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Subject: Tips on writing reviews? rss

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Rusty Shackelford
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Ohio
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First off sorry if this was a better topic for reccomendations or another board, I did look but wasnt quite sure where this topic best fit! Anyways, my wife and I have been tossing around the idea of doing board game reviews for awhile and have finally decided to try our hand at it! Neither of us have ever done reviews before so I thought id ask for some community tips. Any basic suggestions from those who read and or write reviews at BGG are greatly appreciated be they things you do personally or things you would like to see from game reviews.

For now we are thinking of calling our reviews He says - She Says and going with a format like this.

Opening - Basic information such as gameplay info or maybe why we got the game.

He likes - A section of things I liked about the game in short bullet points kept to just a sentence or two each.

She Likes - Same as above for my wife.

He disliked - Same as above but dislikes

She disliked - Same as above

He Says - Closing comment from me with my likes/dislikes wrapped up in a simple paragraph that states my overall view on the game.

She says - Same as he says but with views from my wife.

I figure doing it this style keeps it short, sweet and to the point while still making our views known. It also is a cute concept that provides two distinct points on a game and could help other couples make decisions as they learn our tastes.

Edit - BTW I recognize my grammar here probably falls far short of review standards. However I basically only have an 8th grade education. My wife however is college educated and writes papers like its nobodies business. She will clean up my end of the review before they get posted
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Will Green
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This sounds very good! The only tip I was going to suggest is ~ "have a schtick." It is clear that you have one with the "He liked/she liked," approach.

Now, the only other suggestion I would offer is..."Get to the writing of them!" Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

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Benjamin Maggi
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I would suggest these three things:

1.) If you are going to take the time to write a review, make it unique and distinct from others out there for the same game. Who wants to read 50 reviews of Carcassonne or Settlers?

2.) Don't bore readers with a rules analysis if other postings already do it, unless they significantly contribute to the points you are making (why you don't like certain rules, for example).

3.) State up front where your perspective is coming from, or else your readers will not understand your basis. Examples: how many times did you play before you reviewed it, what styles of games to you like/dislike, why did you play the game, etc.

Edits: Spelling.
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James Mckane
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It sounds like a very neat format, you have obviously put some thought into it. My only suggestions would be to name the series, which your name is great. I think the format of he ... and she ... is nice and quite unique. Which I think the more unique the better. I would suggest inserting the occasional picture into the review as well, it's always good to have a visual aid. You don't have to go overboard with pics or anything though.

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Edit - BTW I recognize my grammar here probably falls far short of review standards. However I basically only have an 8th grade education. My wife however is college educated and writes papers like its nobodies business. She will clean up my end of the review before they get posted


I was in the same boat, still am to some degree with grammar, punctuation etc. Writing reviews here on BGG has really helped me improve my writing skills though. I know my reviews probably are not up to everyone's standards, but I enjoy doing them and there are those who enjoy reading them. I look forward to reading your first review in this formatthumbsup.
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Rusty Shackelford
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Thanks guys! I appreciate the support. I was thinking our unique thing/schtick would be the his/her duel perspective. Heck even just having a females perspective at this sausage fest site(heh!) could have been a schtick but the duel perspective I was hoping would set things apart a bit more.

Benjamin I agree with the idea of not boring people with rules and detailing the entire game. I figure that there are a million reviewers that do that already, including video reviewers who can do it much better. Why not focus more on giving opinions that go in to more detail on what we like/dislike.

James its good to hear that doing reviews here has helped you! Hopefully it helps me too. I will have to look up what you have done.
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Rusty Shackelford
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O and what do you guys think about the many things we agree on? We dont want to repeat ourselves since we often agree on certain aspects of a game, but I also dont want it to be that we repeat what the other says. I was debating between adding a section called "we like, dislike" for the spots we agree on and just splitting up equally the points we agree on. Kind of torn because we like/dislike section while not adding length to a review does add a section I am not sure is needed, where as splitting up things we agree at does not disclose full information to the reader.

Thoughts?
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McDog
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MSIMagus wrote:
O and what do you guys think about the many things we agree on? We dont want to repeat ourselves since we often agree on certain aspects of a game, but I also dont want it to be that we repeat what the other says. I was debating between adding a section called "we like, dislike" for the spots we agree on and just splitting up equally the points we agree on. Kind of torn because we like/dislike section while not adding length to a review does add a section I am not sure is needed, where as splitting up things we agree at does not disclose full information to the reader.

Thoughts?


I like the original format idea myself...just as is.
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Andrew Laws
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Remember the part where you explain assert how the game is broken.
 
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No No No Sheep
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some ofyour question is answered here

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/741586/ask-who-the-best-revi...
 
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Rusty Shackelford
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Rastak wrote:
MSIMagus wrote:
O and what do you guys think about the many things we agree on? We dont want to repeat ourselves since we often agree on certain aspects of a game, but I also dont want it to be that we repeat what the other says. I was debating between adding a section called "we like, dislike" for the spots we agree on and just splitting up equally the points we agree on. Kind of torn because we like/dislike section while not adding length to a review does add a section I am not sure is needed, where as splitting up things we agree at does not disclose full information to the reader.

Thoughts?


I like the original format idea myself...just as is.


But do you then repeat the things you agree on or just let it be assumed that we may or may not agree. I think it could make things needlessly long if its like

He likes
- High Quality figurines
- Game can be adjusted from 2 players to 6 flawlessly
- Massive potential for expansions
- Lots of characters that you can chose to play as

She Likes
- High Quality figurines
- Game can be adjusted from 2 players to 6 flawlessly
- Super cute art on cards!
- Lots of characters that you can chose to play as


Anyways regardless in the next few days we think we are going to draw up a sample review for Battle Khaos(or as we call it Battle Cows!)Dungeon Run and either Carnival or Qwirkle. We will do it two or three different styles and see what we feel fits us best/gets the best feedback before starting weekly reviews.
 
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William McCarroll
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MSIMagus wrote:
But do you then repeat the things you agree on or just let it be


I would mention those type of things in your text if/when they become relevant. Stating you dislike wargames during a review of a dungeon crawl isnt all that useful, but if you are criticizing something for having a lack of theme, and abstracts aren't your thing, it's useful to disclose that. I wouldn't put it at the top of the review, but when the criticism came up: "I thought that the game lacked a nice thematic hook, leaving the game feeling a bit vanilla. I am not a fan of abstracts, so the lack of theme affected my enjoyment".

Your profile is a great place to put you boilerplate likes and dislikes, but I wouldn't put it in the review, as it somewhat dilutes the message in the review.

 
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William McCarroll
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Also, don't base your success on thumbs, either. More popular games generate more thumbs, due to the people who subscribe to the game. Choose your format on what you like the best, and feel captures your voice the best.

I write long 4000 word reviews that aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I prefer that format because I like to analyze the games.
 
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Rusty Shackelford
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hezkezl wrote:
Also, don't base your success on thumbs, either. More popular games generate more thumbs, due to the people who subscribe to the game. Choose your format on what you like the best, and feel captures your voice the best.

I write long 4000 word reviews that aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I prefer that format because I like to analyze the games.


Yeah my wife was talking earlier about a simple recommend for or against or even a 100 point scoring system. After we talked she agreed with me that we like Drakkenstrike and Tom vassel a lot because they give their views on the game and you can tell just how much they like or dislike a game without having to give an actual score.

And yeah I see where a long 4,000 word review can be really useful sometimes, hell iv read them from time to time. We are hoping we can offer reviews for people who swim in the opposite end of the pool though. Short, to the point and if you want you could even just skim it and understand what we feel.

Thank you for the suggestions!
 
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Nate Owens
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That format sounds interesting, but I would encourage you to not set too many rules for yourself. You can do some really cool things if you break away from your format. With 40 reviews on my profile, I only really feel like half of them are good, and they don't follow any format at all.

And I would chime in to agree that you shouldn't worry about how popular the reviews get. It's nice to get the notoriety, but with every review you sharpen your skills (and those of your wife, of course).
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The Final Word On
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We write reviews from a two person perspective. Take a look, they might help you. http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/browse/boardgame/0?usern...
 
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Tony Chen
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I suggest to worry less, not be too conservative, and give it some personality.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/520643/on-reviews-insigh...
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Caleb
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Best tip I can give you:


If you write a negative review on a popular game, just know you'll be assaulted by raging fanbois all claiming 'it's just a rant' and 'it's not a review' and 'you obviously don't understand it' etc. etc.


Personally, I enjoy negative reviews, but make sure you zip up your thick skin before writing one...
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You can't handle the truth?
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MSIMagus wrote:
But do you then repeat the things you agree on or just let it be assumed that we may or may not agree. I think it could make things needlessly long if its like

He likes
- High Quality figurines
- Game can be adjusted from 2 players to 6 flawlessly
- Massive potential for expansions
- Lots of characters that you can chose to play as

She Likes
- High Quality figurines
- Game can be adjusted from 2 players to 6 flawlessly
- Super cute art on cards!
- Lots of characters that you can chose to play as

You could always expand on the section and make it "We Likes, He Likes and She Likes". Yes I know that grammatically it is wrong but you can take a little poetic liscence. So it could look like this:

We likes:
- High Quality figurines
- Game can be adjusted from 2 players to 6 flawlessly
- Super cute art on cards!
- Lots of characters that you can chose to play as

He likes:
- fast paced games

She likes:
- having long term strategies paying off

In this way, we will know what both of you like. (I made up the new he/she points. )
 
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Lance
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1. Don't always assume people do not want a rules overview. Put it in the review but break the review up into "parts" so if the reader wishes, they can skip the section.

2. Include pictures, even if they are snagged from others here on the 'Geek (give credit if you do this!). A picture or two that break up the blocks of text will do wonders for your thumbs.

3. As said before, have a unique "shtick" for your review, and a brand that people can recognize.

4. Most of all, keep at it, listen to the comments, and keep trying to improve your work.

I look forward to reading your reviews!
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Brian Schroth
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I've written one review here, but I think it was a pretty good one ( http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/577958/like-playing-a-wo... ). My advice for reviews, which I think you'll see I followed in my own review, is to pick a game that you have really thought out your opinions on and analyzed extensively. So many reviews amount to a extremely long rules summary, followed by an actual "review" that amounts to "I like this game, the components are pretty good I guess, and this mechanic is pretty neat. It's a great game!". If you're going to write a review, take the time to focus on analyzing why you like or dislike the game, in detail. What are its strengths, what are its weaknesses? Really flesh them out.

If you look at the review I wrote, it's filled with content, and none of it is a rules summary. That's what I would like to see in a review. That's the sort of information that helps people actually decide if the game is one they would like.

Please note that I like rules summaries...I just think one good one is enough. If there are existing reviews that already have a good rules summary...skip it! Perhaps preface the review with a note explaining: "I am assuming in this review that you are familiar with the rules. If you are unfamiliar with the rules please see the excellent rules summary in ____'s review, here: ".
 
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Fin Hopkins
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UndeadViking wrote:
1. Don't always assume people do not want a rules overview. Put it in the review but break the review up into "parts" so if the reader wishes, they can skip the section.


I would challenge reviewers to work on describing how a game plays without going step-by-step through the rules. You should want to give the reader a sense of what they'll be doing in the game, for informative purposes and to give context to your criticism, but your job is not to write a mini–rule book.

Perhaps a rule of thumb should be that you need only enough rules explanation so that readers can understand your review's points without needing prior knowledge of the game, but no more than that.
 
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