With a severe risk of sounding like a broken record, at Best Play we’re all about making board games more accessible. Bringing the best the medium has to offer to those curious about the world of board games.
But what are the best games to recommend? And what if we took a look at the data-led approach to finding the best, most accessible games? Well, we took to the IMDB of board games, Board Game Geek, to identify the best simple games you can get your hands on.
We pulled a list of around 18,000 games from the site, and cleaning it of any games with fewer than 100 ratings, and those that had insufficient data on ‘weight’ ratings. This rating is what the BGG community uses to determine how heavy a game is – essentially how complicated the mechanics of the game are. What we found was interesting: generally, the more complex the game, the higher the average user rating.
Perhaps it’s not that surprising. You might expect the same thing with movies or literature too. The more intense the content, and the more the user has to put into consuming it, the greater the payoff. If you’re willing to put more into learning the rules of a board game, then you’ll discover a richer, more detailed and more rewarding experience.
The problem is that it’s difficult to get newbie players to throw themselves in the deep end. You have to teach them to swim first. So what’s the best paddling pool in town?Finding the anomalies (marked blue)
We searched through the data on the hunt for games with a low weight rating and a high average user rating. Looking for the anomalies within the whole dataset is relatively simple. We started with a list isolating those with a weight lower than 2.0 and a user score of above 7.5, whittling the list of 18,000 titles down to no much more than a hundred games. Next up was amalgamating the many, many different spinoffs and expansions into single franchises, and eliminating the obscure games with a low number of ratings. That left us with these 16 games, and we’re happy to say we’re familiar with almost all of them.
So, without further ado, here’s our list of the top 15 ‘simple’ games, in order of their average user rating on BGG (note: we’ve had to combine scores of different editions into an approximate average across single franchises).
15. Ticket to Ride
Great game. We own it but haven’t written or filmed anything about it yet – perhaps we should now!
14. The Resistance
A hidden role classic. You can read more about it on our article all about the best hidden role games.
A wonderful two-player Indian marketplace showdown.
12. One Night Ultimate Werewolf
Also featured on that hidden role article we mentioned, and is in our top 5 games for everyone.
11. Sheriff of Nottingham
We love this game of bluff and blunder.
Another Best Play favourite, another hidden role classic.
A surprisingly fun game about ancient traders and mining investments.
One of Best Play’s own gateway drugs to the medium – a simple visual game with echoes of Mysterium.
And just ahead of Dixit with a rating of 7.6, is the slightly more involved visual game Mysterium.
6. Flick ’em Up!
A cowboy-themed disc flicker – we’ve just added it to our collection because you know how much we love flicking things.
An often overlooked but hilarious game, this in-joke generator is one of the most played holiday games at Best Play. We’ve written about it lots and it went head to head with Deer Lord in ep. 18 of the podcast.
4. Time’s Up!
There are a lot of expansions for this charades-based card game, but some of them are touching a rating of almost 8.0 on BGG. We’re not personally familiar with the game but we hear good things.
We do love this cute two-player Tetris-like quilt game, and it features in a few of our articles and it made it into our best games for couples. It also matched up against Karuba in ep. 11 of our podcast.
2. Escape: The Curse of the Temple
Simple, fun and no longer than 10 minutes per session. The big box edition scores particularly well.
Of course it is. It’s also the number one game in our own list of Best Play-approved titles. Genuinely brilliant and as accessible as they come.