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Subject: What makes a 'great/awesome/fantastic/etc' review? rss

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Cameron Lucas
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I am thinking about trying to write some reviews and would love to write and structure them in a way so that people feel like reading it was worth their time. So...

1) What in your opinion makes a 'great/awesome/fantastic/etc' review?

2) Are there any points or topics you think are super helpful but that don't seem to be in many reviews?

3) What is it about a review that makes you NOT find it helpful or worth your time?


NOTE: I tried a forum search and found 1 thread that was moderately helpful, so any snarky posts that are just links to 3 other threads on the same topic would actually be appreciated
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Pete
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Thumbs?

Pete (is a follower)
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Curt Carpenter
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There are 1,001 viable ways to structure a review. What matters is the level of analysis and clarity. Which cannot be expressed as a checklist of requirements.

But it's easy to list things that make a review bad:
* Regurgitation of the rules.
* Gratuitous use of pictures.
* Lack of support for subjective comments.
* No subjective comments at all.
* Too short.
* Too long.

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Russ Williams
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Some ideas off the top of my head:

Good clear concise writing. (Including minimal typos, language errors, etc.)

Is it a genre of game you are familiar with already (so you're the "target audience") or not (e.g. it's a wargame and you've never played wargames before, or it's an abstract strategy game and you usually avoid those)? Was it easy or hard for you to learn the rules? Did you read the rules, or just learn by someone teaching you the game? How many games of it did you play?

Did you play it solo or with other people? If solo, does the game have an explicit solitaire system (you trying to beat the system) or were you just playing multiple sides of a 2-or-more player game?

Quality of the rules: are they clearly written and useful, or do they have lots of confusing errors and omissions?

Impressions of gameplay: e.g. is long term strategy part of the game or is it more tactical/reactive? How long does it take for the first game, and once you are familiar with the rules? How does that depend on number of players? Did it seem enjoyable, or too much fiddly busywork, or downtime?

Are the game components adequate to the task?

Did it remind you of other games? If so, in what interesting relevant ways? Do you think it worked better or worse than those other games?

If you were developing the game, what would you do to improve it?

Do you want to keep playing the game? Do you think you will? What about the people you played with?
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Bryan Thunkd
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A good review is one that gives enough information so that I can decide whether I'll enjoy the game or not without being overly long or rambly.
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james napoli
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photos
people like d'em photos.
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Jay Lacson
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darlok wrote:
photos
people like d'em photos.

This. And make it start with UFBRT!

Other than that, proper formatting, a brief overview of the rules and possibly pros/cons and why you consider them pros and cons. Actually, I'm undecided if I like brief and full rules overviews. I suppose as long as it gives a good feel of the game, it's whatever is more comfortable to you as the reviewer.

 
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Samo Oleami
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We just have a contest for reviews open, so you try your hand in whatever (written) format you want and then figure out how you actually want to write reviews.

Voice of Experience Reviews Contest 2015: Prizes!
(the judge panel also gave out few guidelines about what we consider a good review).
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Scott C
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Avoid acronyms, or at least explain them.

Avoid sounding like a know it all just "phoning it in" on your 500th review.

Don't base most of the review on a comparison to some game I may not have heard of.

Maybe something cool would be some sort of multiple category rating system:
- Set up time/complexity
- Play complexity
- Player interaction
- etc.

Level of player interaction is important to note, I think.

 
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Samo Oleami
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CameronWLucas wrote:
I am thinking about trying to write some reviews and would love to write and structure them in a way so that people feel like reading it was worth their time. So...


First, I hope you have something to say or to share. An insight, an opinion, an experience. I like reviews that know what they want to say and guide me, the reader, through it.

Quote:
1) What in your opinion makes a 'great/awesome/fantastic/etc' review?

Good insight. I love reviews - even if I'm not interested in what they're reviewing. I read them as texts not as tools to help me with anything. If they're good, they're my brain food.

Quote:
2) Are there any points or topics you think are super helpful but that don't seem to be in many reviews?


1. How does it feel to play this game? What it is like?
2. What kind of players is the game (good) for?

Quote:
3) What is it about a review that makes you NOT find it helpful or worth your time?


Descriptions instead of reviews (including rule summary, make examples part of the review, but by themselves they don't make a review)

Also I want to be able to read the review - guide me to the points you want to make, do make me lose myself in some tangential paragraphs. Paragraphs are your friend, se are (sub)titles.
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Rob Doupe
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sgosaric wrote:


1. How does it feel to play this game? What it is like?


This can't be emphasized enough. A game is an inert thing until it's played. We play them so we can experience play, not to learn the system. An analysis of the system is not a review of the game, any more than a menu with photos is a review of a restaurant.
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Cameron Lucas
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Thank you all so much for the helpful suggestions!
 
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Under the paving stones, the beach
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An individual voice.

I want to see reviews that could only have been written by you, not identikit ones.
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Kim Williams
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You could also look at reviews for a number of games and try and see what's special about those reviews which get the high number of thumbs.

Obviously the first few reviews for games will get a lot of thumbs (just because people are desperate for info) and any written while a game is being Kickstarted will also get inflated thumbs, but if a game has had quite a few reviews and then suddenly a review comes out with 100+ thumbs there's probably something a little special going on. Read a few of those, and try and learn from them.

For me the quality of writing is the most important feature (though the structure needs to not get in the way of me enjoying the writing)
I don't need to have all my questions about the game answered by one review, I just want to a) get a genuine flavour of the game (and preferably the reviewer) and b) have an enjoyable, stimulating reading experience.
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Ich bin dran!
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I'm looking for:

- A concise summary of the rules and mechanisms, along with an opinion on their clarity and complexity as well as issues they might cause, like confusion, AP, and aggressive interaction.

- A few photos that give me an idea what the game looks like, particularly during gameplay. Especially photos that illustrate points you are making in the review.

- Thoughts on the feel of the game, as independent of your personal game preferences as possible. I care (much) less about whether you thought it was a great game for you than if it might be a good game for me or my family and friends. If it isn't a type of game you like, then identify what types of players might like it as well as those who might hate it.

- Perhaps most important, to me, is your summary opinion, as objective as possible, based on multiple games. Some reviews seem based on a single game, which is just a rules-learning run-through, as far as I'm concerned. I know that my thoughts on a game are very different after the 3rd game than after the 1st. I'm trying to learn whether I will gladly play the game over-and-over, otherwise I don't want to buy it.
 
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Abiezer Coppe wrote:
An individual voice.

I want to see reviews that could only have been written by you, not identikit ones.


^^This.
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Jeff Warrender
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Crisp, vigorous English prose.

There is no checklist of required items, there is no formula. Just write well about your reactions to, experiences with, impressions of, associations inspired by, the game in question.
 
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Thomas Shelley
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I've written a couple now that I purposefully kept short and sweet, I appreciate shorter reviews with few to no photos that give a quick summary and impression. If I really want to see pictures I can just look at the gallery here on BGG, and if I want an in depth review then usually ill look to videos anyway.
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Pablo Schulman
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TheRealDC wrote:
I've written a couple now that I purposefully kept short and sweet, I appreciate shorter reviews with few to no photos that give a quick summary and impression. If I really want to see pictures I can just look at the gallery here on BGG, and if I want an in depth review then usually ill look to videos anyway.


Funny, I find video reviews shallow. They focus too much on rules and neglects on the opinion part.

To the OP: I guess there's no perfect formula to write a review so just start writing, and eventually you'll find one you are comfortable with. Some general stuff to avoid: typos, wall of text.
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Cameron Lucas
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So I used your suggestions and wrote out a test review. Before I post it I wanted to post the beginning and outline here to get some feedback. One of the things I really resonated with was the desire to know where the reviewer is coming from...so I guess my specific question would be "does this tell you enough about me to prep you to read a review?"

Thanks so much for all of your helpful responses!

My Lens
I play games to have fun with people and I appreciate the different experiences different types of games can bring to the table.

Sometimes I'm in the mood for something short and crazy, but other times I'm in the mood for something long and thinky.

Some of my favorite games require adaptability and flexibility either through a variable set up or through different situations that can arise during the game. While I will try just about anything once, I generally dislike abstract games and dungeon crawls, but like Eurogames, Ameritrash games, and card games. I don't have unlimited money or time, so I like to feel like I get a good experience per dollar and hour when I play games.

My current top 10 games are War of the Ring, Race for the Galaxy, Dixit, Battle Line, Takenoko, Cockroach Poker, Archipelago, Love Leter, Monopoly Deal, and Agricola.

I try to rate games based on how much fun I have playing them and how well they pull off what they're trying to pull off, which is why Dixit and War of the Ring can both be a 10 in my book

I'm trying to focus my reviews on things I'm looking for while researching games. Specifically I'll try to answer the questions 'What does it feel like?', 'Does it feel like a good value?', and 'Is it fun?'

Outline
Why I First Played It
First Impressions
What Does it Feel Like?
Components
Value
Rules and Teaching
Strategy vs Tactics
Luck vs Skill
But is it Fun!?!
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Samo Oleami
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I think you could make it more organic and spontaneous. I would adapt the entry to each game reviewing so it makes sense (like when applying to a job you don't list those working experiences that aren't relevant). Also the categories/part of a review - some will make sense in certain games but not in others.

I think this scheme is good for thinking about a particular game and making a sketch for a review.
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Edward Uhler
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CameronWLucas wrote:
So I used your suggestions and wrote out a test review. Before I post it I wanted to post the beginning and outline here to get some feedback. One of the things I really resonated with was the desire to know where the reviewer is coming from...so I guess my specific question would be "does this tell you enough about me to prep you to read a review?"

Thanks so much for all of your helpful responses!

My Lens
I play games to have fun with people and I appreciate the different experiences different types of games can bring to the table.

Sometimes I'm in the mood for something short and crazy, but other times I'm in the mood for something long and thinky.

Some of my favorite games require adaptability and flexibility either through a variable set up or through different situations that can arise during the game. While I will try just about anything once, I generally dislike abstract games and dungeon crawls, but like Eurogames, Ameritrash games, and card games. I don't have unlimited money or time, so I like to feel like I get a good experience per dollar and hour when I play games.

My current top 10 games are War of the Ring, Race for the Galaxy, Dixit, Battle Line, Takenoko, Cockroach Poker, Archipelago, Love Leter, Monopoly Deal, and Agricola.

I try to rate games based on how much fun I have playing them and how well they pull off what they're trying to pull off, which is why Dixit and War of the Ring can both be a 10 in my book

I'm trying to focus my reviews on things I'm looking for while researching games. Specifically I'll try to answer the questions 'What does it feel like?', 'Does it feel like a good value?', and 'Is it fun?'

Outline
Why I First Played It
First Impressions
What Does it Feel Like?
Components
Value
Rules and Teaching
Strategy vs Tactics
Luck vs Skill
But is it Fun!?!


This is really quite good. We do something similar in our reviews on our podcast and I like some of your bullet points there. Good ideas, thank you!
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Thomas Shelley
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PSchulman wrote:
TheRealDC wrote:
I've written a couple now that I purposefully kept short and sweet, I appreciate shorter reviews with few to no photos that give a quick summary and impression. If I really want to see pictures I can just look at the gallery here on BGG, and if I want an in depth review then usually ill look to videos anyway.


Funny, I find video reviews shallow. They focus too much on rules and neglects on the opinion part.

To the OP: I guess there's no perfect formula to write a review so just start writing, and eventually you'll find one you are comfortable with. Some general stuff to avoid: typos, wall of text.


Yes that can often be the case and there might even be a gap in the market for a more straight talking opinionated video reviewer, but just seeing the game being played is often enough for me to see if its any good or not. You cant really hide poor mechanisms, art, or components in a video review especially if they include a 'how to play' at the beginning, but in a written review you can certainly neglect/forget to mention these things.
 
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Cameron Lucas
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sgosaric wrote:
We just have a contest for reviews open, so you try your hand in whatever (written) format you want and then figure out how you actually want to write reviews.

Voice of Experience Reviews Contest 2015: Prizes!
(the judge panel also gave out few guidelines about what we consider a good review).


Thanks for directing me to this contest...it's a fantastic resource!

Here's my entry and first try if anyone's interested in how I took your advice: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1342141/voice-experience-lo...

Thanks again for all the help!
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