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BGG Hall of Fame
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Towards the end of 2010, the BGG Hall of Fame was born. This is a list of all current inductees and will be updated yearly. If you want to stay informed of all future BGG Hall of Fame happenings, please go to the subscription thread.

The BGG Hall of Fame is currently maintained by:

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Each game has a blurb written by member of the BGG community, who is credited above the blurb.

MISSION STATEMENT

The games in the BGG Hall of Fame are recognized for being noteworthy and historically significant to board games. Many of the games on this list are great games, but beyond that, they are games which are important and influential. They are the groundbreakers and innovators and even when newer, shinier games catch our fancy, we cannot deny that these games formed the building blocks of our hobby.

To be eligible for the BGG Hall of Fame, a game must be at least ten years old. The voting process is held once a year and is open to the entire BGG community. Currently, a game must be considered Hall of Fame-worthy by two-thirds of voters to be inducted. A minimum of two games is inducted each year.
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1. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:186]
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Designer: Sid Sackson

Inducted: 2010
Percentage of vote: 74.2%

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From the BGG entry for Acquire:

"Each player strategically invests in businesses, trying to retain a majority of stock. As the businesses grow with tile placements, they also start merging, giving the majority stockholders of the acquired business sizable bonuses, which can then be used to reinvest into other chains. All of the investors in the acquired company can then cash in their stocks for current value or trade them 2-for-1 for shares of the newer, larger business. The game is a race to acquire the greatest wealth."

Acquire is an early 1960s American game that has considerable strategy but does not take a lot of time, nor lean heavily on random mechanics, similar to many of today's Eurogames. Acquire is a fairly abstract game, but can easily be played by families with teens or pre-teens. It takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours to play. It's simple to set up and take down and relatively easy to explain. The strategies are similar from game to game, but the tactics can differ greatly on the tiles drawn and hotels in play. The fact that this game is still popular, particularly for tournaments, nearly 40 years after it was first published is a great credit to its designer, Sid Sackson.
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2. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:129] [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
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Designer: Klaus-Jürgen Wrede

Inducted: 2010
Percentage of vote: 67.8%

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A Board Game sans Board

Carcassonne is the ambassador of the modern Golden Age of board games. Carcassonne is the board game you should be introducing to anyone who asks what kind of board games you play and whether they’re like Monopoly. Carcassonne is the "gateway" game if there ever was one and the staple of any fledgling board game collection. Carcassonne is all that and it’s actually a great game too; one that experienced gamers ought to dust off and revisit.

Klaus-Jürgen Wrede burst onto the board gaming scene in 2000 with the release of Carcassonne. The game quickly went on to win the most important award in the industry - the Spiel des Jahres - in 2001, followed by the most important award to many serious hobbyists - the Deutscher Spiele Preis - a few months later. Wrede has followed up the game with a handful of additional designs (namely Downfall of Pompeii, Die Fugger, Mesopotamia, Anasazi, and a few others), but has devoted most of his subsequent releases to expansions and stand-alone spin-offs of Carcassonne. The family of Carcassonne games now bears over 20 expansions and 10 stand-alone spin-offs (some of which include designer credits by such luminaries as Karl-Heinz Schmiel and Reiner Knizia). Recently the game has even proliferated to a number of virtual implementations, including releases on the Xbox and the iPhone, in addition to the old faithful BrettspielWelt site.

People have gotten married over this game, cloned over this game, set world records over this game, and even traveled the globe for this game.

Carcassonne introduced the world to the iconic component known as the "meeple." These small wooden human-esque figures are the most recognizable piece in modern gaming and have been adapted for use in countless other games over the past decade. For more on the phenomenon of the meeple see this fantastic "Intelligence Report on Meeples" by Dave Lartigue. Obsession with meeples clearly runs rampant as people have sewed meeples, driven meeples, rained meeples, and even made snow meeples.

This game is a geek-culture phenomenon. It’s not only a game that people play, but a way of life that many proselytize. Carcassonne, without a board, is the defining board game of our time.
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3. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:238] [Average Rating:7.26 Unranked]
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Designer: Klaus Teuber

Inducted: 2010
Percentage of vote: 88.2%

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The Settlers of Catan has sold over 15 million copies. It won the Spiel Des Jahres in 1995. In 2005 it was inducted into the Games Magazine Hall of Fame. It is the most owned and most rated on BoardGameGeek. As one of the most recommended gateway games for non-gamers, The Settlers of Catan is also one of the top ten most played games on BoardGameGeek.

The Settlers of Catan changed my life. Quite simply, it is the best game that I have ever played, and because of my initial play over seven years ago, I have become a board game hobbyist and collector.

It was my first Eurogame and, in all honesty, I am certain that I would not have delved so deeply into the hobby if my first game had been a different one. Settlers is a different game every time you play it. It offers its players a modular board, trading, negotiation, resource management, civilization building, both direct and indirect conflict, random chance and a strategic depth that reveals itself over multiple games. Yet, it is a game that is regarded as one of the most influential for introducing non-gamers, such as myself seven years ago, to the hobby and remains a major player in the board game industry fifteen years after its original release.

After my first few plays, I was blown away by how different it was compared to the traditional American games I grew up with. It only lasted an hour. It was based on strategic thinking rather than luck. There wasn’t any player elimination, and in most plays, all of the players had a chance of winning right up until the end. It was like nothing I had ever played, yet its simple rules, elegant play and replay value triggered over one hundred plays in the first six months that I owned the game, even though I was not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination before.
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4. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:397] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
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Designer: (Uncredited)

Inducted: 2010
Percentage of vote: 77.2%

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When you tell people you play board games, you often get a skeptical look. But when you tell people you play chess, people are impressed: they assume that you are smart and a deep thinker. Chess has come to epitomize "games for smart people." World leaders and tortured writers have played the game. A quick Google search will turn up dozens of chess players who are famous for things other than chess. You can play it on the beach with the Grim Reaper or on a surreal trip through Wonderland. It is the theme for bad detective novels and even a Broadway musical. Child prodigies and supercomputers will be mentioned in headlines. All around the world, hundreds of chess tournaments take place every weekend, often with schoolchildren and retirees competing side by side. It is one of a handful of games that has professional players and teachers.

But, for me the most amazing thing about chess is how much intricacy lies within a relatively simple set of rules. You can easily teach someone to play in a few minutes, but for practically everyone except a very select few, the game will never be mastered. I played the game seriously for a decade - reading books, memorizing openings and practicing for hours each week and yet I was still only average for a competitive player. Chess is one of the few games that people will dedicate their lives to, and rightfully so.
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5. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:465]
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Designer: Allan B. Calhamer

Inducted: 2010
Percentage of vote: 77.5%

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In 1953, when Allan Calhamer began designing the game that became Diplomacy, he had almost no precedents to work from. There were no tabletop wargames, not even something as simple as Risk or Stratego. Unless you count Pit, there really weren't any negotiation games. Monopoly could still legitimately be considered the height of sophistication in boardgames. And yet, working in such a vacuum, he created a game that has not only thrived after half a century, but which must be regarded as one of the truly iconic designs of all time.

Diplomacy's mechanical innovations are many--programmed, simultaneous movement; a multiplayer game of conflict; area movement; unit creation; and the wonderfully elegant concept of support--but the essence of the game goes far beyond mere rules. It's a stark battle of wits and negotiation skills in the most ruthless arena in gaming. Positional play is surprisingly deep for a game of such simplicity, but in the end, it all comes down to manipulating your fellow man and choosing the right time for a backstab. The title's renown spreads far beyond normal gaming channels--supposedly, both John F. Kennedy and Henry Kissinger were fans. PBEM games are more practical (and do a good job of simulating real life diplomacy), but there's nothing quite as intense and exhilarating as an all-day, face-to-face battle with you and six of your former friends. Okay, the title's reputation for ending friendships may be overstated, but even if it were true, I'd still play. Games like Diplomacy only come along once in a generation; I can always find new friends.
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6. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:105]
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Designer: (Uncredited)

Inducted: 2010
Percentage of vote: 70.9%

Geoffrey Engelstein
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The first traces of the game Go go back 2500 years to ancient China, making it 1,000 years older than Chess. And yet it still continues to dazzle and amaze, only grudgingly giving up its secrets even to Go masters. And while computer programs have now lain Chess Grandmasters low, Go continues to baffle the best AI.

Go appeals to the senses as well as the mind. It combines the simplest of elements - black and white, stone and wood, lines and intersections, life and death. The rules can be written down in less than a page, and yet its true fundamental rule about how stones can achieve life is not included and emerges naturally. And the grand scope of the game means that one can easily win battle after battle but lose the war. It is the quintessential blend of strategy and tactics.

Of all the games we have invented over human history only a handful might also be played on distant planets by alien intelligences. Tic-Tac-Toe, Dots & Boxes, Mancala, and perhaps even Reversi may span the galaxy. But certainly Go is also played elsewhere. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that we did not invent Go, we discovered it.
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7. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:145] [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
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Designer: Richard Garfield

Inducted: 2010
Percentage of vote: 69.4%

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Magic: The Gathering dominates the genre of Collectible Card Games, and has done so since creating the genre with its launch.

Players create decks comprised of fantasy-themed cards to compete with one another in "magical duels." Decks may be constructed from previously collected cards or crafted on the spot from limited pools of freshly opened, randomized card packs. The game challenges deck construction creativity and gameplay in high-skill tournaments, casual collection formats such as Cube Drafting and Elder Dragon Highlander, and friendly pickup games.

Magic's cards cluster into five distinct colors of magic, each with signature effects, themes, symbolism, artwork, and design mechanics. This "Color Pie" distribution of effects and themes preserves the distinct flavor and play among cards of a given color, regardless of their era of origin. Independent of color, cards of greater collectible rarity tend toward more elaborate game effects and greater potential power, with iconic early cards often being both uniquely powerful and vanishingly rare.

Magic's design endlessly explores the play possibilities of subsets of cards released throughout its history. Every year, a new fantasy world is introduced and expanded upon, with distinct mechanics and creative elements elaborating upon the basic play of the game's core sets.
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8. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.42 Overall Rank:13868] [Average Rating:4.42 Unranked]
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Designer: Charles Darrow

Inducted: 2012
Percentage of Vote: 65.1%

[blurb forthcoming]
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9. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:12]
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Designer: Andreas Seyfarth

Inducted: 2012
Percentage of Vote: 70.7%

[blurb forthcoming]
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10. Board Game: Risk [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:12845]
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Designers: Albert Lamorisse and Michael I. Levin

Inducted: 2011
Percentage of vote: 70.2%

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When Parker Brothers was approached to publish in the US the French game La Conquête du Monde by Albert Lamorisse, they eventually agreed to do so, but only after the rules had been substantially modified. The resulting game was the classic Risk which they first published in 1959. Whether one views the game as a light wargame or as a war-themed semi-abstract (or possibly both) the game certainly is the grandfather of all modern wargames and became a phenomenon worldwide.

The original game has been modified and inspired an entire family of games-- which can be played in most (but not all) cases as themed Risk but are in fact distinct games sharing a core combat mechanic.

At first glance, a person might think Risk is all luck; after all, combat is decided by dice and one acquires vital extra armies via sets of cards. Yet while any individual roll cannot be predicted, the overall patterns of repeated rolls can be definitely predicted. Similarly probabilities govern the cards. Risk is a game of skill, knowing where and when to attack or defend but most importantly how to weigh the probabilities.

No one has ever lost a game of Risk due to one bad roll or even a few bad rolls. Risk is won or lost based on one's ability to gauge and use the chances of winning a combat-- including knowing when it's better to lose but wear the opponent down. The game is called Risk for a reason. Building up armies in large masses up not expanding more than a territory a turn is a sure recipe for disaster if one is facing at all competent players. To win, one must crush one's opponents as fast as possible or be as ruthlessly crushed oneself.

The cards fuel an arms race and a player with cards is a target for annihilation. The only way to get more armies in the middle of the turn (usually in large numbers to boot) is to get six cards, which can only be done by eliminating another player. The oft heard complaints about the game being too long universally come from people who don't know how to play. This game is not a family game; it's about raw aggression, merciless attack and planning ahead-- not to mention intimidating opponents.

The game continues to sell phenomenal numbers of copies each year and so there is a reason non-gamers are known to ask the cliche question of any game involving conflict, "Is it like Risk?" Yet in spite of a fashion to denigrate the game among gamers, it is the gateway game for many and it appeals to the most seasoned gamer-- when played ruthlessly and boldly as it is meant to be. The game is called Risk for a reason and it truly is among the great games of all time.
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11. Board Game: Scrabble [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:1397]
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Designer: Alfred Mosher Butts

Inducted: 2011
Percentage of vote: 66.2%

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It took a geek to create the greatest word game (and math game) ever invented. Alfred Butts was as meticulous as they come, tallying letter frequencies on legal pads (but only for longer words) and creating multiple configurations for his board until he settled upon the familiar 15x15 grid with eight triple-word spaces and a pink starred space in the center.

If he was not a genius, he was at least persistent and finally came up with the ultimate word game. And, much as he methodically designed the game for more than a decade, he plodded along trying to sell it for quite some time before the world caught up with him. By the mid-1950s, the game was was selling like no game before or since (over 2,000,000 sets per year). Some of us recall Trivial Pursuit's meteoric rise, but the Scrabble frenzy outpaced even that legendary leisurely pursuit.

None of this happened until a better marketer partnered with Butts, taking about 80% of all the royalties. But in the end, after over 20 years in the business and a chance to sell the rights, Butts was quite satisfied with his $1.2 million. He enjoyed his star status as the inventor of a game played by legions (it was said to have millions of clubs, no less). He enjoyed the simple life with his wife, too. In short, the trained architect (and good at it) hit upon the notion of creating a game, not because he loved games, but because the world needed one and he needed the money. And he attacked the problem like a gamer geek would--tactically with an end-game strategy. Well played, sir.

No one can be sure why the game became the phenomenon it did. The emergence of the crossword craze early in the 20th century or more free time and the emergence of a middle class or just the need for a pasttime revolving around words. But in the end, nearly every home in America (and beyond) owned a copy. How many of us got through childhood without playing this game with our parents? Could this be the first true, multi-generational family game? Possibly so, and it certainly should retain that position for decades to come. In fact, our eight-year-old has recently continued this age-old tradition.

Tradition, indeed. That is Scrabble at its core.

And for those who don't know, a superb book (Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis) and movie (Word Wars) cover not only the history of the game, but the crazier side of championship players. Well worth checking out. And for those of you who detest the use of obscure words to score big points, just remember these simple tidbits: QI (life force) and ZA (pizza) are valid and every vowel can be combined with X to form a useful two-letter word (AX, EX, XI, OX, and XU). You'll go far with that and a bingo (7-letter word) from time to time.
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