The New Top Ten (Part 3)

After taking a look at seven games from the Boardgamegeek top ten (in two separate posts, which you can find here and here), it’s time to bring the walkthrough to a happy conclusion. So, here are the top three games now, and two years ago.

3. Twilight Struggle (now) / Agricola (then).

I talked about Agricola in the previous post, so I will only share a quick recap here: Agricola has been deprived of a large part of its fan base by Caverna, and pushed into out of production territory by Mayfair, when the publisher decided to split it into two separate games (family and gamer versions). Its decent is both certain and a bit sad, but that is the way of things now. Unless it turns out that Agricola has a fan base as strong as the game that now occupies its former spot.

twilightstruggle

Back when I first wrote about the BGG top ten Twilight Struggle was a bit of a phenomenon that is difficult to explain. With copies sold in number much smaller than those of pretty much any other game in the top ten, Twilight Struggle managed to stay the number one for years, and even today it yielded only to absurdly popular games.

Still, sitting at a respectable third position, Twilight Struggle is a shining example of how fierce loyalty of fans can be, and how much strength this loyalty can give a strong, polished and exceptional design. In an environment ruled by not only the quality of games, but also the quantity of copies produced and the reach of their publishers, Twilight Struggle shows that it all comes down to the people who are willing to play your game – and love it so much, as to elevate it above seemingly stronger and bigger opposition.

2. Through The Ages: A New Story of Civilization (now) / Through The Ages: A Story of Civilization (then).

Here’s another example of the durability of a splendid design. In essence, both versions of Through The Ages are the same game, with its newer incarnation simply going even further to polish the few rough edges its predecessor had.

tta

Although the two games are separate products, it feels like it’s the same game occupying the same spot. The idea is the same, and the upgrade old TTA could as well have been simply a new edition, which would be the same entry in BGG’s database. And simply put, it’s just a great design that deserved its position, and that (in its first incarnation) used to sit on top of the gaming Olympus, now still occupying a well-deserved position of prestige.

1. Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (now) / Twilight Struggle (then).

Pandemic Legacy is one of the harbingers of the New in board gaming. A set of mechanism brought to life by Rob Daviau in Risk: Legacy reached its peak form when combined with Matt Leacock’s classic, to form a game hated by some for its limited lifespan, and loved by many for the unparalleled experience it provides.

As much as I am not the fan of Legacy mechanisms, I see and acknowledge the change this new version of Pandemic brought to the table. The game is an achievement also because of how it communicates with the players, knowing that it always has one chance to explain its new aspects before they are put into practice, and its face is changed once again. And while this did not work perfectly, it still worked impressively well.

pandemic

As for the longevity of Pandemic’s position, let’s just say I have my doubts. Rob Daviau has just come out with another Legacy game (Seafall), and it seems that, much like Richard Garfield with Netrunner in the nineties, he may not be able to replicate the lightning in a bottle effect of his best design so far. That, however, is a matter of the future.

Conclusions (2016 Edition).

The rules have not changed that much since the last time I wrote about the BGG top ten. For a game to do so well, it needs to reach thousands of players willing to rate it on Boardgamegeek, and that means tens of thousands of copies sold. So, to be in the top ten, a game not only has to be really good, it also needs to come from a really big publisher (with one notable exception).

One thing, however, is quite different: the number of players. With Power Grid off the top ten list, and Rebellion making it to the seventh spot, the BGG top ten only shows what should have been evident for some time now: we like our one on one gaming more and more. And even if we have a bigger group, we still want the ability to play our games with our spouses or with a single gaming friend. And all of this corresponds pretty well with the average number of family members in Europe and North America, with none reaching a full three.

The current top ten (September 2016) games on Boardgamegeek.
The current top ten (September 2016) games on Boardgamegeek.

So, I guess this is everything for now. Anyone care to make some guesses as to where the current top ten will be in another two years?

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