Cardboard Children: Banditos

Hello youse.

Not every game needs to be perfect. Flaws are a good thing. Some of my favourite films, albums, video games and people are those ones with major flaws. Indeed, with board games, there is a danger that we all slide down the one safety chute, and all end up playing the same things. This is bad and harmful and will not advance board game design at all. Can I rant on this? Let me rant a bit on this.


In all likelihood, a person new to board gaming will find their way to the BoardGameGeek website. When I returned to board gaming some years ago, I found Boardgamegeek an essential resource. But more than that, it was this cool thing. This cool place. “Wow, a giant site full of board gamers, all cataloguing every board game that’s available!” I would pore over the rankings and base many of my purchases on the BGG Top 100. I’m pretty sure that in the early days of my work on this column I recommended BGG to all of you – I sent you all there.

But now? Now I’m hoping you’ve all done the same thing as I’ve done. I’m hoping you’ve turned your back on BGG. Because that ranking they do over there? That Top 100? That thing is ugly. That’s true for starters. Let me talk about that first of all, before I get onto what I actually want to say.

Foolishly, it took me some time to realise it. See, I know that Lists are bad. Rankings and scores and lists are always bad. And yet it took me a while to see the problem with BGG. Let me just fling out a few reasons why alarms started to go off for me.

The general trend to down-rate games involving “luck”. Yep, in those BGG rankings, luck and dice are often seen as negative elements of games, regardless of how they are integrated into the game mechanics. There is a snobbery at BGG. And I think it’s a snobbery they’re quite proud of.

The Space Hulk Incident. This was a bad one. Soon after the release of the newest edition of Space Hulk, when the game was rocketing up the rankings, Games Workshop told BGG to pull down any files that breached their copyright. And that was a dick move, sure. But the campaign to give low user scores to Space Hulk as some sort of punishment for Games Workshop, sending the game crashing back down the rankings, was obscene. It was then that I realised without a shadow of a doubt that the rankings and Top 100 were a joke.
It is a SEXIST COMMUNITY. Okay. Duck and cover. There are a lot of lovely things over at BGG. There are threads about recently passed loved ones, and the games they loved to play. There are charity drives, and places of compassion. But my goodness…BGG is a sexist website. And I don’t know why ANY women visit it. Having used the website for a long time, and read a lot of it, the constant casual sexism is like suffering a death by a thousand cuts. A running joke on BGG is the constant posting of a game called Busen Memo in threads. It’s a game where you have to match the left and right breasts of women. And I’m sure this game constantly popping up is just hilarious for female users of the site. And then there’s the “WHAT GAME WOULD EVEN MY LITTLE LADY LIKE?” style threads.

And then there’s the comments and “thumbs” (just an upvoting system) for any board gamer photos that feature women. Here’s a photo of a girl playing Magic: The Gathering at a convention – now, there used to be comments under this photo. They removed them, thankfully. And then there’s the vile, honestly vile, exploiting of that thumbs system that sees men posting photos of their female partners with plenty of cleavage showing – something that just makes everyone involved look fucking awful. (Here’s the current “Hottest” board gamer photo on BGG. Bear in mind that “Hottest” just means “most up-voted photo” and not anything sexual)

Now, on this sexism thing… Why am I still using bullet points?

Now, on this sexism thing… I won’t be told that BGG isn’t “like that” because it IS “like that”. I see it almost every time I visit. And it’s so important to keep stating this every time these topics come up – the small stuff, the casual little comments, the boorishness, the boys will be boys bullshit? That’s the stuff that allows sexism to take root and thrive. That’s the solid bedrock for a continuation of the ostracism of women from gaming.

So yeah. I only use BGG sparingly these days. I don’t really trust the ratings, and I hate a lot of the discussion there. There are good people there too, of course, but the community isn’t policed well enough. It feels like a boys club, and I hate anything that feels like that.

But wow. Yeah. Where was I? Games with flaws.


Banditos is flawed. It’s a game set in the 1980s, where the players have to drive into Mexico and pull off bank heists. It’s a game from a small company, so there are some terrible printing errors. The cards in the game have different coloured backs that barely look like they’re different colours. The money cards are misprinted. There’s an expansion for the game that doesn’t have any expansion rules inside.

The rules are horribly written. The game itself is very simple, but the rules make it seem like a slog. Having said that the game is simple, there are also a lot of places where you won’t be sure what you’re supposed to do. At those places you’ll have to house rule it and wing it.

But yet…

Here’s how it works. You have a character. The board is a map of the Mexican border. You have to drive from your home town into Mexico, hit some cities, pull off heists, and then get home safely with the money. Only when you’re home can you stash your cash. First player to hit the target total of cash wins. The cool thing is that you can commit crimes to get ahead in the game. Heists are criminal acts, sure. Stealing gas for your car is a criminal act too. And then there is STEALING CARDS FROM THE DISCARD PILE.

This little mechanic is what makes the game for me. At the start of your turn you can choose to take a card from the discard pile, making a roll to see if the theft is successful. Every attempt accumulates HEAT on your character, making committing further crimes more difficult. The further down the discard pile you want to dig for a card, the harder the roll. The more heat you have, the harder the roll. It’s a beautiful little mechanic.

The whole game is really about managing HEAT. When you pull off a heist, you need to total up all HEAT accumulated on your character, your vehicle and the town you’re currently in. Then you need to roll above it with a D12. If you’re successful, you need to speed away from the town. You might get caught speeding on an unlucky roll. Again, lots of HEAT might cause your car to be searched, losing you all your money and weapons.

There are Fortunate and Unfortunate Event cards that add a “take that!” element to the game. Just last night, when my girlfriend was driving back from Mexico with 20,000 pesos in her truck, I played a card that made some Judas Priest come on her truck radio – it caused her to speed. She had to make a roll and hope no cop spotted her. There are a lot of fun cards in the game. It’s just a fun game.

The theme works well for me. There’s a little bit of push-your-luck, a little bit of card play, some scary dice rolling, and it all helps deliver that feeling of criminality. The art style is lovely. When you’re pulling off a heist, and being hit with Unfortunate Events from other players, and you STILL manage to get away with the cash, it feels fantastic. Real “FUCK Y’ALL!” stuff. The characters are fun too. There’s a wrestler who never needs to carry weapons, such is his power. There’s a brothel madame who can take a girl with her to use as a “distraction” as she pulls off a heist. Just a cool little game. An old-school, slightly fucked up, fun board game.

I dunno. When you look on BGG, this game has a 5.7 rating. And that’s why BGG isn’t for me. It’s a cold site.

Flawed things matter. We can’t only champion design perfection, because other stories need told too.


I’ve chosen my NEW GAMERS, the ones I’ll be introducing to board games. I’ll be documenting the whole process. I haven’t asked them if they’re up for it yet. Imagine if they said no! We’ll find out next week.

Stay something!


  1. udernation says:


    Where would you suggest we look to find new games then? Where do you find them?

    • Jorum says:

      BGG is still reasonable place to see what’s out there and what’s new etc.
      But as Robert says, just don’t take pay too much attention to ratings.

    • mattthr says:

      Well there are plenty of other board game fan sites out there. My personal favourite (which I contribute to) is Fortress AT which aims to be more editorially-based than BGG but has plenty of news and community discussion.

      And I share a lot of Rob’s concerns, plus some of my own. I wrote about my issues with BGG at length a while ago. And since then things have got worse, if anything.

    • Solomon Grundy says:

      I had a similar realization about the “TOP 100” on BGG, that it didn’t necessarily overlap with what I think makes for a good time. I get a lot of ideas for new games to try by using their advanced search and then choosing mechanics that I find enjoyable, for instance games with “Betting/Wagering” and “Dice Rolling” that were published between 2010 and 2013… Yes, the reviews themselves are often best taken with a grain of salt, but it does help to see if a potential game has any “broken” mechanics that make it less fun over time…

    • Dorothy_Wildman says:

      my buddy’s aunt makes $63/hour on the laptop. She has been fired for 10 months but last month her paycheck was $17812 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on this site….

    • Ohmz says:

      I use BGG for inspiration, then I go to Amazon for the reviews of people who have actually bought the game.

      I know it’s probably not the best way to do it, but it works for me.

  2. meepmeep says:

    To be honest, “boobs for upvotes” is basically a description of today’s internet.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Which is why every time it happens we need to keep pointing at it and saying ‘this shit is fucked up’.

  3. Paladin says:


    If you’e not averse to having your eyes wander on the negative feedback your words might ignite in the minds of BGG users, I just started a discussion about that matter here: link to (though right now, it’s just a link to this article and an invitation to keep things civil).

  4. Jorum says:

    I find BGG very useful reference tool, and FAQs and nifty extra files and images, but I agree about other stuff.

    There is too much of a eurogame-centric snobbery where anything with a dice or plastic pieces (the horror!) is looked down on. And of course loud fanboy/anti-fanboys who will shout that entire games are broken and useless because the original used a different font or some shit.

    And the cleavage photo thing is just sad and kind of embarrassing for the entire gaming community.

    On the plus side maybe as more and more people come into board games through things like RPS and Shut up and Sit Down, BGG will get a less prissy.

    • Deano2099 says:

      It really does depend how you use it. I’ve not seen any of these issues (though won’t deny they exist if Rab says so) – but I only hang around the forums for actual games, to find out news, reviews, variants, clarifications, etc with the occasional look at the front page. I’ve never found it necessary to open a thread about how to keep girls away from gaming nights, or ever clicked on a thumbnail photo with more boobs than board to see the horrible comments.

      I’ll take Rab’s word for it that the ‘community’ there sucks, but it’s still a terrific resource for finding out about a game, either before you buy it or after you bought it. Maybe it’s just not so great for finding about about ‘gaming’.

      • AlKaPwn says:

        Calling the whole of the BGG community sexist is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. There are certainly a lot of upstanding fellows here on RPS but apparently people’s memory is short. Remember way back when, RPS reported on some issue that involved I think blizzard doing something stupid in regards to homosexuals. I can’t remember the specifics but what I do remember is that the comments section got to 27 pages long, was filled to the brim with the most vile, idiotic hateful filth, and was so bad that it even got it’s own post from the RPS staff letting them know how disappointed they were.

        Also remember the coverage on the kickstarter that was going to talk about sexism in videogames? All the filth that showed up there? I feel that someone on BGG could easily reference either of the comments in those articles and then go “Look at what a bunch of homophobic and sexist pigs those RPS fans are!” You’re always going to have those elements of idiocy anywhere you go.

  5. CletusVanDamme says:

    I found Board Game Geek immensely useful when returning to the hobby after a decade away. However, I’ve never personally been one for ratings myself so I never used that aspect of the site, and I agree with Rob in his assessment of the site in general. I did find it useful at the beginning for answering rules questions, finding some good variants and hearing about new releases but after being back in the hobby for a couple of years now I find myself using BGG less and less as I found other methods of filling these occasional needs.

    Just to return to my main point though, I do think BGG is valuable as a “springboard” into the hobby, for sure, and there’s a lot of value there outside the questionable community as well. I still check my subscriptions there every few weeks, as opposed to daily back when I began.

  6. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    BGG is absolutely fine for the most part. It’s an excellent resource. Of course I’m not going to ‘turn my back’ on the place because of the odd sexist thread. Jeez, I’d be turning my back on the whole internet if I stopped visiting every website that had a few people doing/saying stuff I didn’t agree with.

    I just ignore it and instead listen to the endless bunch of genuinely decent folk who inhabit that place and provide masses of useful info on boardgames and such things.


    • JehuGarroutte says:

      “And it’s so important to keep stating this every time these topics come up – the small stuff, the casual little comments, the boorishness, the boys will be boys bullshit? That’s the stuff that allows sexism to take root and thrive. That’s the solid bedrock for a continuation of the ostracism of women from gaming.”

      Ignoring a problem has never helped anything, ever.

      Also, it’s a little weird that you’re dropping judgement on people who can’t/won’t overlook noxious shit. It’s equally weird that you’re venerating your ability to overlook noxious shit. Turning a blind eye to wretched behavior isn’t something to be proud of, or something that should be expected, and to act like its either is only going to compound awfulness.

      • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

        To be fair BGG is actually quite tame and well-moderated as it is. Abusive posts get deleted, users can get banned, etc.

        Also, I’m not judging anyone.

        If a chunk of a userbase are sexist then a community-based forum/site will naturally replicate that (or it would heavily hint at it). The solution for those who can’t see through occasional crap to get to all the good stuff is to get together and make a heavily locked-down alternative site which offers the same benefits.

        But why should I disown an entire site because a few say stuff I roll my eyes at – when there’s endless examples on the same sight of people who clearly AREN’T sexist?

        If it was just a sexist blog-site for example, with the authors themselves writing dodgy articles then yes it’s a no-brainer – you move on. But on a collaborative, open-community forum where different demographics occupy the same patch of the internet, you have to focus your own usage of that site based on your own leanings.

        But I think that’s the internet in general. Especially anything open or community based.

        • mippy says:

          I see your point here, but there are a lot of websites I stopped visiting for this reason. Reddit being a good example. There are some really useful boards on there if you have specialist interests, but the bulk of the site is a libertarian boyzone and my blood-pressure needs lowering as it is.

        • Reapy says:

          Eh don’t have to defend yourself, bgg is one of my fav websites because it is the ultimate database and source for board games of all. The rating is good, because when you come down off risk and monopoly and need to start somewhere the top 100 is somewhere to look in the chaos.

          Anybody who then continues playing will learn to form their own opinion on stuff and won’t need the ratings as the end game, this is true for most video game playing people and their review sites that we use them as a guide knowing what we do about the games we like, works the same way with boardgames.

          I also wish rps would stop on the penis anger posts. Yes, bgg has juvenile upvoting on pictures, do you even know how old the up voters are before foaming at the mouth, what percentage of its traffic participates? 1000 people upvoted the linked image out of what how many people? Rps gets 2 million unique views, how many at bgg?

          How do you then justify moderating it? None of the women are nude, they wear shirts that most see walking around at night, so we rip it down because women’s upper breasts are offensive? Is that a better world, women should cover up least their bodies offend? They clean offensive comments, that is about as good as you can get.

  7. tengblad says:

    I find BoardGameGeek to be an excellent resource and there’s a lot of interesting conversation there, but yeah, I’ve noticed the sexism thing. While there are a few sexist threads here and there (“I don’t want girl to ruin my game nights!”) it’s definitely most obvious in the photo comments. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve checked out pictures of a game only to find the most up-voted one to be a picture of a girl playing the game with comments like ‘I wouldn’t be able to focus on the game with an opponent like that’ or ‘Look at those vast tracts of land’ and so on. It’s sad that such an attitude so rampant on the biggest web site dedicated to the hobby. I wish the moderators on BGG would do a better job of trying to cull this kind of behavior.

    • Reapy says:

      Men and women interactions can ruin a boys night style event, the same way a guy can wreck a girls night. Men and women act differently around the opposite gender, this is a fact,I don’t see why it is upsetting that a person who enjoys the guys night style of hang out while board gaming would be upset about this.

      Do we not open our eyes in life? I personally enjoy mixed gender company but when it’s mixed vs just guys the conversations are different, the topics and language is different, depending on the group and place it can be a negligible difference or an extreme difference but a difference their is.

      Board gaming is more akin to hanging out with friends and having something to do, a boys night with a girl in the mix can change everything, ESP if she’s single and attractive. If people can not agree with that, they aren’t paying attention.

      • mippy says:

        Boardgaming isn’t a ‘guys night out’ in my experience – though most people I know socialise in mixed groups because it’s 2013 an’that. The set up of your own social life is not an argument for sexist behaviour online, or proof that women should STFU and GTFO.

        I find the idea that boardgaming is an inherently male activity a bit of an odd one – a lot of people enjoy gaming with their partner for one. I’ve also rarely been the only female player at a game shop night.

        • Reapy says:

          I’m not saying bgg is all male at all, i find getting women to play boardgames much easier than getting men or women to play pc games. Usually the only sale is, hey let’s try this non monopoly game.

          My point is that if a person had a boys night game night they had been having for a year or so, and suddenly you are adding a girl to the mix, I can see why a person would say on no, a girl. It can change everything, or nothing, but I think it can be a real concern until the dynamic is observed, which is why I don’t think you can read a guys comment like that and assume he is a woman hater, he might just like his guys night.

          • Deano2099 says:

            That’s technically true, and the caricature of the single girl who joins the group to flirt with guys and cause drama does exist (I’ve seen it in WoW if not real life). But equally there are plenty of other personality traits that can ruin the group dynamic that can be present in either sex.

            Yes, adding a girl to an all-guy gaming group will change and possibly disrupt the dynamic, because adding anyone to an existing group will change and possibly disrupt the dynamic, regardless of gender.

  8. HopperUK says:

    The secondary reason I don’t go to BGG is that I find the layout ugly and incomprehensible when all I’m trying to do is find out what a game’s like, or how it plays. But yeah, mainly it’s all the ugly sexism.

  9. mcdanger says:

    Like with videogame culture, there’s also a lack of diversity in a lot of game representation. I pointed this out in the Zombicide forums (that the base game has 6 white heroes which I find odd for a game set in an urban environment), and the discussion was surprisingly tame but never really rose above your general I-don’t-know-how-to-talk-about-it-type of talk. The kickstarter bonus non-white characters are all essentialist versions of those characters where they are defined by their race rather than being cool characters that happen to be non-white. link to

    • randomnine says:

      Aye, it’s true.

      One special problem that bugs me with boardgames is, quite a few manuals refer to players as “he”. Sure, some have a tiny footnote about this language defying grammar to refer to both men and women, but compared to actually rewording it to refer to both men and women this still comes across as a big NOT FOR GIRLS sticker on every page.

      • Duke of Chutney says:

        this is an interesting issue. Ive read a few RPGs that have got round it by using They (Eclipse Phase for example), but very few games that use She (im pretty sure i have played a game that did use She, but i cannot remember what it was). Whilst i don’t think its a good thing, i suspect many folks writing these manuals are guys and just don’t realize.

        • Reapy says:

          Strange in my experience all the games I have purchased use she and he interchangeably in the rules, I notice this in particular because most often in writing he is the default pronoun, I thought in general board game rules were the best about using she as much as he.

          • Archonsod says:

            Yeah, I remember the original Magic : The Gathering rules used both a male and female player in their examples (and I suspect utilised female pronouns as much as male outside of them), but then come to that the same was true of D&D.

            Only times I’ve really seen one default to he tend to be the more thematic games, and they’re usually written more towards the character than the player as such, so it’s kinda understandable.

        • randomnine says:

          My favourite pronoun when I’m writing rules is “you”.

          Anyway, back on character diversity, it’s been occurring to me lately that games should ideally strive to represent the diversity of the group playing them, not the diversity of society. For example, say you’ve got a four-player board game with four characters: one white guy, one hispanic guy, one black guy, one white woman. Given all the fantasy/historical board games which don’t have women or black people, that’s practically progressive.

          Say a black woman buys this game and decides to play it with her friends. It’s quite possible that a group of four black women sit down to play this game. Representation’s gonna suck.

          Now obviously there’s only so much you can do with a limited character set, and adding more characters takes design time and adds costs. Still, it seems to me a useful thought experiment, especially when a game’s already shipping with significantly more characters than players.

      • mippy says:

        Yeah, I might be a humourless feminazi and all, but this bugged me even as a child. I appreciate it when instructions switch around their pronouns and examples a bit. It’s nice.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          I remember 2nd edition D&D Players manual had a bit at the front where they explain that they use he throughout and why, that seemed OK to me but I was much younger back then too, still under the influence of peer pressure and not wanting to alienate my entirely male playgroup over something which seemed unimportant.

          These days though, it really is nice, in an industry which more than any other, except books, provides equally for men and women manages to produce a manual which doesn’t just blanket the pages with he and hims – but ultimately it’s unimportant to me and certainly not something which causes offence. In fact I get closest to offence when they use exclusively she and her, it seems too much like point scoring.

  10. Duke of Chutney says:

    I agree. Unless you like lightweight games or calculative euros the geek doesn’t have much to offer in terms of gaming critique or advice. Useful database though, and if your a grognard the war games subforum is significantly better than the turd that is Consimworld.

    It is unfortunate that the main internet herald of our hobby is so discriminate, and inaccessible etc etc.

    luckily there is the Fortress link to

  11. Sheng-ji says:

    Can someone explain to me what the difference between Euro-games and Ameritrash actually is, why they seem to have a geographical reference in the names, why there is such amnosity between supporters of the camps, why the names themselves seem to infer one is much superior to the other and why it’s not possible to have a game which is both a good eurogame and a good ameritrash?

    • Matt Thrower says:

      The differences are very hard to pin down. Effectively “European” design focusses on non-random games with low player interaction, simple rules and short play times whereas “American” design focusses on narrative, drama, direct conflict and communicating a theme through the mechanics.

      The names originate in two design schools. American designs grew out of the wargame hobby, via dungeons and dragons and are thus very combat focussed. European designs are founded from the family gaming market in Germany, where depictions of war are frowned on.

      The debate is now out of date, as the majority of modern designs (and certainly most of the best ones) now incorporate elements of both schools.

      The animosity that goes with it is similarly outdated. It’s founded in the fact that BGG, the central web resource for board games, was unashamedly Euro-biased. People who like American designs were routinely slapped down in the forums. When they eventually reached enough of a critical mass to stick up for themselves, their dissenting opinions were perceived by a minority of BGG users to be “negative”, spoiling the cosy communality of the site. A few people still haven’t gotten over themselves for these perceived insults.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Thankyou, ever so much – that’s cleared up a lot of questions I’ve had since I first heard those terms being used on shut up and sit down! I’m one of these people who loved board games in my youth, abandoned all hobbies to fit in with schoolyard peers but am now rediscovering things like board gaming. Can’t say I’ve had much exposure to the community at BBG, but it’s rules forums for each game are invaluable!

        • Matt Thrower says:

          You’re very welcome.

          I forgot to say that the “trash” bit in “Ameritrash” got adopted as a bit of self-defensive humour: fans were being told by the Euro-crowd their games were “trash”, so the word was claimed as a positive. And because “Amerigames” is a bit of a mouthful.

          Sadly, while it served a purpose then, now it just confuses people because it has no meaning outside of that particular BGG debate. I honestly think it’s about time the term was quietly retired. But a lot of people have become very attached to it.

  12. mippy says:

    My first attempt got eaten, so…

    I think this is partly a geek hobby issue, rather than a BGG issue. Things that tend toward the nerdy often have the same offputting things in common – discourse consisiting of comedy quotes and sarky one-upmanship, dismissal of non right-brain types, and treating women as a novelty. It could be social awkwardness, it could be a strange form of institutional sexism, who knows.

    That said, the threads on BGG which say ‘Hey, we had 36 women at our games night!’ and then proceed to post photos of all 36 women, looking increasingly awkward, in an attempt to prove such specimens exist in the wild…those are particularly egregious. I have a hard enough time convincing my colleagues that this is a fun hobby and only as geeky as you want it to be unless you get really into Magic…but given that this is the main website for this hobby – the one I should be able to direct people to when they say ‘What, like Monopoly and stuff?’ – it’s just depressing to see the casual sexism there. I’ve never felt patronised or sidelined as a female player at games nights, and I’d love to get more people I know involved as it’s a brilliant way to spend an evening with beers and friends. But if someone who’d never visited a FLGS came across the site, they’d expect it to be inhospitable at best. And this is sad.

    Also, the site is great once you know your way around, but holy hell is that front page offputting.

    • NathanH says:

      Well, it seems to me that sexism stuff is a property of the internet in general. It’s not obvious to me that geeky areas such as video gaming and board gaming tend to have worse communities for it. Youtube comments tend to be pretty bad. Soccer forums tend to be pretty bad. My impression is that it’s a property of the internet, or even just a property of people.

      • mippy says:

        I think what you’re referring to here is ‘patriarchy’ :)

        No, I agree it exists a lot online. Though I always thought the provocative comments on YouTube were a 4Chan thing – particularly the liberal use of the N-word. Soccer is a pretty macho world as well (it’s not a surprise there’s only been one openly-gay footballer, for example). However, in a hobby community, it does get incredibly depressing to come to a forum as a female and see constantly the message ‘this is not for you’ between the lines. I don’t like the argument that we should just put up with it because it’s the status quo, and then wonder why it puts people off joining in.

        • NathanH says:

          I didn’t intend to imply I thought we should just live with it. I think we should endeavour to do things about it where we can. Although it can be difficult to determine where to draw the lines. Obviously explicitly offensive things can be dealt with. There does come a point though where I guess you have to say that if a particular community is implicitly unwelcoming to a certain group, in that the members of the group are treated properly and respectfully but the atmosphere is not appealing to them, well maybe you just have to accept that’s the atmosphere of the community.

          For example, I play amateur chess in England, which is mostly men and presumably a rather unappealing atmosphere for women. But female players tend to be treated respectfully and typically there is no noticeable anti-woman sentiments (some people might tease each other about being beaten by girls, but that is generally lighthearted and fairly innocent). Changing the atmosphere to being much more appealing to women would, I think, require a big shift and it’s not clear to me that we are morally obliged to make that shift.

          The internet, however, is far from the state where it is generally respectful to women.

          Do you have any experience of what things are like in female-dominated internet areas? I have never been in such a community, so I have no idea about how things work on “the other side”.

        • Archonsod says:

          To be honest I think it’s because the people who tend to be most prolific on such sites are barely beyond the age where they considered girls to be icky.

  13. Lamers says:

    Oh wow, there is sexism on the internet? I’d better notify the Pulitzer committee. . . Thank god it’s safe in the world of PC gaming where there has never been sexism o.O

    Onwards though, lets talk about your thoughts that “See, I know that Lists are bad. Rankings and scores and lists are always bad.” So your thought is to never have people rate games? Yeah, that’ll be handy. I don’t have infinite time to look at games, so if all my friends, and all the users there rate a game low, I usually don’t pay it as much attention. I may be missing a gem, but probably not, and I don’t have time to sort through the crap. Secondly rankings are fun, besides the few idiots who take them too seriously (You?).

    Oh my god, the game style you like is typically rated low? It must be that the community is biased and is pulling together to destroy my favorite gaming style. Or maybe the fact is that most people don’t like that type of game. And if you do that’s great. You’ll notice that if a million people rate the game poorly, it doesn’t effect how much you enjoy it. Hopefully you will be able to play it still without crying that someone else on the internet doesn’t like it.

    I recognize that I’m flying of the handle, but I’m sick of people getting whiny about the ranking system. It’s not like its obligatory anyways. It is quite easy to not look at, or care about the ratings. The problem is that when people see the rankings, they should think

    “Oh, that’s interesting, I see I disagree with the majority on several games, and agree with them others”,

    but they think “Oh look, this is clearly a terrible system, because it doesn’t perfectly match my own opinions, and while there could be a few crazies out there, the majority of everyone will agree exactly with me. Better cry about this, and then go call the mental ward about that friend I made who didn’t like my favorite food, cause clearly he is mad.” And this article was just so stupid. All ranking systems are flawed, some are useful. And this is one of the useful ones. So if you have a better idea, lets hear it. But the ratingless garbage you proposed is pretty terrible.

    • mippy says:

      Um, many people dislike the sexism in PC gaming. It’s why I tend to visit this site (which does a bloody good job of making gaming writing accessible and funny without me wanting to claw my eyes out) over places like Eurogamer. I also know many women who prefer gaming via Steam to X-Box servers because the casual sexism/racism/homophobia can be filtered out much more easily.

    • TimEatsApples says:

      Yeah, RPS would be terrible garbage without its rating system.

    • Emeraude says:

      The problem I have with rankings and scores: we have what should be qualitative evaluations using a quantitative, vertical scale, for what for the most part should use a horizontal one.

      Obviously it’s much easier to produce, but with tags nowadays, I’m not certain it’s even easier to parse.

    • Deano2099 says:

      The problem is you vote stuff down as well as up, which seems crazy. It would work in theory if people only rated games they owned (after all, if you hate Ameritrash, you’re not going to go buy the new version of Descent, so it’s just rated by fans) but board gaming is odd as you can play it for a few hours at a games night, decide you don’t like it (as you expected) and rate it down. Or not even play it and still vote.

      So it becomes, as you say, a list of games that the most people like.

      I’d love to see a bit more clever use of the ratings, that collorated your rating with how you rated other games and weighted them accordingly. The most useful feature would be to pick a game you like, and then get a rated list of all other games using only scores from other people who also liked the game you liked.

      Or even better take your rankings for the games you own, get the rankings from all other people that rated those games, weight them accordingly (so every time you agreed with someone’s ranking on one game, the scores for the other games they ranked are ranked higher in your list, and vice-versa) and give you a personalised Top 100.

      • Archonsod says:

        The problem with only allowing fans to rate the game is that you’re going to get a biased result.

        Given the wealth of professional reviewers out there on places like YouTube though I’ve never felt the need to look at the top 100 lists. Admittedly, after a lifetime of dealing with end-users I have a natural distrust of those types of community voting. I still can’t quite shake the idea that the people doing it have a tendency to drool into their keyboard and mash random buttons in the hope it will provide them with a piece of cheese.

        • Llewyn says:

          The problem with only allowing fans to rate the game is that you’re going to get a biased result.

          Yes, that’s the whole point of that suggestion. A ‘biased’ result is the strength of that system – it indicates how highly rated a game is by those who expected to like it.

          Of course it’s not actually a biased result and it’s not actually voting by fans; those are your negative terms. It would be a voting by a self-selecting group based largely on genre preferences, which is far more relevant. In PC gaming terms, if you’re into flight sims do you care what FIFA or COD players think of a new one, or are you more interested in what other flight sim fans think of it?

  14. Emeraude says:

    Given the current sexism discussion, can’t resist pointing you toward that project from the silly people of /tg:

    link to

  15. Severian says:

    I’ll start by saying I’m a daily BGG visitor – maybe an addict – and yet I very much agree with Robert that you shouldn’t pay attention to those BGG rankings. I’ll even add that you shouldn’t pay too much attention to the reviews posted on BGG, since most people who post reviews are doing so because they love a game. As such, you don’t see enough negative (or what I might call, “critical”) reviews there. People should use BGG to discover new games they haven’t heard of, to find posted rules, FAQ’s, variants, scenarios, etc. It’s an amazing resource. I love the video reviews, since you really get to see how a game is played.

    But I think Rob cites a couple great examples here to make his point. The Space Hulk incident was a hilariously obvious commentary on how BGGers ruin the value of their own ranking system. And this Banditos game sounds awesome, and I’ve never heard of it before now. There are some real gems out there, that are only hidden deep within the black hole of BGG.

  16. Jim Dandy says:

    “And it’s so important to keep stating this every time these topics come up – the small stuff, the casual little comments, the boorishness, the boys will be boys bullshit? That’s the stuff that allows sexism to take root and thrive.”

    “The characters are fun too…There’s a brothel madame who can take a girl with her to use as a “distraction” as she pulls off a heist. Just a cool little game.”

    Did I miss some kind of ironic nuance here? Because I’m a little more confused than usual.

    • Deano2099 says:

      That sexism is complicated and hard to pin down? I find it happens a fair bit with feminist men (and I absolutely include myself in this) – we’re very much anti what we see as sexism, and don’t understand how others could possibly think such things aren’t sexist. Then we say and do stuff that to other people is clearly sexist but we can’t see the problem with it.

      • Jim Dandy says:

        Hell, humans are complicated and hard to pin down. Those two chunks of text coming from the same article seems like a pretty chasmic disconnect to me. As I said, maybe I just read it wrong.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      No, Jim. You haven’t missed it. There’s no irony and its a staple of this website overall hypocritical attitude towards sexism in the context of games. And you will have too all sorts of apologists trying to make sense of all the hypocrisy.

      You should have seen reviews on certain past games in here. Say, 2 years and back. Compare that to some of the same writers now calling everyone a “misogynist”, “MRA Activist”, “gobshit apologist”, or simply a chauvinist. It’s just that they seen the light, and because of that everyone suddenly turned evil, including those of of us who have been fighting the damn thing way before they put it inside their pants and started treating women with more dignity on RPS.

      RPS is not place to call out on other websites. They have an history of misogyny like everyone else. And today, behind this whole white knighting, they still fail to be anything close to a social reference. On mysogyny and many other issues, I must add.

      • Jim Dandy says:

        As the great Siszlak would say: wha-a-a?

        Are the spittle-flecked diatribes really necessary? RPS is a bastion of wit and sensibility, an opinion which isn’t altered by the occasional moment of self-skewering idiocy. We all have them, you know.

        • Mario Figueiredo says:

          When you are constantly being called all manner of expletives, some of them actually hinting that you are hiding a male agenda, simply because you support a different approach to how this problem should be tackled that doesn’t involve calling everyone a misogynist? Yes. It does get to a point that you embrace the exact same diatribe you are facing every time this issue is brought up.

          This isn’t a new debate, you know. It didn’t start just now. And all those words I put inside parenthesis are actual quotes from RPS writers.

    • qwertymartin says:

      I just scrolled through Robert’s Twitter and found a far higher density of icky comments than I ever come across reading BGG.

      • Deano2099 says:

        Yeah Rab’s Twitter does tend to swing between bemoaning sexism and fetishising girls in knee-high socks. But as I said earlier, it just demonstrates how complicated the whole issue is. I wouldn’t have a go at him for it, because at least he’s trying.

    • sightseemc says:

      You’re dead on. I’m a long-time Rab fan, but…jesus, that was the biggest facepalm moment I may have seen on this site.

    • Tukuturi says:

      You are confusing sex with sexism. Women have sex. Women enjoy sex. Some people find women sexy. This is not inherently sexist.

      • Jim Dandy says:

        No we’re not, Tukuturi. The article rails against casual sexism, then describes the ability to use a prostitute like a meat-decoy as a ‘fun’ feature of this ‘cool’ board game.

        I can’t see how hookers as cop-bait is even slightly sexy. If you’re titillated by that concept, I’d suggest you have one or two issues that might need addressing.

        • Tukuturi says:

          Can you explain to me why this is sexist?

          edit: I’m not baiting. I’m genuinely curious. I am a social scientist, and though it isn’t my research focus I’ve read a fair bit of third wave feminism and gender theory. The comments about sexism that I frequently see on this site seem to be based in a very different definition of sexism/genderism than the one I am familiar with. I’d like to know how you are defining and identifying sexism.

          • Jim Dandy says:

            Tuk’ (if I may be so familiar), you seem to be saying that reducing a person to the role, essentially, of a kind of specialised anti-cop ammunition with tits is a bit sexy and therefore ferpectly OK. There’s a difference between liking sex/sexiness and the kind of literal objectification Rab’s describing with such apparent blitheness. It’s that blitheness that’s really the issue, especially when the context is one of concern about unnecessary or inappropriate sexualisation. How are meat-decoys OK in the same context that Busen Memo isn’t?

          • Tukuturi says:

            So you think it’s sexist because Rab only chose to point out the female character who is sexualized. You’re criticizing what you perceive to be male gaze, which you in turn perceive to be sexist. I disagree.

            One could argue that the madame and prostitute characters are powerful agents with an active role to play in the game. This is very different from the passive depictions of women that have reinforced patriarchy in much of Western history. For instance, if Rab only chose to mention a female character as she related passively to some male agent, I would see that as sexist and feel the need to point it out. As it is, it seems like people are jerking knees in response to female sexuality, which has become all too common in these comments.

          • Jim Dandy says:

            Good grief, Tuk’, where do I begin? A word of advice – try responding to the points raised. So far your responses have amounted to “what you’re really saying is sexyness is sexist and Rab is sexist”, which I’m really, really not. At all. And it’d be nice if you could avoid the overweening condescension.

            You said it clearly in your reply to sightsee: “The only point I see being made in these comments, repeatedly, is that male depictions of female sexuality are sexist.’

            The problem is that I haven’t made that point, or anything remotely resembling it. What really gets my goat is that I actually agree that honest (or dishonest) depictions of sexuality are an artist’s prerogative. There are many differences between the work of, say, Giovanna Casotto and Tom Sutton, but those differences are extrinsic; not related to ‘value’ or ‘validity’ (don’t click through if graphic sauciness offends).

            But that’s not the freaking issue here.

            You said: “One could argue that the madame and prostitute characters are powerful agents with an active role to play in the game.” You’re failing to make the very important distinction that the prostitute is not a character at all. The prostitute is a tool to be used by a character. She’s a deployable asset just like the wrestler’s toughness. An ‘it’.

            Functionally, the hooker resembles the animal weapons in Stranger’s Wrath. Would you be unperturbed by a video game weapon comprised of a voiceless whore strapped to a confining armature who (and I use the word ‘who’ loosely) chews up enemies with a ravening and capacious vagina dentata?

            This is all disregarding the way this game (and the industry as a whole) tends to present female characters using the tired virgin/mother/whore cliché. With a brothel madam you get a twofer – mother and whore. A female character could be, say, a high-school chemistry teacher, but I guess there’s no potential for an interesting story there…

            If you’d do me the courtesy of answering a previously ignored question: in what context is Busen Memo more (or less) offensive than meat-decoy whores?

            (edited for various errors and ugliness-minimising)

          • Tukuturi says:

            There’s no need to be offended. I asked you what you thought was sexist about Rab’s post. You responded. I summarized your response to make sure I understood correctly. Judging by the bile that you came back with, I guess I didn’t.

            I’ve never seen Busen Memo, and I don’t think, based on Rab’s brief description, that the prostitute sounds like a “meat decoy.” You might want to reign in the hyperbole.

            edit: I googled Busen Memo. It looks like it is nothing more than some pictures of tits. I don’t find that particularly sexist either. I was going to google the other game you mentioned, but I’ve got to get some sleep.

          • Jim Dandy says:


            There’s no bile mate, just exasperation coupled with my default state of sarcastic peevishness. I apologise if you feel attacked, I’ve clearly failed to communicate the intended tone. (I get this in regular conversations as well – I think it’s my face)

            The description of the hooker’s role is brief but quite clear – she’s an attribute of the brothel madam character which the madam can use to distract the cops. As far as I can tell, this is the sole function of the prostitute – not a character, but quite literally a meat-decoy. Maybe your definitions of ‘meat’ and ‘decoy’ are different to mine…

            As for Busen Memo: you (or I, thanks for asking) may not find it troublesome, but Rab chose to use it as an illustration of BGG’s general perfidy. I can’t see why it’s any worse than deployable hookers, but Rab seems to think it is. This is the point I’ve been labouring, and (from my reading of your posts) a point you seem to have missed.

          • Jim Dandy says:

            To clarify. Your statement: “As an aside, lots of women like women too. Even some transwomen and andros like women. Naked. Sexually” is really very condescending, and kind of passive-aggressive. It implies that the addressee is not aware of these things, which in turn implies a grotesque level of ignorance. If I’ve read it wrongly, maybe you could clarify its meaning. You seem surprised that statements like that would encourage a robust (or even tetchy) response, which I find equally surprising.

  17. qwertymartin says:

    Banditos has 34 ratings. You could increase its rating to 5.8 right now by logging on and rating it a 10 :)

  18. Tukuturi says:

    I started using BoardGameGeek because people were organizing online Android: Netrunner tournaments there. I have never delved any deeper into the site because the design is just too bad. From the eye gouging color scheme to the messy layout to the fact that it’s generally difficult to navigate. I can’t even figure out how to get to the casual sexism, much less be offended by it.

    Banditos sounds like it would be fun with some good tequila. Maybe you could mod in drinking game type rules? Fail a roll, take a shot for every point of heat on you.

  19. JoeX111 says:

    We need more heist-themed board games.

  20. Baines says:

    I use BGG scores and reviews about the same way that I use Metacritic or any site’s user reviews.

    If I’m curious about a game, I look to see what different people are saying. I’ll check several reviews from both ends of the spectrum as well as the middle, because the edge cases will draw attention to issues as well as positives that the moderate middle won’t detail.

    With BGG, I generally read a play session or two. But sometimes I’ll click on the “Personal Comments” section and read random bits from throughout the ratings. For the same reason, I tried to put explanations for the ratings that I gave games, not just leaving it blank or saying “bad game”. Admittedly, I’ve fallen out of board gaming for the last several years (the last game I rated was in 2007), and my BGG scores were generally low because I tended to most remember poor experiences the best.

  21. sightseemc says:

    Florence, really. If the madam and “girl as a distraction” was a trick to see who was paying attention, then OK, I guess. But otherwise, well…look.

    I get that straight men like women, and that even those of us who try to make up for the more repulsive of our brethren do, in fact, like to look at women in a sexualized context sometimes. But if you’re decrying the blatant sexism and condescension of a website and then post your own praise of a game with its own condescending elements (and don’t get me started on why a movie about robbing Mexican banks might potentially have troubling ethnic aspects in it), you’re gonna look, at best, unfocused.

    • Tukuturi says:

      Except that sexualization is not inherently sexist. If all the female characters were prostitutes and the male characters were some positive gender stereotype, you might make this argument. If the female characters were less developed than the male characters, you might make this argument. You’ve really only been presented with the fact that the game contains a madame and a prostitute, which isn’t sexist in and of itself.

      As an aside, lots of women like women too. Even some transwomen and andros like women. Naked. Sexually.

      • sightseemc says:

        Actually Tukuturi, I was pointing out that the ONLY female character Rob finds interesting enough to discuss (whether there are any others or not) is a madam with a “girl” prostitute. He’s complaining about casual male sexism and then praising a game where he finds only a particularly sexualized female character worth mentioning. Sex and sexualization are not the same

        Also, since his rant on BGG is about make chauvinism, my post is about male desire, mainly heterosexual male desire. I noticed by looking through the responses here your ability to miss the point repeatedly is phenomenal.

        • Tukuturi says:

          The only point I see being made in these comments, repeatedly, is that male depictions of female sexuality are sexist. The point that I make in response, repeatedly, is that it isn’t. I’m aware of Laura Mulvey’s work and the concept of male gaze, which is the platform from which most of these posts seem to be decrying sexism. I disagree. There’s a difference between missing the point and disagreeing with its underlying premise.

          There appears to be a big cultural divide between the way I view sex and sexism and the way a lot of the folks on RPS view them. Is this a US / UK thing or just an internet activism thing?

  22. Jason Lutes says:

    “Flawed things matter.” Thank you for that, Robert. I couldn’t agree more.

  23. virre says:

    1) Yes BGG is extremly sexist in much. That don’t mean all users are sexist, and the way to beat away sexism is not to run away from it but confront sexist behaviour. And many users to react and comment on it, (although a few just get a microbadge)

    2) The BGG community is big enough to choice away from takeing part where the sexism is extreme.

    3) Wait, is Twilight Struggle a game with out luck now? It’s on on the list, but I agree that the general ranking is flawed in favour of boring euro-style games. Of course there is a try to solve this with the categorys rankings.

  24. Groove says:

    I agree and disagree. Obviously people put too much stock into lists and numeric reviews, that’s a general thing. However, almost every game I own is in the BGG top 100, along with every game that I really want.

    BGG do have some discrimination against randomness and general Ameritrash, but there’s plenty of Amerigames in the top 100, and I can only agree on excessive randomness. I’m happier to have some dice rolls and some card drawing to add uncertain results, but some games rely too much on luck and I wouldn’t rate them highly either.

    As an example of both, I love to bust out Last Night on Earth. It’s got loads of randomness, hasn’t rated highly and isn’t in the top 100. But then I wouldn’t rate it much higher than they do. It’s great fun, but the mechanics are rough and ready and if you want a serious game you really need to look elsewhere. I think it’s a great time for everyone, but if I overplay it (really more than once a month) then I’ll get so annoyed at the mechanics screwing people that it loses all that fun.

    P.S. On LNoE, anyone interested should buy the Timber Peak expandalone. It seems more balanced so far, plus the addition of FIRE is the best thing that’s ever happened to it. I think FIRE did as many wounds to my zombies as it did to the heroes, but that doesn’t matter at all when you’re rolling to see how much of the board will ignite this turn. Every FIRE phase I literally threw my arms up in the air like I was on the world’s most flammable rollercoaster.

  25. AndrewRogue says:


    The sexism one is fair mark, although I think, in the face of MANY communities I’ve been a part of, overblown. That is a problem with the entire geek (and I mean that in more than the BGG sense) community. I think, if you actually looked around, you’d be hard pressed to find a large geek community where it doesn’t crop up in a significant form.

    That doesn’t mean we should ignore the problem, of course. People should stop being prats, period. I just feel it is worth mentioning that it isn’t like BGG is particularly unique (or anywhere even close to particularly bad) in this regard.

    I’d also like to point out that the “And then there’s the “WHAT GAME WOULD EVEN MY LITTLE LADY LIKE?” style threads.” comment feels fairly out of line. In almost every circumstance I’ve seen, the question is posed in exactly the way you’d expect: my SO is not a big gamer/has very specific tastes, what do you think they’d like?

    That’s a fair question, in my opinion.

    There is indeed a bit of luck snobbery. It happens. Everyone has their own personal biases that creep into their reviews, and communities tend to group these people together. In turn, I’d point out that we have… hmmm.

    Eclipse, Android: Netrunner, Dominion, Race for the Galaxy, Castles of Burgandy, Tigris and Euphrates, Summoner Wars, Twilight Imperium, Chaos in the Old World, BLOOD BOWL, etc in the top 100. All games which have strong currents of luck running through them. So it isn’t like this particular bias prevents games from scoring well. There is just an outspoken potion of the community that dislikes strong luck elements.

    The Space Hulk incident. Yes, there is a danger of this sort of BS in any community with user generated rankings, since it is the easiest form of backlash (see Metacritic’s user scores for Mass Effect 3 and DmC). At the same time, however, aggregate rankings tend to balance themselves out.

    Looking at Space Hulk right now, the game is sitting pretty at #83 with an average score of ~7. More than anything, I’d find that more indicative of the fact that, on the whole, the system works.

    Honestly, his whole approach to the ranking system kind of irks me. Maybe it just comes with experience, but the thing about review sites is that there are two big tricks to using them.

    1. Learn how they rate. Scales vary wildly between review sites. Video games, for example, have this big problem where anything less then a 7 is considered OMG THE WORST SHIT EVER. Which is silly, because why would you even have a 10 point scale if only 3 points on it are relevant?

    BGG swings the opposite way and has surprisingly low rankings, with the #1 game on it clocking in at ~8 and many what I’d call “really good games” clocking in at ~7.

    The list seems to even out a bit around the mid-6s and start behaving about how I’d expect on a real 10 point scale: things in the 5-6 range are okay. They can be fun! They can be beloved! But they are problematically flawed.

    In fact, his description of the game actually inclines me to believe it deserves a much lower score then it is actually showing. Fun is fun, but seriously? That sounds like a LOT of screwing up there.

    So again, it seems to me that the system is, on the whole, working. The game is “okay.”

    2. Numbers are there to be a barometer. If you want the whole picture, READ.

    Seriously. It annoys me when people only look at numbers, since the only real thing they can do is give you a general impression of what people think of the game. What’s good about it? What’s bad about it? What could swing either way? The only way to really learn about that is to actually read what people wrote on the game.

    Numbers are not the end-all, be-all, especially since there are definite elements of subjectivity to it. What works for one person might not work for another. You use the numbers to get an idea of how people as a whole feel about the item, then you read to figure out why and form your opinions from there.

    I dunno. There seems to be this notable misapprehension about reviewing in society and that a LOT of people have trouble learning to use them correctly.

  26. Pentegarn says:

    Dear sir, you’re right, those BGG users sure are sexist.


    Lara Croft
    The DoA series
    The Custer’s Revenge game
    Those scantily clad ladies at the E3 show every year

    • Guvornator says:

      Just because those things are sexist, doesn’t mean BBG isn’t.

      • Pentegarn says:

        Since you just missed the point, I will just shove it in your face for you. I think it is rich that a guy on a PC gaming site (i.e. video games) is leveling a sexism accusation against anyone

        EDIT: Not to mention, the things he mentions as being sexist are mild in comparison to what i mention, making it even worse. There’s no such thread as “What game will the little lady like” as though we just walked into the middle of a John Wayne movie, there are threads like “what game would my non gamer wife/husband/SO like” but that is not sexist. Those pictures he mentions are also a silly example as those are gamer women who dressed that way by choice (in one of his examples the woman in question was clearly posing for the pic) and while some might demand equal time, I have yet to see a shirtless beefcake playing a boardgame in public, yet I have seen plenty of the former. It is less about sexism and more about public availability in that case. Regarding the Busen Memo thing, that is more of a running gag about a game no serious gamer thinks should exist, they post it to be silly, ironic, or to just remind everyone that yes, this happened.

  27. rabid_schnauzer says:

    The BGG rating system is horribly horribly flawed in at least the following ways

    1. The dummy votes they use to prevent schilling severely penalize games that don’t go through distributors.

    2. The “shiny and new” factor of the internet severely penalizes games that weren’t published within the past 5-10 years

    3. The listing of games an additional time for each edition penalizes games that release revised editons and rewards those which release expansions.

    BUT even if you fixed all those, you’d be left with a free-to-vote, free-to-register system that drives sales in a nerd heavy industry — It’s only a matter of time before such a system attracts vote-bots smart enough to defeat their anti-schilling.