This refers to how (attention-or-concentration) ‘heavy’ the game is – basically it’s about ‘how complex is this game’?
Will it baffle you? Will it still baffle you the third time through after you’ve watched an explainer video? Will your sister-in-law look at you like you have two heads as you try to explain what to do, and why she should care?
Game weight is very subjective.
We describe game ‘weight’ as:
Party – it’s fairly light fare – a snack not a meal. It may feature one or two mechanisms and do them well. It’s probably got a strong theme which it carries through to the audience. There are some great party games which I love – Sushi Go, for example. Likely to tend towards shorter games.
Family – there’s a bit more to it, but you can probably teach your friends and family without their heads exploding. Burger Up is a good example (though not a game I like…). Some people might call these ‘gateway’ games, though I find that term equally subjective.
Enthusiast – don’t try to teach this to an inexperienced board gamer – seduce them with some Party or Family games first. If you enjoy board games, and think that Monopoly is an abomination, then you’re probably an ‘enthusiast’ and might get enthused about this level of game.
Fanatic – you know who you are 🙂 (synonyms: addict, devotee, and other slightly unkind words are here). You might complain that an Enthusiast-level (or even Fanatic-level) game ‘could be improved by variable player powers’ or that the ‘game balance is off with three players… nothing mitigates the king-making’!
We will also use + and – as modifiers to these ratings. + means it’s a bit more complex and – means it’s a bit less.
If the game has a BGG ‘weight’ rating then we might remember to mention it (at the time of publication – it will change) as well.
We all know that the time estimate on the box is a lie ;). Or at best . . . involves some elements of wishful thinking and marketing.
We describe game length as:
Filler – up to 45 minutes. If the rest of your group turns up late, they won’t be too annoyed that you started without them.
Short – longer than a filler, but 90 minutes should get it done. Except if you strike that bloke who just HAS to know how many points he will get for each of the 7 possible options.
Full length – you will not be done in an hour. If you have 3 to 5 players, 2 hours is more likely. Don’t complain to us if it’s 2.5.
Epic – the clue’s in the name. This is not a short game. If you dislike this game, you might regret your afternoon / evening, but if you love it, hang on for the ride!
Of course, game length may vary according to the model of your humans and their hOS. Newsflash: Adding a new player or two, and adding more players, will make it take longer.
When we state the number of players, we may modify what the box claims if we think it’s too ambitious. For example, Imperial Settlers can theoretically be played with 6 or 7 players if you have extra factions, but you shouldn’t do that if you want to have fun (in our opinion).
We may say the game is suitable for one player even if there is no official ‘solo’ mode – for example, if it is designed as a co-operative game; has a fan-made variant which we think is viable; or can be played two-handed in a way that we think is pretty good fun.
I (stephenplays) have never been good at describing these, so you’ll have to forgive any blunders. We’ll try not to use a list of 150+ different mechanisms as BoardGameGeek does but sometimes the terms can be useful.
Is the game different enough each time you play it, to keep it interesting? The difference may come from changing the board each time; from differences in the player features or game objectives, from extra content, or from other neat tricks. We’ll say what we think.
How hard is it to get? (We’re in Australia, unless stated otherwise in the review, so this will be different if you live elsewhere.) Just how stupidly expensive is it? We’ll try to remember to comment and might provide a couple of links.
Best bits / Worst bits
Stuff which we really liked, or which disappointed us.
These are, of course, our opinions only.