Recommend
20 
 Thumb up
 Hide
70 Posts
1 , 2 , 3  Next »   | 

Wargames» Forums » General

Subject: Wargame Review Best Practices? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Charles F.
Germany
Berlin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I wonder:

What are to your mind the DOs and DON'TS when it comes to writing wargame reviews? What approaches out there do appeal to you?
4 
 Thumb up
0.03
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Roger Hobden
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

#1:

DO NOT review a game that you have never played.

45 
 Thumb up
0.27
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Iain K
United States
Arvada
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Corollary: DO tell readers how many times you've played the game before you reviewed it.
24 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon Quinn
United States
Bradley
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Be sure you no how to spel wurds rite before you rite a reveu.
33 
 Thumb up
0.28
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Hunga Dunga
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
DON'T walk us through the game rule by rule.
40 
 Thumb up
0.26
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Lawson
United States
Rutland
Vermont
flag msg tools
Boston Redsox
badge
New England Patriots!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/309832/user-review
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
rod humble

san francisco
Earth
msg tools
badge
I feel quite good about what happened
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Tell me why you liked it / did not.
Tell me about your general gaming tastes.
Tell me about your observations while playing.

Do not bother with a score or rating number/letter or even worse a number for different categories. I want your opinion, if I wanted an integer I can look at any user rating from Amazon to BGG.

Do not bother telling me this is your game of the year, or dud of the year, or game of the decade. I dont care, I care about your review.

Finally, please do not cop out at the end by saying "of course thats just my opinion, if you like this sort of game then you will like this one." I could figure that out ahead of time.
20 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Lai
Hong Kong
Happy Valley
None
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Don't complain about reviews unless you've paid for them. Do appreciate the enthusiasm and effort that went into the review.
47 
 Thumb up
6.51
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
L. SCHMITT
France
Alsace
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
As a ( sometimes retributed )reviewer, I write it as I feel it, without real recurrent structure. However, I use to consider some points which are important to me :

- what I review is a product, and most of the time a costly one. Efforts and enthusiasm of the designers and editors are respectable, but it is the result that matters here. Good intentions are not enough to design good games.

- I never care of designers who try to run down reviewers who do not like their products ( yes, such individuals do exist... ). Reviewers are no fanboys.

- I never forget a wargame is a game, that has to be fun, but also a simulation. So, I will always ask the question of its historical relevance, especially in its mechanisms.
9 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Carsten Bohne
Germany
Duisburg
NRW
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Review the game, not only the components.

Do mention the component quality and anything out of the ordinary, but a list of the components can be read on the back of the box and I don't need you to explain in a full paragraph why you think that the counters' NATO symbols are especially beautiful.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Le-Roy Karunaratne
United Kingdom
Brighton
East Sussex
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
santino el cato wrote:

- I never forget a wargame is a game, that has to be fun, but also a simulation. So, I will always ask the question of its historical relevance, especially in its mechanisms.


On a similar note, mention if you play games mostly for simulation or balance. (Preferably mention each factor in the review)
Some of us prefer one over the other and games can focus on either.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Hughes
Australia
Northbridge
NSW
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Write whatever the fuck you want. There are no rules, not even guidelines, and even if there were, you should ignore them.

JFDI.
30 
 Thumb up
0.26
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eoin Corrigan
Ireland
Wexford
Wexford
flag msg tools
designer
ASL Fanatic
badge
Royal Dublin Fusiliers "Spectamur Agendo"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Opinion is divided on this point, but I think that multiple plays are required, i.e. one play simply isn't sufficient to authoritatively comment.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Emanuele Santandrea
Italy
Milano
MI
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
I love it when a plan comes together!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Mallet wrote:

#1:

DO NOT review a game that you have never played.



I believe this is the most important.

By the way, let me add:



do not use Latin if you don't know how it is written (spelling).
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rodney Clowsewitz
Canada
Moncton
New Brunswick
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't need to know who published it or how many players it plays or when it came out. I know all this stuff already and I imagine most readers who are reading reviews do as well.

Personally I like short, informative reviews. I've read reviews about how the game plays and feel like I'm reading the rulebook. Touch on the basics and tell me about the unique mechanic(s) in the game you find interesting or loathsome.

Section that shit. If you have an eighty five paragraph review divide it into sections with proper headings.

Finally, I want to hear your opinion on the game. Don't give me three introduction paragraphs, six component paragraphs, seventeen rules paragraphs and then four lines about what you thought about the game.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rob Winslow
United States
Rochester
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Scotty Dave wrote:
Write whatever the fuck you want. There are no rules, not even guidelines, and even if there were, you should ignore them.

JFDI.


What David said. Take this to heart.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Proudly annoying Capitalists since 1959
Cuba
Santa Clara
flag msg tools
badge
Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If there are a lot of reviews already, it can be refreshing to look at it from an other angle. Although this doesn't apply to a lot of wargames, since they only have 1 or 2 most of the time.

As mentioned before, stating how often you played a game is (I think) and important benchmark.

Sometime it helps to state if you look at it as a game, or a simulation. But I still think simulations need to be fun as well.

Cheers, Haring
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Charles F.
Germany
Berlin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
rodvik wrote:
Please do not cop out at the end by saying "of course thats just my opinion, if you like this sort of game then you will like this one." I could figure that out ahead of time.


Good point. No need for such redundant caveats. Any reader will anyway consider the persuasiveness of the reviewer's arguments and hopefully get a decent sense as to whether the game in question will appeal to him or not.

The inherent subjectivity need not be flagged. It is out in the open and ought to be celebrated! Just as in any discussion.

Reviewers are entitled to their (hopefully well-grounded) opinions. And it is such well-argued opinions we want to hear rather than dull components & rules run-downs with no insightful commentary as to the nature of the game.

As far as I'm concerned, the heart of a review should to relate to how well it succeeds as a game (i.e. decision-making depth/interest, playability, balance) and how well it succeeds as a simulation (modelling of historical dynamics).

A good wargame needs to succeed on both counts.

A light wargame can be a credible simulation (if not the most detailed). And the most serious wargame cannot excuse itself for gameplay deficiences by its simulation qualities.

I personally find the "bigotry of low expecations" towards these two ends of the complexity spectrum in respect to their perceived "weak suit" most unfortunate and unwarranted. As if gameplay and simulation quality were polar opposites!

No, it's not zero-sum. It ought to be win-win!
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Charles F.
Germany
Berlin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Iridescent wrote:

On a similar note, mention if you play games mostly for simulation or balance. (Preferably mention each factor in the review)
Some of us prefer one over the other and games can focus on either.


A lopsided military scenario cannot serve as an excuse for poor game-balance.

It's just a matter of how well a designer tailored his victory conditions to the given situation. I find too many wargamers are willing to give designers a pass on what's poor design craftsmanship and insufficient development.

After all, aren't we're looking for design excellence rather than mediocrity mired in perfectly avoidable issues? For me, enthusiasm for the hobby means to approach any game with high expectations.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nigel Wright
United Kingdom
Nottingham
England
flag msg tools
Hornet Leader - Carrier Air Operations
badge
Herge's Adventures of Tintin!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dasher47051 wrote:

...but a list of the components can be read on the back of the box...


If the list of components isn't in the BGG listing of the game then please add them. Not every one has an FLGS to check out the box!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marty Sample
United States
MILFORD
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Scotty Dave wrote:
Write whatever the fuck you want. There are no rules, not even guidelines, and even if there were, you should ignore them.

JFDI.


I'd agree that there is no set format. When I look back at reviews that I liked, they run the gamut from short to in depth. But they do share some common traits.

They DIDN'T spend 90% of the review regurgitating the rulebook.

They DID let me know the reviewer actually played the game enough to develop an opinion.

They DID say whether the game has a good historical feel or had some ahistorical things that they did not like/disagree with.

They DID compare the game to others on a similar subject where applicable. The old Bergs Review of Games newsletter ( BROG ) did this very well.

I'd also disagree with the previous poster that you have to play the game more than once. Now if its an short two hour game, yeah I'd say you have to play it several times. But if its CASE BLUE ? Especially for long games, or even short ones, lets face it many of us make a decision after a single playing. As long as the reviewer clearly states "based on a single playing" and says WHY they are coming to to the conclusion they did, I can deal with that.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Charles F.
Germany
Berlin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Writing "First Impressions" also has value. Whether after only (very) limited play or even just having perused the game material! These can also provide insights and prove good conversation-starters.

But those are quite rightly then denoted as "First Impressions" rather than trying to pass themselves off as a review.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
. .

Apex
North Carolina
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
Eoin Corrigan wrote:
Opinion is divided on this point, but I think that multiple plays are required, i.e. one play simply isn't sufficient to authoritatively comment.


Last Chance for Victory, and many other wargames, have 20+ hour play times. Are you suggesting that a 20 hour single playthrough of say Last Chance for Victory is not equivalent to 20 hours of another game?

Only the reviewer's experience with gaming, and the game their reviewing, should dictate the number of plays. Someone who has 30 or 40 years of gaming experience can tell if a game is a stinker within a few turns in some cases. Heck, even reading through the rules in some cases is sufficient to know if it sucks. These are, of course, rare examples however it stands to reason that between that and the other extreme are plenty of examples where you can get the game from a single playthrough.

An example in the middle would be someone who's very experienced with the Men of Iron series. They can play one or two scenarios and be authoritative whereas someone who has never played a Men of Iron game probably needs more plays to sound credible.

Ultimately, in writing reviews your credibility is the thing at stake.

To Charles point about First Impressions - I think these are invaluable. They are not full blown reviews, but they do provide context for people wanting something more than an out of the box video to make a purchase decision.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Wales
Aberystwyth
Ceredigion
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I like reviews which are fair to the designer. By that I mean the reviewer has read the designer notes or considered what the designer has set out to do and consequently bases any criticism or evaluation of the game upon that intent; not what the reviewer would 'rather the designer had done'. 'What a designer should do' is a much broader, possibly philosophical question to 'what's the designer tried to do in this game; has he/she done it?'

I'm very much enjoying the GCACW series at the moment, however the criticism levelled at it is often unfair - claiming that movement is too random and luck based for example. The whole point of the series is to simulate the difficulties in coordinating and moving such large forces in a time when the command and control capacity of the staffs simply wasn't up to the job - but also to do that in a relatively simple manner. I think it does that through the random, dice-based movement with a few modifiers thrown in. You can't be precise in your planning - your not supposed to be able to be precise in your planning - just like the commanders at the time couldn't be and just like the designer intended the game to be. You may not enjoy playing that type of game; you may not feel that such a concept is important in simulating Civil War operational level conflict, but it would be unfair to claim the game is poor because you don't like what it tries to do.

More general examples would be; to criticise OCS for being too complex or having too much emphasis on supply. Similarly, to criticise Command and Colours system for being a bit light on the combat rules would be unfair. OCS sets out to model supply and the logistical limitations of armed forces while the C&C system attempts to provide a simple wargame experience.

I like a review to tell me what the game sets out to do; explain how it tries to do that; and then offer some thoughts on whether it does that successfully or not.

I also like comments about the experience of playing the game; playing GBoH is a very different experience to playing Battlelore and a good reviewer will be able to differentiate between the types of experiences and convey the 'feel' of the game in the review.

I also like pictures.

I'm also well aware that I'm probably very guilty of all I complain about above when I talk about games with friends.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eoin Corrigan
Ireland
Wexford
Wexford
flag msg tools
designer
ASL Fanatic
badge
Royal Dublin Fusiliers "Spectamur Agendo"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
medlinke wrote:
Eoin Corrigan wrote:
Opinion is divided on this point, but I think that multiple plays are required, i.e. one play simply isn't sufficient to authoritatively comment.


Last Chance for Victory, and many other wargames, have 20+ hour play times. Are you suggesting that a 20 hour single playthrough of say Last Chance for Victory is not equivalent to 20 hours of another game?


That's a good point. I agree in that I don't think a 20 hour playthrough of Red Barricades is equal to a 90 minute playthrough of Storm Over Stalingrad, for instance. However, I do think that an authoritative, comprehensive review of any wargame requires more than one play. Even for a monster wargame, there are elements of the game which will require multiple plays to properly gauge.

If one intends to take the trouble to write a meaningful, quality review, I think one ought to take the trouble to explore the game beforehand.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2 , 3  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.