I recently played an older game I had not played in a while. It was Monty's Gamble (MG), a game very similar (if not identical system-wise) to Breakout Normandy (BKN).
After I played MG, I recalled the previous times I had played it. MG is a good looking game on an interesting topic with a fun game system. BKN is a good looking game on an interesting topic with a fun game system. I give MG a very enthusiastic rating of 8. I give BKN a very enthusiastic rating of 10. Wait, you said these games share a nearly identical system. How can one rate an 8 while the other is a full two points higher. And on a 10 point scale, that is significant.
So while on a recent road trip to one of the Husqvarna plants in South Carolina, I gave this a little thought. I have given ratings to many of the games I currently own. These tend to be a lot of 7's and 8's with a few 9's and very few 10's. There are a few 6 ratings but generally if I rate a game 5 or less, out it goes. These ratings are purely subjective and I've never really given a lot of thought to what might make up the ratings.
So while driving through South Carolina, I made an attempt to quantify an objective rating system. It would be so many points for this feature, so many for that - add up the points and voila, there is the rating. I even managed to come up with a few models that pretty well matched what my subjective ratings are.
But ultimately, my efforts failed, for two main reasons. First, the scale slides and is not fixed. Second, it still comes down to a healthy dose of subjective rating. Allow me to explain. I tried to create a structure to assign points to three main areas - fun factor, theme and graphical presentation. I came up with a 5-3-2 scale for this. So in the MG vs BKN example, BKN is a 5-3-2, whereas MG is only a 4-2-2. The game isn't quite as fun and the them of Market-Garden is not as interesting to me as D-Day, the BKN theme. So this example worked, but as I started to think of other games to rate, the system breaks down. Is theme really worth 30% of the full rating? Is a pretty game worth 20% more than an ugly one?