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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past» Forums » General

Subject: First review from Geek and Sundry is out rss

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Mario Martinez
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And it sounds as if it's a winner: http://geekandsundry.com/the-incredible-tmnt-board-game-youv...
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Geoff ...
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Sounds like marketing rhetoric to me. No critical analysis, no real detail, hell, he doesn't even discuss (for example) components - in a TMNT game filled with miniatures. He glosses over the analysis paralysis problems which makes me wonder if it's said in passing to lend the review some credibility.

Thank you for posting OP, just a shame the write up reads like a paid review that is not very informative.

How did he even get ahold of a Kickstarter works pledge to review?

By the way I do have high hopes for the game (Kevin Wilson + TMNT ffs!).
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Charlie Theel is a long-time BGG member and great reviewer. He tends to find and emphasise the positive elements in his reviews, so it might read overly flattering or enthusiastic to some but I would never call it dishonest.

IDW sent him the one review copy they had to spare in the first small shipment they received. More will be going out to reviewers now this next shipment has reached them.

I imagine if he were just writing it up for BGG, he'd go a lot more in-depth but G&S probably wanted something as brief as possible. You can find further thoughts from him on Twitter (@CharlieTheel) where he was sharing photos and answering questions, or just try contact him yourself if you want to know more.

You can see his list of previous reviews here.
Reviews and Articles by Charlie Theel
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Stuart Pogacic
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I must admit, with the amount of actual detail he writes about I could have written it and I don't have the game in front of me. I have read his twitter so I have seen the miniatures but this review does feel very.... Um mundane and not very informative from info we already knew about. Im a little let down really as I wanted a good read but now they are hitting tables we will have better reviews with more depth coming soon hopefully to wet my appetite while us Europeans wait that little bit longer :-)
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Charlie Theel
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I apologize for those disappointed, but I wrote and re-wrote that review several times. Max word count at Geek & Sundry is 1,000 and it's extremely difficult to review a game of that size within that scope. The components are great but I felt wasting a precious paragraph on that was not as important. I shared what felt like the minimum information needed to back up some points I was trying to make (how it feels to play the game, the asymmetry, what makes it different).

I think dedicating an entire paragraph to the AP issue and talking briefly about how the overhead of all the terrain/map elements can be overwhelming for newbies was more than fair, given my limitations.

That's my honest opinion, not a paid review (I've never received money for reviews/previews in three years of reviewing). I did receive a copy of the game from IDW for review, but I would not have given it a positive review if I didn't in fact enjoy the game that much. Could there be some bias in there from receiving a free copy? Maybe. I tried like hell to fight that and I've given negative reviews to games I've received to review before. Most publishers are very professional and fine with a fair, honest review, even if it's negative.

After Nate Murray said he would send it to me I immediately began to worry, hoping the game would be solid. After playing through two turns in the first scenario I was really digging it and hoping my group would humor me and finish out the first comic. They wanted to keep playing and said hell no we were not stopping. We changed plans around the next day just to play through the second comic they loved it so much. One guy pre-ordered the thing.

I think a part of why it hit so hard for me and why I enjoyed it so much was low expectations. It really shocked me.

It's a great game. That's my honest opinion.

My collection turns over rapidly and even games I really enjoy aren't safe. TMNT is bolted down and going nowhere.
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I've got to say, a digital article having a word limit is so strange. Especially on a site that claims geek/nerd culture. Like, pretty sure we can read long things.
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Charlie Theel
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InkSplat wrote:
I've got to say, a digital article having a word limit is so strange. Especially on a site that claims geek/nerd culture. Like, pretty sure we can read long things.


Most sites of that nature are similar. The other place I write for is The Review Corner at Miniature Market. When we started our reviews were around 1200-1500 words for bigger releases. Readers complained that they were too long.

From my experience on BGG, people love the long reviews. Those get the most thumbs. My 2,000 word review of Fire in the Lake has nearly 200. What I've also realized is that almost no one actually reads an entire 2,000+ word review. Most people skim them or cut to the conclusion if its a review like Ender's.

People read the entire thing usually if it's 800-1000 words.

I'm not necessarily defending it as it's much easier for me to write a 1500 word review than a 1000 word one. But that's the reasoning that goes behind it.
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Charlie Theel
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Sorry to double post but these comments are bothering me. I think they're fair, but I'm always looking to improve so I take this to heart.

One issue I ran into was that the first scenario in the second comic has goals for the scenario that are incorrect. They were a mistaken copy and paste from the 1st comic initial scenario. It was easy enough to figure out what really should be the goal, but Kevin Wilson pointed this out to me and said IDW was going to provide an FAQ/Errata.

Overall it's a small thing and you will likely not replay that scenario for a long while since you will have 12+ to get through.

I was severely torn on whether to mention this but since the solution would be simple and every major game with a similar (or smaller) level of content has errata, I thought it wouldn't be worth axing something else for it. There were cool, awesome things about this game I didn't have room to talk about so it wasn't a one way street.

I guess, my point is that I don't take my work lightly. I try to offer critical analysis but I could certainly do better. If you look through my reviews there are times when I do this, although as HotHeart says I do tend to emphasize the positives of a game-mostly because I want to write about how it feels to play it. I usually write about games I really enjoy because I mostly spend time playing good games.
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Jerome Nowak

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charlest wrote:
Sorry to double post but these comments are bothering me. I think they're fair, but I'm always looking to improve so I take this to heart.

One issue I ran into was that the first scenario in the second comic has goals for the scenario that are incorrect. They were a mistaken copy and paste from the 1st comic initial scenario. It was easy enough to figure out what really should be the goal, but Kevin Wilson pointed this out to me and said IDW was going to provide an FAQ/Errata.

Overall it's a small thing and you will likely not replay that scenario for a long while since you will have 12+ to get through.

I was severely torn on whether to mention this but since the solution would be simple and every major game with a similar (or smaller) level of content has errata, I thought it wouldn't be worth axing something else for it. There were cool, awesome things about this game I didn't have room to talk about so it wasn't a one way street.

I guess, my point is that I don't take my work lightly. I try to offer critical analysis but I could certainly do better. If you look through my reviews there are times when I do this, although as HotHeart says I do tend to emphasize the positives of a game-mostly because I want to write about how it feels to play it. I usually write about games I really enjoy because I mostly spend time playing good games.


Your time and effort is much appreciated. And its very clear that you care about what you do, and how it is perceived.

Could you post the unedited (not cut down) review on here? Or would that be doing a disservice to your published review on G&S?

Whenever something "seems too good to be true", there are going to be a lot of doubters...especially in a situation like this, where there is literally nowhere else to go to for an informed opinion on the matter.

The fact of the matter is that most of the people "complaining" or "wondering" have probably already paid for this game.

Dont fret. I really enjoyed reading the review, and it got me even more excited for the game. (Nothing is perfect, anyone who expects such is going to be let down in every avenue of life)
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Charlie Theel
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jnowak415 wrote:
charlest wrote:
Sorry to double post but these comments are bothering me. I think they're fair, but I'm always looking to improve so I take this to heart.

One issue I ran into was that the first scenario in the second comic has goals for the scenario that are incorrect. They were a mistaken copy and paste from the 1st comic initial scenario. It was easy enough to figure out what really should be the goal, but Kevin Wilson pointed this out to me and said IDW was going to provide an FAQ/Errata.

Overall it's a small thing and you will likely not replay that scenario for a long while since you will have 12+ to get through.

I was severely torn on whether to mention this but since the solution would be simple and every major game with a similar (or smaller) level of content has errata, I thought it wouldn't be worth axing something else for it. There were cool, awesome things about this game I didn't have room to talk about so it wasn't a one way street.

I guess, my point is that I don't take my work lightly. I try to offer critical analysis but I could certainly do better. If you look through my reviews there are times when I do this, although as HotHeart says I do tend to emphasize the positives of a game-mostly because I want to write about how it feels to play it. I usually write about games I really enjoy because I mostly spend time playing good games.


Your time and effort is much appreciated. And its very clear that you care about what you do, and how it is perceived.

Could you post the unedited (not cut down) review on here? Or would that be doing a disservice to your published review on G&S?

Whenever something "seems too good to be true", there are going to be a lot of doubters...especially in a situation like this, where there is literally nowhere else to go to for an informed opinion on the matter.

The fact of the matter is that most of the people "complaining" or "wondering" have probably already paid for this game.

Dont fret. I really enjoyed reading the review, and it got me even more excited for the game. (Nothing is perfect, anyone who expects such is going to be let down in every avenue of life)


I couldn't really do that. I wish I could because I care about BGG and its user-base than random people reading on G&S but they own my review and we can't crosspost work.

Also, I didn't save all of the versions separately so that would kind of be a problem.

I'd be more than happy to answer specific questions.

Critically, I'd say the following:

-The downtime as I mention would be problematic for the BGG crowd (which I am a part of). I'd rather not play this game with 5 unless I was the bad guy who gets to act more frequently. 3 is the sweet spot for me.

-The overhead would be a problem for the mainstream crowd. Not at all a problem for me or my group and I wouldn't trade out the depth for less going on.

-You could make an argument the impact of who wins and how it affects the story is not as pronounced as it should be. Since the winner of the Comic is whoever wins the final scenario, you can argue winning two out of three and losing the last is kind of disappointing. I wouldn't really agree with this criticism as I think the game strikes a really strong balance between rewarding the winner while not snowballing. Whoever wins has a real effect on how the narrative plays out as well, which is important to me.

-The miniatures are good and better than I expected going in with limited knowledge. They're not quite Blood Rage/CMON quality though. I wouldn't really expect them to be for the contents this game includes.

There's nothing else I'd consider mentioning as the only other complaints I see are genre specific things such as dice being important (although the game gives you the ability to mitigate more so than most games).

One thing you have to remember is that the audience I was writing for, a vast majority had not heard of this game before. Unfortunately that means I have to explain how the system works and many of the things Kickstarter backers and those who researched the game already knew. I'd much rather write a review like this one I wrote for Quartermaster General - Victory or Death where it was critiquing specific things that bothered me and didn't include an overview of the game.
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Stuart Pogacic
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I didn't realise you were tied down to a 1000 word limit. Wow that must be tough to try and get it all in. The main reason I was a little disappointed was because I have backed this from the start and have dissected the game as much as I can and this review didn't tell me anything I already didnt know from the kickstarter. Considering it is a miniatures game the components as well as the mechanics are really important so not to touch up on how good the components are, the thickness of the boards, the details in the minis was what I was mainly looking for.

I liked the fact you mentioned about the downtime as that is really important and to know that the sweet spot is potentially 3 players is a really good thing to be aware of if you have a group prone to ap.

It's always difficult to be the first review of such an anticipated release and for new people it was written very well, just for me personally I wanted the finer details of what we didn't already know :-)
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Jerome Nowak

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pogo_05 wrote:
I didn't realise you were tied down to a 1000 word limit. Wow that must be tough to try and get it all in. The main reason I was a little disappointed was because I have backed this from the start and have dissected the game as much as I can and this review didn't tell me anything I already didnt know from the kickstarter. Considering it is a miniatures game the components as well as the mechanics are really important so not to touch up on how good the components are, the thickness of the boards, the details in the minis was what I was mainly looking for.

I liked the fact you mentioned about the downtime as that is really important and to know that the sweet spot is potentially 3 players is a really good thing to be aware of if you have a group prone to ap.

It's always difficult to be the first review of such an anticipated release and for new people it was written very well, just for me personally I wanted the finer details of what we didn't already know :-)


I wonder why 3 is the sweet spot, and not 2. I wanna control all of the Turtles...hmm..
 
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jnowak415 wrote:
pogo_05 wrote:
I didn't realise you were tied down to a 1000 word limit. Wow that must be tough to try and get it all in. The main reason I was a little disappointed was because I have backed this from the start and have dissected the game as much as I can and this review didn't tell me anything I already didnt know from the kickstarter. Considering it is a miniatures game the components as well as the mechanics are really important so not to touch up on how good the components are, the thickness of the boards, the details in the minis was what I was mainly looking for.

I liked the fact you mentioned about the downtime as that is really important and to know that the sweet spot is potentially 3 players is a really good thing to be aware of if you have a group prone to ap.

It's always difficult to be the first review of such an anticipated release and for new people it was written very well, just for me personally I wanted the finer details of what we didn't already know :-)


I wonder why 3 is the sweet spot, and not 2. I wanna control all of the Turtles...hmm..

1 Villain + 2 "good guys" (using 2 turtles each) = 3
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Robert Kingery
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@Charlie I think so many people want to tear this game down and are looking for flaws because of the fact that this is such a loved IP. No one wants their turtles to be ruined by a crap product. With you being the first real reviewer I expected the cries of "paid marketing". What I don't think people understand is that your reputation as a reviewer is on the line each time you write a review. If you put up a false review you loose the trust of those who look to you for your opinion. I don't think that is taken into account by many people.

Your quick review got my 7 year old son very excited to play and I can't wait to get my copy and start beating him up.

Keep up the great reviews and try to not let the nay sayers get you down.
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Charlie Theel
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No problem Stuart, I understand and I get it. Your concerns/desires are certainly valid as are Geoff's.

jnowak415 wrote:
pogo_05 wrote:
I didn't realise you were tied down to a 1000 word limit. Wow that must be tough to try and get it all in. The main reason I was a little disappointed was because I have backed this from the start and have dissected the game as much as I can and this review didn't tell me anything I already didnt know from the kickstarter. Considering it is a miniatures game the components as well as the mechanics are really important so not to touch up on how good the components are, the thickness of the boards, the details in the minis was what I was mainly looking for.

I liked the fact you mentioned about the downtime as that is really important and to know that the sweet spot is potentially 3 players is a really good thing to be aware of if you have a group prone to ap.

It's always difficult to be the first review of such an anticipated release and for new people it was written very well, just for me personally I wanted the finer details of what we didn't already know :-)


I wonder why 3 is the sweet spot, and not 2. I wanna control all of the Turtles...hmm..


Controlling all of the turtles by yourself is fine. I've played two scenarios that way and it was great fun. I think I slightly prefer a second player controlling turtles because of the discussions around how to share dice. I enjoy that social aspect as it makes the mechanism feel more present. Coordinating with yourself doesn't quite feel the same or as fulfilling as coordinating with others I'd say.
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Jerome Nowak

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kamekkusu wrote:
jnowak415 wrote:
pogo_05 wrote:
I didn't realise you were tied down to a 1000 word limit. Wow that must be tough to try and get it all in. The main reason I was a little disappointed was because I have backed this from the start and have dissected the game as much as I can and this review didn't tell me anything I already didnt know from the kickstarter. Considering it is a miniatures game the components as well as the mechanics are really important so not to touch up on how good the components are, the thickness of the boards, the details in the minis was what I was mainly looking for.

I liked the fact you mentioned about the downtime as that is really important and to know that the sweet spot is potentially 3 players is a really good thing to be aware of if you have a group prone to ap.

It's always difficult to be the first review of such an anticipated release and for new people it was written very well, just for me personally I wanted the finer details of what we didn't already know :-)


I wonder why 3 is the sweet spot, and not 2. I wanna control all of the Turtles...hmm..

1 Villain + 2 "good guys" (using 2 turtles each) = 3


So...did you just completely gloss over the part I said about wanting to control all the Turtles? I feel as if I am not the only person who thinks that, either.
 
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Jerome Nowak

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charlest wrote:
No problem Stuart, I understand and I get it. Your concerns/desires are certainly valid as are Geoff's.

jnowak415 wrote:
pogo_05 wrote:
I didn't realise you were tied down to a 1000 word limit. Wow that must be tough to try and get it all in. The main reason I was a little disappointed was because I have backed this from the start and have dissected the game as much as I can and this review didn't tell me anything I already didnt know from the kickstarter. Considering it is a miniatures game the components as well as the mechanics are really important so not to touch up on how good the components are, the thickness of the boards, the details in the minis was what I was mainly looking for.

I liked the fact you mentioned about the downtime as that is really important and to know that the sweet spot is potentially 3 players is a really good thing to be aware of if you have a group prone to ap.

It's always difficult to be the first review of such an anticipated release and for new people it was written very well, just for me personally I wanted the finer details of what we didn't already know :-)


I wonder why 3 is the sweet spot, and not 2. I wanna control all of the Turtles...hmm..


Controlling all of the turtles by yourself is fine. I've played two scenarios that way and it was great fun. I think I slightly prefer a second player controlling turtles because of the discussions around how to share dice. I enjoy that social aspect as it makes the mechanism feel more present. Coordinating with yourself doesn't quite feel the same or as fulfilling as coordinating with others I'd say.


Ahh yeah, yeah. That does make sense. And is super thematic with the team mentality with the Turtles. I dig it. Thank you for the response, and opening my eyes a bit!
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Donn Hardy
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Just because the sweet spot if 3 players, doesn't mean it is a bad game with 2, 4, or 5.

And that's assuming you agree with the sweet spot assessment. I think sweet spot is a matter of opinion.
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Zach Hartman

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I'd like to say that your review was a definite "get hype" read, light though it was. I've been nervous about how the game would turn out, especially after picking up the retail Ghostbusters, which was way too light and airy. We only played through one campaign there...it was ok.

I was afraid in the same way for TMNT, even though I'm promised the interesting extra stuff from The Works. It seems, though, that your review draws almost exclusively from the retail content, despite using the Mirage-style minis that will come with The Works.

I'll say a few things about the prevailing climate re: this game, as some have pointed out.

1) Most importantly, every step of the way in following the campaign, there has been this load of negativity. Announce a goal has been reached? Should have been in the base game to begin with. Splinter's in The Works? Why bother backing at all. RAPHAEL'S SAIS DON'T LOOK RIGHT. It's constant. It's annoying. I've just been excited to have this in my hands, and the tone I've seen around your review is not much different to the backlash every step of the campaign has gotten.

2) Your Twitter posts and comments on Reddit were more than enough to get me hyped for the game. Top 5 of 2016? With Cry Havoc and Inis and so many other big releases? Slick. I was just hoping it'd be good . Light years ahead of Ghostbusters? Awesome, that was just about the only thing I hoped for.

3) The pictures you took in action were some of my favorites, as they really showed off the quality of the components in a way we haven't gotten to see yet. I'm now very impressed with them, for my sake.

So thanks a lot, and I'm eagerly awaiting getting my copy soon!
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Charlie, you're approaching all this criticism with real class. It's nice to hear what your process and restrictions were. I'm a huge TMNT geek, and really looking forward to giving this game a try.
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Thanks everyone, I appreciate the comments (positive and negative).

Quote:
Just because the sweet spot is 3 players, doesn't mean it is a bad game with 2, 4, or 5.

And that's assuming you agree with the sweet spot assessment. I think sweet spot is a matter of opinion.


Absolutely. Mechanically it's great with all player counts from my experience. If you don't mind downtime it's 100% as awesome with 5 as with 2.



One thing to make clear, I never followed this campaign. I was aware of it and briefly considered backing it, but didn't bite due to the Ghostbusters' fear. So there's no pent up angst or anger from me and the campaign had nothing to do with how I viewed the game, for better or for worse.

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Darkson wrote:
...With you being the first real reviewer I expected the cries of "paid marketing". What I don't think people understand is that your reputation as a reviewer is on the line each time you write a review. If you put up a false review you loose the trust of those who look to you for your opinion. I don't think that is taken into account by many people.
I actually would argue the opposite is true, and I would say that goes double for "real reviewers."

(here comes an aside that has little bearing on the TMNT review, so click away now if you aren't interested in my highfalutin' puffery)

Here's how I see it: Notable reviewers like Tom Vasel or Marco Arnaudo or Joel Eddy are already only reviewing games that are more likely in their wheelhouse than not. So they all have a high "this game is great!" quotient. So it makes very little difference if they say every game is awesome because a lot of BGG'ers are simply waiting for the greenlight to buy it anyway. In fact, if one of those guys suddenly went multiple reviews declaring games to be distinctly mediocre, or even *GASP* "bad games" I would expect their audience to actually respond negatively, because they are all simply waiting for the executive order to put in on their must-buy list.

So a lot of times, it's safer for a "real reviewer" to just toss off a "yeah, sure, great game, love it, gonna play it forever" than to do a proper, fully-formed critique.

(Nothing against Charlie T. in all of this. Or any reviewer, really, just calling 'em as I see 'em.)
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fightcitymayor wrote:
Darkson wrote:
...With you being the first real reviewer I expected the cries of "paid marketing". What I don't think people understand is that your reputation as a reviewer is on the line each time you write a review. If you put up a false review you loose the trust of those who look to you for your opinion. I don't think that is taken into account by many people.
I actually would argue the opposite is true, and I would say that goes double for "real reviewers."

(here comes an aside that has little bearing on the TMNT review, so click away now if you aren't interested in my highfalutin' puffery)

Here's how I see it: Notable reviewers like Tom Vasel or Marco Arnaudo or Joel Eddy are already only reviewing games that are more likely in their wheelhouse than not. So they all have a high "this game is great!" quotient. So it makes very little difference if they say every game is awesome because a lot of BGG'ers are simply waiting for the greenlight to buy it anyway. In fact, if one of those guys suddenly went multiple reviews declaring games to be distinctly mediocre, or even *GASP* "bad games" I would expect their audience to actually respond negatively, because they are all simply waiting for the executive order to put in on their must-buy list.

So a lot of times, it's safer for a "real reviewer" to just toss off a "yeah, sure, great game, love it, gonna play it forever" than to do a proper, fully-formed critique.

(Nothing against Charlie T. in all of this. Or any reviewer, really, just calling 'em as I see 'em.)


I think there's some truth there if you're to the point you're so big you don't really care what a few people think and know your audience won't abandon you.

If it's something truly mediocre or bad, such as Ghostbusters, I would think that would hurt your credibility though. I think it also depends on the quantity of such opinions. This has already damaged Lance Myxter's reputation with that huge thread.

I can't speak for other reviewers, but for me, I seriously get a sick feeling in my stomach when people say they're buying a game based on my recommendation. I get anxiety worrying they're not going to like it and will waste their money based solely on my opinion. It's not a great feeling influencing people into disappointment.
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fightcitymayor wrote:
Darkson wrote:
...With you being the first real reviewer I expected the cries of "paid marketing". What I don't think people understand is that your reputation as a reviewer is on the line each time you write a review. If you put up a false review you loose the trust of those who look to you for your opinion. I don't think that is taken into account by many people.
I actually would argue the opposite is true, and I would say that goes double for "real reviewers."

(here comes an aside that has little bearing on the TMNT review, so click away now if you aren't interested in my highfalutin' puffery)

Here's how I see it: Notable reviewers like Tom Vasel or Marco Arnaudo or Joel Eddy are already only reviewing games that are more likely in their wheelhouse than not. So they all have a high "this game is great!" quotient. So it makes very little difference if they say every game is awesome because a lot of BGG'ers are simply waiting for the greenlight to buy it anyway. In fact, if one of those guys suddenly went multiple reviews declaring games to be distinctly mediocre, or even *GASP* "bad games" I would expect their audience to actually respond negatively, because they are all simply waiting for the executive order to put in on their must-buy list.

So a lot of times, it's safer for a "real reviewer" to just toss off a "yeah, sure, great game, love it, gonna play it forever" than to do a proper, fully-formed critique.

(Nothing against Charlie T. in all of this. Or any reviewer, really, just calling 'em as I see 'em.)

I have often referred to Tom Vassel as the Oprah of gaming simply because it seems like you hear "Tom said this game was great" as an excuse to buy something like you heard "This book was on oprah's list!".
Although to be fair.. I have never heard of oprah throwing a book off a roof... so at least there is that going for tom.

/shrug
 
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Donn Hardy
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What game did Tom throw off a roof?
 
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