

That's very interesting. I wonder how many game enthusiasts enjoy games due to nostalgia vs. gamers who have joined the cult of the new-shunning treasured classics in favor of the shiny and new.


I fall into both camps, I'm seething to get my copy of Agricola sometime this year, all while I'm dying to play a game of Careers at my next game night
 
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So listening to your podcast and reviewing the bottom 10, I was struck by something that bothers me about the ranking for Game of Life.

I think that Erik hit on the key point - those annoying "Life tiles" that are part of the more recent editions, which I believe began with the 30th anniversary edition. That mechanic makes it far worse than the original.

Unfortunately I think most people have played a more recent version but not recognized it as such on BGG, so they've assigned a poor rating to the original game. IMHO, the original should be rated much higher than the newer, inferior version.
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Donald Dennis
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DancerInDC wrote:
Unfortunately I think most people have played a more recent version but not recognized it as such on BGG, so they've assigned a poor rating to the original game. IMHO, the original should be rated much higher than the newer, inferior version.
I haven't played the game in 20-30 years, so my low opinion may be due to 'distance from time of play' but it is probably not from having played the newer edition. That being said, you bring up a very interesting point.
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