Board game Top 10: My favourite low ranked board games

After a discussion with fellow blogger (and top man) Peter over at Tabletop Together, this idea popped into my head. We were talking about ridiculous BGG rankings, and how people are handing out 10s like sweets. What it got me thinking about was: what are the low ranked board games in my collection?

I used the ‘average’ (not ‘Geek’) rating, to ignore the bias of having few/many reviews. And I left out weird/promo games and anything on my ‘for sale/trade’ list. So all the games below are ones I want to keep and want to play. In fact I’ve played most of them recently. While only two are in my current Top 50, I’ll never turn down a game of any of them.

It was no surprise to find most of the games were smaller box fillers. These tend to get lower rankings, just by dint of not being as visually exciting, epic etc. They do exactly what they’re meant to and can be great fun – but just not as much as a big box experience, in terms of giving them a number.

My Top 10 Low ranked board games

  • Wyvern (5.2 rating: 1994, 2 players, 30 minutes)
    This Mike Fitzgerald-designed CCG enjoyed brief popularity in the post-Magic boom, and I still really like it. The dragon art is lovely, the game play simple and it has a great tactics-to-strategy ratio.
  • Empire Engine (5.8: 2013, 2-4 players, 20 minutes)
    Haha! Yes! One of mine! I think a rating under 6 is harsh, but it was sold as some kind of sequel to Love Letter – and despite having just 18 cards, it’s a very different beast. I’m still really proud of it, you heathens!
  • Romans Go Home (6.0: 2013, 2-4 players, 30 minutes)
    I do like a bit of programmed card action, and this game does it well. It’s a slightly later and more complex version of BraveRats (see below), where instead of just fighting you’re trying to collect towers for points.
  • Im Auftrag des Konigs (6.1: 2004, 2-4 players, 30 minutes)
    I got this little Adlung-Spiele game at my first Essen and still enjoy it a lot. A clever little euro-style game in a very small box, where you collect sets and draft cards to go on quests and battle at tournaments.
  • Sarkophag (AKA Little Devils) (6.1: 2012, 3-6 players, 15 minutes)
    Incredibly simple little trick-taker. There’s just one suite. The second player chooses whether to go higher or lower than the trick-starter, and the rest must try to follow. Most cards have points – and you don’t want points (like 6Nimmt).

Knizia, Kramer, Kiesling…

  • Reiner Knizia’s Decathlon (6.2: 2003, 1-4 players, 45 minutes)
    Free dice-chucker from one of the world’s leading designer. Play each event to get the highest score, with clever mechanisms that do just enough to mimic runs and throws. And did I mention it’s free? Click here to download the rules.
  • Monopoly Deal Card Game (6.2: 2008, 2-5 players, 15 minutes)
    I know! But this is fast and silly fun. It keeps all the meanness of the original, but distils all the crap out. Ridiculously luck based, but at 15 minutes long that doesn’t matter at all. A great little filler you can always find super cheap.
  • Artus (6.2: 2011, 2-4 players, 45 minutes)
    Brilliant, unique little thinky abstract from little-known design duo Kiesling & Kramer and obscure publishers Alea and Ravensburger. Just goes to show they can’t all be hits, no matter how successful you are…
  • Pizza Box Football (6.3: 2005, 1-2 players, 60 minutes)
    This will never win over the purists, and it looks a bit shonky. But if love your NFL and some daft die-chucking antics, this is a real winner. Bluff and counter bluff your way to glorious victories (or in my case, dreadful defeats).
  • Game of Trains (6.3: 2015, 2-4 players, 15 minutes)
    This is a gloriously clever little maths puzzler with super cute artwork. Use special powers to put your numbered cards in order, while trying to stop your opponents doing the same. Better with more players.

Also on 6.3 were Lembitu and Dice Heist. Entdecker, Plato 3000 and BraveRats (AKA R) are all on 6.4 – while everything else I own is at 6.5 or above.

But what about you? Which of your games fly in the face of popular taste? I’d love to explore some more Top 10s on the topic. Let’s give these ‘lesser’ games some love!

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