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Subject: What Do You Like in a Text Review? rss

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Ryan Langewisch
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I have been considering writing board game reviews as part of a blogging endeavor, and I was brainstorming what kinds of elements I want to include in my reviews and what I tend to appreciate in other text reviews. I'd be interested to hear the opinions of the Geek on this, for example:

What are your favorite elements of written reviews?
What parts of written reviews do not interest you?
Who are your favorite reviewers that focus on text reviews?
When you search out a written review, what are the main things you are hoping to find?
 
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Osiris Saline
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What text reviews lack in general is conciseness.

I appreciate every single person who writes 12+ paragraphs on mechanics, scaling, footprint, and tone/consistencies of lore, but I would honestly rather read 4 paragraphs of well written pros & cons rather than a full product description as they are available elsewhere, and more often than not instruction manuals can be downloaded online prior to purchase of a game.

With reviews I am hoping to find an explanation of whether a game works at a base level, whether it has depth for repeat plays, if the tone works for casual or hardcore gamers, and simply if it is worth the set-up time. No "in a business sense this makes sense-" sort of stuff, as reviews should not be about corporate interest, but about the experience of the game and how the positive/negative elements of the game impacted you.

Concise, no mention of every mechanic or how turns play out, and whether the game is worth playing.
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Nick Henning
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I enjoy well organized and clearly laid out written reviews.

For example: if I open a review, I might just be looking for someone's opinion so I want to skip over the mechanics section. If I can't see where it begins and ends, I don't read the review.

I enjoy a concluding point either as a brief in conclusion paragraph or a pros and cons list.

I enjoy bullet points and lists in general - sure, many things need to be written in paragraph form, but bullet points are an easy skim and convey similar thoughts.

I like mechanisms/rules overviews but not way in-depth how to plays (I can just go look up the rules).

I like relating games to other games, but also citing what makes this one different.

I don't like reviews about quality components.

Mina is an excellent written reviewer - very well organized with a clear structure followed by a finishing thought. My main complaint is that her reviews are a little bit too long (and personally I dont play too many two player games but that is just fine as she doesn't sell it any other way).
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K S
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Words.


jkjk.

I appreciate some nice, clear pictures of the components and also the board-state at a few different points in the game or player counts (or a few different setups, if setup is variable). It doesn't need to be a photo-essay, just a few carefully chosen photographs go a long way toward giving me a "feel" of the game.

I am not at all interested in extended, detailed rules descriptions, especially if the rulebook is available online. I think a paragraph or two would usually do nicely, with perhaps another couple paragraphs explaining any particularly important/subtle/innovative rules points in a bit more detail. I've seen a few too many reviews where the actual opinion (the point of reading a review as far as I'm concerned) was just a sentence or two at the end.

I really appreciate comparison to other games which are similar mechanically, thematically or from the dame designer or publisher.

Finally, I don't mind length (always better more than less, I say), but I do appreciate sections of the review to be clearly delineated so that I can easily skip to the parts I'm most interested in without having to read through the whole thing.
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I think one of the great strengths of a text review is that if you wish you can skip straight to the part that interests you. I myself like to read as much detail as possible most of the time but there are occasions I skim read. So unlike one of the posters before me I like long reviews but also include a concise summary at the end and keep everybody happy.
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I like it when they use formatting. Walls of text are more bearable if they use paragraphs, colored fonts, boldfaced, and larger font.

Also like when they explain why games are great or suck.

.

I'm guilty of this myself, but do strive for more conciseness than shooting for that 2000 word review!
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Curt Carpenter
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Evaluation. Not explanation or summarization.
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James Arias
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I don't mind a concise summary of the game turn if it includes commentary and isn't just a bland retelling of the rulebook. I'm also looking for strong opinions good or bad with the pros/cons outlined, vs. dry neutrally positive stuff. As some games I've bought because of a bad review (where the reviewer didn't care for it but cited their reasons why, and those were pluses for me). A bad review for me is one that doesn't inform me at all.

Totally appreciate all the reviewers that put them together, though, it's very helpful.
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Colin Gillespie
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Pictures, and white space.

The worst thing that you could do is throw up a wall of text. If your articles are clearly formatted, then anyone who is looking for a summary of how the game plays can get a good Idea, and anyone who already knows how it plays can skip past to see your impressions.

You need to have more than just an explanation of the game, but to me at least it can't be less than an explanation either. I feel like I need to have that in order to make sense of the impressions. If all you do is tell me how to play the game, then I might as well just download the rulebook, which I am likely to do anyway. If all you do is tell me what you thought of it, I don't really have any background information on why you felt that way, or if I would feel the same.

If you are giving an explanation of the rules, try to give me something that can't be found on the surface of the rulebook. Describe a bit about how the different mechanisms interplay and why someone would want to do one action rather than another. I don't need a full strategy guide, but the one thing that a rulebook often leaves out are the steps between how to take a turn and how to play the game.

And as far as other reviewers to check out, you can't really do any better than the ones by
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BTW, can someone define what a text review is?

Is it strictly just text, so images linked from BGG or an external site aren't allowed? Are ASCI drawings even permitted?

Or is a "text review" just something in contrast to a video review or podcast review?
 
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K S
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ackmondual wrote:
BTW, can someone define what a text review is?

Is it strictly just text, so images linked from BGG or an external site aren't allowed? Are ASCI drawings even permitted?

Or is a "text review" just something in contrast to a video review or podcast review?


The second one!
 
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Dianne N.
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I would say a text review is a written review, in contrast to a video or podcast review. Pictures may or may not be included. Some people include images linked from BGG and credit the owner (though in theory for an "all rights reserved" image they should also be getting permission), and some people take their own photos. I suppose you could use ASCI drawings, that would certainly make your reviews unique!
 
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John Burt
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I like short, concise reviews. These aspects are most helpful to me:

- Describe what it's like to play the game. Not a game summary or rule description, but instead convey what the game experience was like.

- Honesty. If there is something you didn't like about a game, then tell us that.

- No gushing. If you think that this is the most awesome game ever designed, then you obviously have no objectivity and I don't care what you have to say.

- Well thought-out and non-trivial lists of pros and cons, written in enough detail that a reader can evaluate whether they are important to them. I place far more weight on cons, BTW, since I'm generally looking for reasons NOT to buy a given game.

- Consider that not all readers are alike, much less like you. Include qualifiers, like, "People who don't like take-that will probably not like this game...."

Mina is my favorite written reviewer.
 
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Ryan Langewisch
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ackmondual wrote:
BTW, can someone define what a text review is?

Is it strictly just text, so images linked from BGG or an external site aren't allowed? Are ASCI drawings even permitted?

Or is a "text review" just something in contrast to a video review or podcast review?

Maybe "static review" is more accurate, I was more using the distinction that BGG uses on game pages between video reviews and text reviews.

Thanks for the responses everyone!
 
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Kyle
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Show me something that beats a natural 20 and I'll show you hateful lies.
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-concision
-dissection without rules fluff
-critical items
-A lack of any rules overview (wasted reading)
-prefer no pictures.
 
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