The passionate gamers on BoardGameGeek.com (BGG) devote a lot of time and effort to create comprehensive content and reviews on practically every game that is out there, including out-of-print and small, self-published games. They not only rate the games, but write up rule clarifications, post in-depth game analyses, suggest variants for better gameplay, and even translate rules into other languages. The site features a marketplace where you can buy, sell and trade games with other gamers, forums where you can ask questions, create lists, and tons of other functionality. Of course, the real value of such a large, informed and well-established community is the wisdom of crowds effect you get from their collective opinions. As I write, the #1 game on BGG [Puerto Rico] has 11956 votes compared with 7 votes for the #1 game on the previously-reviewed Board Game Ratings (BGR) [Password]. And since BGG isn’t a retailer (unlike BGR), they have a comprehensive database of *all* games, not just those the store happens to carry.
I probably visit BGG one to two times a month, mostly to browse for new games that might be good (In the past year, I’ve picked up Pandemic, Roll Through the Ages, Caylus, Agricola, Dominion, Race for the Galaxy, Galaxy Trucker, and Ticket to Ride: Märklin.). Also, I sometimes hear about a game through a friend or some other channel, and I’ll go to the site to find out more. Since it’s heavily crowdsourced, and there is such a large, passionate community, I’ve discovered that even the most obscure games will have details like pictures, descriptions, type, and of course ratings. It’s also a great resource when you’re playing a game and need rules clarifications, rule variant suggestions, expansions, etc.
If you are considering buying a game, you owe it to yourself to check out BGG. Granted, the list of top-rated games tends to lean a bit more toward the serious-gamer crowd. But you can use the advanced search feature to look for “light” games with high average ratings, and then sort the results by Bayesian ranking. You’d even do OK just by picking games of the “Hotness” list in the left column.
– Dave Cortright
BONUS: For purchasing said games, FunAgain.com is the current consensus among my gamer friends on the best place to buy from, though I’ve also used Fair Play Games with great success. — Dave Cortright