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Subject: the meaning of light and medium games rss

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jood shine
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ive been reading threads about new games and often they are said to be medium or light or heavey weight..can anyone give some example of these so i can see if the games are suitable
for example agricola and le havre..id call it medium to heavy but stone age light to meidium...i dont know if there is an agreement in geek world as to what is light medium etc..or is it more personal than that.
 
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Stephen Rochelle
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Medium-weight games are light. Light when compared to heavy games, that is; they're medium-weight when compared to similarly-weighted games. And for heavy games like these - heavy when compared to lighter-weight games anyway, if such things exist - the weight is purely subjective based on the preferences of the individual and also the domain (e.g. "light" and "heavy" in wargames will be different from "light" and "heavy" in children's games). Subjective, that is, unless we're talking weight in kilos.

More relevantly, you can find weight (that's gameplay*) information in the Statistics block of any particular game page. That sort of single-number distillation, though, is highly subjective (and is compiled via the votes of users). But if you're going to call Agricola and Le Havre "medium-heavy" (a '4' in weight parlance) and Stone Age "medium-light") (a '2'), you can compare their listed weights of 3.6, 3.8, and 2.6, respectively, and see that your analysis roughly corresponds to consensus here -- at least for those games.

*You can find mass (sometimes) under the version information.
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Martin Larouche
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The "weight" of a game is always relative to the topic at hand.

For example, one might say:
Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie is a light game,
Dust Tactics is a medium game,
and
"Basic" BattleTech is a heavy game.
This would be right.

But then, if you add something like Star Fleet Battles or Attack Vector: Tactical into the mix of a topic, it becomes:
Heroscape AND Dust Tactics both become light games,
"Basic" BattleTech the medium game,
SFB and AV:T are the heavy games.
This would also be right.

Thing is, the weight of game is measured around the average of the "weightyness" (the "medium" value). If you add "ultra-heavy" games or "ultra-light" games, the average change and the classification is modified for the entire spectrum of games.
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David
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Quote:
Harry Kim: "So this is like Vulcan chess?"
Tuvok: "Kal-toh is to chess like chess is to tic-tac-toe."
It all depends on your point of view.
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James Sitz
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deedob wrote:
The "weight" of a game is always relative to the topic at hand.

For example, one might say:
Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie is a light game,
Dust Tactics is a medium game,
and
"Basic" BattleTech is a heavy game.
This would be right.
The thing that bugs me about this is that with an example like Heroscape, it becomes a much heavier game when you look at a 5 or 6 hour tournament. There are players who practice (or just have very strong valuation skills) and consistently find themselves in the top 10% of finalists at these sorts of events. I'm not counting myself among these best players, but I've played many of them.

I like what many consider "light" games because the rulebook doesn't get in the way of your learning the game, and then you can go ahead and learn how to actually play well, while playing many games in a row to see what works and does not. I think that Heroscape is a much heavier game than Stone Age, at least the way I play it. Stone Age is a throw-away, play-it-five-times and move on to the next WP-of-the-month kind of game. I'm astonished it's in the top 30.
 
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Martin Larouche
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Jexik wrote:
deedob wrote:
The "weight" of a game is always relative to the topic at hand.

For example, one might say:
Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie is a light game,
Dust Tactics is a medium game,
and
"Basic" BattleTech is a heavy game.
This would be right.
The thing that bugs me about this is that with an example like Heroscape, it becomes a much heavier game when you look at a 5 or 6 hour tournament. There are players who practice (or just have very strong valuation skills) and consistently find themselves in the top 10% of finalists at these sorts of events. I'm not counting myself among these best players, but I've played many of them.

I like what many consider "light" games because the rulebook doesn't get in the way of your learning the game, and then you can go ahead and learn how to actually play well, while playing many games in a row to see what works and does not. I think that Heroscape is a much heavier game than Stone Age, at least the way I play it. Stone Age is a throw-away, play-it-five-times and move on to the next WP-of-the-month kind of game. I'm astonished it's in the top 30.
But again, all is relative.
Next to Dust Tactics and BattleTech, HeroScape is definitely a light game no way around it, whether tournament level or not.

Next to Tic Tac Toe and Mexican Train, HeroScape is definitely not a light game. It will be a "heavy" one.
 
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Carl Garber
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In regards to seeing If a game is suitable, I agree with Stephen that the statistics section of a boardgame page is the best place to look. First look at the weights of the games you have and then compare with the games you are thinking about. While there will always be difference on opinion these weight averages are very helpful. I know that games between 3.3 and 2.1 work best with those I game with so I rarely spend time looking in to games weighted higher or lower than that.
 
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Matthew Lust
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To bring in board games as a contrast:

Ticket to ride- light

Steam- medium

18xx- heavy
 
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Martin Larouche
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Professor Nomos wrote:
To bring in board games as a contrast:

Ticket to ride- light

Steam- medium

18xx- heavy
Where does that put Twilight Imperium 3? Ultra-Heavy?
 
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Matthew Lust
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deedob wrote:
Professor Nomos wrote:
To bring in board games as a contrast:

Ticket to ride- light

Steam- medium

18xx- heavy
Where does that put Twilight Imperium 3? Ultra-Heavy?

Ti3 isn't the same genre of board game thus in my subjectively constructed universe they dont get compared.

Ti3 is heavy-ish but really it's just got a high learning curve mixed in with a relatively broken base game rules set that only gets fixed by expansions.

Ti3 is heavy compared to say Merchants and Muaraders which heavier than say Cyclades.


These all have direct player interaction through combat but also have other forms of game play beyond just killing plastic dudes.
 
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Jay Lacson
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Professor Nomos wrote:
deedob wrote:
Professor Nomos wrote:
To bring in board games as a contrast:

Ticket to ride- light

Steam- medium

18xx- heavy
Where does that put Twilight Imperium 3? Ultra-Heavy?

Ti3 isn't the same genre of board game thus in my subjectively constructed universe they dont get compared.

Ti3 is heavy-ish but really it's just got a high learning curve mixed in with a relatively broken base game rules set that only gets fixed by expansions.

Ti3 is heavy compared to say Merchants and Muaraders which heavier than say Cyclades.


These all have direct player interaction through combat but also have other forms of game play beyond just killing plastic dudes.
Isn't this just reiterating the "it's all relative" response?

I guess the answer would be "It depends."?
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Martin Larouche
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Professor Nomos wrote:
deedob wrote:
Professor Nomos wrote:
To bring in board games as a contrast:

Ticket to ride- light

Steam- medium

18xx- heavy
Where does that put Twilight Imperium 3? Ultra-Heavy?

Ti3 isn't the same genre of board game thus in my subjectively constructed universe they dont get compared.

Ti3 is heavy-ish but really it's just got a high learning curve mixed in with a relatively broken base game rules set that only gets fixed by expansions.

Ti3 is heavy compared to say Merchants and Muaraders which heavier than say Cyclades.


These all have direct player interaction through combat but also have other forms of game play beyond just killing plastic dudes.
But the weight of a game *can* be compared cross-genre. Train games can be compared to wargames or abstract games for the weight element. Indeed, this is what the weight rating for each game on BGG is doing.
Tic Tac Toe is definitely lighter than Advanced Squad Leader no matter how you loko at it, despite one being a wargame and the other, an abstract.
Settlers of Catan is also definitely a lighter fare than Earth Reborn.

Because even TI3 compared to Cyclades... they really are not the same category of games. They are as close as say, Talisman to Descent.

And even then to complexify things further, each individual game may have different levels of *weight*. For example, Go. Go definitely has a very light ruleset and is a very easy to grasp abstract game. It makes it a light game to learn. But then, in order to be any good, Go will become a very heavy game indeed in the longer run.
 
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J C Lawrence
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deedob wrote:
But the weight of a game *can* be compared cross-genre. Train games can be compared to wargames or abstract games for the weight element. Indeed, this is what the weight rating for each game on BGG is doing.
I agree that they are being compared. I do not however see that any (useful) information is being created by that comparison.
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Martin Larouche
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clearclaw wrote:
deedob wrote:
But the weight of a game *can* be compared cross-genre. Train games can be compared to wargames or abstract games for the weight element. Indeed, this is what the weight rating for each game on BGG is doing.
I agree that they are being compared. I do not however see that any (useful) information is being created by that comparison.
On this i can agree... but to a point
While it's hardly useful in comparison topics, these comparisons are made all the time in recommendation threads (which is where the weight of games is most often discussed).

For example:
"I play and really Ticket to Ride and Settlers, what's are slightly heavier games i could like?" topics that are found in the forum sections on a weekly basis.
These questions invite cross-genre weight comparisons. In this particular example, the TC would not be looking for games exactly like TTR and Settlers, but for anything a tad more "heavy".
 
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Matthew Lust
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deedov wrote:

For example:
"I play and really Ticket to Ride and Settlers, what's are slightly heavier games i could like?" topics that are found in the forum sections on a weekly basis.
These questions invite cross-genre weight comparisons. In this particular example, the TC would not be looking for games exactly like TTR and Settlers, but for anything a tad more "heavy".

Problem is now we're not really talking light vs heavy but we're exploring far more subjective elements like taste, motivation for play (player interaction, engine development etc) as well as desired qualities including: quick play ( less than 60 minutes), replayability, number of book keeping chores in a turn etc.


Moreover, Some games serve as gateway games in that they introduce the players to the "hobby" side of board gaming whereas others are "bridge games" in that they get players used to handling more and more complex actions. This not to assume that the transition is a linear process and all people who own a copy of carcassone will in 5 years time be playing 18xx games.

Additionally exposure to different mechanics will lead to new affinities and new interpretations of old games. Plenty of players here on BGG started with classics like risk or monopoly but now see those games for what they are: simplistic mass market games that are like boxed wine, they don't cost much and aren't as refined but will still do the trick.



 
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J C Lawrence
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deedob wrote:
clearclaw wrote:
I agree that they are being compared. I do not however see that any (useful) information is being created by that comparison.
On this i can agree... but to a point :)
While it's hardly useful in comparison topics, these comparisons are made all the time in recommendation threads (which is where the weight of games is most often discussed).
Let's take a few simple things. The weight scale is from 1-5 Is it linear or exponential? My native assumption is that it is exponential and that a game of weight 3 is exponentially "heavier" than a game of weight 2. I'd say that a weight-3 game is ten times heavier than a weight-2 game, and that a weight-3 game is 100 times heavier than a weight-2 game, and a weight-5 game 1,000 times heavier than a weight-2 game. Of course officially the scale is undefined. FWLIW I put most of the 18xx I play in the weight-3 range.

Now, what is being measured by weight? Of course, again, the term is undefined and so in the absence of guidance I define "weight" as a measure of the effort required to play well. This of course has little to do with rules complexity, only a few things to do with depth, and very little to do with how much if anything is in the game-box.

The bigger deal in all this, more than the absence of definitions, is the fact of relativism. When faced with scales humans collapse them into the allegorical 1, 2, 3...many. In short the scale collapses at the bottom end into "too small, and at the top end into "too big" with the majority of the scale committed to highly detailed slicing of that person's preferred range. Everything outside of that range is simply dropped into the bucket of either "too small" or "too big".

This is not to say that the data is completely useless, but its utility is completely relative. The useful questions are all of the form:

I rate game XXX at weight YYY, what do other people who also rate game XXX at weight YYY (plus or minus some deviation) rate the weight of game ZZZ?

This of course requires that the data be stored and represented and traversed in relativistic graph-form, but that delicacy is lost in a simple aggregated number collection.

Quote:
These questions invite cross-genre weight comparisons. In this particular example, the TC would not be looking for games exactly like TTR and Settlers, but for anything a tad more "heavy".
Right, and I do not believe that the addition of an aggregate numeric weight scale adds any useful information to that or this discussion.
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Dave B.
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I prefer to use an absolute scale, so I line things up like this:

1: Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Tic-Tac-Toe
5: Campaign For North Africa

This has two implications. One, I don't give out many 1 or 5 ratings. And two, I'd love a more granular scale... Game ratings go from 1 to 10, why not weight?
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jood shine
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confusing! the main thing seems to be its mainly personal opinions.
 
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Martin Larouche
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jood wrote:
confusing! the main thing seems to be its mainly personal opinions.
Basically yeah.
 
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Oliver Kiley
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clearclaw wrote:

Now, what is being measured by weight? Of course, again, the term is undefined and so in the absence of guidance I define "weight" as a measure of the effort required to play well. This of course has little to do with rules complexity, only a few things to do with depth, and very little to do with how much if anything is in the game-box.
This is the best definition of weight that I've come across, and as a "holistic" measurement, I think it really captures the end result or net experience that weight is trying to describe.

As you say, a weightier game isn't neccessarily more complex, but it does requrie exponentially more brainpower at the end of the day. That could be in contemplating tons of decisions in a game of Go or sorting through dozens of pages of rules in an FFG coffin box game. Both are weightier games than tic-tac-toe, but for different reasons.

Does anyone think there is an empirical way to evaluate a game's weight?
 
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The only problem with BGG's scale is initially... no1 knows what the values should be. AFter taking a few examples like Through The Ages, Agricola, Chess, Uno, Ticket To Ride, and other such examples do people begin to develop a more concrete idea as to what the numbers mean.

Otherwise, sometimes you need to make it relevant towards the group you're playing in. For example, a few of my groups would consider Ticket To Ride a medium-light game, with one person considering it to be light. I gueses he would consider the games we call "filler" to be just that... "Filler", or "very light" games. Take that in stark contrast to one of my nongamer groups where a few "bad apples" had trouble understanding how to play even the most relatively simple games like Ticket To Ride, Settlers Of Catan, and Kingsburg ("man, this game is too complicated"). They would easily consider TtR to be "medium-heavy" to "heavy".
 
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Oliver Kiley
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Of course we can talk about weight in relative terms, and certainly that's how it gets used conversationally.

But it seems like some crtieria could start to be developed that might allow more accurate categorization of light versus heavy games for those who care. For example:

Lighter games tend to / may have...
...shorter playtimes
...shorter rule books
...a minimal number of mechanics
...clear/simple decisions
...luck based elements
...simple objectives
...easy/quick to learn
...easy/quick to master
...limited possibilities
...few factors to consider
...limited long-term planning needed/possible

Heavier games tend to / may have...
...longer playtimes
...longer rulebooks
...multiple interconnected mechanics
...complex and deep decisions
...minimization of randomness
...complex objectives
...challenging to learn
...difficult to master
...infinite possibilities
...many factors to consider
...long-term planning needed/demanded

I don't know, I'm free-wheeling here!


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Remi Letourneau
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One thing that help me quantify the "Heaviness" of a game is the Rulebook's page count.

Starting from...
Tic-Tac-Toc: Fits on a page (when using figures to explain), Ultralight
Munchkins: Takes boths sides of a page: Light
etc, going through Twilight Imperium: 100+ pages with the expansions, Heavy
to Starfleet Battles (Master Rulebook): 460 pages, a Bucketfull of Neutron Star's Core...
 
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Martin Larouche
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TSandman wrote:
One thing that help me quantify the "Heaviness" of a game is the Rulebook's page count.

Starting from...
Tic-Tac-Toc: Fits on a page (when using figures to explain), Ultralight
Munchkins: Takes boths sides of a page: Light
etc, going through Twilight Imperium: 100+ pages with the expansions, Heavy
to Starfleet Battles (Master Rulebook): 460 pages, a Bucketfull of Neutron Star's Core...
I agree with your idea, but not in all cases.

Warhammer is a monster of a book, filled with pretty pictures and text that are of no use to the game's understanding itself. The rules themselves are pretty easy.
 
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Erik Twice
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The first problem is that people use wight for complexity, required strategy and accesibility.

For example, Go is often called a "heavy" game while the rules themselves are quite simple and Arkham Horror is thought of as "heavy" for it's long playtime, the mechanics are on the same ballpark as many other "medium" games.


I simply split games into three groups:

1) No player requirements (Bang! ,Munchkin, Ticket to Ride)
2) Requires interested players (Automobile, Chicago Express, Steam)
3) Requires involved players (Arkham Horror, 18XX, Warhammer 40K, RPGs)

This is easy to relate to. A category 3 game (heavy, to me) normally requires meeting up in advance with people you know are able to enjoy it. A medium game has some limitations and you wouldn't bring it to play with your family but other than being interested there's nothing you must demand the players and a light player works with pretty much everyone, anytime.

This doesn't indicate how complex the rules or the playtime is. They are only parts of the whole that is player requirements and.
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