I really can’t be bothered to preface this with too much detail. As many of you will know I keep a list of the Ameritrash badge-holders on BGG and every year following the post-holiday badge giveaway I compiled a list of average game ratings by those user. Minimum 30 users rating, expansions don’t count and only the highest-rated edition of a game is counted. There are nearly 600 badge holders now. Here are their favourite games.
50 DungeonQuest (3rd edition) Users Rating: 32 Average Rating: 7.65 Movement: NE Glad to see the FFG edition of this classic game is getting a bit of love. Personally I think it deserves to move up this list in future years, but we'll see. .
49 Warhammer: Invasion Users Rating: 62 Average Rating: 7.65 Movement: NE A suprise new entry here seeing as I can recall virtually no discussion of this game in these circles, although from the number of users it looks like quite a few of you have been checking this out.
48 Dreamblade Users Rating: 32 Average Rating: 7.67 Movement: NE This is a collectible miniatures game that I know nothing about. I doubt it's going to be a sticker, personally.
47 Tide of Iron Users Rating: 99 Average Rating: 7.67 Movement: -20 The joint-highest drop of the entire list. Personally I've been surprised this game has shown the longevity it has but it seems its novelty has finally worn off and it's not destined to become the long-term classic that it once seemed it might. However no arguments that it's had a good run and is worth checking out for those who've not played it
46 Heroscape Master Set: Swarm of the Marro Users Rating: 59 Average Rating: 7.68 Movement: -15 Heroscape is dead. But it seems no-one told the boardgame community.
45 Brass Users Rating: 71 Average Rating: 7.68 Movement: NE I was surprised to see this make the list. Brass is an interesting game for Ameritrash players - it’s an absolute masterclass in how to introduce some tightly integrated theme into a Euro without compromising complexity or strategic depth and yet it’s very, very dry.
44 Nexus Ops Users Rating: 243 Average Rating: 7.68 Movement: -3 Unlike Tide of Iron it looks like Nexus Ops has got the legs to be a long-term classic. And deservedly so, too in my opinion.
43 Tichu Users Rating: 92 Average Rating: 7.69 Movement: -14 Bah! Who left this here? Actually I haven’t played this one, but the big drop suggests it’s not destined to hang around.
42 Railroad Tycoon Users Rating: 131 Average Rating: 7.69 Movement: -5 Railroad Tycoon is the only undisputed Eurogame that’s been on these lists since I first started making them. That alone deserves some serious respect and it’s worth noting that the Railways of Europe expansion managed an impressive 8.14 average. It’ll be interesting to see how Railways of the World shapes up when it eventually reaches this list.
41 Dominant Species Users Rating: 31 Average Rating: 7.7 Movement: NE A new entry for this length and highly thematic Euro. It’ll be an interesting one to watch and see if it has the potential to hang around.
40 Advanced Squad Leader Users Rating: 56 Average Rating: 7.7 Movement: -1 The dedicated fan base of this game combined with the big overlap between wargamers and Ameritrash gamers keeps this hanging around like a bad penny.
39 Friedrich Users Rating: 58 Average Rating: 7.7 Movement: -8 It’ll be interesting to see if Maria manages to replace this over the long term
38 Hammer of the Scots Users Rating: 92 Average Rating: 7.76 Movement: -20 Hammer has been another major fixture of this list since its inception but it seems as the joint biggest drop that its time is finally up. It could stabilize in the lower reaches of the list though and I hope it does: I think it’s a genuine classic and it remains the introductory wargame par excellence.
37 Middle-Earth Quest Users Rating: 84 Average Rating: 7.77 Movement: NE This will be another interesting one to watch since a lot of people have commented to the effect that it may have poor re-playability. I’d say it’s position on this list over the next year or two should be the acid test of that opinion.
36 Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit Users Rating: 82 Average Rating: 7.78 Movement: -1 I’m amazed 82 people have been able to find and afford a copy of this to rate it and ensure its ongoing classic status!
35 StarCraft: The Board Game Users Rating: 144 Average Rating: 7.78 Movement: -2 Not discussed very much any more but the numbers speak for themselves - it’s widely played and remains popular.
34 The Republic of Rome Users Rating: 39 Average Rating: 7.82 Movement: NE I’m amazed that enough people have found enough time in their lives to play this monster classic in order to get it on this list!
33 Descent: Journeys in the Dark Users Rating: 228 Average Rating: 7.82 Movement: -12 In spite of repeated bashing from one Michael Barnes Descent remains enormously popular. Its expansions are very highly rated indeed. Road to Legend is highest with 8.16 and Tomb of Ice is right behind it with 8.15.
32 Napoleon's Triumph Users Rating: 40 Average Rating: 7.84 Movement: NE I was surprised to see this due to its fairly niche nature but it’s a brilliant game and a deserved new entry several years after its original release. And there’s no reason it should be niche: it plays fairly quickly and in spite of a steep learning curve due to the sheer innovation present in the rules is actually pretty simple once you get the hang of it. Check it out.
31 Paths of Glory Users Rating: 44 Average Rating: 7.84 Movement: -5 See my comment under Republic of Rome.
30 Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! Users Rating: 63 Average Rating: 7.87 Movement: -17 I’m disappointed and surprised that this has taken such a big drop. Personally I think this is a superb game. I hope it - or one of the other CoH games - has the legs to cling on to its spot in the future.
29 Fury of Dracula Users Rating: 177 Average Rating: 7.88 Movement: -7 Now we come to the first of the undisputed classics of the genre. In spite of a modest drop to make way for new blood this should be hanging around (upside down of course) for a long time yet.
28 Commands & Colors: Ancients Users Rating: 119 Average Rating: 7.89 Movement: -8 Another long-term fixture holding its spot. I'm still in the Memoir '44 fan club but this remains the overwhelming favourite of the various Commands & Colours games.
27 7 Wonders Users Rating: 62 Average Rating: 7.9 Movement: NE Every year there’s a flash-in-the-pan Euro that arrives as a new entry fairly high in the list and then drops out of sight completely the following year. Last year it was Dominion: Intrigue. I like 7 Wonders but I’m afraid to say that my money is on it being this year’s candidate for the transient Euro slot.
26 Crokinole Users Rating: 79 Average Rating: 7.91 Movement: -12 The gamers’ game when it comes to dexterity games is popular across all circles it seems. I don’t have the space to even store a board, let alone the money to buy one!
25 Advanced Civilization Users Rating: 57 Average Rating: 7.92 Movement: -2 Another undisputed classic.
24 Cyclades Users Rating: 70 Average Rating: 7.95 Movement: NE It’ll be interesting to see if this hangs around. I like the game but I’m not sure its good enough to maintain a place on this list long term.
23 Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation (Deluxe Edition) Users Rating: 92 Average Rating: 7.95 Movement: -7 This is probably my least favourite of the long-term classics on this list. So, disappointing that it hasn’t moved down as far as it could.
22 Up Front Users Rating: 33 Average Rating: 7.99 Movement: NE Inevitably as the years roll by more and more old, highly regard titles that have been long out of print manage to make the list as more and more uses buy the badge. I guess it was only a matter of time before Up Front made the list, and it’s made it in style.
21 Tales of the Arabian Nights Users Rating: 112 Average Rating: 8 Movement: -4 A lot of people seem to like making a lot of negative noise about this game so its perhaps surprising that its more than holding its own here. Perhaps the fan community that are supporting it so well need to a be a bit more vocal in their enthusiasm?
20 Summoner Wars Users Rating: 60 Average Rating: 8.02 Movement: NE Not too much of a surprise new entry seeing as it’s down well in a lot of 2010 best of’s and award shows, I suspect the ongoing stream of expansions for this game will keep it fresh and riding high in the ratings for a while yet.
19 Blood Bowl: Living RuleBook Users Rating: 62 Average Rating: 8.02 Movement: 10 This is one of the big winners this year, with the highest move up the chart. It’s a great game but I’m baffled as to why it’s seen such a big gain this year particularly. If anyone has any theories, I’d love to know!
18 Arkham Horror Users Rating: 336 Average Rating: 8.03 Movement: -3 The undisputed king of co-ops isn’t going anywhere in a hurry. Worth noting that its highest rated expansion is not, as you might expect, Dunwich Horror, which rates 8.45 but Innsmouth Horror at 8.68 which would actually put it right up at #3 on the list if we counted expansions. The highest rated small box expansion is a tie between King in Yellow and Black Goat, both with 8.01.
17 Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization Users Rating: 104 Average Rating: 8.05 Movement: -6 This has been the highest-rated Euro that’s managed to remain on the list for a couple of years now. I think it’s going to be the community favourite Euro for the forseeable future.
16 Defenders of the Realm Users Rating: 46 Average Rating: 8.07 Movement: NE This was one of the biggest surprises of the list for me. A game which was reasonably well regarded after release but which seems afterward to have dropped into relative obscurity clearly has a lot of popular support. Will it have the staying power to make an ongoing challenge to Arkham Horror as the community co-op of choice?
15 Chaos in the Old World Users Rating: 136 Average Rating: 8.08 Movement: -5 In spite of the fact that its most obvious acronym is COW, this game confirms its instant classic status.
14 Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game Users Rating: 47 Average Rating: 8.09 Movement: NE Not too much of a surprise to see this here as the initial reaction was generally very positive. What’ll be more interesting is to see how it fares long term.
13 Claustrophobia Users Rating: 56 Average Rating: 8.1 Movement: NE Another shock for me, I had seen a lot of positive reaction to this game but had simply assumed that, like me, most people wouldn’t have much enthusiasm for a game that inhabited so much of the same design and play space as Space Hulk. I was wrong.
12 Combat Commander: Europe Users Rating: 74 Average Rating: 8.1 Movement: +6 Another long-term classic which has done well by moving up the list. I really *must* get round to playing this one day.
11 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage Users Rating: 96 Average Rating: 8.15 Movement: -4 Continuing a short run of highly rated card-driven wargames.
10 Here I Stand Users Rating: 46 Average Rating: 8.16 Movement: -1 Here I stand, amazed that anyone has time to play this, brilliant though it is.
9 Washington's War Users Rating: 31 Average Rating: 8.24 Movement: NE Highest rated wargame on the list, although a new entry. I’ve played this for the first time recently and was blown away by it. Watch for a review in the near future. Totally deserves this spot and is almost certain to become a near-permanent fixture.
8 Dune Users Rating: 118 Average Rating: 8.25 Movement: 0 Our once #1 game has fallen away from the top of the heap but is firmly cemented into the top ten.
7 Runewars Users Rating: 98 Average Rating: 8.3 Movement: NE The highest new entry of the chart. Not really a big shock seeing as it got the community Game of the Year award and has been riding high in the “Thematic Games” chart on TOS. It seems like no-one talks about Runewars much but I think it might finally have struck the sweet spot between playing time and “epic feel” for games of its ilk: a game you can just about manage to fit into an evening that still manages to feel like a big slice of legendary civilisation. A keeper going forward, I suspect.
6 Cosmic Encounter Users Rating: 142 Average Rating: 8.3 Movement: -1 This has classic written all over it. Interestingly, none of the expansions charted.
5 Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) Users Rating: 192 Average Rating: 8.3 Movement: 1The only thing that remains to say about this game is that its expansion has been in the #1 spot since I first wrote the chart. It’s still there with a whopping 9.1 average, so in some ways this deserves the top prize.
4 War of the Ring Users Rating: 210 Average Rating: 8.35 Movement: 0 Not enough of your own the Collectors Edition for that to make the chart. Even if it did I’d be tempted to ignore it as it’s such a niche product. The expansion did extremely well with an overall rating of 8.48.
3 Space Hulk (Third Edition) Users Rating: 187 Average Rating: 8.46 Movement: -1 Claustrophobia might be riding high but it can’t challenge the iconic status of this game.
2 Battlestar Galactica Users Rating: 226 Average Rating: 8.52 Movement: 1The year this was released it hit #1 if I remember rightly and its never been out of the top three since - a testament to its unique design. The Pegasus expansion rated a more modest 8.17.
1 Twilight Struggle Users Rating: 202 Average Rating: 8.77 Movement: 0 Twilight Struggle remains number one by a big margin and for the first time we agree with the overall game rankings on TOS, a tribute to the cross-genre appeal of this superb game. Too many of you haven’t tried it from the look of the numbers: go and play it right now!
For those of you who are still here because you've already played Twilight Struggle, there are a couple of games that deserve a mention because they had expansions that rated up in the top fifteen even though the base games both missed the list by some distance. Those games are Talisman 4th Edition and, amazingly enough Race for the Galaxy and the expansions in question are The Reaper and Rebel vs Imperium respectively. The latter, rather less amazingly, is the expansion that introduces limited amounts of player conflict into Race for the Galaxy.
There are a couple of general trends that are worth noting. The first is that the list is really starting to settle down and become more consistant ant in terms of game style, especially the top ten which have hardly moved at all. I think that’s excellent news and it looks like the true classics are really starting to shake out, although it’s probably what we should expect as the number of users grows and grows. More worryingly, perhaps its also confirmation of what many have been saying about the overall quality of releases over the past couple of years being relatively poor. But this year both Runewars and Washington’s War have managed to buck the trend so things are looking up.
The second is somewhat more unexpected and perhaps more interesting and that’s the rise of the 2-player game. In a genre where we claim to love our diplomatic metagame we can see that almost half of the top 15 games are 2-player only! In part this is certainly explicable in the crossover between Ameritrash games and Wargames, the latter of which are almost always for just two players. But nevertheless the high ratings of these games is quite startling. Could it be that the DOAM game has simply already reached its heights, chosen its favourites and settled down? Or is it more simply that we’re more tired of the potentially unbalancing effects of diplomatic horse-trading than we claim to be and that we’re getting more into pure, unadulterated one-on-one conflict?
Matt is the founder of Fortress: Ameritrash. He is also a self-opinionated, arrogant wanker.