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Subject: BGG Top 100 Strategic/Tactical Continuum Results rss

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Jason Carlough
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I Have compiled the results of my two polls to find out where all of the top 100 games on Boardgamegeek lie on a Continuum from strategically focused to tactically focused.

If you never saw the first two threads and would still like to vote please do so as I will be recompiling the results periodically as I get more votes.

[POLL] Strategic vs. Tactical (Ranks 0-50)
[POLL] Strategic vs. Tactical (Ranks 50-100)

The results are compiled using a simple weighted average and then normalized by the number of votes that the game has received. Essentially if everyone voted highly strategic the game would have a percent of 100, if everyone voted somewhat strategic 50%, if everyone voted balanced 0%, moderately tactical -50%, and highly tactical -100%.

The results are then colored in 20% increments increasing in saturation from white to green for strategic and from white to blue for tactical.

I hope you guys find this interesting and maybe even useful. If I get a positive response I will move on and do the next 50 games.

--Jason

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Nate Straight

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Go's position... makes no sense.
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Norberto Leiva
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I find this poll very interesting. I'd like one rating (for example 1-10) for strategic depth and another rating for tactics, and some correlations depending on number of players (I find most of multiplayer games are more strategic and less tactical as less players are playing, for instance I see Caylus as nearly 100% tactical with 5 players, but very strategic with 2er)...but this poll is a good tool to measure strategy/tactics balance of games.

Of course, it would be great to expand this list!

Well done Jason!
 
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Andrew
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Thanks for the polls Jason, I'm fascinated by the strategic/tactical spectrum and believe it deserves more attention. (For example JC Lawrence designates most Euros - including ones like Caylus, Navegador, and Hansa Teutonica - as too tactical for his tastes.) Most discussion is consumed by questions of weight instead.

NateStraight wrote:
Go's position... makes no sense.

Perhaps it's because answers to most questions seem to end with "but it depends on the whole board position".
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Tuomas Korppi
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NateStraight wrote:
Go's position... makes no sense.

Yes. Go is both strategically and tactically rich.
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Nate Straight

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Punainen Nörtti wrote:
NateStraight wrote:
Go's position... makes no sense.
Yes. Go is both strategically and tactically rich.

Right.

I propose, therefore, that strategy and tactics are not opposing poles on a single continuum, but rather two separate continuums (?) Interacting in a 2-dimensional space.
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Andrew
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NateStraight wrote:
I propose, therefore, that strategy and tactics are not opposing poles on a single continuum, but rather two separate continuums (?) Interacting in a 2-dimensional space.

There was a lengthy discussion about this on one of the threads linked in the OP.

What Jason is getting at with these polls is more like "what is the general character of the decisions in the game".
 
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David Janik-Jones
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Thanks for compiling this, Jason. Odd random thought ... I thought I'd see all of my favourite games weighted towards one end or the other in a table like this, yet they're spread out across the whole thing. Interesting. Makes me wonder why I like these specific games; it's clearly not a strategic vs tactical thing then.
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Norberto Leiva
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One idea for dual-rating could be something like this:

Go (the top one): Strategic: 10 Tactics:10
Chess: Strategic: 8 Tactics:10
Caylus (2players/5 players): Strategic: 8/5 Tactics:5/8
UNO (2/10 players): Strategic: 1 Tactics:1
..........................................................


 
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Troy Adlington
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If this is the military definition of Strategy vs Tactics then those voting in this poll have NO idea.
 
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Rich Shipley
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Troymk1 wrote:
If this is the military definition of Strategy vs Tactics then those voting in this poll have NO idea.

It isn't.
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rshipley wrote:
Troymk1 wrote:
If this is the military definition of Strategy vs Tactics then those voting in this poll have NO idea.

It isn't.

Yet I suspect some of the votes have been confused by that. No other way to explain the position of some of those games...
 
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Jason Carlough
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Punainen Nörtti wrote:
NateStraight wrote:
Go's position... makes no sense.

Yes. Go is both strategically and tactically rich.

Then under this system Go would be rated as balanced and would show up in or close to the white section.
 
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Jason Carlough
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tigrevasco_2003 wrote:
One idea for dual-rating could be something like this:

Go (the top one): Strategic: 10 Tactics:10
Chess: Strategic: 8 Tactics:10
Caylus (2players/5 players): Strategic: 8/5 Tactics:5/8
UNO (2/10 players): Strategic: 1 Tactics:1
..........................................................



I understand where you are going with this. This idea of rating however would be directly transferable to this two dimensional rating system. Based on your scores.

Go: Balanced (Very Heavy Weight)
Chess: Somewhat Tactical (Very Heavy Weight)
Caylus 2 player: Somewhat Strategic (Heavy Weight)
Caylus 5 player: Somewhat Tactical (Heavy Weight)
UNO: Balanced (Light Weight)

I definitely agree that it is entirely possible that some games positions will vary based on the number of players. This is not something I had anticipated and so will just have to stay out of this poll as I would have to redo the entire thing at this point and it would probably reduce the already small response (statistically speaking) due to the added complexity and due to having to do a similar poll again.

If I were to redo the polls I suppose I would alter the question "Rate the gameplay focus of each game from highly tactically focused to highly strategically focused". This I think would make it more clear. However, based on most of the results I feel like people pretty much understood what I was asking for or at least figured out some way to convert there internal knowledge of the games into a continuum. If you look at the poll results directly they bear this out in that for the most part they are very consistent (77% of people that voted on Go rated it highly strategic). At the least most games have a significant peak with one of the five categories.

What you can't forget is that the data was recovered from a poll so it is not a reflection of reality, it is a reflection of what peoples perception of reality is. Maybe the people that voted for Go as highly strategic don't fully understand Go well enough to realize the level of tactics at play. Maybe that says something about the depth of Go or about how much you have to know about it before it becomes a tactical game for you. I'm not a Go player personally so I have no idea, i'm just trying to interpret the results of the poll.
 
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jasoncarlough wrote:

What you can't forget is that the data was recovered from a poll so it is not a reflection of reality, it is a reflection of what peoples perception of reality is. Maybe the people that voted for Go as highly strategic don't fully understand Go well enough to realize the level of tactics at play. Maybe that says something about the depth of Go or about how much you have to know about it before it becomes a tactical game for you. I'm not a Go player personally so I have no idea, i'm just trying to interpret the results of the poll.

My perception of go is that for weaker players it is a tactical game. If your tactics are not good, you cannot use tactical things as building blocks of strategy. If the players are very good (e.g. pros) there's not much difference in their sequence reading abilities, and differences in strategy determine the game.
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Spencer C
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It's a darn shame that you put in all this effort to get virtually meaningless data.
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Jason Carlough
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UanarchyK wrote:
It's a darn shame that you put in all this effort to get virtually meaningless data.

This data is not meaningless at all. Most of the data on this website is determined via polls: game weights, rankings, and suggested number of players for example. I don't consider any of that meaningless but you're welcome to your own opinions.
 
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jasoncarlough wrote:
UanarchyK wrote:
It's a darn shame that you put in all this effort to get virtually meaningless data.

This data is not meaningless at all. Most of the data on this website is determined via polls: game weights, rankings, and suggested number of players for example. I don't consider any of that meaningless but you're welcome to your own opinions.

It's meaningless because it assumes that the people being polled have any idea as to what Strategy or Tactics actually are. If everyone thinks that Strategy is a type of fruit, don't be surprised that Raspberries top your poll of 'most Strategic things'.

Darilian
 
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Jason Carlough
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Darilian wrote:
jasoncarlough wrote:
UanarchyK wrote:
It's a darn shame that you put in all this effort to get virtually meaningless data.

This data is not meaningless at all. Most of the data on this website is determined via polls: game weights, rankings, and suggested number of players for example. I don't consider any of that meaningless but you're welcome to your own opinions.

It's meaningless because it assumes that the people being polled have any idea as to what Strategy or Tactics actually are. If everyone thinks that Strategy is a type of fruit, don't be surprised that Raspberries top your poll of 'most Strategic things'.

Darilian

As I said the data is far from meaningless. This is a subjective subject and hence polling is a completely appropriate way to obtain data about the subject. Furthermore this is not a random poll of the general populous, this is a poll of people who at the very least have played the game further contributing to it's relevance.

The definitions of strategic and tactical were given in the post that went with the poll so everyone did have an "idea idea as to what strategy and tactics actually are" or at the very least what they are defined as for this set of data.

This website is all about what people think about games. The results of this poll are no different. If you have a problem with that I think you are in the wrong place.
 
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William Boykin
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The problem is that just because a bunch of people think something is true, doesn't make it so. The result is that your poll is GIGO.

The sad truth is that Americans in general don't really understand what Strategy is. Moreover, we don't really teach it, much less talk about it.

The fact that CDG's like Paths of Glory or Here I Stand are highly ranked as 'Strategic' in your poll only demonstrates my point. Card Driven Games revolve around being able to best use the cards that I have in my hand, THIS TURN. You can't plan on what you're going to do NEXT turn, because you don't know what cards you're going to have available with which to make moves. So while you can think, VERY generally, about what it is you'd like to do, in many ways, the games play out very Tactically as the better players find ways of just squeezing every little ounce out of their cards and available points.

To wit-
The focus isn't on Strategic decisions, its upon the tactical question of how best to use the cards available at that time.

While there are a few Strategic elements to Here I Stand (the more open ended victory conditions, for one), Paths of Glory is actually pretty scripted and lacks any real 'strategic' depth. Its a function of the mechanic- Card Driven Games have pretty much ALL been pretty tactical. (Empire of the Sun is a possible exception to this. As MAYBE Halls of Montezuma.)

Furthermore, not only do people not really have a clear understanding of what Strategy actually entails, they disagree vehemently. A lack of a clear, commonly held definition makes your poll meaningless. What would have been more interesting would have been to see under what definition they rated a game as 'Strategic' or 'Tactical'. Then we could have gotten a clearer idea of how the hive mind of BGG conceptualizes 'Strategy'.

A key problem with of what passes for 'discussion' about games here is that no one really thinks about games critically. One element of this is that people throw out words and don't define them. The result is just cacophonic noise. Trying to do a sample of that noise and is just futile- you can't correct for all the misunderstandings and wrongly held assumptions that just flood the culture here. Everything from 'Games with Strategy are GOOD games' (an aesthetic assertion with nothing to back it up), to "Games with lots of dice are more random than a game with just one" (which only demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of even basic statistics), to immediately jumping on any perceived fault and declaring a game 'broken' (without ever defining what actually a 'broken' game actually entails). These little cultural flotsam and jetsam drift all over the Geek and are accepted as 'true'.

Whats worse, is that polls like this one only reinforce these things in the minds of readers. "Oh gee- I guess if EVERYONE on the geek says that a given game is 'Strategic', it must be". Vox populi is terribly hard to overcome; once a certain refrain 'catches hold' amongst a population, its hard to stop it from becoming 'conventional wisdom'.

So to answer your last comment- I think that this is exactly where I need to be. I am the gadfly that buzzes around and nags into your ear- do you REALLY mean that? Is that what you REALLY think? I am the nasty little yipping dog with sharp pointy teeth that keeps you up all night as I drink too much espresso.

In other words- I am here to challenge conventional wisdom. Including the conventional wisdom that says that just because a lot of people agree on something, it MUST be true.

Sorry, reality doesn't necessarily work by majority rule.

Darilian
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Andrew
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This is why we can't have nice things.
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I am also surprised that Dominion is ranked only slightly strategical. I think Dominion is highly strategical, because the overall strategy of deck building is the only meaningful decision the player encounters. There are no non-trivial tactics. Once you know what kind of an overall deck you want to build, the individual hands play themselves.
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Oliver Kiley
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What this discussion, and many others like it, point towards is the need for a "science" of a boardgaming that is in line with the standards and practices of any other scientific field. From developing precise nomenclature and language, defensible taxonomies of games, and of course formalizing methods for collecting and analyzing subjective survey data.

This sounds terribly geeky to me, but I've been intrigued with the idea nonetheless. There are fundamental questions we don't really have an answer to...

... what is "weight" and how do we measure it?
... what is an appropriate taxonomy for organizing games/mechanics?
... how do we measure tactical vs. strategic elements in a game?
... is there a relationship between mechanics and BGG rank?

With the vast amount of data on BGG and access to a large community of potential survey respondents, I'd imagine answers to these kinds of things could come relatively quickly (scientifically speaking).
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Mezmorki wrote:
a "science" of a boardgaming... precise nomenclature and language, defensible taxonomies of games, and of course formalizing methods for collecting and analyzing subjective survey data.

This sounds pretty interesting.

Mezmorki wrote:

... what is "weight" and how do we measure it?

Two obvious elements mentioned in the past are depth (for which we could use the "levels of skill" measure) and rules complexity. I think mentally taxing processes (such as calculation, visualisation and memory) and how "unforgiving" a game is (the prevalence of large negatively-valued moves?) would have a part to play too.

But perhaps it's best to deal with them separately.

Mezmorki wrote:

... what is an appropriate taxonomy for organizing games/mechanics?

David F attempted this with a The Taxonomy of Board Games (Part 2: Mechanisms).

Mezmorki wrote:

... how do we measure tactical vs. strategic elements in a game?

Perhaps ply-analysis metrics could describe tactics (eg average payoff horizon in a tactic, average valuation swing caused by a tactic). By definition strategies are longer term and harder to value - I'm not sure what to use there.

We could refine this survey, going into more detail (eg splitting tactics and strategy as suggested above), having veterans of the games specifically cite mechanics, tactics and strategic elements.

Mezmorki wrote:

... is there a relationship between mechanics and BGG rank?

We could correlate rating scores and mechanics (after controlling for other elements such as length/weight/player count).
 
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