Introducing BGG: The Board Game

Does the name Ncik (Nick Reed) mean anything to you? It should! This, ladies and gentlemen, is the creator of BGG! No, not BGG The Online Game, but BGG The Board Game! I'm excited to share this thrilling news with my fellow gamers: BGG is now available as a board game! Of course you already know the online game, because you play the web version online practically every day, courtesy of the great designer Aldie:



Now, at long last, here is the board game that inspired the online web version of BGG! An important lesson is origins is necessary: is BGG The Board Game what it pretends to be - a spoof of the famous website? Or is it in fact the original form of the game? I think we all know that the latter is the case, and that BGG The Board Game is in fact the original form of the game, which was the source material for the online version later created by Aldie.

So what's it about? It's a playable game for 1-6 players, where you acquire GeekGold, Thumbs and Popularity in an effort to become Geek of the Week. Choose one of six roles: Contributor, BGG Admin, Troll, Lurker, Game Designer or Chatterbox. Featuring everything you've always loved about BGG, including microbadges, reviews, session reports, geek lottery, and much more! What more can you ask for in a game, really?! In this review, I will primarily be reviewing the online/web version of this game, which I have played many times, but I will also make comparisons with the board game.

Rules

The board game version is a print-n-play, available here: http://www.radivarl.demon.co.uk/nick/bgg/bgg-the-game.pdf
Yes this is no joke, it's actually a playable game, and a great deal of thought and effort has gone into this! The PDF is a ten page document that contains all you need to know about the game. The rules themselves take up less than five pages, and are clearly laid out and well explained.



As for the online game, well the rules seem to be somewhat elusive and hard to find. For example, how do you win? Admittedly, there are Forum and Geeklist Rules, and an article about Geek of the Week. But it's easier to become Geek of the Week in the board game, so if that's your ambition, I'd recommend that you start with the board game.

Nobody has actually won the online form of the game, aside from Aldie - but this was a practice game on his lap-top while on a flight to Dallas, but sadly he had to turn his computer off when the aircraft started its descent, so this win was never verified. At one time, the highest scoring players in the game were identifiable with a Golden Meeple microbadge, but this has since been given to many other players, and is no longer an accurate reflection of the top players in the game. As you can see, some mysteries remain about how to achieve victory in the online form of the game. It does have to be admitted, however, that the online game can handle a larger number of players, whereas the board game is limited to 6 players.

Components

The board game consists of a gaming board, a tracker board, scorecards, along with various counters and microbadges. Here's the complete list of components:



The online version has the advantage here, because it has fully customizable components! You buy your own computer, use Windows, Linux, or whatever your favorite operating system is. And when you're on the website, you can even customize some of the colours and layout. There's also an infinite amount of microbadges available, and if ever you need more GeekGold you can always post a GeekAuction. The online version can also be played wherever you have internet access, which makes it very portable, a definite plus! Which means that even if you're on a business trip to South Africa or on a holiday at a European resort, and even if there are no face-to-face players available, as long as you have web access, you can still play The Game!

Game Board

The game board is essentially a roll-and-move board (this roll-and-move mechanic inspired the caster wheels on most office chairs used by players of the online game). Notice the attention to detail: Reviews, Sessions, Geeklists, Forums, Images, Geekmod - it's all there!



You'll find references to GeekChat, and some lovely squares like these:
"Great Avatar" +5 Popularity
"Best. Review. Ever" +8 Thumbs Up
"Have A Tip" +1 GeekGold
"!OFFLINE!" Miss Next Turn

I give a big thumbs up to the game board!

Roles

Both the online version and the board game allow you to choose one of 6 roles: Contributor, BGG Admin, Troll, Lurker, Game Designer, or Chatterbox.



I tend to choose "Contributor" when playing both games. But I'm glad that there are players who want to choose the other roles as well, because the game wouldn't be half as fun without them! Except perhaps the Troll!

Game Tracker

The Game Tracker of the board game features both Hot Games and Random Games:



Assuming you're already familiar with the online version of the game, this requires little explanation. It should be mentioned that the board game has much more funky colours than the online version, so thumbs up to the board game here! The Hotness in the online version is pretty sweet too, however, especially now that there are three levels of hotness (Games, People, Company).

Score Cards

Each player gets a score card:



Using GeekGold, Thumbs, and Popularity as the three main resources of the board game works really well. The online version does have excellent ways of keeping track of GeekGold and Thumbs, but the Popularity is currently an invisible resource. There has been some debate whether it should remain hidden, just like money is hidden in some other games. I expect that with the release of BGG ver. 3 in 2010, Popularity will be implemented as an official resource on the online version of the game, and there will be ways to keep track of this commodity and manage it. Integration with live webcams in BGG ver. 4 will likely enhance this even further.

Game-play

Set Up

In the board game, players set targets for the GeekGold, Thumbs and Popularity they are aiming for, totalling exactly 100. You become the winning Geek of the Week if you achieve this goal. You also choose a role. I especially like the rule that "The Starting Player is the last player to log onto BGG." Oddly enough, the online version doesn't seem to have any rules about who is the Starting Player. On some other websites, this is usually assigned on a first-come-first-served basis, and is awarded to the first person who posts "First!" under a new article. I personally find this rather juvenile. Rumour has it that Aldie and company are hard at work devising a mechanism of determining the official BGG Starting Player. The last I heard was that it involves an elaborate ritual with blind folds, dice, and werewolves, at a BGG.CON. But back to the board game: in turns, players also get to select Game Type tokens, such as Dexterity (preferred), War (disliked), Card (preferred), Miniature (disliked). There is an important rule you should not miss: "All Microbadges should remain face-up and visible to all players in front of the Scorecards at all times during play." This has been implemented differently in the online version of the game, where only five microbadges are visible at any time, but can be customized. No doubt there will be extensive debate about which of these is the best method for displaying microbadges, although I'm personally partial to the online method, since it's less fiddly and more elegant.

Flow of Play

In the board game, movement is determined by rolling dice on the “Front Page” or any of the “BGG Trails”. The online game has altered the "dice" mechanic to a "mouse" mechanic. The mouse mechanic has more flexibility, and less randomness, so more serious gamers tend to favour the online form of the game for this reason alone. Personally I don't mind some luck in my games, because I think it is character building. But I can appreciate the arguments raised by those who prefer the "mouse" mechanic, and have to admit that one of the strengths of the online version is that you can go where you please. The disadvantage of this mechanic is that it can allow infinite movement, although this can be modified when restrictions are imposed by one's boss or wife (only available in the Work expansion and the Home & Family expansion).

Squares on the Board

Depending on which square you land, you can earn GeekGold, Thumbs, or Popularity. You can apply this gain to either a Hot Game or a Random Game. I particularly like this part of the rules: "Your BGG submission may attract secondary comments and articles from the other players, and this is where the Indirect bonus comes in. Any player (including the one who made the move) who has a Liked or Disliked game type that is the same as the game chosen gains the Indirect bonus." The online version of the game has implemented this excellent rule even more cleverly, with a very elaborate system that enables indirect benefits as a result of comments from other users.

Let's take a closer look at some of the squares on the board version. Experienced players of the online form of the game will recognize much that is familiar:



Some squares on the game board deserve special mention:
(BGG Logo): Return to the “Front Page”.
BGG Contribution: You contribute a monetary donation to the BGG website. Way to go you! Roll a dice to see how many GeekGold you get rewarded with.
BGG DOWN: The BGG website is down. Advanced the Hot Game Track one space (and roll 2 dice to determine what type of game enters at the leftmost space – reroll if a game is chosen that has no Tokens in the Unused Token Pool)
Geek Chat – STOP!: You’re drawn into GeekChat. Gain 1 Popularity point. However, you must stop here and any 6 you may have thrown is ignored with regards continuing your turn.
GEEK LOTTERY: You enter a BGG contest. Roll 1 die and refer to the table on the board to see if you win anything.
!OFFLINE!: Your internet connection is dead! Oh noes! Miss your next turn.
RANDOM: You post something random to BGG. Roll 1 die and refer to the table on the board to see if it garners you any Thumbs.

The online version of the game has implemented this in almost an identical manner, although the dice-rolling mechanic has been eliminated, and replaced with the mouse mechanic, as mentioned previously.

Winning

In the board game, the first player to reach their Goal for GeekGold, Thumbs and Popularity is the winner and should be considered Geek of the Week! As a result the game time of the board game is considerably shorter than the online game.

The online game, on the other hand, has incorporated many expansions that are now a mandatory part of the game. As a result, becoming Geek of the Week doesn't make someone the winner of BGG. In fact, nearly everyone is a winner, as long as they follow the rules! In that regard the online version has incorporated a terrific cooperative element, which really enhances gameplay. The more that players work together, the greater the chances of success.

Note that when players post nasty comments or start flame wars, a special feature called "thread locked" (available in the Admin expansion) sometimes needs to be applied. Sadly, I've seen this occur many times with players using the Troll role, but I have to concede that the game is much improved with the Admin expansion, than when played without this expansion. The players of the Admin role are typically very experienced and wise, and I'm grateful for the way that they have improved The Game. I also really like the fact that the online game has altered the win condition, and that you need not ever be Geek of the Week to enjoy the game - this is a good improvement.



What do I think?

BGG The Board Game will not receive the praise it deserves, partly because many will think it is derivative of the online game, whereas in fact the reverse is the case. In that respect, it should especially be appreciated for its historical and nostalgic value, and will have particular appeal to fans of the online BGG game. A fair review should comment on both the BGG The Board Game and BGG The Online Game. Here are some of my thoughts about both forms of the game:

Theme:
• BGG The Board Game - As Knizia observed, this is a case where the theme hasn't been pasted onto the game, but the game has been pasted onto the theme. Brilliant!
• BGG The Online Game - The theme is quite solid, and will appeal to virtually all readers of this review.

Components:
• BGG The Board Game - This largely depends on the quality of your printer. So if you have lousy components, you only have yourself to blame really.
• BGG The Online Game - I love the green of the thumbs, and the gold of the GeekGold. Don't we all? The components are usually very reliable, especially in recent months. If you get defective components like the ones pictured below, the publisher will usually come through, so just exercise some patience and play the board game, cut the grass, or do some real work until the components are corrected:



Randomness:
• BGG The Board Game - The dice mechanic is a solid time-proven system, and yet there is still enough decision making to make the game fun.
• BGG The Online Game - The online game is definitely more for hard-core gamers, because there is very little randomness. The mouse mechanic means that the outcome is almost completely the result of your own decisions. Should you lose the game (the technical term for this is "banning"), however, you usually only have yourself to blame. There is a high level of interaction which can affect results, so it does pay to be on good terms with the other players - giving GG tips is one way to ensure this, as well as counting to 10 and re-reading any post before pressing "Submit".

Players:
• BGG The Board Game - The six different roles work very well, and give different ways to play the game, and multiple paths to victory.
• BGG The Online Game - One usually doesn't rate the players of a game in a review, but since this is a cooperative game with many players, it would be a serious omission to leave this unmentioned. Most players are fantastic, and work together well. There are some exceptions, but when people play nicely, a spirit of charity and generosity prevails, which enhances gameplay significantly.

Similar Games:
Some of the ideas will seem familiar to people who have played the 1955 game Careers. But in fact it is BGG The Board Game that inspired Careers rather than vice versa - as proof, one only needs to consider how Aldie himself made a career out of BGG the Online Game. It should also be mentioned that several months after Nick Reed released BGG The Board Game, Drew Spencer published a similar game, under the title You Already Play and Love This Game. It simulates BGG The Online Game, as players are new users to BoardGameGeek.com who start out with nothing more than a copy of a childhood favorite and 10GG, and work their way to a massive game collection and an impressive portfolio of uploaded images, GeekLists, and Reviews of the games they own. Fans who appreciate BGG The Board Game would do well to give this other implementation a look.

Overall rating:
The board game is terrific, but if I was forced to make a choice at gunpoint, I'd probably select the online game as my first choice. It scales well (1 to 100,000 or more players), has great replay value, an interesting theme, and rewards good decision making. It will satisfy gamers of all ages, and can have a high fun factor. The play time can become excessive, but this is really no different from a Collectible Card Game - in the end it's your choice about how much time you want to invest in the game. My final ratings:
• BGG The Board game - Good game, usually willing to play: 7/10
• BGG The Online game - Outstanding, always want to play and expect this will never change: 10/10

What do others think?

Prototypes of the board game existed long before the online version, but since it has only just been released for print-and-play, there are only a few initial comments. Here is what some are saying about BGG The Board Game:

"This is pretty impressive considering how much time you spent on it." - Mo Verdigast
"Whew, you've really got some extra time on your hands don't you?" - James Bentley
"This does look cool. Great idea, I love the way you got "everything" in there." - F H
"Three words: "pasted on theme"." - Jason Sample
"Wonderful idea! I love the role quote optional rule." - Axel Vidmark


The online game, on the other hand, is more widely known. I interviewed all the well-known game designers, and here's what they had to say about BGG the Online Game:



"I much prefer to play BGG the online game than to do real work to feed my family." - Uwe Rosenberg (designer of Agricola)

"The online version of BGG the Board Game has some great role selection mechanics. My favorite is the "Game Designer" role, that allows you to advance the Hot Games Track. I once managed to get up to #1." - Andreas Seyfarth (designer of Puerto Rico)

"For some reason, the dizzying array of colourful microbadges for this game reminds me of trains. When I'm surfing BGG the online game, I definitely prefer to go for the longest waves." - Alan Moon (designer of Ticket to Ride)

"Under-rated, despite the fact that the BGG farmer ranking system is controversial. I can't wait until they come out with the next BGG expansion!" - Klaus-Jürgen Wrede (designer of Carcassonne)

"It's sick man! There's a growing epidemic of fans of the online game around the world, and I just love the way how cooperation between the players makes the game better." - Matt Leacock (designer of Pandemic)

"Easily the best online game. I only wish there was a collectible version." - Richard Garfield (designer of Magic: The Gathering)

"I still am trying to become Geek of the Week. I had enough thumbs to qualify for it last week, but then someone rolled a 7 and moved the robber." - Klaus Teuber (designer of Catan)

"Some of the players are a few cards short of a deck. But I like the fact that you can build your own deck - the mouse mechanic that allows you to make your own choices as to what parts of the game you include is ingenious." - Donald X. Vaccarino (designer of Dominion)

"It's unfortunate that the game doesn't start with an F, but I'm more than pleased that I can customize the forum colours to green." - Friedemann Friese (designer of Power Grid)

"More people play BGG the online game than play all of my games put together. It's a real adventure! Unlike many games which have a pasted on theme, this is a theme that has a pasted on game." - Reiner Knizia (designer of Lost Cities)


The final word

Kudos to Nick Reed for designing a playable board game version, and kudos to Aldie and company for all the hard work in implementing the online version of this fantastic game. If you haven't yet played BGG The Game, I highly recommend it! Chances are, if you've read all the way to the end of this review, you're already a dedicated and experienced fan of the game! So why don't you tell us what you think of this game?

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596
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Great review! thumbsup

I don't think I've heard of the online version. Where can I find it?
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Weirdo.
 
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Nicely done.

I thought the target release date was for Essen 2009, so I'm ecstatic to see it come out so early!

(The review is almost a kind of self-parody, though, Ender! )
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Nick Reed
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EndersGame wrote:


Assuming you're already familiar with the online version of the game, this requires little explanation.
Oh man, this line made me laugh and almost choke on my dinner! I was well aware through the whole development process how confusing that section looked and worried about it quite a bit. I'm glad to see my concerns were unjustified.


Brilliant review! It feels like you spent more time and creativity on it that I did on the original game! Thank you for the positive spin and promotion of an otherwise silly game idea.
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Andrew Tullsen
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I think you got one point wrong. The online version doesn't let you pick "Admin".
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Mat Nowak
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I read the whole thing but I have one important question to ask:

Is Busen Memo in BGG: TBG???
 
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Linda Baldwin
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Quote:
I think you got one point wrong. The online version doesn't let you pick "Admin".

You can, IF you have the limited edition expansion set. I understand they're damned hard to get hold of, though.
 
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Mateui wrote:
I read the whole thing but I have one important question to ask:

Is Busen Memo in BGG: TBG???

Ofcource busen memo puts the B in BGG
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EndersGame wrote:
Geek Chat – STOP!: You’re drawn into GeekChat. Gain 1 Popularity point. However, you must stop here and any 6 you may have thrown is ignored with regards continuing your turn.

Yep. That rule makes it practically a simulation.
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James Ridgway
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How much for the little game in the window?
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When will this be available on VASSEL?
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James Hutchings
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Are fans of this game boardgamegeek board game geeks?
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Howitzer_120mm wrote:
I think you got one point wrong. The online version doesn't let you pick "Admin".

Speak for yourself whistle
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Jesse W.
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I thought it looked something like that old Careers game, I thought maybe the BGGBG was based on it.blush Thank you for setting me straight.
 
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