What’s a 10/10 Game to You?

It’s an interesting question – and one that everyone has a different answer to. We asked a wide variety of people – from boardgame designers and publishers, to friends closer to home: What makes a 10/10 game for you? Everyone has different thoughts on the question and we were really excited to see everyone’s answers. Read on to see what a 10/10 game is for each of the people we asked, and add your own answer to the comments at the end of the article!

There are a few elements that have to come together to make a game 10/10 – it has to look amazing. It has to do more than pay lip service to diversity. It should allow me to express myself through play. It obviously has to have great mechanics that withstand the test of time. Ideally it would also be science fiction in the best way – understanding that scifi has a responsibility to hold up a mirror to the world and show us how it could be better.

Confidently checking all those boxes is Netrunner, a game about a cyberpunk future where there are more playable brown women than white guys in the entire setting, where power can be reclaimed from the corporations, and your hacker rig can look like a stuffed dinosaur.

Calvin, Boardgames Writer

Theme and mechanics are intertwined so what you do, how and why all make sense. Consequently, the rulebook is rarely consulted during play. A quick glance at the game board and/or a player’s tableau grants insight on who’s taking the lead and falling behind. But one must never relax or despair, ’cause right until the very end tides can turn. Keeping a close eye on your opponents is key. Their moves influence yours and vice versa. Tension builds and the final round has everyone at the edge of their chair. Scores are tallied in a blink of an eye. More time is needed to talk the game over and marvel at its design and looks.  Custom dice are the star of the show. Oh and SPACE, the best board games are set in SPACE!

Eline, “BoardGameAddict”

Onirim is a 10 out of 10 for me. I enjoy how each game is a riddle that has to be solved and the game can ask you to change your plan midway through. I like how all the cards are worth exactly what is on their face. I find playing it alone to be meditative, and to play with a partner a great way to bond with and develop trust with the other player.

Patrick Leder, Leder Games

For me, there are 2 different kinds of a 10/10 game. First, is one that you can pull out at any time, can teach to gamers of any level, and needs little explanation before jumping in. One that engages the group and leaves players with a good impression of the hobby. An example is Welcome To… (not technically a board game, but shh!).
The second is a heavier game, which is thinky, but not a burden to set up or get to the table. It forces every turn to be precise and exact, and just as it is ramping up, it culminates in everyone stressing about the best way to get a couple more points. An example being Railroad Revolution.

Beth, A Boardgame Detective

Non-trivial decisions. Outcome highly correlated with performance. Plays in under two hours.

Ryan Courtney, designer of Pipeline

That’s a great question. For me, a 10/10 game has to be one that ticks all the boxes, plus just has a little something extra that makes me want to bring it back to the table. The things that I always want to see in a game are: agency – tough, crunchy decisions for players to make; tension – get players sitting on the edges of their seats; and story – it doesn’t have to be dripping with theme and narrative, but the overarching story and backdrop of the game should be easy to grasp and embrace. As an example, I think Scythe ticks the boxes on all three of these.

Shem Phillips, Garphill Games

A 10/10 game is personified by its own unique set of mechanisms and challenges. Your creativity sparks when you encounter multiple decision points during your turns as you try to optimise your play. Win, lose or draw…the result leads to a very fun and satisfying experience to remember.
Some of my 10/10 games: Trajan, The Castles of Burgundy, Keyflower.

Gary, friend and local Boardgame Savant.

When I first started writing this, I was going to say a 10 / 10 game, for me, is the perfect game, and then muse on whether or not the perfect game exists. Needless to say, I have rated more than one game a 10 / 10, so, that’s not a particularly interesting metric and it’s probably a bit pretentious. But I digress. For me, a 10 / 10 game (or expansion) is the one to beat. It fires on all cylinders: gameplay, art, theme, execution, and it connects them seamlessly. For expansions, a 10 / 10 is so easy to integrate with the base game that I never separate them. These are the games I love to play, love to talk about playing, and frankly, wish I were playing right now.

What’s Eric Playing, Boardgame Reviewer

A game I love to play.  That’s it!  It’s the game I love the most.  I just pick my favorite games, and they get a “10”

Tom Vasel, The Dice Tower

7/10 an objectively great game. 8/10 a great game I also subjectively like. 9/10 are games I love and will play at the drop of a hat. With 10/10 status being reserved as a hall of fame, for games that have additionally had a profound impact on my gaming life.

Meepleman (Awais), friend and local Canberra boardgaming ambassador.

For me, a 10/10 game is one that I am able to fully engross myself in and no matter the outcome, I still have a fantastic time. The game doesn’t have to be of a specific genre, but it is one that preferably has a lot of replayability and makes me feel like resetting and playing the game again immediately after we’ve finished.

Monique, BeforeYouPlay

Looking back at what I have rated in BGG there are only a handful games that I have rated highly, but not at the 10/10 score. To me a 10/10 would be a perfect game, which to my taste may not be possible. However, I can say that based on the games I personally rate highly or 9.5/10, I would consider that the perfect game must have some of the elements that I enjoy from those highly rated games, including:
• Simple rules, interesting decisions. Games that are easy to learn and play would always rate high for me. I hate expending study time to learn a game and after a long time, they can’t see the table until another study session occurs.
• Pretty aesthetics and colour combination. I’m a bit of colour blind, but I can always appreciate the aesthetics of a game and well design icons that help gameplay. Card games with explanations are a big no, for me.
• Scale well with 2 to max number of players. This is important to me, because I am lucky to have a family that enjoy games, but also as the organiser of GLOG, I enjoy sharing the hobby with others.
• Play experience is different every single time. I hate games that seems to force players to follow a similar pattern every time you play. For me having the mechanic of creating a map that is different everytime you play is great, or building a city with different buildings, building different roads or tracks, let me want to go back more and more to those games.
• Game mechanisms that are well integrated. I love games more for their mechanism than the theme. If the mechanism integrated well and make sense, the game play flows and keeps me engaged from beginning to end no matter how long I’ve been playing.
• Game play duration. I have a high preference for medium heavy Eurogames, but unfortunately those are hard to get to the table or seem dry to other players. If the game takes 2hrs or more, I will be inclining to play something else. This is also dependent on the occasion as I have organised Carcassonne sessions that last 8hrs, and had a blast. My sweet spot would be a game between 45 mins to 1.5 hrs.
• Games should provide fun experience. A game that makes me enjoy my time playing is a must. If the games has too much admin or house keeping, set up, bureaucracy, then this takes away time for enjoyment. I could play them once, but unlikely to try them again.
• Right amount of randomness. I enjoy my games with a bit of random flavour, but too much makes the game too chaotic and unplayable. This is a hard one, but I can see that my highly rated games have this on them.
• Black player colour. A game without components in black for a player will always lose rating points 😉
There maybe other characteristics that may influence me to score a game highly, but at the moment the above are the main ones I’ve been reflecting on.

Rene, local Canberra boardgaming ambassador and organiser of GLOG gaming event.

To me, the only 10/10 game out there is Uno. Everyone knows that 10 divided by 10 is one; Uno is the direct Spanish translation of the word “one.” Yes, there are other games that heavily incorporate “one,” such as One Night Ultimate Werewolf, One Deck Dungeon, and Just One – but those games all have extra words in their titles, which, in my mind, prevents them from being truly 10/10. So yeah, the only real answer is Uno.

Jeff Kornberg, The Dragon’s Tomb

I find it very hard to rate a game as perfect because so much depends on the situations in which you are playing. But when backed into a corner like this I do believe that Terra Mystica is my ultimate game. It’s an area control economic game but with so much more. Not only is there something satisfying about building, but this is enhanced by the fact there are bonuses revealed on your player board the more you build! I love the chunky wooden pieces, the unique races you play as and the very unusual way magic works. BUT this all pales in comparison to my favourite feature, the fact that every round the game tells you what you should be doing to try and win. This helps scatterbrains like myself focus on the game and actually play competitively. It’s a game I’ll always take off my shelf to enjoy!

Antoinette, Board Game Inquisition

For me, a 10/10 game is one that I will almost never say no to in any circumstance. This typically means it plays from at least 2-4 players and doesn’t take much longer than an hour to play. It’s easy to teach and remember, setup and teardown aren’t too cumbersome, it’s fun with a variety of people, there’s plenty of replayability. It involves a strong feeling of progression, agency, and interesting decisions, and I end up with a sense of satisfaction for what I’ve created even if I didn’t play particularly well.

Jamey Stegmaier – Stonemaier games

A 10/10 game to me – it’s when everyone’s thinking, and you take your turn and the whole table groans (because you stuffed everyone else’s plans up). When there’s several moments where everyone breaks out in uncontrollable laughter. When you realise you are losing your voice from negotiating so much. When you run your engine and you just get that feeling everything is coming together perfectly. And it’s especially when you check the time and 3 hours have passed … but it felt like half an hour.

Jeremy, A Boardgame Detective

A 10/10 game for me is one that can consistently deliver on “experience”.  Lots of games are fun depending on the group of people you have playing it. But a 10/10 game is fun every. single. time and consistently creates laughter, moments of surprise or other excitement, no matter who I’m playing it with. I have stories and memories of each game play and I’m often thinking about it days later. A balance of an interesting puzzle and social interaction usually creates this for me.

Paula Deming, Things Get Dicey

A 10/10 game would be a bit tough. That means it needs to be perfect, so the closest ones are my favorites, and this is subjective. Terraforming Mars – ’cause it is nice to feel you’re building up something, and it’s so highly replayable. I introduce to a lot of people to it and they like it.
Mini Rails – has a lot of interaction, it’s a light light version of 18xx, but under 1 hour. It’s so so fun, you can work with others but stuff each other up, you wanna bring up your stock price up together or make it plummet. Awkward Guests – a great puzzle deduction game, trying to figure out clues but drawing clue cards and exchanging clues, I just like the concept, it has a lot of available scenarios too.

Stella, Meeple University

My idea of a great board game is one that involves everyone throughout the game duration and doesn’t eliminate players, has some player interaction but not too much ‘take that’ behaviour. The game length is about 40-90 minutes and can be played with 2-5 people aged from about 10+. 
Some examples would be Carcassonne, Catan, Ticket To Ride and Puerto Rico.

Glenn, Store Manager at one of my local games stores, The Games Capital

In my opinion, a 10/10 game is not really a perfect game (there is no objectively perfect game), but rather a game that meets the mood, interests, and skills of the play group as closely as a game can in that moment.
There are a tons of games that can do that, but for me I find I often find one closer to being ‘10/10’ in the moment if it learns quickly, doesn’t have intricate strategies that only a pro can use, and gives a sense of delight and interaction to the players. I don’t mind luck, but usually I prefer it to be universal (most of the time). I also prefer a playtime of usually an hour or less, though occasionally open for longer.
Let me see if I can boil it down more – Meaningful interaction that feels integral to the theme and mechanics; Reasonably simple to learn, with interesting but not ridiculously complex strategies; A sense of excitement and delight brought about by a new take on (or fully mind-bending) mechanics.
Some ‘10/10’ games that come to mind for me are: Bohnanza (played without going through the deck more than once), Red7, Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation, Race for the Galaxy, and Magic Maze. And Dvonn. And Lines of Action.

Don Eskridge, Orange Machine Games (Designer of Avalon/The Resistance)

For me, a 10/10 game is more about creating an experience that all players can enjoy, even if you end up losing. Games which don’t leave any players feeling like the game treated them unfairly are always more fun than intense ones where the winner has destroyed all the other players – Xia treats everyone equally terribly, in a way that builds camaraderie between all players, so you generally come away from it having a good time (except when you immediately jumped into the sun on your first turn!). Scythe can be brutal and ruin your day – if you get killed early and have to sit around grinding while others have fun with the game, with no chance of you ever catching up again. That’s fine if you have a bunch of players who are all equally ruthless and enjoy that, but it doesn’t work for groups with people who are mostly there to have a good time with friends, and the game is secondary to that fun. A good game will make spending time with your friends an experience to remember!

Alex, the casual (some guy I play games with)

A good game will cultivate an experience. A 10/10 game will create an experience that affects you on almost an emotional level. Sometimes it’s a thinky Euro that sucks you into a puzzle that surprises you with it’s intricacy and elegance, while other times it’s a light party game that makes you laugh harder than you have in ages. In the end, 10/10 games tend to leave me thinking about them long after they’ve returned to the box and been put back on my shelf.

Christian Kang, Take Your Chits

I think of a good game as one that when I play it, everything fits together just how it should. It’s a blending of theme, gameplay, and mechanics, where each one is exceptionally done and complements the others.
That’s a good game, when I’m thinking of a 10/10 game it needs to go beyond that. When I’m playing it, I want to have a sense of delight and wonder. I want to be astounded at the creativity and feel a sense of the designers joy coming through the cardboard. Haha!
Also – if it’s Sci-Fi or Fantasy, that’s gonna really push it up a notch for me 😛

Cody Miller, Far Off games

6 thoughts on “What’s a 10/10 Game to You?

  1. I don’t often agree with Tom Vasel, but in this case he’s right. Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion and metric, but it seems odd to me to have a giant list of criteria for a game to qualify. Maybe Tom and I are more “from the gut” people.

    There is no perfect game, and people shouldn’t even have that considerdation when deciding to rate a game a 10/10. A 10/10 game is a game that you should still love despite it’s flaws, or even in spite of them. There are only a few games that I can say have been some of my favorite games for multiple years. Games that get me really excited anytime I can get them to the table. That always produce fun experiences. Those are 10/10 games.

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