Breakdown of the BGG top 100 by year.


Good morning one and all. 

I have heard, here and in other corners of the internet, a fair amount of "complaining" of the fact that the top 100 on BGG is skewed towards older games. And, truthfully, they don't seem to have any sort of dynamic system. I understand BGA is trying to be more dynamic in their rating system, and that is something I am appreciative of. But, I am also interested in more static systems such as presented by BGG. 

Anyways, I decided to go through the top 100 on BGG and break it down by year. I sorted it by the published year, according to BGG. This is sorta weird, because it feels like there are a number of games that should be considered to be published a year or even two after the "official" published date.

Anyways, without further ado.

2020: 2 games. Highest is number 15 with #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion.

2019: 10 games. Highest is number 21 with #Wingspan.

2018: 9 games. Highest is number 3 with #Brass: Birmingham.

2017: 11 games. Highest is number 1 with #Gloomhaven

2016: 13 games. Highest is number 4 with #Terraforming Mars.

2015: 13 games. Highest is number 2 with #Pandemic Legacy: Season 1.

2014: 6 games. Highest is number 24 with #Orléans.

2013: 4 games. Highest is number 18 with #Concordia.

2012: 7 games: Highest is number 11 with #War of the Ring: Second Edition.

2011: 4 games. Highest is number 14 with #The Castles of Burgundy.

2010: 3 games. Highest is number 58 with #7 Wonders.

2009: 1 game, number 82 with #Dominion: Intrigue.

2008: 4 games. Highest is number 45 with #Le Havre.

2007: 3 games. Highest is number 19 with #Brass: Lancashire.

2006: 1 game, number 44 with #Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization.

2005: 3 games. Highest is number 9 with #Twilight Struggle.

2004: 1 game, number 38 with #Power Grid.

2003: 0 games. The highest rated game from this year is #Yinsh at number 182.

2002: 1 game, number 27 with #Puerto Rico.

2001: 0 games. Highest ranked game from this year is #Dvonn Board Game at 466.

2000: 0 games. Highest ranked game from this year is #Princes of Florence at 177.

This gives us 96 games. The remaining games are:

1997 #Tigris & Euphrates number 90.

1995 #El Grande number 72.

1982 #Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases number 94.

1876 #Crokinole number 67.


Anyways, so there are several observations I draw from this list.

It looks like 2015 and 2016 were really strong years. They both have 13 games on the top 100, this means that between them they have over 25% of the top 100 games on BGG.

I am surprised at how high newer games are scoring. 2019 has 10 games???? 

2020 however has only two games. I do wonder if when lockdown restrictions ease up and allow more in person multiplayer games if there will be more 2020 games to make the cut. There are also some 2019 games that really weren't in broad circulation until 2020 that did make the cut for the top 100, #The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine and #Marvel Champions: The Card Game are the two examples that come to mind.

I did especially notice three older games that were the number 1 game on BGG for a while. These games are still ranked pretty high, in fact, they are still ranked higher than any other game from that year or from before. The games I am thinking of are:

  • #Twilight Struggle this is a 2005 release and is at number 9 overall. There isn't a game in front of it that is less than 10 years newer than this game. that is fascinating to me.
  • #Puerto Rico was the king of BGG for awhile after it came out in 2002. Today it is still ranked highly at number 27 overall. If it came out today, with today's graphic design and theme sensibilities I believe it would hit the hotness, and skyrocket up the charts. It is a truly great mid-weight euro.
  • My last one here is ranked 90 overall, and it is the 1997 hit release, #Tigris & Euphrates. The next newest game in the top 100 is 5 years newer. I still here/see people talking about raving about this game. I wish it would come back into print. *Edit.... I when I wrote this part about Tigris & Euphrates I forgot about the 1876 hit #Crokinole. That is quite a bit older than 1997, and it is ranked higher, at number 67. 


Anyways, I am really curious to see how the BGA rankings will shake out as the user base continues to grow, and the number of rankings continues to increase.




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Premium User4 months ago

Nice analysis!

2015/2016 were extremely strong years for sure.

#Yellow & Yangtze is the "newer" version of Tigris and Euphrates and I highly recommend it.  There are some differences but I've never played Tigris to tell you what they are.

Supporter4 months ago

I have wanted to pick that up. But, I have been focusing on games that are soloable.

Isn't one of the differences that in Y & Y that is has a hexagonal grid rather than a square one?

Premium User4 months ago

Definitely not soloable.  Yeah, looking at the two online Y&Y is hexagonal vs T&E's square board.  

Premium User4 months ago

Interesting list ! Was this brought on by #Pax Pamir (Second Edition) getting to number 100?

Supporter4 months ago

No, I have been just been wondering what year(s) are most represented in the BGG top 100. I wanted BGG because it is the biggest ranking system out there. I was also curious about how prevalent new games really are.

Owner4 months ago

Thank you for the breakdown! By the time #Frosthaven comes out, I wonder if a third of BGG's Top 10 will become dominated by Cephalofair haha

Supporter4 months ago

It could well be. I admit, I have a bit of a hard time seeing #Frosthaven catching up with #Gloomhaven, even though I think it might be a better game. I just don't know what the percentage of people who own and love gloomhaven will spend $100-140 on gloomhaven 2.0 while they still have gloomhaven. I know a lot of people will, I just don't know if that plus the new buyers will be enough to make it catch up. Gloomhaven has almost 40,000 ratings on BGG. This makes it the 30th game over all on BGG in terms of rankings. This is huge, it has even more rankings than #Wingspan. And, it isn't a 40-60 game. It is a $100-140 game. 

All that being said. I do think that #Frosthaven will make it to the top ten. But, I don't think it will overtake gloomhaven, in fact, I don't really expect it to break into the top 5. I do think that #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion will be the new number 1 before too long.

4 months ago

I think part of it that as the hobby grows and expands there is more excitement about new games.  The people who join the hobby are probably younger and more tech savy and more likely to log plays, rate games etc than older indviduals in the hobby.  The fact that a lot of the older games are either OOP or very difficult to find/obtain makes playing those games difficult.  These factors just naturally work towards increasing the rank for the newer games.  Looking at some of the more popular newer years though, I've played a lot of those games and the ones that are ranked high are all great games so its not like crappy games are being elevated just because they are new. 

Sites like BGG have a larger footprint in the  hobby than places like BGA here so they have a wider diversity of opinions which also helps to keep things more stable.  In places like BGA a couple of super active and champions for a game can cause a game to rise higher here than in a place like BGG.  Doesn't mean anythign is wrong with either sites rankings.

Nice job that looks like it was a lot of work.

Supporter4 months ago

Great analysis Chris. Thanks for doing all this work. I too think the pandemic put a damper on a lot of the more recent games. 

Do you think that the progression of board gaming as a hobby has caused the recency bias?

In general terms a board game produced today has higher quality components, high quality rulebooks, and just a generally high level of production. Also years of refinement in mechanics and Automa development have really helped newer games. I think these are all factors as to why newer games are pushing older ones down. 

Supporter4 months ago

I think that is part of it. But I think a bigger part is the fact that it seems like boardgame hobby is growing. It seems like when somebody starts gaming they often start with the games from the general time they began to game and move newer. It does seem to be much more unusual to seek out older games, irrespective of any of the "deficiencies" that you mentioned.

To be clear. I don't think this is a problem. I love a lot of older games. And, I would be sad to see them go away. But, in general. You can find a bunch of newer games that are as good, or even better.

Premium User4 months ago

That is a lot of work and I like the way you laid it out.  I does seem like there is a generaly trend toward adding new games to this list over the past several years (sans 2020).  I have wondered for a couple years now if we will start to see some fallout as there are SO many games out there people might just gravitate toward their favorites while newer games have a slightly harder time getting played?

I am curious to see what 2021 brings.  My personal predictions are that #Frosthaven and #Aqua Garden making the highest cut.

Supporter4 months ago

Thanks for the kind words.

I too am curious about what the long term prognosis is in temrs of new games. When will people stick with their favorites at the expense of new game? I don't know, maybe never.

I also think that #Frosthaven will hit the top 100. I don't know enough about #Aqua Garden to comment on it. I also believe there will be more 2020 games that will hit the top 100. As far as other 2021 games, I think #ISS Vanguard has a decent chance. 

Premium User4 months ago

I am personally playing to avoid purchasing any games in 2021 and work on playing the one's I have. #ISS Vanguard looks interesting.  If I was betting I would bet against it so let's wager nothing on that and see who  It does remind me of #Firefly: The Game which I love very much so I'd be inclined to try our Vanguard if I get a chance.

I'm holding off on #Frosthaven myself but have a friend who grabbed it so I am looking forward to playing once we all have vaccines.  It was Kickstarted by so many that I think it will just take off.

As for #Aqua Garden that is my Darkhorse.  This was the last game I backed in 2020 and with a "fish" theme and #Heaven & Ale as an influence I think this might end up being the #Wingspan of 2021 once folks get it in front of them.  I might lose my nothing bet on this as well though and could be influenced by not buying any games and this being the only game I get to open next year.  

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