Board and Card Games

The Board Game to Geek Rating System

Do you think he’ll like Firefly? What about Scott Pilgrim? She’s a comic book person right? Doesn’t he like zombies?

So I was having dinner with a group of people last night, and on the way home while discussing their geek quotient I ended up describing them to a friend based on games. I was saying ‘she looks like a Cranium sort of person’, or ‘he looks like he would like Arkham’. And then I realized that it actually seemed to work pretty well.

So here it is! Yes, I know we can’t really pigeonhole people, but find me someone who plays Arkham and wouldn’t mind at least trying Twilight Imperium (NOT to be mistaken for Twilight). Plus you get to sneak in gateway games to your group too!

Level 1: Mainstream games. Almost everyone has played it at least once.
Includes: Jenga, Uno, Monopoly, the Game of Life.

Your ‘basal level’ of games. As an aside, if you use the phrase ‘basal level’ in common parlance (or even ‘common parlance’ in common parlance), you’re generally not going to be level one.

As a second aside, I hate people who go to game cafes and play these games. I mean, you could have just as easily bought Jenga in any departmental store and go home and play. Play something you’ve never tried out before, people!

Level 2: Slight geek influence, but still accepted by mainstream audiences. Generally quick party games that can be finished under an hour.
Includes: Cranium, Apples to Apples, Taboo

The level I think everyone should be at. These party games are a good way to get people to dip their toe into the vast ocean that is boardgames. Then you can graduate them on to…

Level 3: The geek is showing. Strategy and some patience usually required to excel, but still can be easily explained and picked up by someone who does not game on a regular basis.
Includes: Settlers of Catan, Carcasonne, Alhambra, Citadels

Once you get someone to enjoy these games, you’re set. I’m personally happy when people get to level 3, because they usually will have enough interest to seek other games by themselves at this point. It’s pretty self perpetuating after this.

Level 4: Strategy, set up and/or a certain level of immersion into the game required. May require at least one play through to understand the game.
Includes: Dominion, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Pandemic

What I believe as the pass/fail level of true geeks. Anyone here should also be able to calmly and cohesively discuss at least one (preferably all) of the following:

1) The differences between a twilight vampire and other vampires.
2) Quotes from Star Wars, Star Trek, LOTR, etc.
3) Scientific plausibility of various comic superhero powers.
4) The likelihood of zombie outbreaks and proposed solutions.

Gamers are very comfortable at this level. In fact I expect rpers, wargamers and the like to slot right in here. Most of the cast from the Big Bang Theory will also be comfortable here. Exception being Sheldon who is….

Level 5: Long set up or steep learning curve. Lots of detail and variables to keep track of. Generally considered to be ‘gamer only’. Best to have at least one person who is very experienced with the game.
Includes: Arkham Horror, Twilight Imperium, Space Hulk

HARD CORE. Usually only the serious gamers are into these games. Definitely not something you want to try if your group includes people who think that the only board games in the world are Scrabble and Monopoly. Don’t get me wrong, these are fun games, but hell sometimes even I need to wake up on the right side of bed before I think of trying them.

So… what are you? What are your friends? And don’t you think you should be getting them to be playing more games? 😉


Singapore’s resident Press Ganger, that is, the man to go to for Privateer Press’ WARMACHINE, and HORDES. Kakita also dabbles in Games Workshop’s WARHAMMER FANTASY and WARHAMMER 40K lines.

Related Articles


  1. yup, i’m definitely only at level 3. as i watched you guys tackling Arkham i was so glad i had Scott Pilgrim comics to distract me.

    also, which level is Race? feels like a 4.5 to me.

  2. Cool. Me and my friends have played all the games u mentioned from level 3 to 5. Space Hulk is huge, only time i take out my copy is when they come over to my place and i’ll just clear the dining table.

    some of the games we are playing now are Ascension, Dungeon Lords and Warhammer Invasion. Hope to see some boardgame reviews here too.

  3. @viv: In terms of learning curve probably 4-5. I’m guessing 5. You can learn easy enough but trying to win is pretty difficult if you’re playing against experts.

    To be honest arkham should be a 6 i think. It’s only good if everyone knows how the whole game works.

  4. @Melvin:

    How’s space hulk? I’ve always wanted to play it (I Have it but never assembled, because I want to get around to painting it too)

    Hope to do some boardgame reviews soon too! =)

  5. Space hulk is fun, i played the original one when i was a wee lad and it feels great to finally own a copy now.

    Set-up time isn’t as long as you would expect, less than 10 mins with u and yr partner putting it together. although i haven;t played every single scenario in there, the ones we played last bout hour or less. the game itself is pretty fast and furious since there’s only two of you although i guess u could have 3 players as some of the scenarios call for 2 squads of marines, one for each player.

    since u have the already, no need to tell u the rules, hah. i can’t paint to save my life so we play with the unpainted ones. usually i would play with my friend who comes early to my apartment before the rest comes.

    Twilight Imperium takes waaaay too long to play for my group. one of us has it and i think we only played it once or twice. Pandemic is fun and there was one evening where we played like 3 games in a row and lost all the way.

  6. I play Advanced Squad Leader… i am so far beyond Level 5 Geek that i am a Geek God.

    I play Arkham Horror and Space Hulk for light entertainment.

  7. @Legion:

    haha good for you. Maybe we should have a level 6 and 7 rating for board games as well? Personally, Arkham still is kinda too much trouble for the fun though

  8. Did u get the Space Hulk: Death Angel card game? Not bad although not as fun the 3D board game of cos. The board game rules are actually way simpler, took a couple of games for us to get it (the card game) right. Hah

Back to top button