The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

BGG HoF Voting Thoughts

[You can vote here].

I’m generally pleased with the nominees. I understand technical arguments against some nominees but nothing on the list is a howler. As we learned from Kent Brockman “Democracy just doesn’t work” but those times when it appears to, it’s because of an informed electorate, so kudos to the nominations.

Personally, I’m voting against all “new” games: a game should be ~25 years old at least to warrant mention in a Hall of Fame. I feel pretty strongly about this, especially when there are obvious games 50+ years old not on the list.

My “Obvious Yes” Votes — Backgammon, Cribbage, Scrabble. Old games, historically important, played by millions of people with real skill involved. Easy.

Here are the questions that I asked myself.

Do I vote for Monopoly for being hugely influential, even if I don’t like it and think it’s objectively a bad game? Yes.

Rationale — The BGG Hall of Fame would look silly to the outside world if the most famous boardgame in existence (to the general public) isn’t listed. For that reason, I focus more on historical significance than gameplay. The gaming Hall of Fame should say “Yes, these were hugely popular and great games for their time.”  By similar logic, I voted yes for Clue, Risk, Stratego & Trivial Pursuit. (The last I’m tempted to vote no on, due to age and I really do think it’s one of the worst trivia games, but it was huge). Also, I still play Monopoly, since my kids like it. I’m hardly alone.

Similarly, I don’t quibble about “Board” games, and I don’t think BGG should explain why Poker & Bridge aren’t there. It helps that they really are historical important, classical games, with extensive libraries. Besides, I consider Race, Up Front, etc as Board Games.

After my “Too Young”, “Obvious Yes”, “Historical Yes” votes were done, I had a few games left over.

Do I include Axis and Allies in the “Historical Yes” category? When I was a kid, it was the only “real” board game in the toy store. But … it came out when I was a kid. I think it’s a function of my age, and its current re-popularity is as unsurprising as the fact that many of the movie remakes are focusing on the 80s right now.  Plus, A&A is an order of magnitude less famous than any of the above games. So gameplay weighs more heavily, and it’s lacking. I waivered and changed my vote a few times, but NO. Arguably I should vote no on Trivial Pursuit for the same reasons, but I don’t think it’s stopped being a staple gift game. I waiver on it. I can be argued into a NO. Convince me.
Advanced Squad Leader — I personally lump it in with basic Squad Leader for voting. Historically, Yes. SL sold hundreds of thousands of copies and spawned a monster that’s still alive. That’s no Monopoly, but we’re talking a small niche. I can’t comment on gameplay, but I’m giving this a Historical Yes.

Cosmic — Yes, for the simple reason that this is the greatest game made in the last 50 years that isn’t already in the HOF and arguably the greatest “Board Game.”

Civilization — What’s the old quote about the Velveu Underground? “Only 5000 people bought their first album, but everyone one of them started a band after hearing it.” I don’t know if Civ inspired 5000 game designs, but it inspired Sid Meier. Civilization isn’t perfect; but it punches well above it’s influence in popular culture. Yes, I’m looking at computer games. I’m looking at the holy grail, the mythical  “Civ in 2 hours.” Is that enough of a reason to vote yes? I think so. (And I like the game, although it’s too long to play much these days).

Heroquest — Hurm. Borderline too young, but I think this (like A&A) is only in because it’s the right age. I’m voting no.

Perhaps I should abstain on the borderline votes, but I didn’t.

Right now only Risk and Civ are making the cut, which is obviously way too few. I think BGG should have fairly liberal rules, perhaps it should be a sliding scale … games 50+ years need 50% of the vote,  new games need 66%. (Or you could just have a few years with a slightly looser standard, or a special vote to grandfather in older games). Ah well.

My votes:

  • ASL — Yes
  • A&A — No, but if it gets nominated in 10 years I’d consider it.
  • Backgammon — Obvious Yes
  • Bohnanza  — Too Young
  • Bridge — Obvious Yes (counting it as a board game)
  • Civi — Yes
  • Clue — Historical Yes
  • Cosmic — Yes
  • Cribbage — Obvious Yes
  • El Grande — Too Young
  • Heroquest — No
  • Lost Cities — Too Young
  • Monopoly — Historical Yes
  • Poker — Obvious Yes (counting it as a board game)
  • Ra — Too Young
  • Risk — Historical Yes
  • Scrabble — Obvious Yes
  • Stratego — Historical Yes
  • Tigris — Too Young
  • Trivial Pursuit — Historical Maybe/Yes

Written by taogaming

August 31, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Posted in Ramblings

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6 Responses

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  1. interesting thoughts, my vote for trivial pursuit (a game that I also dislike) is because it was the source of a fad and the first big example of a fairly strong segment of the game market today (party/trivia games).

    I would agree with your reasoning otherwise….but then again, it seems to me that most poeple voting against the games you voted for have gameplay objections, not “noteworthyness/historical significance” objections


    August 31, 2011 at 10:16 pm

  2. 25+ years, huh? Boy, are WE on opposite ends of this debate. I’m waiting for the pre-1995 games to get pushed in so that the REAL voting can start!

    Rishi is doing his best, but predictably, this is a mess. BGG is just too diverse a group.


    August 31, 2011 at 10:45 pm

  3. Yeah. I think games like Cribbage, Go, maybe even Scrabble have no place in the BGG Hall of Fame for the simple reason that BGGers don’t play those games primarily and that’s not what the site is about. Vote one what we know. Risk, Clue, Monopoly, those are easy adds for us since they are primogenitures and still generally good games (Monopoly may have been overtaken, but Risk is still as good or better than its many knock-offs). Let’s vote on stuff from the 90s. If s game survives 10 years in the hobby game environment, it’s pretty damn good.

    Chris Farrell

    September 1, 2011 at 10:56 am

    • Many of the people that I know that play boardgames play at least 2 out of 3 of Cribbage, Go and Scrabble. Most of the people that I know that play boardgames don’t even play one of Risk, Clue or Monopoly. They may be more direct ancestors of modern boardgames, but I wouldn’t say that the first three are that far removed. Part of the reason the first 3 don’t get as much attention on BGG is that there are thriving adult communities that still play those games independent of other boardgaming. There’s no compelling reason for a Scrabble enthusiast to seek out BGG when there are so many other sources of opponents and information. The same can’t be said of Risk, Clue or Monopoly which are usually thought of as kid’s games.

      Through the Desert is frequently compared to Go, and virtually any modern abstract finds itself compared to Go, Chess or Hex in some way. I’d be surprised if any word game released in the past 20 years wasn’t at least partially inspired by Scrabble. Cribbage is an odder fit, but it has always been an odd duck even among card games, what with having a board and all.


      September 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm

  4. “I think games like Cribbage, Go, maybe even Scrabble have no place in the BGG Hall of Fame for the simple reason that BGGers don’t play those games primarily and that’s not what the site is about.”

    It’s certainly not what the site is about – but is it really the case that classic games aren’t being played primarily by BGGers? Bridge has almost always been the game I’ve played most – both in number of plays and time spent playing – since I started keeping track. There are lots of folks who play more Go or Scrabble (or Poker or…) than any other game on BGG. I can see the argument for dropping older games, to simplify the voting, but I don’t think that BGGers not playing those games primarily flies as a reason to do so.

    Joe Huber

    September 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm

  5. I completely agree with your votes with a few caveats:

    1. I don’t fully accept the premise that BGG HoF should include “popular to the masses” games. A reasonable definition of BGG HoF could be “any game that has appeared in the BGG top 10”. But given your definition I agree with the votes.

    2. Some of your “too young” I would vote simply “no”.

    3. I am really close to a yes on Axis and Allies. It’s quite playable as written and a very balanced two player game with minor tweaks. It is a huge gateway game. While Monopoly is played by everyone, Axis and Allies is played by a ton of geeks who might not know they are geeks.


    September 4, 2011 at 12:39 pm

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