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CG Author Commentary #9: "Import System" >

To This Basic Game Hedgehogs Are Added: I bought a cute game about hedgehogs, Der Igelwettkampf ("The hedgehog contest"), as a Christmas present for my niece. On Der Igelwettkampf's BoardGameGeek page I noticed that it was classified under the game family "Animals: Hedgehogs/Porcupines". I'd thought "Family" was for boring things like grouping together the endless versions of Ticket to Ride, but turns out it's also used to group together all the games about hedgehogs.

The question then arises: what's the best game about hedgehogs? According to BGG it's Igel Ärgern + Tante Tarantel, a double bill in which Tante Tarantel might be doing some of that work because Igel Ärgern on its own is rated a bit lower.

More importantly, what's the worst hedgehog game? Indubitably it's Hedgehog's Revenge, "The GAME where the hedgehog STRIKES BACK!", whose BGG description includes the now-hopefully-immortal saying "To this basic game hedgehogs are added."

At this point I was on a roll... of the dice! I went back to my now-old BGG data dump, sorted the board game families by how many games they contained, and picked out interesting groupings for use in Loaded Dice. We've got Games about animals (most popular: dogs) Game versions of sports (soccer), and Games about countries (the Roman Empire, in a landslide). That page shows the top-rated game and the lowest-rated game, so get ready to load a lot of cover images.

I did a couple other lists, like media tie-ins (champion: Disney) and "families" that are strongly tied to one single game (the 889-strong "Monopoly" family), but I think the three lists I put up are the most interesting.

Bizarre trivia abounds! Did you know that crows are board game gold? The worst game about crows (The Crow and the Pitcher) has a BGG rating of 6.32, which isn't that bad at all. (Longtime fans will remember the median rating is 6.0).

Did you know there are twenty rodeo-themed games? Apparently you didn't, since only one of those games has more than five ratings. How many wargames take place in Switzerland, a country that doesn't fight wars? Only two: Switzerland must be Swallowed and Zürich 1799.

My data is six months old now and it's starting to show some cracks. There are BGG families for Russia and Antarctica which were created after I took my dataset, so they don't show up in the country list even though most of their games are in my data. After getting the Switzerland idea I ran the "What percentage of a country's games are wargames?" test on all countries, but wargames were drastically undercounted. For instance, all but one "Vietnam" game on BGG is a wargame (the exception being Venture Vietnam), but only 35% of those games were classified under a general "Wargames" category.

But, the lists are still a lot of fun and there are some interesting games in there. I'll leave you with the board game equivalent of the dusty World Book Encyclopedia sitting on the shelf at your grandparents' house: Trivial Pursuit - The Year in Review - Questions about 1992, the worst-rated game (3.90) in the 155-strong Trivial Pursuit family. Also available in 1993 flavor!

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