Fine, Have Your Dang Scores
Every time. Every dang time.
Whenever I write about a board game, a certain sort clamors to my inbox like ants chasing a line of sugar cubes. “Yeah yeah, but what’s its score? Would you say it’s a 7.18 or a 7.19 out of 10?”
Know what? I surrender. As of today, Space-Biff! will be assigning a score to every game we review. But seeing as how you’ll be skipping past every word I write from now on, you can bet your butt you’re going to have to wade through seven hundred words to understand the scoring criteria.
After years of consideration and scientific development, I’ve assembled the most objective possible criteria for assessing any board game. That’s right, any game. Mainstream, downstream, upstream, jet stream. All of them. The only downside is that some of these criteria are too scientific for the layman. In short, I have turned into the very gatekeeper that I promised my grandfather I would never become.
Thank goodness I can explain them to you.
The first three are the easiest to comprehend. There’s depth, which measures whether the game lights up the ol’ gray matter when played during a computed tomography (CT) scan. Thanks to a friend who works in neuroimaging, this is more than guesswork — it’s science. Very expensive science. Did I mention I have a Patreon? Next up is replayability, the objective measure of whether your game group (and mine, and everybody else’s) will be interested in revisiting a game more than once. For every pip on the scale, that’s once more you’ll want to replay it. Finally, insert appeal. ‘Cause I know you love inserts.
Let’s take a look at how one of my favorite games fares.
Not bad! It’s true that Jon Perry’s Air, Land, & Sea scores high on depth and replayability, but its rinky-dink paper insert really dings its insert appeal. Of course, this is only the first half of the algorithm. Let’s see what happens when we factor in the full range of criteria.
Fair warning, the next one proved controversial during focus grouping. I’m speaking, of course, about mouthfeel.
Everyone knows that a game’s components matter just as much as the quality of its gameplay. And it isn’t just the components — it’s how they handle. What they feel like on our fingertips. And what’s more sensitive than fingertips? You got it: a human tongue.
Much like detecting a fine wine’s undertones, a chocolate bar’s country of origin, or whether that penny was minted in Denver, Philadelphia, or San Francisco, an experienced game-taster can determine the quality of a game’s components with just one or two licks and maybe a swish. Our in-house taster even pinpointed the source of that funky scent that wafts out of every shrink-wrapped title from Hollandspiele: decomposing opossum.
The remaining criteria are easier to understand. New Euro / Old Euro is the scale’s only option that can actually subtract points. Don’t worry, this only happens when a game hews too closely to the dreaded “New Euro puzzlebox” school of design. Finally, we evaluate the game’s Ian O’Tooleness, a metric of how carefully the game’s artwork sticks to the hobby’s most iconic style.
Let’s see how the scale works when the whole thing is put into practice.
Wow. Exactly as intended. Why even have words?
One last thing.
As you know, we at Space-Biff! are dedicated to overthrowing the structures of Western hegemony that have trapped this hobby in the Bronze Age since 1200 BCE. One such relic is the 70-100 rating scale. This scale traces its roots to the grading methods of the United States school system, in which any score below a 70 represents a “failure” child. We reject such notions. To remedy this problem, we pledge to use the entire scale, not only its topmost four digits. Further, you may have noticed that the scale is pitched just low enough that it cannot be appropriated by mainstream institutions to reflect their reactionary scoring agenda. To illustrate our dedication, we leave you with the only game to ever achieve our scale’s highest possible rating:
Thank you for your entreaties. Beginning now, games are about scores, not talking.
Warmest thanks to Eryck Tait for loaning me his talents at graphic design. Check out his site here!
(If what I’m doing at Space-Biff! is valuable to you in some way, please consider dropping by my Patreon campaign or Ko-fi.)
Posted on April 1, 2021, in Board Game and tagged Board Games, Space-Biff!. Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.
Ahahahahah! Well done, sir. So classy, so snarky – snassy? clarky? So Space Biff.
Kudos to Eryck Tait – that is a very slick presentation.
I’ve always wanted to have easy access to Ian O’Tooleness ratings. I’ll have to add that as a custom field on my BGG collection.
Eryck is the real champ here. He provided a trio of options for me to choose from. The first two were exactly in line with what I had pictured. The third was the one we went with. I hadn’t even imagined my silly joke could look so good.
Thank you! That’s very kind of you to say
When I saw the title I was starting to worry — then I read the actual text 🙂
Besides (but don’t tell anyone!), your reviews are posted on BGG, and over there the interested parties can see the dreaded digit…
I’ll give this 6.9/10. Enough said.
Peronally I rate games on a personal Pastel/Thunkability/Chicanery index, with Pax Pamir 2e scoring top marks; but Irish Gauge and Mexica helping calibrate for Pastel and Thunkability respectively.
No resin, no 10/10.
This stands with Tom Chick’s scientific ratings breakdown (https://www.quartertothree.com/fp/our-ratings-system) atop the pantheon of game ratings explainers.
I endeavor to one day be so curt.
(Spoken with nothing but affection. Tom Chick is my favorite.)
Dear Dan, rest assured I would never skip your reviews just to get to the score. I enjoy reading your reviews almost as much as playing the ones you compel me to purchase. My only regret is that you are so readably persuasive that my wallet has been irreparably damaged long-term by the games that I have bought purely on your recommendation- you’d make a lot more money by taking commission from my FLGS than by my paltry Patreon contribution. THANK YOU 😉
Heh, thank you for the kind words (and support), Ellen!
It would be totally perverse to have each factor (components, component feel, replayability,…) be a literal factor and then have the score on each factor the exponent..meaning the resulting score would be meaningless, but its factorization would mean…they’d be better off reading your actual review…
Where were you a week ago when I was putting this together?!
I damn near choked to death testing mouthfeel on my El Grande castillo. I’m suing.
As I mentioned in the article, one must be a professional game-taster. Do not try this at home, kids.
Since words are now meaningless… 13!
Words may be meaningless but numbers are precise and insightful.
Wondering where I, a very human being, rate on this scale, confident that my mouthfeel will make up for my lack of insert appeal
Don’t sell your insert appeal short, Dan!
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