So how do my review scores actually work?

I have had a few questions on the rating system lately.  This is largely my fault – I completely missed the rating page when creating the site that explains all this!

So, today’s review is the review system itself.  Hopefully, this will explain how I look at games and the scores I give them, and give you an insight to my thinking.

So what’s in a number?

So I have been rating games for a long time.  Not so long on the site, but I have been formally categorising games this way for over 20 years.

Now, ‘this way’ has a lot of different meanings, and the scale has been tweaked over the years.  I used to just use category names like ‘maybe if you like the theme’ or ‘I think everyone should play this game’.

This worked for a long time.  For my gaming group, especially back then, it was clear and easily understood.  But then new members joined the group, and the years of shared back history as to why I would rate a game I might not enjoy I would class ‘everyone should play’.  Once I talked through the scale, it made sense to a lot of people.

Today, the rating scale looks like this:

Major Score General Category Description
1 Truly Awful Not even for your worst enemy. Don't play these games.
2 Very Bad So much is wrong with this. I will talk about it if you want, but I won't play again.
3 Bad Yeah no. There was something that made me want to play, but never again.
4 Not Great It's just missing that 'something'. I will teach you if you want me to, but I won't play again.
5 Average These are games. They pass the time. They do nothing to stand out.
6 OK A bit of fun. If someone really needs another player or wants to learn, I am in.
7 Good Games that I have a lot of fun playing, and can reccomend everyone should try if they get the chance.
8 Great I will play these a lot. I think a variety of people should give it a try.
9 Excellent These games I will play at every opportunity, and think everyone should play at least once.
10 Masterpiece Similar to 8's and 9's, but ones I think will still have that impact 10 years from now.

One of the games that has caused conversation behind the scenes is The Grimm Forest.  I love this game and will get it to the table at every opportunity.  The components are gorgeous (and I will be painting the parts soon!), the organiser makes setup and takedown a breeze, and is a game I can scale to playing with friends with younger kids.

But, it’s not for everyone.  There will be quite a few people that will probably find this game too simple for them but would be willing to play if the others enjoy it.  Hence, the score is 8.5 – I love it and play it often, but a lot of people would not want to buy it after giving it a try.  Halfway between the two states of play – 8.5.

My copy of The Grimm Forest with the Kickstarter Sleeve
Love Letter Cover Art - AEG Edition

And then there is Love Letter.  This is a game that is retaining it’s place on my playlist by coming out with different versions.  The original Love Letter now is a little dated, but as I said in my review a lot of the ‘new’ rules can be worked into the earlier releases.

Batman Love Letter is my favourite ‘original’ type Love Letter Games, and you can add the rules to the base game.  Archer Love Letter skirted the line of being a different game, and I would play this over Batman with players that have played the base game a lot.

But Love Letter itself I think will always have a place on my shelf and at game nights, so it got a 9.  The fact new versions and rules are keeping it fresh stop it from being a 10 though – I can’t see myself playing the base game constantly now let alone in another 5 years.  But I will be playing Love Letter in some form in 5 years, hence such a high score.

So that explains some of my higher scores, but what about the lower scoring games?  There are games that I really enjoy playing, potentially more than The Grimm Forest and Love Letter, but I ranked them much lower.

There are good reasons for this as well.

An easy one to explain is the PSVR game Time Carnage.  As I said in my review, it is a lot of fun, but has a few problems too.

This is a game I am enjoying now and will jump in and out of again over the next few months.  At least until another mindless fun PSVR game comes along and fills that niche.

Too dark on PSVR, but still a great fun time that I jump on when I have 20 min or so to kill

So, I am having a blast playing it, and I think a lot of people should give it a go.  It’s cheap, so I can recommend spending the money and enjoying it even for a couple of hours.  If this was a ‘full price’ release, the score would drop more because it would be harder for me to suggest to players to buy it.

But as soon as a replacement game comes along, I can all but guarantee this will be off my play rotation.  Fun right now is important, but will rarely get more than a 7.5.  It’s playing the game for many plays to come that gets you a higher score.

And then there is the unique problem of Tak.  My review tried to describe just how much I enjoy this game, and the fact James Ernest had somehow come the closest to making an instant timeless classic I had ever seen.

This is a game that has 10 potential all over it.  Sure, it’s not for everyone.  Neither is Chess or Backgammon, two ready examples of timeless classics.  Tak is a game I can see myself playing on the odd occasion and thoroughly enjoying it for years.

But how do you recommend a game that is in my opinion incredibly overpriced?  It’s hard to recommend to people spending the better part of AUD$100 on a ‘you might like this’.

Tak - A Beautiful Game indeed, but not for everyone

Cheapass Games have the rules for free on their website, and a lot of people can draw a board if they have to.  All you need components wise are two different coloured squarish pieces, so with a little creativity, you can try the game for free which is amazing.

But that still means trying to recommend to people to go out of their way to cobble together components to try a game.  And I can understand people that would rather just buy a cheap complete game and set that up.

It’s this major swing of positive and negatives that means Tak has what looks like a low score overall, but is a game I still enjoy and will for a long time.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy the game, it’s just hard for me to justify to someone else why they would like the game, so it’s in the ‘You might like it, play it with me and see’ category.

So hopefully this will help you see why I give the scores that I do.  And if you disagree and would rate a game differently, neither of us are ‘wrong’, we just have a differing opinion.  Games are essentially art – they are a personal experience that we all interpret differently.

I have enjoyed discussing the scores with people, and if you wish to do so privately that is fine and will always answer when I can.  But if you have a question, I would ask you consider posting the question publicly, either in the comments or on the Facebook page.  This way, we can include everyone and have a proper discussion, which would be amazing!

So until next time,

Want to send to someone that may enjoy this?