Lo's Hirsch Index
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The original definition of the Hirsch Index ("h-index") was purely academic; that a scholar with an index of "h" had published "h" papers each of which has been cited in other papers at least "h" times. Thus, the h-index reflects both the number of publications and the number of citations per publication. The index is designed to improve upon simpler measures such as the total number of citations or publications. (See Wikipedia)

Here on BGG, the h-index is measured by having played "h" games each of which has been played at least "h" times, which for me is currently sitting at 21.

I'm not sure who the first poster was on BGG to modify the h-index for tracking games played, but it's proven to be quite popular and I've been considering creating my own list for a number of years, but my score didn't seem high enough to warrant a list. It could be a lot higher, however, if it didn't only include board and card games played from March 2009 forward (which was when I started recording plays on BGG).

It should also be noted that almost every play of every game that made it into my h-index list was with my wife. There may have been other people also at the table, but only a handful of the plays tallied here didn't include her as well. What's most amazing about this fact is that she claims not to even like board games.

Anyway, without further ado, my (slowly evolving) h-index list.

Of course, feel free to comment on any of the items posted here.
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1. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:154] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
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7Carcassonne x140

I've actually played Carcassonne more times than indicated, having purchased it some months before beginning to log my plays at BGG. Like many of the games on this list, almost all of the plays were against my wife. And most of them were just the two of us.

We have only played with the base game and the River expansion which came with our edition. And even after more than 100 plays, we've never had any desire to increase the complexity or the length of our plays with other expansions.
 
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I'm not sure how many times I've played Ascension and it's various expansions as it requires me having to go through the BGG logs and figure out just how many times I double or triple counted due to mixing sets. The individual counts are:

 6  Ascension: Return of the Fallen x120
 5  Ascension: Storm of Souls x96
 6  Ascension: Chronicle of a Godslayer x55
 4  Ascension: Immortal Heroes x14

Although a friend introduced me to this series, almost every play, again, was with my wife. The order of purchase was a bit backward and when I did get the original Ascension: Chronicle of a Godslayer, I found I enjoyed it the most. In fact, I enjoyed the later games less and less and finally lost interest in them altogether with the purchase of Ascension: Immortal Heroes. My wife, however, continues to play the game on her iPad.
 
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3. Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:112] [Average Rating:7.64 Unranked]
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 9   The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game x113

For many years, The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game was my cooperative game of choice. I bought a dozen of the smaller expansions and at least a half dozen of the larger ones and played most of them before a couple other cooperative games caught the interest of my wife and our "coop" gaming friend.

I'd still happily play The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. Although it sacrifices some realism* for some tense decision-making, and, yes, it does seem a bit discombobulated without a map/board, but, in the end, I'm fine with that. Underneath the flogged to death Tolkien theme, there's a pretty good cooperative game here. And not a bad solo game to boot. There's also the whole deck-building thing which I really hadn't explored in any game (having rejected the Magic: The Gathering craze in the 1990s).

*Otherwise known as: "What? If I quest, I can't defend? And if I defend, I can't attack???"
 
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4. Board Game: 51st State: Master Set [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:281]
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 8   51st State: Master Set x58

51st State: Master Set is one of the newer games to have shot into my h-index. I've only been playing it since June 2016. And, again, it's only been as a two-player with my wife; in spite of the grim, post-apocalyptic theme, she seems quite taken by it.*

All in all, 51st State: Master Set is a good, fast moving game for us. In some ways, it's an obvious successor to Ascension. It has more depth and it doesn't take any longer to set up or knock down.

Although I rate 51st State quite high, at least a point of that rating is due to it being so playable with my wife. To be honest, if someone else suggested playing it, I'd probably decline.


*Not that she ever cares about theme.
 
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5. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:150] [Average Rating:7.48 Unranked]
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7  Magic: The Gathering x54

While I looked on my gaming friends with disdain in the 1990s for buying into the cult that was Magic: The Gathering, I finally gave in 2013 when a nephew insisted I play it with him. After a couple games, I got hooked enough to go out and buy the 2013 Core Set. And as I had a friend who'd played it in the 1990s, he was willing to dive back into it. So he and I played a lot of it through 2013 and into 2014 and I picked up more boosters, some used cards, and finally the 2014 Core Set. And promptly stopped playing.

While I found that I enjoyed the drafting and playing from drafts, I didn't so much enjoy the dedicated deck-building/tweaking aspect of the game. I dabbled in a few other deck-builders, Android: Netrunner and Doomtown: Reloaded, but decided if I was going to invest in one (and only one), I preferred the cooperative The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game.
 
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6. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:274] [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked]
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7Arkham Horror x47

Arkham Horror was my first cooperative board game. I'd played RPGs in my twenties including Call of Cthulhu so I wasn't exactly against playing cooperatively, but at the same time, when I first played Arkham Horror, I was much more interested in exploring Euros. But my wife and another friend of ours wanted to play something non-competitive and so we gave it a try.

Our first game was terrible; it dragged on forever and I felt as hopeless as a Lovecraft character in a world forsaken by a benevolent god and filled instead with monsters and more monsters. It was a stupid, random, luckfest of a game.

Once I got over the lack of Lovecraftian horror in the game and got to know it a bit better, I began to understand that Arkham Horror is really not so chaotic and random; there are a finite number of cards and if one has some idea as to what's on them, then they can start to play the probabilities; what are the chances a gate in Independence Square will open as compared to Hibb's Roadhouse? What's the probability that you can sneak past that Dark Young one to enter the gate? How can I improve my chances and ultimately mitigate the risks?

I still don't consider Arkham Horror one of my favourite games. There are plenty of games I would rather play; as a result, Arkham Horror (and the two expansions I have for it) has pretty much been relegated to the back of the shelf.
 
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7. Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:266]
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9At the Gates of Loyang x42

For a long time, Loyang was the medium weight game that my wife and I always gravitated too. And like Carcassonne, it was pretty much exclusive to just the two of us. Once, and only once, we played it as a (rather painful) four-player game. After that, we decided it was going to be just for the two of us.

For a surprising number of years, it ended up collecting dust. Only recently, we dug it out and played it again. And, lo! In spite of all the new games we've played since, it still works for us.
 
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8. Board Game: London (first edition) [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:313]
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 8   London x31

When I saw my wife arranging and rearranging her cards in little sets of two and she wasn't sighing and telling me to hurry up with my turn, because she was so absorbed in her own planning, I knew I had a winning game. A game that was even better with the two-player Ben-Luca house rule. Unfortunately, after about two dozen plays, the two-player game started to feel stale and this game now rarely sees the table.

I've picking up the second edition as I hear the two-player game is improved (without the city board), but I somehow doubt that we'll get even half the plays out of it as we have with the original.
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 7   Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients x31

I picked this up looking for something different from The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game for cooperative night. I even went all in and bought a number of expansions and painted all of the figures that I've got to date.

Shadows of Brimstone is just a silly, fun dice-chucking retro-dungeon hack. Or it should be. The one thing that really starting to annoy me about the game is the amount of book-keeping. Every character has multiple abilities and so too does every monster type...and the two elite abilities of the monsters change every time they are encountered anew. It bugs me still more that only the starting player abilities have cards and the abilities from levelling up have to be tracked with paper and pen along with items bought in town. I want cards for everything or no cards at all.

Recently, we've put this away for another imperfect, cooperative miniature dungeon crawl: Massive Darkness .
 
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10. Board Game: Thunderstone [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:601] [Average Rating:6.97 Unranked]
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 5  Thunderstone x31

In my quest to find something that my wife and I could play together, and that scales up for more, I decided to try Thunderstone. We had been moving away from board games with cubes and tokens and towards more card-heavy games. So what about one of those deck-building games?

Initially, Thunderstone was a lot of fun for us. It was our first deck-builder, it played fairly quick, and the decision to go to town and buy cards to build up your deck or to go to the dungeon and score points was fairly interesting. I even bought the first expansion: Thunderstone: Wrath of the Elements, which got 17 plays.

However, it wasn't long before other deck-builders (like Ascension) relegated this one to the back shelf. The last time we dusted it off, in 2012, I found it went too long and I was bored before we were two-thirds through it.
 
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11. Board Game: The Voyages of Marco Polo [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:43]
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 9   The Voyages of Marco Polo x31

Unlike many games that made it into my h-index, The Voyages of Marco Polo is still getting played every so often. And it's been played at every player count (although mostly as a two-player with my wife).

I like that although there's a lot of randomness in The Voyages of Marco Polo, most of it is in the set up and once set up, the only other bit is the die and how the contracts come out. And the randomness of both is mitigated by, for the dice, using camels to re-roll or modify them, and for the contracts, by there being six available each turn. It's very rare that all the available contracts are unappealing. The random board layout makes each game feel just a bit different. Some games money is plentiful and other times it's very tight. Some games, travel is easy as there are locations and contracts that give movement points aplenty, and some games there aren't. In other games, VPs can be made in cities, and other games, VPs are primarily from contracts. Which means each play there's a different optimum strategy (which may or may not have to be flexible given what other players are doing).
 
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12. Board Game: Archipelago [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:316]
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 9   Archipelago x30

I suspect a majority of people who enjoy this game prefer it at higher player counts, but I'm perfectly happy to play it with just my wife. Not only that, I'm happy to play the short or medium game, which puts more of the emphasis on exploring and colonizing and less on conflict.

As I play it mostly with two, I've developed a few house rules for scoring. We always use the money trend card along with a random one and each player gets two secret objective cards, but chooses the one they want. And we never play with the rebel or pacifist objective cards. They seem pretty pointless with just two players.

 
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13. Board Game: Jambo [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:559] [Average Rating:7.03 Unranked]
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6 Jambo x27

Jambo is a quick, two-player game that both my wife and I enjoyed for the first couple dozen plays. Like At the Gates of Loyang, it's a trading game but it's faster paced and has a bit more interaction. Nevertheless, it's not quite as deep as Loyang and neither of us enjoy it as much. In fact, as light/medium games go, Jambo has been pretty much been relegated to the dust heap, first by Glen More and more recently by 51st State: Master Set.

At one point, I considered reviving it with an expansion or two, but I almost always prefer investing in a new game rather than bloating up an old one.
 
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14. Board Game: Massive Darkness [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:715] [Average Rating:7.36 Unranked]
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 7  Massive Darkness x25

I picked up Massive Darkness as an alternative for Shadows of Brimstone. I wanted a cooperative game to play as a campaign that didn't have as much bookkeeping as Shadows of Brimstone.

But while Massive Darkness is a bit more streamlined and less clunky, it's campaign mode (called "Story Mode") was tacked on late in development and it shows. In fact, "Story mode" is a misnomer since there's no real story. There's just a bunch of scenarios, and characters and their items are carried over from one to the next. And once a turn, there are events, but they are pretty much restricted to spawning random monsters on the one hand and some divine intervention on the other (magical healing heroes or wounding enemies).

We tweaked the "Story mode" a bit to slow down characters levelling up too fast and nerfed the ease at which the game allows them to accumulate and upgrade equipment (as one of the complaints about the game is the characters are too strong at higher levels and the game becomes a cake walk). All in all, the tweaks have been enough to put Massive Darkness into my h-index.
 
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15. Board Game: Obsession [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:1355]
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9  Obsession x25

Obsession made it into my h-index in just over a month. My wife was the primary driver for this feat as she's been requesting it and it's pretty rare that she requests a specific game.

There's nothing particularly innovative about Obsession. The tiles (representing rooms in a country house or land on the surrounding estate) are actions that require actors (servant meeples to trigger them and gentry cards to deliver rewards). The servants are then sent back to the servant quarters to rest a turn and the gentry cards are put in a personal discard pile to be retrieved when the player passes for their turn.

Obsession's fairly simple to learn, has quite a bit of luck, but really draws my wife and I into it. For us, the game seems to fit in the same space as At the Gates of Loyang, 51st State: Master Set and London. All these rely heavily on cards and to greater and lesser degrees on creating a tableau. (Yes, Obsession doesn't have a card tableau but the tiles could just have easily been cards.)

All in all, a winner for us.
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16. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:67]
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 7  Roll for the Galaxy x25

For awhile Roll for the Galaxy was a Carcassonne replacement for my wife and I. It's quick to set up and get into, and has enough interesting decisions crammed into its short play time. Not to mention there are so many tiles there's lots of novelty to the game. And for a long while, it'd been collecting dust as 51st State: Master Set has filled a similar niche. Recently, however, it's had a bit of a resurgence.
 
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17. Board Game: Glen More [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:286]
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 7  Glen More x24

Although it has some similarities to At the Gates of Loyang in that you can do your actions in any order you wish (and there's lots of cube pushing in the process), I don't enjoy Glen More as much. But then, I think the real decisions are not how you puzzle through your order of activating the tiles, but in the choice of the tile and the choice of where you place it, as these determine what you can activate. I also found the "dummy" player (in the two-player game) a bit of a distraction at first, but have become used to it over time. All in all, Glen More is a very good (two-player) game, but not a great one.
 
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18. Board Game: Lorenzo il Magnifico [Average Rating:7.86 Overall Rank:109]
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8  Lorenzo il Magnifico x23

Lorenzo il Magnifico is magnificent. So magnificent in fact that it may even creep into my top ten if the replayability of it holds. I was pretty skeptical of the game before playing as a lot of people say that Grand Austria Hotel is the better game. However, Grand Austria Hotel flopped with my wife and me.

Fortunately, Lorenzo il Magnifico shares more with Wallace's London than with other games coming out of Italy by the same group of designers. It's less about dice and more about building an engine with a tableau of cards and running it. Moreover, it plays perfectly fine with two.
 
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19. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:25]
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 8   Agricola x22

I resisted getting Agricola for a some time; the theme just didn't do it for me. But as our gaming group contained a number of women, I thought I should get something a little less political/military. I got hooked on it though; when we have four or five players of mixed company, I enjoy it. I'm not so interested with it as just a two-players game, at that point, I'd rather play another game by the same designer: At the Gates of Loyang.*

Favourite gaming moment from Agricola; our doctor friend asking how sheep reproduced....


*Which may explain why I have only played it once since 2012 in order to push my h-index up to 20.
 
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20. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:68]
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 9   Troyes x22

I was quite skeptical of the idea of a dice Euro; I assumed it would be far too random and therefore not "Euro-enough". Was I ever wrong.

Although it's not quite as heavy or long as Caylus or Le Havre, Troyes pushes some of the same buttons for me in spite of the dice. What's more, my wife enjoys it (unlike those other two).

We haven't played it in a long time and though we've played a number of other dice Euros since, it remains probably my favourite; although The Voyages of Marco Polo and Lorenzo il Magnifico come close.
 
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21. Board Game: Res Arcana [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:607]
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 8   Res Arcana x21

Once the iconography in Res Arcana is internalized, the game is a simple, but strategic engine-builder that tickles the same itch for me as 51st State: Master Set, but in a shorter play-time and less randomness. And like 51st State, at the start of the round, the players collect resources ("essence") from some of their active cards (including maybe even their one mage which starts activated), then alternate taking one action until they both pass.

The actions consist of place an artifact (card), claim a Monument (card) or Place of Power (tile), discard a card for one gold token or any two other (of the four) essences tokens, use a power on an component that is not exhausted. Placing artifacts from one's hand to tableau usually costs a number essences as does claiming a Place of Power. Monuments all cost four gold. Most artifacts, places, monuments and mage cards have abilities which can be used (sometimes for free, sometimes for a cost). Finding abilities that work in concert is the key to being successful in Res Arcana.

Even after twenty-something plays, Res Arcana still manages to amuse in spite of the limited number of cards available. There's a very good chance it will break twenty plays even without an expansion in the foreseeable future. There's a better chance that until my wife and I get tired of it, 51st State: Master Set may just sit on the shelf as Res Arcana fills the same niche and does it faster (and is quicker to set up and put away).
 
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