The Complete Games Weight Scale - A Guide to Find Your Sweet Spot in Game Weight
When I look for games for myself, or if I make recommendations, I tend to forget about the game weight and in stead base my choices on a gut feeling about how complex, long or thematically fitting I feel the games are.
It’s also very tempting for someone new to the hobby, to treat the BGG top 100 games as a guide to games they should buy and play. It comes without any warning, and can therefore be a disaster waiting to happen, if or when they go for a game way out of their sweet spot (too heavy).
After putting some thought to it, I think game weight might be the most overlooked data point for games (on BGG and in general).
This list has two obvious uses (that I can think of - theres probably lots more:
Finding your own sweet spot
When picking out a new game, or deciding weather or not to play a game at a meet-up etc., knowing your own sweet spot in game weight will give you a good first indication of weather or not you will enjoy the game. As an example;
The heaviest game you ever tried was Dominant Species (4.0 and out of your sweet spot), and it seemed like it was not your cup of tea, despite the fact that you love the theme, number of players and the time it took to play. The closest game you've played beforehand in game weight was The Castles of Burgundy (3.0). After looking at the list, first you give Keyflower a shot (3.3), then later Agricola (3.6), and then finally, at a (probably much) later point in time, you play Dominant Species once again, but this time it is a home run because it fits in your sweet spot (or that's the theory, anyway).
Knowing what to introduce
Knowing the weight limit of other people could potentially be more useful to know, than say, if someone is interested in the theme of a game. As an example;
You've met a new non-gamer friend who is asking about your hobby. The friend wants to play a board game and wants a recommendation from you (or is coming over to your house to play games). By showing the friend this list and have her/him eye-scan it, and pick out the games she/he is already familiar with, it will give you an indication of how heavy a game you can get away with introducing for that friend.
The official definition of game weight by BGG
"Weight" is an ambiguous overloaded term that is never actually defined at BGG even though we are given the option of giving weight ratings for games. For different people it means different things, usually a combination of things like:
- How complex/thick is the rulebook?
- How long does it take to play?
- What proportion of time is spent thinking and planning instead of resolving actions?
- How hard and long do you have to think to improve your chance of winning?
- How little luck is in the game?
- How much technical skill (math, reading ahead moves, etc) is necessary?
- How long does it take to learn the rules?
- How many times do you need to play before you feel like you "get" the game?
BGG uses a 5-point Weight scale:
1 - Light
2 - Medium Light
3 - Medium
4 - Medium Heavy
5 - Heavy
Why I made this list (detailed)
BoardGameGeek is an abundance of data/information on games, which we all use to pick out games we want to play. However, knowing how to use all this data can be somewhat difficult to figure out. This is why I came up with this list.
In the past I’ve used mostly theme, mechanics, playing time and (best/recommended) number of players for a game, in order to decide weather or not to look further into a game.
The one thing I didn’t look too much at, has been game weight (it’s also by default “hidden” away at the bottom of each game page. Ideally, I think it should be listed on the top along with playing time etc.). So I started doing some advanced searches on game weight, based on games I like to play to see if anything else of interest would show up. To my surprise, I was not only discovering games of interest, but re-considering another long list of games, which I had thought of as being a lot lighter or heavier than they actually are, based on all the other criteria I was looking at. Or I had a second look based on weight alone, ignoring what I might have found as a bland or “not my style” of theme.
I then realized that a list of games, like a scale of weight, only with games on it in stead of numbers, would be a very helpful tool to use when discovering games of potential interest.
Looking back, I could have had very good use of a tool like this. Some of my first “gamers games” (after Monopoly (1.7) and Catan (2.4)), was Memoir ’44 (2.3) and Arkham Horror (3.5). The first too light for the next step I was seeking, and the latter too heavy to bring any kind of joy in the gaming experience.
Looking at the list, I can also clearly understand why I’ve had some less than great experiences with some games. I think that every gamer is always learning and getting better at games in general. The best game, I think, is always a game that has a game weight that is not too heavy, nor too light. If it’s too heavy, it can overwhelm you to a point where you are no longer enjoying the experience. If it’s too light, it’s can potentially be straight out boring to play and you could lose interest.
To me, the logical and best way to enjoy games, should be taking one step forward at a time, not rush it. I compare it to going to school; You don’t jump from from 2nd to 8th grade. Maybe from 2nd to 4th in some rare cases, and of course you don’t go backwards (for good!) in big leaps either, but you can easily go back with confidence in your ability to pick up on a lighter game. Weather you enjoy it or not depends on many other factors than weight, but overall, I believe there’s a much greater chance, in general, that you’ll find a "too light" game boring, rather than a "sweet spot" one.
(Disclaimer: I’m not really big on data processing - I pulled and posted all the data for this list manually, and yeah, it literally look me hours, but I think the result is well worth it - however, if anyone with data processing skills wants to go further with this idea, please do!)
I pulled the data doing advanced searches, searching on game weight in increments of for example 2.3 to 2.39, then 2.4 to 2.49 etc. - going the full scale from 1.00 to 5.00. I also searched exclusively for games with 200 or more ratings, to ensure getting games with some age and/or general public exposure (to ensure you could use the scale for both gamers and non gamers).
I then sorted the results after ranking, picking the highest rated games for each increment (the large majority of the games are well within the top 1000 of the highest rated games on BGG). I’ve also added a bunch of games without high ranking, but with very large public exposure (Monopoly for example).
In total, the list contains 445 games in 39 increments.
Also, I added a picture of each game so “eye-scanning” the list would be much, much easier.
For further data on weight, you could check out this GeekList: Top 1000 games, sorted by weight
For a quick overview of the list, use this magic trick
That’s about it I guess.
I hope you get something useful from this list.
Thanks for reading and happy gaming!
in front of games voted "best" with 2 players.
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