Thrower's Tallies: Top Eight Designers

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20 Jul 2015 01:00 #206588 by Matt Thrower

All the discussion about "great designers" that we had a couple of weeks ago left me dissatisfied. Rather than just throwing out names that I thought were good or great, I wanted to put some meat on those bones, some rigour to the process. It wasn't hard to do. And I found the results startling.

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20 Jul 2015 12:31 #206589 by engineer Al
Fantastic article Matt. Thanks!

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21 Jul 2015 03:50 #206647 by DukeofChutney
I think CCP is often overlooked as a designer as AGOT, TI and Armada are some of the best games in their class. I'm not sure if i'd stick him in the same category as Garfield. I do keep a mental list similar to this of my favourite designers that is sort of ranked in part by number of hits as much as magnitude. Though because i've played fewer games than you and probably have narrower tastes its headed by designers with only two or three i've played.
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21 Jul 2015 08:06 #206651 by Matt Thrower

DukeofChutney wrote: I'm not sure if i'd stick him in the same category as Garfield.


No, and that's the limitation of the way I approached this. Petersen's designs are mostly co-billings so it's impossible to know what he actually bought to the table during the development process. Whereas Garfield's work is all Garfield and all genius.
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21 Jul 2015 10:32 #206655 by VonTush
Eric Lang is really jumping up the list for me because of Dice Masters, Chaos in the Old World and Arcadia Quest.
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21 Jul 2015 11:08 - 21 Jul 2015 11:10 #206661 by Gary Sax
He's on Warhammer: Invasion, too, isn't he? That's a well designed game, though I didn't play it with later expansion bloat.

Matt, your post struck a chord with me because I went through this recently as well, when I looked back at games on my ratings on BGG and was like "holy shit, Corey K is a shockingly good designer" in a way that I hadn't really thought about.
Last edit: 21 Jul 2015 11:10 by Gary Sax.

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21 Jul 2015 12:12 #206667 by quozl
This is a great way to look at this. I did the same for my games and this is what I got:

James Ernest for Brawl and Diceland
Christophe Boelinger for Dungeon Twister and Earth Reborn
The Eon Team for Borderlands and Cosmic Encounter
Tom Jolly for Camelot, Lightspeed, and Wiz-War
Richard Garfield for King of Tokyo, Magic, and Roborally
Reiner Knizia for Battleline, Blue Moon, Circus Flochati, High Society, Ivanhoe, Lost Cities, Tigris & Euphrates, and Too Many Cooks

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21 Jul 2015 12:17 #206668 by Msample

VonTush wrote: Eric Lang is really jumping up the list for me because of Dice Masters, Chaos in the Old World and Arcadia Quest.


I haven't played Arcadia, but the other two are quite solid.

I'd throw some wargame guys on my list - Chad Jensen, Mark Simonitch, John Butterfield. And while the designs are somewhat eclectic and may not be the most enthralling , game play wise, I'll loo at anything Phil Eklund puts out.
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21 Jul 2015 12:37 #206670 by VonTush

Msample wrote: I haven't played Arcadia, but the other two are quite solid.


The best way I can describe it is tossing a dungeon crawl, hack and slash, arena deathmatch and a campaign game into a blender. It doesn't do any one thing great, but all the elements are done very well and blend together very nicely.

Dan Verssen actually is up there as well for me because I adore his Leader and Field Commander series of games. Him and Butterfield are who I'd consider tops of the Solo/Solitaire designers right now. Good but not great though since they are pretty niche designers.

And I think Rick Priestley and Jervis Johnson from Games Workshop have designed some of the best miniature games ever. They'd both fall under Great for me at least. Necromunda and spinoffs, Titan Legions/Space Marine and Warmaster.
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21 Jul 2015 13:19 #206673 by charlest
Corey K. is a fantastic designer but I wouldn't credit him with X-Wing. I think he worked on a bit of expansion content. Jay Little is the sole designer on the core set and original rules. I think Andrea Angiolino deserves most of the credit.

Corey K. would certainly be on my list, along with Eric Lang and Chris Boelinger.

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21 Jul 2015 15:18 #206677 by repoman
I submit Al Rose.

Not too many credits to his name yet but pound for pound, he is responsible for more good times than any other designer I know.
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21 Jul 2015 16:26 #206680 by iguanaDitty
Ed Beach is up there for me. Here I Stand, Virgin Queen, and several parts of the GCACW series which I love.
If I ever play Wir Sind das Volk Richard Sivel might have 3 titles on my list as well with Maria and Friedrich.

Although arguably both of these guys have designed one game and then refined it to produce another game (HiS/VQ and Friedrich/Maria).
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21 Jul 2015 17:50 #206684 by Matt Thrower
War game designers are an interesting one. I was surprised that Rachel Simmons was the only one who made my list. But then again, many of the big names do only have one outstanding game to their name. I haven't been impressed with Chad Jensen's work outside of Combat Commander. Mark Simotich has some huge games to his credit, but I've only played Hannibal and Successors.

Eric Lang is a name that might make my list in years to come. To date the only game of his I rate highly is CitOW. But a lot of his other titles seem to skirt greatness by a whisker. I'm sure he'll produce another winner soon.

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21 Jul 2015 18:30 #206689 by Sagrilarus
So what do you do with a designer that's published 15 schnauzers and three winners? Does batting average matter? Look at someone like James Ernest, who's published games like Bitin' off Heads and Lord of the Fries, but also has Lords of Vegas to his name. I like James Ernest, but you have to be mighty selective.

S.

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21 Jul 2015 18:58 #206690 by Gary Sax
For me, batting average is not super relevant. If you made 3 great designs, you've achieved greatness. The Knizia factor.

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