Introducing your Golden Thumb Reviewers: an interview with some of BGG's most prolific reviewers
Ender Wiggins
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Writing 100 game reviews. It's not an easy accomplishment, and requires a lot of perseverance and hard work, not to mention some writing skills. Little wonder that the Golden Reviewer microbadge awarded to those who reach the milestone of writing 100 reviews is one of the most difficult system-awarded microbadges to acquire.

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This list features all those who have achieved this level of reviewing nirvana. Currently there are 17 of us on BGG who have qualified for the circle of Golden Thumb Reviewers. It's a badge of honour that can't be achieved in just a few months, so unsurprisingly almost everyone on this list is a long-standing member of BGG, and has been writing game reviews over the course of several years. Old-timers and work-horses, in other words. It's okay, most of us don't consider that an insult - we're centurions after all! The names you see on this list are BGG veterans - and even if they're not all contributing as actively as they have in the past, they've all made significant contributions through writing reviews, and have some fascinating things to share on the subject.

I decided to interview my fellow Golden Thumb reviewers to find out what they think about reviewing, games, and more - and share their answers with the BGG community. So a big thank you to each of them for their contributions in the area of reviews, but also for their willingness to participate in this series of interviews. It's a peek behind the scenes, so to speak, which gives you an inside look at the person behind the review. So without further ado, here are your Golden Thumb Reviewers, and what they have to say about a range of game and review related topics!

Happy reading, and feel free to add comments! (NB: Did the `Post Comments' button just get moved to the bottom left of GeekLists?)

Additional notes:
● Numbers are accurate as of March 17, 2011
● Reviewers are ranked according to the total number of written reviews they've contributed. Video reviews don't count towards this total.
● For each reviewer I've included links to their most popular review (i.e. determined by the most thumbs), and their first review (i.e. the first one posted and still available on BGG - which might not necessarily be the first review they ever wrote).
● There are a few recognized and respected names you won't find on this list, e.g. Scott Nicholson, and UndeadViking. Reasons are: 1. Aside from Tom Vasel, no video reviewer has produced anywhere near 100+ reviews yet (Drakkenstrike is close, although strictly speaking his initial videos were component overviews rather than game reviews); 2. BGG considers video reviews as a separate category - similarly this list is about written reviews only.
● For a current list of top reviewers, in order, see: this list
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1. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Tom Vasel
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Number of reviews: 761 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]
(NB: Tom's last written review #761 was August 12, 2008. The link to his popular reviews includes some videos, prior to them being categorized separately.)

Most thumbed review: 225 thumbsup [Review] Android

First ever review: User Review (The Settlers of Canaan)

Quote:
1. Tell us about your very first game review. When and why did you start reviewing games?

I'm not sure - but I think it was either Time's Up or Pig Pile. I got a copy of them from someone who wanted people to write reviews - so I figured I'd try it out.

2. If you could choose one (or more) of your best or favourite reviews, so that we can admire them, which ones would you pick, and why?

Vasco da Gama?

I'm not really sure. I'm happy with all of my reviews. I put more effort into some than others - like the Heroscape series - so yeah, that's probably my favorite.

3. For you, what is involved in the process of making a review, and what do you enjoy about producing reviews?

To review a game, I play it until I'm ready to review. Then I record myself dumping the pieces, then the intro, then the rules explanation and outro. Some video editing - and there you go!

I enjoy reading comments on the reviews more than anything else, even if people tell me that I get it completely wrong.

4. What do you consider to be some of the hallmarks of a successful review?

I'm not so picky. I do reviews the way I want to watch/read them, so I figure everyone else must do the same. I think a review should be somewhat concise, and my opinions on how much the rules need to be included has changed over the years. Reviews are also helpful when viewed from a larger body of work.

5. What do you think about the diversity of review types and styles on BGG?

It's good. Why not?

6. What are some things you appreciate about BGG?

I like the guilds, and the database is fantastic.

7. Who do you usually play games with?

Everyone who blinks twice. If you hang out with me, you're gonna play games!

8. What are some of your favourite games?

Really, you're asking me? How about Cosmic Encounter, Heroscape, Duel of Ages, Ticket to Ride, Memoir '44, Le Havre, Yomi, Battlegrounds: Fantasy Warfare, Dominion

9. Have your tastes or perspectives as a gamer changed since you began reviewing?

Yes. I no longer love everything I play. I'm also getting more and more tired of boring Eurogames that do the same theme or mechanics. But hey, you never know when you'll play the next best thing!

10. What does the future hold for you as a game reviewer, and what can we expect from you from here?

Well, the death of Jack took me out of the picture, but it's time to get some more reviews done! You'll also see some more reviews with Sam Healey. Keep an eye out!
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2. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Greg Schloesser
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Jefferson City
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Number of reviews: 309 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]

Most thumbed review: 95 thumbsup Review: 7 Wonders

First ever review: User Review (Krieg und Frieden)

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1. Tell us about your very first game review. When and why did you start reviewing games?

When I formed the Westbank Gamers in New Orleans back in early 1995, I began publishing a hard-copy newsletter for folks in the group. It would contain session reports of the games we played, as well as other game-related material. I'm quite certain I wrote reviews of a few games in those early editions. To my recollection, my first online review was El Grande, which is still my favorite game.

2. If you could choose one (or more) of your best or favourite reviews, so that we can admire them, which ones would you pick, and why?

Wow. I've written hundreds of reviews over the past dozen or so years. Most are gathered on the currently dormant East Tennessee Gamers website (www.easttennesseegamers.com), but not all. I honestly cannot recall a favorite.

3. For you, what is involved in the process of making a review, and what do you enjoy about producing reviews?

Number one, I have to play the game a number of times. I am VERY suspect of folks who write reviews without ever having played the game, or only having played a deep strategy game once. Often, the game plays very differently than what you would expect from reading the rules or with subsequent plays. I try to play most games several times before writing a review, although expansions or simple games may only require a playing or two.

For me, a good review gives me a good idea of the game's mechanisms and how the game flows. It should include a healthy dose of the author's opinions and observations, both good and bad. I want to hear what the author thinks about the game and why. Why does he/she like or dislike it? What does he/she think are its strong and/or weak points? In what market does the game fit best (family, casual gamers, gamers, etc.)? How does it compare with other games in the genre? When I finish reading a review, I should have a good idea as to how the game flows and whether or not it is something that interests me.

I have always enjoyed writing. I wrote for our high school newspaper and was editor of the school yearbook. I produced newsletters for several organizations to which I belonged. Once I joined the internet, I began writing board game reviews, online blogs and other items. While some may consider writing a chore or burdensome, I find it highly enjoyable.

4. What do you consider to be some of the hallmarks of a successful review?

See above!

5. What do you think about the diversity of review types and styles on BGG?

Well, here is where I'm going to get in trouble. BGG has been an incredible blessing to the gaming community. It is a FANTASTIC resource, filled with information, errata, variants and much, much more. It has also helped foster a sense of community within the gaming hobby where none existed previously. Scott Alden, Derk Solko and their staff are to be commended for an incredible achievement.

For me, however, the site has grown too large and bloated. The "noise to information" ratio is far too great for me. I used to enjoy participating in the forums and perusing the Geek Lists, but now find there are far too many posts and discussions to track. It is overwhelming. I also find it very difficult to navigate the site and understand, let alone use, all of the site's features. Mind you, this is NOT a knock against the Geek, as the vast majority of folks seem to enjoy these wide variety of options and features. I was one of the first users / contributors on the Geek, and I pine of the days of yore when the site was smaller, less crowded and more simpler to use and navigate. I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old!

When reading a review, I would ideally like to know a little about the reviewer. How long has he been playing games? What is his gaming experience? Does he have any biases? As such, I tend to trust the reviews of folks who have "been around the block a few times." That being said, I still enjoy reading a well-written and insightful review, no matter the author.

6. What are some things you appreciate about BGG?

See above.

7. Who do you usually play games with?

Most of my gaming is done with the folks in the East Tennessee Gamers. We meet once-a-week, alternating between my home and Kevin & Rhonda Bender's home in Knoxville. Our group is a nice mixture of men and women, young and old. We predominately play European-style games, although we do play a steady diet of American-style games, too. Several folks in our group have a nice collection of games and regularly purchase the new releases. As such, we are able to play just about anything. Kevin is a sci-fi and horror fanatic, so any game using one of those themes will quickly make it into his collection. Plus, he is a Fantasy Flight groupie, so we will always have the chance to play their releases.

I do manage to attend several game conventions each year, including two Gulf Games events and Alan Moon's Gathering of Friends. At these conventions, I generally get to play with a wide variety of folks and get to play the latest releases.

My wife and I will occasionally play a 2-player game, but she prefers not to learn new games. So, we stick with some of her favorites, including Upwords, Lost Cities, What's My Word?, etc.

8. What are some of your favourite games?

El Grande and Torres are my top two games, and I rate them both a "10." I also thoroughly enjoy Princes of Florence, Euphrat & Tigris, Settlers of Catan, Steam, Inca Empire and many others. Generally, my preference is for European-style games wherein strategy plays a larger role than luck. I also tend not to enjoy chaos in my games, unless the game is a very light and fast filler.

My background in the hobby is war gaming, so I still have an affinity for many of the old classics, including Squad Leader. I also have fond memories of many of the older multi-player games, including Civilization, Age of Renaissance and History of the World, although I don't get to play these very often.

9. Have your tastes or perspectives as a gamer changed since you began reviewing?

Most assuredly. I have less patience for longer (3 hours plus) games that are heavily laden with rules. I'm also no longer as fond of conflict-style games with tons of dice rolling. As a result, many of the Fantasy Flight games don't interest me very much. I'm still strangely attracted to them, but I generally find the experience to be disappointing.

I think I am also becoming more and more difficult to impress. I've been playing games regularly (some would say "fanatically"!) for most of my life, and have been heavily involved in the hobby for close to twenty years. I've played thousands of different games. Much of what I see today is simply a re-hashing of older games. There often isn't anything new under the sun, which is disappointing. I want new games to include, well, something new, or at least a clever twist on familiar mechanisms. That seems to be a rarity. As such, I rarely become excited or impressed about a new game. That's not to say I don't enjoy new games; I do. However, I am no longer "wowed" as often.

10. What does the future hold for you as a game reviewer, and what can we expect from you from here?

Well, I'm "old school." I MUCH prefer the written review versus video reviews. I also enjoy printed magazines more than online sites, although the former is a rapidly decreasing market. Thus, my concentration will be continuing my current practice of writing regular reviews for Counter magazine and various online websites, including BGG, Opinionated Gamers, Gamer's Alliance, etc.
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3. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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CanCon, BunnyCon...BorderCon!!!
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Number of reviews: 297 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]

Most thumbed review: 271 thumbsup Kingsburg - A Detailed Review

First ever review: BattleLore - A Mini Review

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1) Tell us about your very first game review. When and why did you start reviewing games?

Well it was a light review of BattleLore actually, way back on January 1st, 2007 (I had been lurking since March of 2006 with an account but actually using the Geek since 2005 on and off).

In reality it could have been any one of about 150 reviews as I had already written this large number for my FLGS. That is how I started reviewing. My FLGS owner and I had struck up a friendship after many purchases and gaming conversations. After starting up a regular gaming session each Saturday inside the store, he asked me if I could review games to help build interest and inform customers. So I did and the folder still sits in the store today with over 350 reviews in it.

All of these reviews are in the realm of 500-800 words as they needed to fit onto a single A4 page. They are generally pretty positive and focus on the good aspects of a title and give more of a taste than any deep analysis.

In that Summer of 2007 I uploaded all 150 reviews (at that time) to BGG. Some people really liked them...others felt they were to basic in nature. I evolved my writing style over the years ahead.

Why did I start reviewing for the Geek? I guess I just have an analytical brain and I enjoy the writing process. I also thought BGG was a cool place and I wanted to be a part of it in some meaningful way.

2) If you could choose one (or more) of your best or favourite reviews, so that we can admire them, which ones would you pick, and why?

It's hard to pick between them because they are all a labour of love really. It would have to come from my Detailed Review series. Memoir '44 - A Detailed Review

I guess I chose this one as it is a good example of how my passion for a game can come to the fore but I still manage to assess it with an even hand by looking at its limitations. It also burrows down into the implications for many of the games mechanics and discussions the strategic options offered by the game.

The other review that I would pick is - Wars of the Roses: Lancaster v York - A Detailed Review

This was one of those rare times when I've received a game pre-release to review. In addition I got to know the designer and I knew one of the graphic designers who worked on the game and was also a mate. For these reasons I took a very professional approach to reviewing this game as I didn't want to be seen as biased in any way. Many questions and communications took place between myself and the designer and I was thoroughly spent by the time I clicked 'submit'

On top of all that this game really represents a genre that is not even close to my 'sweet spot' for games. So I had to really invest myself in the plays and mechanics to fully understand it.

For these reasons I am rather proud of the finished product. Apologies to all my other reviews...daddy still loves you. whistle

3. For you, what is involved in the process of making a review, and what do you enjoy about producing reviews?

Producing...cool...I need a French arty hat and a chair!

First step is simply selecting the next game. Owning over 500 titles, playing 6-8 hours every week at a gaming club and attending several conventions a year that expose me to many new games makes simply selecting the next game for review a task.

Generally I go with one I am passionate about or is part of a series that I intend to review.

I like to know the game inside out - so that means a good number of plays. Some games only take 1-3. Deeper games may require 6-10 and scenario based games really require the whole lot to be played to review fairly (hence I still haven't reviewed Descent yet).

Then I write. First draft is just getting it all down. Good ideas...bad...doesn't matter. It is simply the ideas that are important. I have a format that consists of component breakdown, general game play and then analysis. I can write these in separate sessions but I tend to prefer doing the whole thing in a 3-6 hour slab.

Then there is extensive editing. This is the hardest part (kind of like training for a sports player) but I need to and it makes a difference to the end product.

Final step is finding the best images possible. Ender usually features well. thumbsup

Whole process can take 10-12 hours for longer reviews.

What do I enjoy? Well the most enjoyable part is the end product when people get something from it and post a comment stating they found it useful or enjoyable. We are simple creatures really.

But I have come to also accept that there is something rewarding in the process itself. I can get lost in my thoughts when writing reviews and that helps me remove myself from the pressures of the day and the working week.

Being a school teacher and game group organiser, I am engaging with people all the time. Review writing is my personal downtime. Yes I know - my idea of a relaxing time away from everything is to wrack my brain writing a 4-8K word review...I'm sick in the head. shake

Finally I think review writing simply appeals to my analytical and questioning nature.

4. What do you consider to be some of the hallmarks of a successful review?

I don't think there is any one element that can make a review successful. My reviews are loved by some and passed over by others and I think that goes for almost anyone. It is all about personal taste.

I like good images, humour, well edited and well structured (text broken up) reviews. I like analysis and opinion as well as telling me how a game plays.

5. What do you think about the diversity of review types and styles on BGG?

Guilty moment...To be honest I don't read that many reviews on BGG to know. When I do flick to a review I tend to skip to the final word. blush

This must sound terribly arrogant. The reason is that I just don't have the time. Between work, family and BGG commitments (the many nooks that I inhabit) all my spare time is spent playing games and then trying to find the time to review them.

Sometimes I feel like there just aren't enough hours in the day and I secretly wish for retirement so I can just review games all day long.

6. What are some things you appreciate about BGG?

The passion and the humour. This is a passion for me and one that is not shared by the wider public. So to have a place like BGG where I can share that excitement and enjoyment is truly awesome.

Humour and quick one liners are great. They can turn a long day into an enjoyable one with very little effort.

Beyond that I love the intelligence and commitment of people on BGG. As a collective we are generally well informed, well spoken people and we put a lot of effort into the site to help others. I like that and it makes me feel like I am a part of something worthwhile.

I was also reduced to tears this morning by a Geek List. People care on the Geek too, I like that.

7. Who do you usually play games with?

I am very lucky. My wife is a gamer and now my kids are lapping it up too. Then my mother and sister are engaged non-gamers (meaning they will play a good number of various gateways whenever we get together).

That's family.

Then I have a dedicated Games Club (Border Games) that play every Saturday of the year (bar 1 or 2) from 10am till 6pm. So plenty of chance to play tons of games there.

That's club.

Then I have my 2 best friends in Heather and Dave who are on a journey with my wife and I in 'The Pact' (look for the Geeklist). Essentially we are trying to play every game we own at least once. I keep buying more games than we can play each year so this is a life journey. Suckers.

That's close friends in my hometown.

Then there are a wide collection of friends from around the country that I meet up with at annual Con's. I also have a Gaming Loft and I am encouraging friends to travel to my hometown and stay with us for a weekend to get together and game. It's slowly gathering pace.

That's Gaming Friends

Then I host a fortnightly Friday Night session with selected club members to play those games like Descent that don't fit the Club Day format.

That's Niche Gaming Taste Friends

Then there is Dave, a relatively new club member but just a great guy. Relaxed, will try anything. We have started playing 2-player games together every 2nd Wednesday.

That's Dave.

I feel very lucky to have such a vast network. But I am an organiser too (school teacher...whistle ). These things don't just happen...you have to make them happen. robot

8. What are some of your favourite games?

So many - it's generally easier to name my fav's in categories. But I owe you a shorter answer so -

Memoir '44, Runebound, Kingsburg, Race for the Galaxy, Saint Petersburg, Defenders of the Realm, Claustrophobia, Formula D, Rallyman, Last Night on Earth

9. Have your tastes or perspectives as a gamer changed since you began reviewing?

I have really moved from a Euro fetish in the early 00s to a craving for theme (games that tell a story) and racing games. Games that tell a story are more memorable for me and it is the experience of the game rather than the result that matters.

I also love dice allocation games like Kingsburg, Alea Iacta Est and Stone Age.

It has taken me many years to know what I really like in a game. Ultimately I like choice and interesting decisions. I also like a little bit of chaos, where everything cannot be controlled. Hence heavy Euro's don't get me nor do abstracts (although I appreciate their design).

10. What does the future hold for you as a game reviewer, and what can we expect from you from here?

I think as long as BGG exists I will review for this site. If BGG ever ceased to exist it would break my heart and I would likely not review again.

I see my contributions here as a lifelong work. That sounds stupid I know and I sometimes question if I will be happy to look back on life at 70+ and wonder if I wasted my time on this planet. But I could be doing far more mundane things with my time (I hardly have time for TV these days). I know I enjoy it and I think it is good for me on a mental level.

What to expect from me as a Reviewer? Personally I feel that a writer needs to keep changing what they do if they want to keep it fresh. Evolution is important. My Detailed Reviews have seen huge evolution from those first attempted pokes at the keyboard.

But I do feel like I have my reviews at a point where I am happy with them from a quality standpoint and a core group of readers seem to like them. So maybe they will stay this way for some time to come.

Whatever the case I will be here for many years to come.

Sorry Enders for being so verbose. But I've enjoyed the opportunity to wax lyrical about my journey so far (even if it has kept me from my review on the Med Theater expansion for M44).

If one other person enjoyed it then all is well.

Till next we meet - good gaming to you all.
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4. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Matt Drake
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Number of reviews: 223 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]

Most thumbed review: 193 thumbsup French People Are Just Plain Weird (Dungeon Twister)

First ever review: A Western Game John Wayne Would Hate (Oregon)

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1. Tell us about your very first game review. When and why did you start reviewing games?

Back when RPGNow was the main gaming hub of the universe, a buddy of mine mentioned that he was reviewing for them. He said he got free books every now and then, and we should give it a shot. I liked the idea of free books, and I like writing, so I wrote a review of Two-Fisted Tales. At the time, it was just a free PDF RPG, but I played it with my wife and we loved it, so I wrote what is, in retrospect, the worst review I ever created. Not because it was negative - it wasn't, because I loved the game. It just did absolutely nothing to actually tell someone why they should download the game and give it a whirl.

Interesting side note - I later bought the rights to the game and published under Politically Incorrect Games. Pretty sure you can still get it there, though I've long since sold my half of the company.

2. If you could choose one (or more) of your best or favourite reviews, so that we can admire them, which ones would you pick, and why?

I still glow a little about the Mutant Chronicles CMG review. That one got me exiled from FFG's review list (note to budding reviewers - if you're doing this for free games, do not tell your readers that a game has a penis). I just like that review because it got a lot of people very mad at me. If you ask me, they should be mad at themselves. That game was a travesty. I bet they still scratch their heads and wonder what they could have done to make it a success. They could have asked me - if they had made the figures 28mm, I would have bought cases of them, and the game could have sucked (which it did).

There are a few others that have made me proud since I started Drake's Flames. Return of the Heroes was fun, and my recent Nightfall review was a hoot to write. I don't know if anyone else thinks they're amusing, and honestly, as long as someone keeps reading, I don't really care.

3. For you, what is involved in the process of making a review, and what do you enjoy about producing reviews?

Obviously, I have to play the game. Usually, I try to play a game a few times, especially if I really hated it the first time. Nobody ever reads a positive review and says, 'sounds like you only tried it once,' but confess to a single play of a game you hated, and people make you out like some kind of lazy asshole (which I never understood - if I hit myself in the face, do I need to do it a couple more times to figure out I didn't like it?)

So once I play it, and ask my fellow players what they thought of it, I decide on a few key phrases and points. If they said it looked like it was poorly playtested, or takes a long time between turns, or just was more fun than Heidi Klum in a net bikini, I note that. I decide whether I like the game, and then I try to figure out why. I figure if I can communicate what was good and bad about a game, other people can decide for themselves if they want to try it. I've heard from readers who bought games I panned, just because the description interested them. I would say I try to be fair, but I don't. It's a review, a critique, if you will. It's not an academic journal entry. There are plenty of 'fair and unbiased' reviewers. I am not one of them.

Then I write. This is my favorite part, even more than playing the game. I love twisting up words and then reading back over them, thinking, 'that sounded cool!' I like editing my own work, going back to see if a changed word here or a rephrase there could make it more interesting, or funny, or easier to read. I confess to being a total hack - once I'm happy with it, I publish, and I don't much care if I broke grammatical rules.

Which is not to say I don't know the rules. In my opinion, the people who are best at breaking the rules are the ones who know them. I have sentence fragments. I end clauses in prepositions. I dangle participles. But I know I'm doing it, and only do it because I think it makes it more fun.

4. What do you consider to be some of the hallmarks of a successful review?

You know all that stuff people say about whether a review is informative, and if it tells you what you need to know about the game? About how a good review presents a balanced assessment of the game, and educates the reader?

Pap. Reviews aren't worth sheep dip if nobody wants to read them. My number one hallmark is that once you start reading, you want to finish, because it's enjoyable. Everything else is gravy. After all, what publisher wants you to promote his game if you're so boring that nobody will read your review?

5. What do you think about the diversity of review types and styles on BGG?

I think it's great. Without the rules summary reviews and photo reviews and video reviews and incomprehensible reviews written by people who speak English as a fourth language, I couldn't write the reviews I like. Because then I would need to provide rules summaries and photos and balanced comparisons to previously published work, and then I would be bored. Because all these other reviews are out there, I can get away with being entertaining first.

Except those reviews that are impossible to read. Those are worth less than a bucket of warm urine on your breakfast cereal. Seriously, what am I going to get out of a Google translation from German, besides comic fodder?

6. What are some things you appreciate about BGG?

I like that I can look up information about a game without much effort. It's handy as a reference. I don't post here any more, and I was never that fond of the 'community' here when I did (far too many people need to get laid before they post anything else), but as a place to pick up information, BGG is priceless. While I could do without the ridiculous moderation and coddling of the easily offended, I have to commend Derk and Aldie for creating something really impressive.

Quick note - I actually really like Derk and Aldie. I don't want anyone to think I don't. They're both very cool guys, and I'm delighted that they can run this site for a living. Good for them, I say. I would love to make a living at this, but I can't figure out how I could get anyone to pay me for getting free games in the mail.

7. Who do you usually play games with?

I have a group that meets most every Saturday. They're all great sports, willing to try anything, even if it totally blows. We have played some real stinkers in the past three years or so, some so bad that I apologize before I leave. But they keep coming back, and they've grown into some of my best friends.

I also play with my family a lot, though I don't usually subject them to a game until I've tried it with my group. They don't like being guinea pigs, and I don't blame them. But we still have a ton of games that we break out all the time.

Finally, when I can manage it, I like to hang out with my friends and just play. We don't try to test games, or be smart. We drink beers and cook meat and play what we know we like.

8. What are some of your favourite games?

Warhammer Quest is my #1 game. Man, I love that game. But I like a variety, too. Bootleggers, Formula D, Last Night on Earth, and Dominion have a lot of staying power for me. I don't generally call a game a 'favorite' until I've had it more than a year, because if I still want to play it a year later, I know it's a keeper.

9. Have your tastes or perspectives as a gamer changed since you began reviewing?

Not really. I've always been up for pretty much anything, and I still am. Carson City one week and Nexus Ops the next. My old man loves him some wargames, and my wife likes card games. I'll play anything, if it's fun, and that hasn't changed.

10. What does the future hold for you as a game reviewer, and what can we expect from you from here?

More of the same. I don't expect I'll ever get rich, or land some hot-shot syndicated newspaper column. I get to write, and I get to play games, and I mean to do it for as long as I can get away with it.
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5. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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David G. Cox Esq.
Australia
Lighthouse Beach
NSW
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Number of reviews: 200 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]

Most thumbed review: 99 thumbsup Tense! Torrid! Terrific! (Breakout: Normandy)

First ever review: VITP: An Ageless Beauty (Victory in the Pacific)

Quote:
1. Tell us about your very first game review. When and why did you start reviewing games?

My first review was of Victory in the Pacific – it was posted here on BGG in July 2005. I selected VITP as it was a game that I really enjoyed and had played countless times so I felt I was fairly knowledgeable about it. There were already two other reviews on the game but they had only received, collectively, three thumbs so I felt that there may be room for another opinion of the game. At that stage I was new to BGG having only registered less than a month previously. I suspect that, at that stage, I was simply finding my around the site and seeing how things worked. Alternatively, my motivation may simply have been an innocent desire to earn big bucks and attract fast chicks.

2. If you could choose one (or more) of your best or favourite reviews, so that we can admire them, which ones would you pick, and why?

My three favourite reviews are of Wellington (GMT) [Critical Issues & The Spanish Ulcer], Unhappy King Charles (GMT) [Critical Issues in King Charlie’s War] and the Super Deluxe Napoleonic Wars Map (also by GMT) [A SUPER Deluxe Map - Experience True Napoleonic Grandeur.]. The first two I am happy with as I had really good focus and layout regarding how to approach the subject – both reviews feature good use of sub-headings which make it easy for the ready to see the thrust of the review. The review of the Napoleonic Wars Map was just good fun. I would like to be able to inject more humour into reviews but some days I am just not a particularly funny sort of dude.

3. For you, what is involved in the process of making a review, and what do you enjoy about producing reviews?

The first thing is to work out which game to review and work out why I am reviewing it. Generally it is best to write about a game that I enjoy. Sometimes I actually really dislike a game and that, too, is a good reason to write a review. I have an extensive collection of games and often look for games that no review has been written – on those occasions, even if I have only a small amount of experience with the game, I think that a single review is better than no review. I actually enjoy the writing process – I enjoy working with words and enjoy clever use of words and coming up with unusual combinations. I like being able to come up with an interesting approach for the review – my reviews can be quite different style-wise. I also enjoy the adulation of others. Often, when taking attractive women out to dinner, they ask what I do. I must say that it is always disappointing, after I tell them that I am a boardgame reviewer they usually say something like, “Oh, you mean like Tom Vasel?”

4. What do you consider to be some of the hallmarks of a successful review?

This I find really difficult to answer as it is so open to complete subjectivity. I guess for me the hallmark is comments from other users to the effect that they would like to play the game or that it has, at least, make them consider/reconsider either the game itself or the subject matter of the game – the second point being much more true of wargames than other non-military simulation games.

5. What do you think about the diversity of review types and styles on BGG?

Again, it is so subjective. Personally, I don’t enjoy video reviews – in fact, I don’t even bother to read them anymore. I find that it takes longer to watch one than to read the same information in text. I like humorous reviews as they make me smile (and sometimes even laugh) but there are occasions that the reviewer is so intent on making jokes that they lose focus and don’t actually tell us much about the game. I must say that I generally really enjoy Vixen Tor’s reviews. I also really enjoy the Playmobil Legion reviews – he puts a lot of effort into the visual presentation and they are clever. I enjoy reading Tom Vasel’s reviews as they are so clearly put together and are extremely insightful. Regarding Greg Schlosser, I tend to read more of his session reports than his reviews – he puts a lot of review material into his session reports. I am stunned that some games have dozens of reviews. I like a review to give me a new viewpoint of the game. Personally, unless I can say something new/different about a game I tend to avoid posting a review where other reviews have already been posted. Some of the reviews that are on BGG really do seem to be a waste of space and I think that more administrative jurisprudence should be exercised to remove those that really show little thought or effort.

6. What are some things you appreciate about BGG?

I appreciate the depth and breadth of the resources available. I like many of the other users with whom I have communicated. The site has given me introductions to lots of nice people that I have now met face-to-face. I think some of the player aids are worth their virtual weight in geek gold. I must say that over the last couple of years there appears to have been a decrease in the indiscriminate use of crude and vulgar language and I find this pleasing. When I first started using the site there were quite a noticeable number of people who appeared to be quite mindless and were looking for ridiculous arguments about trivial matters – this seems to have diminished and the actual community that inhabits the BGG site is, generally, is nice to be part of.

7. Who do you usually play games with?

I play games with my partner (Kim) and my son (Andrew). I have several good friends who live 5 hours down the road (in particular - Graham Lockwood who you would know as promuso and Barry Wonson) with whom I play regularly. Living in a small I find it difficult to find regular opponents, particularly in regards to wargames.

8. What are some of your favourite games?

‘So many games and so little time’. I think Dune is the best designed game in the world but it needs five or six players and it needs the right people. The nice thing about having a large collection of games is that it makes it possible to have the right game for the right people. In regards to wargames I particularly enjoy Victory in the Pacific, Storm Over Arnhem, Third Reich, Empires in Arms and Combat Commander. I think that CDG are an excellent concept. I like 1960, Baltimore & Ohio, Age of Steam, Power Grid, Alhambra and El Grande just to mention a few.

9. Have your tastes or perspectives as a gamer changed since you began reviewing?

They have almost certainly become broader but I don’t think that they have changed very much. Since becoming involved with Eurogames I now see player elimination as a terrible design feature of a game.

10. What does the future hold for you as a game reviewer, and what can we expect from you from here?

It depends upon my personal life. I had a terrible year last year and only wrote 12 reviews. My life has sorted itself out and I have written 17 reviews so far this year – last year I just wasn’t in the mood. I would like to become the fourth most prolific writer of reviews here on BGG and hope to achieve that sometime this year. Once I have achieved that I hope to take a more leisurely approach to writing reviews and write fewer and try to improve my style and the quality of the content. I will continue to work through games I own and which, at present, have no review.
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6. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Brian Bankler
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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"Keep Summer Safe!"
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Number of reviews: 189 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]

Most thumbed review: 124 thumbsup Tao of Gaming Review (Agricola)

First ever review: User Review (Are You Phrazy?)

Unfortunately Brian declined our request for an interview. He is known for his "Tao of Gaming" reviews, the last of which was posted on BGG in September 2009. The bulk of his reviews were contributed in 2005 - a time when the BGG database was still in the process of growing, and when the amount of reviews was just a fraction of what it is today. As such, Brian's Tao of Gaming reviews were an important and valuable contribution that many users benefited from in an earlier stage of BGG's history. His reviewing manifesto also makes for an interesting read. With almost 200 reviews posted, Brian most certainly deserves to be on this list, even if he's no longer an active BGG reviewer. He continues to write about games on his Tao of Gaming blog.
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7. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Seth Owen
United States
Norwich
Connecticut
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Number of reviews: 176 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]

Most thumbed review: 76 thumbsup A wargamer's review of Small World

First ever review: User Review (Blitzkrieg '41)

Quote:
1. Tell us about your very first game review. When and why did you start reviewing games?

I think my very first review was for Fire & Movement Magazine, although I'm not certain which game it was. My first game review for Boardgame Geek was for Blitzkrieg '41 and set the pattern for most of those I did subsequently. I generally tried to do reviews for games that had no reviews at all, figuring that would provide the most community value.

2. If you could choose one (or more) of your best or favourite reviews, so that we can admire them, which ones would you pick, and why?

I don't really have a favorite one, but I think my review for Warmaster Chess 2000 (Comprehensive review of the most despised game in wargaming) illustrates what I'd like to do with a review and that is provide a fair overview for a gamer who is considering acquiring a copy.

3. For you, what is involved in the process of making a review, and what do you enjoy about producing reviews?

The first step is to decide what kind of review is needed. If there have been no reviews at all then I usually make sure to cover the game components, the general course of play, remarks about quality and some indication of what tastes the game may appeal to. If there are already reviews then I'll try to elaborate on ares they may have not covered in much depth. Rarely I'll write a review that may attempt to refute a previous review that I though was unfair or incomplete.

4. What do you consider to be some of the hallmarks of a successful review?

This depends a lot on what the reviewer is trying to accomplish, bur basically it's whether the review provides the reader something of value.

5. What do you think about the diversity of review types and styles on BGG?

It's the best thing since sliced bread.

6. What are some things you appreciate about BGG?

I enjoy the breadth and quality of the content. Some of the other reviewers are turning in works of art.

7. Who do you usually play games with?

My kids provide a steady stream of opponents for some games, I frequent a local game shop, I have a few gaming buddies, I'm a member of a couple of game-oriented Meetup groups and I play online.

8. What are some of your favourite games?

It's often the game I'm playing at that very moment, but some that I find are perennial favorites include: Up Front, Midway, Bonaparte at Marengo, Quebec 1759, Axis & Allies Naval Miniatures: War at Sea, Fluxx, Munchkin, Memoir '44, Close Action.

9. Have your tastes or perspectives as a gamer changed since you began reviewing?

My tastes and perspectives constantly evolve and I'd probably review some games differently now than I did back 5 or 6 years ago. I was much more of a hard-core wargame when I first joined BGG and through it I became exposed to a lot of interesting non-wargame experiences.

10. What does the future hold for you as a game reviewer, and what can we expect from you from here?

The quantity of reviews has dropped off. I cranked out many over the first few years because I was drawing on several decades of wargame experience. At this point I've pretty much exhausted my stock of old wargame topics and most of my reviews have been on newer games. This necessarily slows down the pace of output as I need to play the games before reviewing them. While I don't think one necessarily has to play a game multiple times in order to write a valuable review, it's the rare game that you can review without playing at least once< And most of the time you need to play a game at least a few times in order to make sure you're playing it correctly. Nothing should embarrass a reviewer more than writing a review that betrays you misunderstood a key rule. If it;s a good game you'll need to play it dozens of times to start to understand all its nuances, which is why I rarely say too much about strategy. But if it's a good game you should be pretty confident you're at least playing it correctly within the first few plays -- if not then that's a flaw in the game that's a legitimate point for a reviewer to mention.
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8. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
United States
Howell
Michigan
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Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
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Number of reviews: 144 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]

Most thumbed review: 117 thumbsup One of the best 2-players in my collection (Mr. Jack)

First ever review: Gateway gaming at its finest (Nexus Ops)

Quote:
1. Tell us about your very first game review. When and why did you start reviewing games?


My first review was Nexus Ops. The review isn't very good and you can see that I improved on my next review of a game called Warlord (The elements of a perfect fantasy miniature game). This review was really simple and there's not a lot of meat in it. Truthfully, I didn't really know what to do. I just tried to write something pertinent. I'll always remember how cool it felt to get my review accepted and see it up there with all the others. That's what kept me coming back for more.

I guess I wrote this review primarily because I was so happy about finding a new way to spend time with the woman who eventually became my wife. This game was the first BGG-style game I bought and it worked really well for us. We don't even play it anymore, but its still in my game closet. The wife can't bear to part with it.

2. If you could choose one (or more) of your best or favourite reviews, so that we can admire them, which ones would you pick, and why?

It's got to be the one I wrote for Biblios back when it was first released and was called Scriptorium. You can read it here: An absolute masterpiece - perfect in every way. It's my favorite for 2 reasons:
1. It's an incredible game. Perfect in literally every way.
2. My review helped sell a ton of these games which helped put it on the map. That feels great because it allowed a lot of Geeks to get in on something I feel is truly special.

3. For you, what is involved in the process of making a review, and what do you enjoy about producing reviews?

The process for me is really simple. Pick a game, probably one that is relatively new to me, and get to it. I used to talk about a lot of stuff but now I have cut it back. I link to rules and I don't really talk about components anymore. What's more important now is explaining what it is that makes the game awesome. I really like to focus on what makes the game stand out, one way or another.

4. What do you consider to be some of the hallmarks of a successful review?

As I stated above, the most important thing a review can do is tell you something special. Any review can tell you how a game plays or what the component quality is like. The good ones get to telling you about what makes the game special. For example, a game like Through the Desert only gives you two moves a turn with about 1000 different options. Its that angst that drives the game and it's the magic that makes that game great. I think a lot of reviews, including many of mine, fail to truly relay that information. If I could do that every time then my reviews would be spectacular.

5. What do you think about the diversity of review types and styles on BGG?

I think that everyone explains things differently so having multiple takes on the same topic can really flesh it out. I love checking multiple reviews to see what things people like and see if there's any correlation between the reviewers.

My favorite type of review is the negative ones. I love when someone just lays into a game and really justifies why they feel that way. Anyone can say "Game X is terrible" but backing it up really makes it powerful. Some of the best at this art are Michael Barnes, Superfly Pete, and Matt Drake. Those guys do not mess around. If you send them garbage then you and the rest of the boardgame community will soon know it.

I really dislike people who write lots of reviews without really taking a stance. There's a lot less of them than there used to be which is a good thing. I can understand the position of getting something for free and not wanting to slag it, but you're doing the community a disservice when you pull that. The guys I mentioned above have no qualms about killing a game and that's what I love about them.

6. What are some things you appreciate about BGG?

There's so much it's hard to list it all, but I'll do my best. For starters, the community vibe on this site is incredible. There are always people who are disrespectful and don't play nice, but I'd say 98% of the active community are awesome people. It's really refreshing to see people getting together so well, especially behind the anonymity of a keyboard.
Going with that last point, I love the tolerance this site shows towards our openly gay members. Again, its not uniform, but the majority of the folks on this site are incredibly supportive of these people. I'm glad we can make them feel comfortable enough to share something so personal with us. Joelbear, in particular, has been incredibly open. While I'm not a gay man, I really appreciate his willingness to share his experiences with us and I'm glad he respects us enough to share it.

The obvious choice is that I appreciate the vast resources on this site. That goes without saying. It's incredible to have so much access to all this gaming information. However, this comes in a distant second place to the things I mentioned in the paragraphs above.

7. Who do you usually play games with?

My main gaming partner is my wife. She's an awesome woman and I'm lucky to have her. We don't game quite as much as we used to but we still try to get in as much as possible.

We're blessed that my mother and my younger sister enjoy gaming as do my wife's mother, and many of our friends. We've introduced them all to the hobby and they've really taken to it. It's great that we can share this hobby with people we love.

8. What are some of your favourite games?

I'm surprised to say it, but Carcassonne is still my all-time favorite. It's got to be 2-player and with no expansions. It's really just incredible that way when played by 2 skilled players. The strategy and tactical choices are brilliant. I don't rate it a 10 anymore, but it's still just the most exhilarating game experience I can think of.

My favorite game otherwise is Ra: The Dice Game. It's got the thrill of dice rolling coupled with an awesome competitive aspect. It's the single best use of dice I've ever encountered.

The above-mentioned Biblios (Scriptorium or Scripts and Scribes) is also pure awesome. I love the combination of the bidding and set collection and the fact that the game combines so many tough decisions in a 20-30 minute game. Its perfection.

I could go on and on but that's the top 3.

9. Have your tastes or perspectives as a gamer changed since you began reviewing?

More than I can possibly explain! When we first started gaming we had no idea what to expect so we bought games and tried them constantly. After a lot of trial and error, we've figured out what we like. For us, it comes down to one simple rule: Is it fun to play? I don't care how elegant a game is or what new mechanism they've invented, if I don't have fun I'm not playing. When we got started we were playing lots of things and not having fun. It took a long time for me to come to terms with playing what I like and not what the community's opinion tells me I should be playing.

10. What does the future hold for you as a game reviewer, and what can we expect from you from here?

Honestly, I'm probably done. I'm a full-time student and I also work full time so there's just no time for reviewing anymore. I'd love to get there again at some time but I'm not seeing the time right now. I've got to get my Masters and also my CPA which is the real priority in my life. Reviewing once filled an interesting void in my life but right now that's being occupied by studies. Who knows what the future holds, but I don't see this changing any time soon.
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9. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Number of reviews: 138 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]

Most thumbed review: 770 thumbsup Ender's Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: The quintessential civilization game for the modern euro gamer? (Through the Ages)

First ever review: Review: Summary thoughts on Gone Bush

Quote:
1. Tell us about your very first game review. When and why did you start reviewing games?

It was in 2005, shortly after I joined BGG - I noticed that a card game (Gone Bush) that I'd played for many years had no reviews, so I figured I'd do the gaming world a favour and make a short write-up. It's a far cry from the kind of thing I do now! I didn't contribute much in the way of reviews in the first years I was on BGG, and only began posting reviews regularly in 2008. My reviews of Terakh and Dominion really helped kick off my `pictorial review' streak.

2. If you could choose one (or more) of your best or favourite reviews, so that we can admire them, which ones would you pick, and why?

My review on Glory to Rome is one of my favourites, simply because I put a lot of work into it, and to some extent it helped put Glory to Rome on people's radars - it was a relatively unknown game at the time (Ender's Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: Is this the game that Race for the Galaxy wanted to be?). I also put a lot of effort into my review of Richard III, which is an introductory block war game, and given that this was somewhat unfamiliar territory for me at the time, the end result was quite satisfying, and I'd like to think it would help others like me who are curious about block war games (So you're wondering about the best introductory block war game: Let's learn how to play with Ender's pictorial review of Hammer of the Scots' brand new cousin!). One that I had great fun writing - because I got to inject it with various Princess Bride jokes - was my review on En Garde (A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: The Fighting Little Knizia with the Big Theme).

3. For you, what is involved in the process of making a review, and what do you enjoy about producing reviews?

I usually divide up different parts of the process in free moments over the course of days and weeks. I'll take some initial pictures and do some preliminary photo editing when I'm first learning the game, and often I'll start doing some of the write-up about components and gameplay in these early stages as well. I usually like to play a game multiple times with different types of people and different amounts of players before coming up with any concluding thoughts, to ensure I assess it fairly, so I often jot notes about my impressions and reflections on the game as I'm playtesting it, which I sometimes discuss with a gamer friend, as well as taking further pictures. After doing the final write up, I usually leave the review for a few days, and come back to it later for some further polishing. Photography and creative writing are also some of my interests along with playing games and I enjoy analyzing things, so all these aspects come together in writing a review, and offer an extra dimension of enjoyment for me that goes along with learning and playing new games.

4. What do you consider to be some of the hallmarks of a successful review?

The absence of unsubstantiated opinion. I'm all for a variety of reviews and perspectives, but reviewers need to remember that gamers have different tastes. Gushing how "I LOVED this game" or "I HATED this game" will not be meaningful to readers without sharing what you loved or hated about the game, and what your personal tastes are like. There's lots of other things that can make a successful review - including well-placed humour, thoughtful analysis, clear organization and formatting, and useful comparisons with other games. Just don't tell me how you loved or hated a game, without explaining why - boardgaming is not an objective science, but very much a matter of personal and subjective taste.

5. What do you think about the diversity of review types and styles on BGG?

The diversity is enriching, and rather than argue about what type of review is better, let's embrace the differences - and that includes video reviews. I realize that my own style of reviewing won't appeal to everyone, and that some even have a distinct dislike for it. That's fine. Review styles, much like games, are largely a matter of taste! I'm glad that there's a real mix of reviews from a variety of individuals, which helps everyone come to well-rounded conclusions for themselves, based on as much data as possible. So the variety of reviewing styles on BGG only improves our ability to make informed decisions about which games to buy or avoid, in line with our own tastes. Overall the last five years has seen a general increase in the quality of reviews and also the quantity - combined with the rise of video reviews, this means that good written reviews can sometimes go unnoticed.

6. What are some things you appreciate about BGG?

I posted a geeklist on this a while back. I especially like are the informative database - which includes great pictures, reviews, files, comments, and various articles and discussions about rules and strategy.

7. Who do you usually play games with?

Mainly with family and friends.

8. What are some of your favourite games?

I love the Railways of the World series. I also enjoy Magic the Gathering, and games with CCG style abilities without necessarily being collective. Negotiation games are another favourite, and I really enjoy games like Santiago and Chinatown although I don't get to play them as often as I like. Games with a civilization flavour - like Through the Ages and Mare Nostrum - also go over well with me.

9. Have your tastes or perspectives as a gamer changed since you began reviewing?

For sure. Being exposed to a larger range of boardgames helps you develop a clearer sense of your own taste, and of the different possibilities and mechanics in games. It also shapes and matures your own taste, for example I now enjoy medium weight games more than what I used to. I've also come to see that some of the games I enjoyed years ago have since been superseded by better ones.

10. What does the future hold for you as a game reviewer, and what can we expect from you from here?

Just more of the same. I hope!
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10. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Lowell Kempf
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Chicago
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Number of reviews: 129 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]

Most thumbed review: 107 thumbsup What? Wait! WHAT?! (We Didn't Playtest This At All)

First ever review: User Review (Man Bites Dog)

Quote:
1. Tell us about your very first game review. When and why did you start reviewing games?

Good lord. I had to look that up and the first review I wrote was for Man Bites Dog. Wow. I had forgotten I had even played that game, let alone reviewed it.

I first started reviewing games in 2005. At the time, I was still relatively new to board games, despite many years of RPGs. Writing reviews were a way of me getting involved with the Boardgame Geek community. More than that, they were also (and still are) a way for me to organize and examine my thoughts regarding specific games.

2. If you could choose one (or more) of your best or favourite reviews, so that we can admire them, which ones would you pick, and why?

I’ll go with my reviews for Ingenious and We Didn’t Playtest This At All. Ingenious because it’s one of my favorite games and I think I did a decent job explaining why I liked it and Playtest because it was just a lot of fun to write.
I love this game. Let me tell you why.
What? Wait! WHAT?!

3. For you, what is involved in the process of making a review, and what do you enjoy about producing reviews?

What I really need to do in order to write a review is play the game.

Yes, I also like to carefully go over the rules (I am my circle's primary rule teacher) but the best way to understand a game is to play it.

And, to be honest, I love playing games and I love writing so writing a review is a match made in Heaven. I don't approach a game thinking about a review but often a review will bubble to the surface after a few plays.

4. What do you consider to be some of the hallmarks of a successful review?

Thumbs.

A little more seriously, if the reader has no played the game before, I’d like them to finish a review with a better idea of whether or not they want to play the game, particularly if they have to go out and buy the game in order to play it.

If people are reading a review about a game that they have already played, I’d like to either entertain them while they read it or at least come away with a new idea or a slightly different point of view.

5. What do you think about the diversity of review types and styles on BGG?

I would say that the number of reviews and the variety of reviews have increased a lot since I first started writing them. Back in the olden days, a lot of reviews really read like someone rewriting the rule book. (Heck, a lot of my reviews read like that, I’m sad to say)

Now, I see a lot more reviews that have more to say about the concepts and strategies of games, as well as more reviews that talk about people’s personal experiences with the game.

I do have to admit that I’m not a fan of the one paragraph review. Those usually give me about the same impression as reading the back of the box.

6. What are some things you appreciate about BGG?

Oh, so many things.

It’s a research library that lets me make informed decisions about the games I get. It is a referee that I can turn to when we need an arbitration on rules, particularly since many designers hang out on it. It’s a damn entertaining read.

But what I like most about is that it is a community devoted to one of my favorite hobbies. And, honestly, compared to a lot of other sites I’ve been on, I’ve found the folks on the geek to be nicer and more civil.

7. Who do you usually play games with?

Let’s see.

I play a lot of games with my girlfriend. She enjoys abstracts quite a bit.

I do spend time on BSW.

I help organize a weekly board game night that developed out of a small Go group I was in. I serve as the guy who owns most of the games and teaches most of the rules, sometimes even for games that I don’t own.

8. What are some of your favourite games?

Oh, pretty much the usual standards. I like Dominion and I can never get enough Le Havre. I enjoy all of the game in the GIPF Project, although I don’t get to play them enough. I also really enjoy playing Ingenious.

In general, I am solidly in the Euro-style camp with strong leanings towards abstracts.

9. Have your tastes or perspectives as a gamer changed since you began reviewing?

In some ways, I have become more discriminating and more critical. I look for ways that game play can break down or loopholes that can mess up a game. I find myself a lot more inclined to break a game down to its core mechanics.

On the other hand, I’ve also learned that I can’t judge a game based on popular opinion or on first glance. I’ve also learned that, as long as the group is having fun, I am having fun so I’ve also learned to tailor my game selection for the people who I’m playing with.

10. What does the future hold for you as a game reviewer, and what can we expect from you from here?

Well, to be honest, I wrote most of my reviews when I was at a job that gave me a lot more free time than the one I have now. (It’s okay. The pay is better) So, I’m not able to bang them out as fast I used to. I also want to do more than just reiterate the rule book. I want to give folks value for my content.

That said, I still love playing games and play a lot of them and I have played many games I have not reviewed so I know I will continue to periodically write reviews
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11. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Less snark is my goal.
United States
Allen Park
Michigan
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Number of reviews: 110 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]

Most thumbed review: 42 thumbsup Nearly 500 Geeklists and not one review (until now)! (Busen Memo)

First ever review: Updated Rules Rock (Hidden Conflict)

Quote:

1. Tell us about your very first game review. When and why did you start reviewing games?

My first review was in July 2005 and it was of Hidden Conflict. I'm a fan of a lot of Twilight Creations games and they get pretty short shrift on the geek. I wanted to get the word out that Hidden Conflict had revised rules and was a much better game than it initially appeared.

2. If you could choose one (or more) of your best or favourite reviews, so that we can admire them, which ones would you pick, and why?

Most of my favorite reviews are by Neil Thomson, but I suppose you mean ones that I've written. I think some of my Multiple Intelligences reviews were pretty good. The geek seems to like my reviews of Giro Gallopo and Busen Memo

3. For you, what is involved in the process of making a review, and what do you enjoy about producing reviews?

I've pretty much stopped reviewing board games. I still play them, but I didn't think many people really cared what I had to say. I think I mostly play light-medium weight games that aren't as popular on the geek. Looking at my reviews you can see that few of them garnered much attention and I decided it was better to put my efforts somewhere else.

As for process, I play the game a few times, checking the geek for answers to any rules questions I might have. I like to make sure I'm playing the game correctly before I write a review. If it's a complex game, I try to take some notes during some of the plays so I can reference them during the review. For the actual review I sit down with the game and the notes and try to express my thoughts. I have two templates I used for boardgame reviews, one for a Multiple Intelligences review and one for any other reviews. The templates help me to keep my thoughts organized and make sure that I cover all the things I consider basic in each review.

4. What do you consider to be some of the hallmarks of a successful review?

I think it needs to convey the sense of the game and what might make it fun. I don't necessarily want a blow-by-blow of the rules, but I want to get an idea of how complex it is and what some of the interactions are. I always admire reviews that compare the mechanics and play of one game to that of some better known similar games.

5. What do you think about the diversity of review types and styles on BGG?

I like that there are a wide range of reviewers with different levels of experience and different perspectives on games. I enjoy seeing the different styles of different reviewers and even of different reviews. I'm a little disappointed that so many reviews are done as videos now. I preferred the written word.

6. What are some things you appreciate about BGG?

I like that it is a mostly civil site where people can discuss board games with other serious gamers. I play games with a lot of non-serious gamers and so don't get to discuss the finer points of things very often. I would imagine that my reviews are less useful because of that.

7. Who do you usually play games with?

I play games with family, friends, and scout groups. Most of these people are not serious board gamers; a few of my friends are avid role-players, like me.. Most of them prefer party games and dexterity games.

8. What are some of your favourite games?

My favorites run a pretty wide gamut. I love Car Wars: The Card Game and Diplomacy. Thunderstone, Tobago, and Small World are also games I would never turn down. I also enjoy flicking games like PitchCar and Elk Fest. On the party game side, I'd never turn down a round of Say Anything or Wits & Wagers Family. I also enjoy some simpler abstracts like Army of Frogs and TAMSK.

9. Have your tastes or perspectives as a gamer changed since you began reviewing?

I think they definitely have. I've come to realize that a lot of the best games (as rated by the geek) require too much investment of time for me to ever play well. For me, it's more important that I be able to explain a game to new players quickly than that it be deep and highly strategic. When games combine both a quick rules explanation and fun play, that's my sweet spot. When I first joined the geek, I thought I needed to play all those top-ranked complicated games. I have a bunch of them in my collection, nearly all unplayed.

10. What does the future hold for you as a game reviewer, and what can we expect from you from here?

I'm writing reviews on the RPG Geek side now. I feel like I fit in better there. I've signed up for their Iron Reviewer contest which requires writing a new review every 2 weeks to start, every week after a year and every day after the second year. I feel like I have more to offer on that side of the site and that my thoughts are more valued, so I'm planning to be there writing reviews until I make them all cry uncle.
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12. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Mikko Saari
Finland
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Number of reviews: 108 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]

Most thumbed review: 28 thumbsup Review from Gameblog (Zooloretto)

First ever review: User Review (Vom Kap bis Kairo)

Quote:
1. Tell us about your very first game review. When and why did you start reviewing games?

I started reviewing games because nobody else was doing it. You have to understand that the English reviews I'm posting on my blog and in Geek are just a tip of the iceberg. I've always been more proficient in Finnish and for the last ten years or so I've been pretty much the only active board game reviewer in Finnish. On my site Lautapeliopas I've posted over 350 game reviews.

My first review in BoardGameGeek is Vom Kap bis Kairo from July 2002: User Review

I don't remember which was the first game review I posted on my Finnish site, but it was probably Carolus Magnus, Svea Rike or Settlers of Catan (my personal gateway game). I've been doing web sites since 1996 or so, so basically if I had a hobby, I wanted to do a web site for it - I had a pretty popular live action roleplaying link list running back in 1996-1997. So board games were no different. It was 1999 or so, so actually the first game couldn't be Carolus Magnus, which came out in 2000.

2. If you could choose one (or more) of your best or favourite reviews, so that we can admire them, which ones would you pick, and why?

Of the reviews I have at Geek, well... it's hard to say, none of them I'd consider really good.

Caylus Magna Carta got bunch of comments, that's a sign of something (not that I agree with the review anymore): Review from Gameblog
Nacht der Magier review is a pretty good example of what I tend to do at the Geek: short, to the point, not very analytical: Review from Gameblog
Combat Commander: Europe review was called 'excellent' and it still one of the most popular entries in my blog (because GMT Games links to it): Review from Gameblog

3. For you, what is involved in the process of making a review, and what do you enjoy about producing reviews?

I'm not sure I always enjoy the process, it's often felt like a duty, especially when I'm reviewing a less-than-stellar game I got as a review copy.

But of course the process starts with playing the game. My life situation is such that I often can't play the games I'm reviewing very thoroughly, so while I try to play the games more than once before reviewing, that's not always possible. That's also one reason why my reviews are a bit short on the review and analysis side and more of, well, descriptions of the game with some opinion included.

The review's in my head, until I've thought about it enough, then it's just writing down. I'm not very good at planning things, so I just usually write it down and that's it. Well, that's one reason why I like the internet - I can always come back to the review and edit it. My site has some reviews that are more than ten years old, but during the years they've been edited many times. Might be interesting to compare some of them at some point...

My BoardGameGeek reviews are time capsules, as I don't go back to edit them.

Why do I review games, then? I enjoy being a guru and being the only one to write a bunch of game reviews makes you look kind of special. That's the honest answer, but it's also about distributing information and helping other people find interesting games (and find games in general). That's, in the end, why I keep writing the reviews. Enjoying writing itself helps, too.

4. What do you consider to be some of the hallmarks of a successful review?

Good review is either short or well structured. I don't read long reviews that don't have any subheadings. I want to be able to skim and find the bits that actually interest me.

Actually, most people on internet skim and not read, which is something all reviewers should keep in mind. Most folks write too long paragraphs (web requires shorter paragraphs than print) and forget subheadings.

That's the most important thing, because in most cases it pretty much decides whether I read the review or not.

5. What do you think about the diversity of review types and styles on BGG?

That's great. I love that somebody else does those more analytical reviews that I don't do, and for example your pictorial reviews are pretty cool too.

6. What are some things you appreciate about BGG?

The community is pretty cool in general, and I love the subscription feature that makes following all the necessary discussion very easy. I don't read the general forums pretty much at all, but follow many game forums closely. The level of discussion varies a lot, but is mostly very civilized and entertaining.

7. Who do you usually play games with?

Friends, but for many years now all my friends have been serious board gamers. I don't really meet other people (well, relatives, yes, but my mother likes games a lot and my brother joined our game group last year, so that's sorted out as well).

We've got a weekly game group going, with a fairly small but steady attendance. It used to be associated with the local university, but these days it's less so (which is good, because I graduated five years ago).

8. What are some of your favourite games?

It doesn't take much to notice I'm a train game geek. My favourites include 18xx games like 1825 and Age of Steam. I also enjoy traditional card games (Tarock and Mahjong in particular). I've got a soft spot for Die Dolmengötter and still enjoy Dominion a lot, after all those expansions (and yes, I do have them all).

9. Have your tastes or perspectives as a gamer changed since you began reviewing?

It's an over ten-year arc that covers just about the whole time I've been a board game enthusiast so yes, it'd be odd if things hadn't changed. I've gone from the world-embracing "ooh look at these shiny games I must own them all" to where my game and particularly collection interests are a lot more focused. When I started playing games, I was your average euro gamer, now it'd be easy to label me as a train gamer.

I've lost much interest in trying all new games, the standard "I've played too many games already" curmudgeon behaviour really. Somebody could call it maturing as a gamer...

10. What does the future hold for you as a game reviewer, and what can we expect from you from here?

Not much, unless you speak Finnish. As you can notice, I only wrote four reviews in Geek during 2010 and haven't done any in 2011, and that's the way it'll be - I'm burying myself under all sorts of projects and writing reviews for Geek and my blog are unfortunately a very low priority item. I'll be focusing my board game review interests on my Finnish site.

If you can read Finnish, then sure, you're going to see reviews of at least the most interesting game releases in Finnish. That's what I consider important and really worth doing, the rest is a bonus I'll do if I have time.
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13. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Dan Poole
United States
Goldsboro
North Carolina
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Number of reviews: 107 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]

Most thumbed review: 91 thumbsup review of a fantastic game (Waterloo)

First ever review: User Review (Carcassonne)

Quote:
1. Tell us about your very first game review. When and why did you start reviewing games?

This was in 2004 shortly after I stumbled across BGG. I was very naive about "modern" boardgames and therefore, I was suprised not much was said about it. That prompted my review. Alas it was a pretty lame review, thus I deleted it. Carcassonne was my next review. It was the game that brought me to BGG in the first place. Ironically, I don't really play it much nowadays.

2. If you could choose one (or more) of your best or favourite reviews, so that we can admire them, which ones would you pick, and why?

After looking at them all, I must say that I do not have any one or few that really stand out. I kind of cringe at my early reviews.

3. For you, what is involved in the process of making a review, and what do you enjoy about producing reviews?

I like giving a brief overview of the game. I like to personally rate the following: theme, mechanics, strategy, rules/rulebook, aesthetics/component quality, verisimilitude (wargames) and overall fun factor. Theme is rated on 2 things: the actual theme and more importantly, does the game immerse you in the theme. This is kind of tricky though. For example Tigris & Euphrates does not immerse into the them at all, yet it is a great game. Verisimilitude only applies to wargames, and like theme, a low rating is not necessarily a bad thing.

4. What do you consider to be some of the hallmarks of a successful review?

IMO the most important thing about a review is that it gives the reader adequate info to make an informed decision about whether or not to buy the game. A successful review has to be both objective and subjective. In other words, I respect a positive review from someone who personally did not like the game and vice versa. I like to hear objective data, yet I like to hear why the reviewer personally liked and disliked the game. What's more, what other games does the review like/dislike? I usually hate ranting reviews, either good or bad.

5. What do you think about the diversity of review types and styles on BGG?

I think they are great. Some readers prefer complete exhaustive reviews (like yours), while others prefer succinct to the point reviews. My reviews seem to be more of the latter, though I appreciate the former. Video reviews are becoming more and more popular and in my opinion can be very helpful too.

6. What are some things you appreciate about BGG?

The obvious answer is BGG is a tremendous resource for us, especially given the fact that our hobby caters to a relatively small population (of which I am grateful because I usually loath most mainstream interests). But on a not-so-obvious note, I feel a sense of belonging here, like I am a part of a secret society engaged with others who share the same interests. I have been to the past 3 BGG cons. Getting a chance to meet my fellow geeks really enhances those feelings. We are definitely a minority group.

7. Who do you usually play games with?

My wife. She is a huge gamer too. I got one of my partners at the office into gaming. Now he and his wife play games with us on a regular basis. My daughters, who live out of state with my ex play when they visit.

8. What are some of your favourite games?

- Wargames: Combat Commander, Up Front, Command and Colors (Ancients and Napoleonics), Hammer of the Scots, Rommel in the Desert. Twilight Struggle.
Euros: Caylus, Race for the Galaxy, Agricola, Puerto Rico, St. Petersburg, Dominion, 51st state. I really like Martin Wallace games too (Moongha Invaders, Automobile)
-"Ameritrash": Arkham Horror, Earth Reborn. War of the Ring (Collectors Edition of course)
- Railway: Steam, Railways of the World series
- Abstract: Backgammon, Crokinole (otherwise I don't like abstracts)

9. Have your tastes or perspectives as a gamer changed since you began reviewing?

Yes. I was totally niave about "modern" games until I stumbled across BGG. I was mesmerized and had to play most everything. Alas, I will also say that having been here going on 7 years, it is getting harder to find new games that are novel snd interesting. However, that just gives me even more reason to play the games I already have.

10. What does the future hold for you as a game reviewer, and what can we expect from you from here?

I don't review games as much as I used to because it seems more and more people are reviewing nowadays, especially with regards to video reviews I will limit my reviews to games that do not have any or many reviews, mainly to provide (hopefully) useful information to fellow geeks.
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14. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
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"To be honorable and just is our only defense against men without honor or justice." -Diogenes of Sinope
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If ye see the laird, tell him this makes the twelve hunner and nineteen time that Jennet Clouston has called down the curse on him and his house, byre and stable, man, guest, and master, wife, miss, or bairn—black be their fall! -RLStevenson
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Number of reviews: 106 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]

Most thumbed review: 65 thumbsup Review by SOS from 2002 - includes extreme variant (American Megafauna)

First ever review: Review by SOS (from 2000/01) (San Marco)

Quote:
1. Tell us about your very first game review. When and why did you start reviewing games?

I must tell you up front that the vast majority of my reviews here on BGG were written before BGG existed, so I'm not sure I should really be in this geeklist. With that said, I have no idea what my very first game review was. I started reviewing games in the 1980s for now defunct print magazines. Why? Because I love games and want to share that feeling, of course! (Well, I also got paid for those reviews, and in those days I was a self-employed clown, storyteller, and Commedia dell'Arte actor/teacher, so needed every penny I could earn!)

2. If you could choose one (or more) of your best or favourite reviews, so that we can admire them, which ones would you pick, and why?

Hmmm - either my American Megafauna review (Review by SOS from 2002 - includes extreme variant), or the ones on Wilderness War (Review by SOS from 2002) or The Napoleonic Wars (Two-Player Napoleonic Wars Review by SOS). Why? Because I think I got a nice balance of readability in long reviews with those. Of course, I could be delusional. I do know that there are some long reviews on BGG that I simply can't finish - their length puts me off. And I'm always concerned about that with my longer reviews. But I think those read well enough to finish - at least if you have any interest in those types of games, which are all, BTW, long games. Long reviews work for long games, but short games should have short reviews.

3. For you, what is involved in the process of making a review, and what do you enjoy about producing reviews?

First I have to know the game thoroughly, of course. That means a few plays, at least. I think I have reviewed one or two games based on fewer than three plays, but I'll always state that up front if it's true. Over time I evolved a template that I tweak for each game: Overview of the game, overview of the rules, what's done really well, details about something people might want to know more about, why wouldn't you like this game?, and a summary.

What do I enjoy about producing reviews? It would have to be spreading knowledge about games I enjoy. Yes, that means I pretty much only review games I like. I realize that negative reviews can be very valuable, but I just don't enjoy writing them. Of course I'll include negative points, but if I bother to review a game at all, it's probably a positive review on the balance sheet.

4. What do you consider to be some of the hallmarks of a successful review?

There's really only one: have I learned enough to know that I want to try (or avoid) the game?

5. What do you think about the diversity of review types and styles on BGG?

Pretty much what you'd expect: some are more to my taste than others, but I appreciate everyone's efforts. I generally don't care for video reviews except for games that are very difficult to explain in writing, such as Indonesia. In those cases, I actually prefer video reviews. But for most games, give me something in print, please.

6. What are some things you appreciate about BGG?

A few years ago, it was mostly the community. Now the community has grown so much I don't know most of the people, alas. So to be perfectly honest, what I appreciate the most are the rating comments, the files and answers to rules questions.

7. Who do you usually play games with?

I have two regular game groups which each meet once a week. One is largely a Scrabble group, though we also play Ta Yu, Qwirkle and Cribbage. They're older folks. The other group is younger (I'm the only one in my 60s) and meets at my house. We probably average three players, but frequently there are four or only two of us. Occasionally five, rarely more than that. We also have four or five "long game days" a year in which we play one game for eight hours or so. Good people! I also attend a few gaming conventions and gatherings each year, though not as many as I used to.

8. What are some of your favourite games?

Too many to list, really. Those interested should check my profile and games rated.

9. Have your tastes or perspectives as a gamer changed since you began reviewing?

Of course! All is flux - if you don't change, you're dead. But to paraphrase Gandhi, the fact that my opinion has changed doesn't alter the fact that I'm still right.

10. What does the future hold for you as a game reviewer, and what can we expect from you from here?

Only sporadic reviews. When I started reviewing online in 1993, there weren't very many game reviewers on the net. I was definitely performing a service to the (admittedly small) community of that time that was fairly rare. Oh, I wasn't as big as The Game Cabinet and its reviewers - now *there* was a magnificent game site! But now there are so many game reviewers that my voice isn't really needed. Being older but still working, I have less energy than I had in those days, so it has to be a game I feel pretty strongly about before I'll write a review. And one that doesn't already have a half dozen reviews written for it ... Most of my most recent reviews on the geek were RPG reviews in 2009, trying to help launch the site. I may add another review or two over there, as it still needs some boosting.
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15. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Paul DeStefano
United States
Long Island
New York
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It's a Zendrum. www.zendrum.com
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Number of reviews: 104 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]

Most thumbed review: 203 thumbsup If Chuck Norris Were a Game, He Would Be Space Hulk

First ever review: User Review (Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie)

Quote:
1. Tell us about your very first game review. When and why did you start reviewing games?

If you mean really, overall, I wrote game reviews in High School for the school newspaper. My first one there was probably Lost Worlds, but those are long gone from a flood many years ago so I could be wrong.

If you mean BGG, it was HeroScape (User Review). This was right when the game came out. I re-reviewed it as my 100th review (It was my first review. This is my 100th review.) when they announced the discontinuation.

Why? Because I'm a writer and a gamer. When the two things come together, you either writing for games or about them. It's just a natural extension.

2. If you could choose one (or more) of your best or favourite reviews, so that we can admire them, which ones would you pick, and why?

I kind of dislike 'formula' and 'by the book' reviews. If you want to drive home the emotional feel of a game, the something that's almost impossible to describe without playing, I think it requires a creative take where the 'feel' of the review echoes the 'feel' of the game.

Sometimes, this lends to odd fictionalizations in my mind.

I think my very fave is when Runebound showed up to kill Talisman: Runebound: Talisman Slayer

Runner ups:
Chuck Norris and The Rock review Xevoz: Chuck Norris And The Rock Review Xevoz
similar to Christospher Walken and Vin Diesel on Corunea: Corunea as reviewed by Christopher Walken and Vin Diesel.

Apples To Apples review is played more than read: I'll determine YOUR rating for this game.
Same with Boggle: An open challenge: A review for you to play.

I have to stop there, or I'll just keep listing ones I enjoyed writing, which is most. OK, Space Hulk and Micro Mutants were really fun too. But now I'll stop. Really.

3. For you, what is involved in the process of making a review, and what do you enjoy about producing reviews?

I have to play a game 5 times. At least. Then it takes a slow day at work. And I have to have played the game recently, perhaps within 2 or 3 days of writing. What do I enjoy about it? Again, at heart, I write. I like the process. I often need to find a 'hook', again to keep from being formulaic. There's too many reviews on this site to just pound out more opinion pieces. Entertainment value in reading is important. Yeah, some reviews are pretty straightforward, but that happens when the game simply doesn't excite me and I see no one has reviewed it for two years or something.

My favorite thing is when I read a comment on one of my reviews and someone says "I bought this game because of this review, and boy, you were right". I love being able to help people find their next fun thing.

4. What do you consider to be some of the hallmarks of a successful review?

I know whether or not I would enjoy the game.

5. What do you think about the diversity of review types and styles on BGG?

I strongly dislike video reviews. Mainly because I don't have a convenient time for them. I've watched... I think 3. That's enough for me. If a game entry has picures I can go to, not even necessarily in the review, and if the review is well written, awesome. Rewatching is way more time consuming than rereading.

When I shop for a game, I usually read 3 or 4 reviews if they're out there. I rarely find any without merit.

6. What are some things you appreciate about BGG?

The vast knowledgebase and diversity of interests among the members is astounding.

7. Who do you usually play games with?

Family. My wife, the kids. My brothers. Often these things bloom into impromtu game days with other people being invited. Several times a year I find suddenly 10 people at my place gaming. Not planned...

8. What are some of your favourite games?

Blue Moon. Crokinole. Small World. Summoner Wars. Right now, I'd say the games hitting the table most the past few weeks are Crokinole, Small World and Stone Age. There are also games I admire tremendously as a designer that don't get much play, like MonsterPocalypse. The game is fabulous but the icon system requires a refresher course each time you play. If I'm with my brothers and their significant others, THE game to play is Abstracts. (the game, not the genre)

9. Have your tastes or perspectives as a gamer changed since you began reviewing?

I have no idea. I really don't think there's a correlation I can make out.

10. What does the future hold for you as a game reviewer, and what can we expect from you from here?

This is asked as if I have a plan. I assume eventually reviews of Small World, Race For The Galaxy, Defenders Of The Realm and Stone Age if the whim hits and I can find a hook to make the review creative.

Thanks for the opportunity to voice this and thanks to any 'fans' who enjoy my writing.
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16. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Bruce Murphy
Australia
Pyrmont
NSW
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Number of reviews: 103 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]

Most thumbed review: 121 thumbsup An illustrated review of Surviving the island (and sharks!)

First ever review: A first look at Crunch

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1. Tell us about your very first game review. When and why did you start reviewing games?

After playing Crunch (a game I wasn't especially enamoured of), I noticed that I'd gotten my copy early enough that there wasn't much else written about it, so I thought I'd put something together (A first look at Crunch).

I'd enjoyed reading many reviews on BGG, and I'd just written my first session report, so I thought I'd try reviewing.

2. If you could choose one (or more) of your best or favourite reviews, so that we can admire them, which ones would you pick, and why?

Either the nicely balanced view of Container (Impressions: things people liked or didn't.) or the rather popular very pictorial review of Survive (An illustrated review of Surviving the island (and sharks!) ) would be considered the 'best' by BGG standards, but at the same time, I spend a lot of time writing reviews for fairly obscure games, and getting an appreciative email from the designer because they liked the way I captured their view of their game is great too.

3. For you, what is involved in the process of making a review, and what do you enjoy about producing reviews?

Mostly it's about trying to capture what makes a game appealing to me so that more people can get interested in it and maybe find a new game they might like to play. I've found reviews super useful for that myself.

4. What do you consider to be some of the hallmarks of a successful review?

It makes me (or others) informed enough about the game to know if they're interested in playing it or at least reading more about it. There are lots of way of getting to this point, but this is the entire point of a review. This has to be above and beyond reading the rules.

5. What do you think about the diversity of review types and styles on BGG?

There are a lot of pretty bad few-liners getting through geekmod with basically no information and opinion. I don't actually like video reviews because I read far faster than normal talking speed, and it's impossible to actually skim a video.

Some folks like passive game porn, so maybe videos work for them.

6. What are some things you appreciate about BGG?

Simply the scale of resource of information about even obscure games. I wish that the community was more diligent about getting all possible rules available here, simply so they'd be available in the future, once all mention of the game had fallen off the publisher's page.

7. Who do you usually play games with?

A combination of my workmates and my friends. This also means that I need to have a much wider variety of games available, but means I have the opportunity to get many different weights and genres of games played.

8. What are some of your favourite games?

18xx, Indonesia, Antiquity, Age of Steam.

9. Have your tastes or perspectives as a gamer changed since you began reviewing?

Trying to write about why a game is different and interesting has highlighted how much fairly derivative stuff is being released every year. I've also discovered that I enjoyed doing some game photography.

10. What does the future hold for you as a game reviewer, and what can we expect from you from here?

Trying to find an interesting niche for reviewing has led me to abstract games which I think are interesting and varied and deserve more than the content currently about them on BGG.

I'm trying to get hold of more of these, get them played and reviewed here and on my own website, http://www.theabstractrat.com/ My goal is to provide good resource for people to find out about other interesting abstract games they might want to play.
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17. Board Game: Golden Goal [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Andrew Rae
New Zealand
Wellington
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Number of reviews: 102 [Most Popular Reviews] | [Most Recent Reviews]

Most thumbed review: 88 thumbsup Just released and worth the wait - Pictorial review of Endeavor

First ever review: Review: Immerse yourself in ancient war (Battle Line)

Quote:
1. Tell us about your very first game review. When and why did you start reviewing games?

Turns out my first review was on Pillars of the Earth, nearly four years ago (Fat free fast food). Every game seemed marvellous back then, I had only been gaming seriously about a year and I struggled to rate anything less than an eight. The review had a nice tag line, and I tried to put a theme to it, but it was very unsophisticated (as many more reviews were at that time) and not terribly useful to anyone. My friends commented on it (thank God for friends) but there was little attention beyond that. It was short and just had text, but it was a start.

I wrote it because I wanted to enthuse about games, and this was one I had just played. Someone mistook it for a session report, which was not uncharacteristic of my early reviews, but in my mind it was a review of a single play. I wrote to have an opinion, to generate discussion, and frankly I think I am an egotist at heart and so I wrote to have a voice.

2. If you could choose one (or more) of your best or favourite reviews, so that we can admire them, which ones would you pick, and why?

It is natural to assume that the success of a review should be judged by the number of thumbs, in fact there is no other common objective metric. By that standard my review of Endeavour is my most successful with a very modest 88. But that merely tells the story of the designers being Kiwis, and that Zman shipped one of the first copies to them which we played at the local con. It was a hot off the press, lots of people looked at the review because it was a new game and it had lots of detail. It wasn’t the most popular review of Endeavor but it certainly blew away my other reviews for thumbs.

Still the question is what my favourite review is, and that’s not a hard question to answer. Merchants of Amsterdam (REVIEW: The Tale of an Apprentice in Amsterdam). This was one of my earlier reviews, it was short and it didn’t include any pictures. Over time pictures become a necessary part of any review, but at this stage my impression was that it was still a novelty to have pictures, and I certainly didn’t know how to add them.

In this review I took one the perspective of a young trader that had been sent to explore Amsterdam and was reporting back to the Guild Masters. I was trying my hardest to be clever by explaining the game in context of the experiences the trader might have had. It was as much story as it was review, and that appealed to me. So it remains my favourite review and one of my favourite games. I wish I could get a copy, I love the game.

3. For you, what is involved in the process of making a review, and what do you enjoy about producing reviews?

I shoot from the hip. First I try to think of a tag line, something catchy to sell the review. This tag line is based on my opinion about the game. Then I tell the story, and ultimately I lead to my opinion. Over the course of my reviews I have played round with format, chased after thumbs, and generally showed confusion over what I was trying to achieve. Ultimately though I want to have an opinion, I want to spark a discussion and I want to contribute something to the discussion.

These days there are so many good reviews with details of components and mechanics. BTW yours are the best, and most the most informative for knowing what you actually get and they are a prerequisite for buying the game if I haven’t already played. So these days I am just looking for a line, a story to tell of my experience with the game, and to let gamers know what sort of experience they are buying. You can know all you want about the look, but I try to give the feel of a game, and hopefully help someone decide whether it’s a game for them.

By reviews are better these days but they are more useful for the high level picture than they are for the game specifics.

4. What do you consider to be some of the hallmarks of a successful review?

Everything has changed, and I think reviewers are better to try and do one thing well than try to do everything. But for me the most important thing is that I really want to see a commentary on the game. What is it like and what skills do I have to apply to be successful. I want to know a games essence and nature. Conveying that is the hallmark of a successful review. I can do without the pictures or the blow by blow summary of play. This is why I prefer The Dice Tower to The Spiel. More opinion, less detail. (PS: Counter intuitively I do love those history spots on the Spiel, and Gametech on The Dice Tower).

5. What do you think about the diversity of review types and styles on BGG?

Each to their own. I think each review should do something well rather than do everything, so I would rather look at a bunch of reviews to get different perspectives than look at one all singing and dancing review that half does everything. I favour opinion grounded in examples and comparisons over methodical recounting of the rules.

6. What are some things you appreciate about BGG?

Its my gaming community. I enjoy being a part of something bigger, I enjoy feeding my thought-life with gaming info and I enjoy being able to find a place where people think in a similar way (well some of you anyway).

7. Who do you usually play games with?

Oh gosh, everyone. Family, our Couple Friends and Regular Gaming Group,. But I don’t usually mix them up together. Different games for different groups. Different attitude for different groups.

8. What are some of your favourite games?

I’m really a eurogamer. Some of my favourites include Twilight Struggle, Age of Steam, Goa, Fairy Tale and Avalon Hill’s Civilisation. Endeavor was designed in NZ and it is my most played game of the past two years. I’ve really enjoyed Vegas Showdown and Battlestar Galatica in the last month.

9. Have your tastes or perspectives as a gamer changed since you began reviewing?

There are a couple of things that I still dislike after five years. I still hate outright randomness, and so I yell and scream at the dice in Twilight Struggle when it doesn’t behave as I would like. And I don’t like heavy face to face politics. If I could play diplomacy no press all the time I would be happy happy happy. But I have noticed one particularly trend. I enjoy some dice now, especially when they come in larger quantities. It adds a wildcard, allows you to push your luck, but in the end if there are enough of them the likelihood of varying significantly from the average reduces to almost zero, and so you feel like you are still in control. I hated Phebes on the first play, but I now enjoy trying to balance and defeat the luck, while giving opponents opportunities to win even if they don’t know the game as well as I do. I’m still a euro gamer at heart though.

10. What does the future hold for you as a game reviewer, and what can we expect from you from here?

What drove me to a hundred reviews was the geek badge. This compulsive need for achievement. As a result I think much of my work is poor, but it has steadily improved. These days my reviews receive in the vicinity of 30 thumbs, which is not great, but considering I am never reviewing hot games (it takes a long time to get games to NZ), I’m satisfied. However I review very selectively now, and only when I feel like I have something unique to say. So you won’t see many reviews from me, I’m more likely to post opinions on the forums. But if I am to do more reviews I think they will be more focused on opinion, more formulaic, more targeted. The beauty of the geek is that if you value that perspective you can add me as a geekbuddy, and if you don’t, well I will never know.
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