Lots of different elements combine to make a great game. Here's how we've broken some of them down:
Luck vs. Strategy. Envision our Luck vs. Strategy scale as a sort of timeline with Luck on one end at 0, Strategy at the other end as a 10. Most games fall somewhere in between with a mix of both.
If you're a go-with-the-gut kind of player, if you depend on chance to give you a break, then you'd enjoy games with a greater element of luck. Those types of games usually involve dice or cards that change things up mid-game or mid-hand. Look for games with a low number on our Luck vs. Strategy scale. If, however, you're a thinker, if you like to plan things out several moves in advance, you're a strategy game lover. Look for games with a high number on our scale.
Interplay. This is a word we coined to describe how much your play affects those playing with you, for good or ill. If you like to play your own game and not think about what the other guy is doing, or worry about hurting another player, then you'd like a game that's low on our interplay scale. A game that's high on the scale means that most everything you do will affect the other players somehow. Cooperative games, like SHADOWS OVER CAMELOT, will be high because players are working together.
Visual Appeal. Pleasing colors, eye-catching graphics, beautiful illustrations, those are the kinds of things that add to visual appeal. Games can be fun, but not a pleasure to look at. We much prefer when they're both.
Component Quality. Is the board sturdy? Are the tokens flimsy cardboard or are they heavy plastic or wood? Those are the questions we consider when we measure component quality. Because they wear out fairly quickly, card games are going to be lower on this scale, but they're usually cheaper, too, which compensates.
Replayability. Will I play this game again? How soon? Lots of factors go into answering those questions. A game can be lots of fun yet low on the replayability scale because it takes too much time to set up or to play (RISK anyone?) Games that are high are usually the perfect combination of fun, easy to set up, and playable in a reasonable amount of time. If we love a game, but don't play it very often for any of those reasons, we'll let you know. We'd hate to have you miss out on a great game because you won't play it as often. But if cost is a concern, high replayability means you'll get your money's worth.