Asking the Right Question

I remember my first time using the Ranking Engine. After the first few selections I thought, “what exactly am I ranking these based on?” It might seem obvious but it wasn’t. Selecting which I think is better is different than which is my favorite – even though the two might overlap sometimes. Or maybe the number of times I play games makes one better than another. But that might even need to be weighted for length of game or group needed.

I was making a top list and I needed to decide on a question that would be easy to ask each time so that I came up with a consistent answer.

The question I came to was this – “Which game am I most excited to play right now”. Asking this question helped me get through the ranking process quickly. It simplified the choice for me.

This applies mostly to ranking large number of very different games. It is easier to ask which game is the better game when comparing games that are more similar. For example, you could limit your list to just area control or cooperative games. Then it is easier to “objectively” compare the two. (I say “objectively” because there is always some subjectivity when making selections like these.)

Tips for paring down your list

Let’s be real – ranking a several hundred games is an undertaking. Even using something like our board game ranking engine, it can take a while to get through them all. Let me offer some advice that will help pare down your list before you even put it into the engine.

Note: We recently added functionality to delete games during the ranking process. Even though you can do that I still recommend removing as many as you can before starting the process. These guidelines below apply before and after starting the ranking process.

  • Remove Duplicates – I load all of my played games along with games from my collection into Excel in one big list. This will result in duplicates and that is ok. Simply highlight the column your games are in, go the Data tab and find the Remove Duplicates in the Data Tools section. This will automatically pare down your list to just unique values.
  • Remove all expansions from your list – unless, of course, you are ranking your expansions, which is a valid use of the engine.
  • Remove games that you aren’t interested in or you know would be at the bottom. These kinds of games can cause non-choices, meaning that when they pop up you know you wouldn’t pick them. I use Excel so I just go down my list and put an “x” in column B (assuming your list is in column A) beside games I don’t want on the list. Then I sort the list by column B and can delete all of the x’ed items at the same time. Be as liberal as you like with your deleting. I’m trying to get to my top 50 or so and I have around 175 games in my original list so I “x” as many games as I can to make ranking my favorites as quick as possible.
  • Remove games from your list that you do not remember. There is no point in ranking a game you don’t remember even if you played it in the past. These will inevitably fall to the bottom of your ranking.
  • Do two ranking sessions – one quick with a bigger list, then refine your list by only using the top X from your previous list. Take some more time with the second.

Other ways to use the Ranking Engine

  • Rank something besides board games – you can put anything into the list you want. Restaurants, Cookies, movies – you name it. If you want to rank a list of things the Ranking Engine will do it.
  • Decide on what game to play next – put in a list of the ones you are trying to decide between and rank to see which fits the situation best.
  • Decide what game to buy next – put in your wish list and let them duke it out for that top spot.
  • Listen to too many podcasts? Rank them to help you pare down you list a bit.
  • Figure out what games to cull from your collection. If it ranks at the bottom consistently maybe it’s time for that game to find a new home.
  • Rank games on different attributes – which games have the best art, components, etc.