Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 Hide
8 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: What makes a good review? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
monchi
Canada
Burnaby
BC
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I was sitting down reading a bunch of reviews the other day and it got me thinking, what do most people look for or want in the reviews they read. A lot of us have written reviews of games and I think their are a lot of people that fly by the seat of their pants when they do. You have all kinds of different approaches that are take....

Do you like reviews that just let you know what they like or don't like about the game or do you prefer ones that go into every aspect of the game including explaining the entire rules and all the components of the game? Do you like your reviews to be less about the writer and more about the game or do you like it when the writer makes the review personal and speaks about the game using phrases like "i love this game" or "one of my favs"?

I am curious to see the different opinions on this and what formats people like over other and what information they really care about. Personally I hate reviews where the opening paragraph basically rewrites the rule book. I like ones that give you more of a sense of the experience the writer had.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Netherlands
flag msg tools
       This space              intentionally              left blank.
badge
If I don't know (about) the game yet, I find a quick components/rules overview helpful (clearly marked - so it can be skipped over when I do know these basics - is preferred), but what I mostly look for is insight into the "feel" of the game:
How do turns flow? What's the ratio of time spent on book-keeping versus taking meaningful actions? Can you plot out your turn beforehand, or do you need to wait until the previous player is done before you even have the remotest clue about your own options? How complex are the choices you have to make? (How large is the potential for analysis paralysis?) Are there (m)any agonizing nail-biter moments? Is it easy (and interesting) to follow what the other players are doing?

A lot of this is very subjective, but I dearly love those reviews where attention is being paid to these points; where the reviewer manages to convey the overall atmosphere of playing the game. You can usually relate such experiences to how your own group would approach the game.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Benjamin Maggi
United States
Loudonville
NY
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There are some that are nothing more then bullet points like "You will like this if" or "My ten favorite points of the game," etc. They are not to my liking at all. I like where people incorporate not only a review of the components but actual gameplay examples, such as a session report.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Hugo Olsson
Sweden
Karlstad
flag msg tools
Avatar
To begin with, the reviewer has to be familiar with the game. I see too many reviews where the writer has played only one session, or worse, has only inspected the components and glanced through the rulebook.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
Scotland
Motherwell
Graduate of Barlinnie
flag msg tools
VENI, VIDI, VISA - my reaction on entering my FLGS.
badge
Like a good red wine, I improve with age... and being laid.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
As well as covering the salient points of the game, I feel that a well-illustrated review relieves the monotony of long text. This is just a personal preference but, to me, it's important to actually see what the game looks like.

Regards,


Jim
Est. 1949

6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
K H
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A good review is well organized. Information is logically grouped and clearly presented. Sections might even be labeled for easier navigation. Theme and general mechanic are briefly mentioned right up front. A rules summary may follow, but it must be very brief. The purpose is to review a game, not to teach it.

The good review provides both objective and subjective remarks about various aspects of the game. Areas addressed include quality of the components, clarity of the rules, "weight" of the gameplay, what aspects of the game the reviewer finds satisfying and dissatisfying, what demographic (particularly what ages) would likely find the game appealing, and how much replay value the game offers. The review may also offer comparisons to other games with similar theme and mechanic if the game under review exhibits remarkably better (or worse) features.

A good review makes judgements and backs them up by explaining what led to those judgements. For example the statement, "Extensive down time with limited planning ability leads to player disengagement." might appear in a good review instead of the more vaguely stated, "This game is a snore fest." Superlative language appears only rarely, as games normally do not reach the extremes of good and bad design.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Brown
Australia
Sydney
NSW
flag msg tools
mb
A good review and what people want to read are different things. I wish they weren't.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Moe45673
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
I hate learning things but love having learned things, so forcing myself to sit through a 5+ minute review is a chore. I especially hate learning things when I don't know what the thing I am learning is aiming towards. This is why I would really appreciate it if reviewers would skip the whole bit on components, etc, and state the overarching theme and goal.

For example, if I was to review Innovation, I wouldn't start off with "Alright, you can do 2 of four things: draw, meld, achieve, and dogma". I can see the eyes already glazing over.

What I would do is say "Here is a player mat.



You are trying to collect 6 achievements (2 player game), which you put under the right side of your player mat. How do you get achievements? By having sufficient points, which are under the left side of your player mat. The whole game is trying to get more and more points so you can get achievements".

Instantly, the rest of the rules are all tied to the player mat and this goal, giving the newbie to the game a solid foundation of what they are working towards and why they would do anything, like draw or meld. Also, I would explain drawing first as you can only meld what you've drawn, and not go in order of what's written on the mat. I'd also explain dogma before achieve.

Having said that, I would then speak about how each age gets noticeably more powerful. I would show a typical Age 1 card and compare it to an age 4 and an age 7 card to demonstrate this. I would then state how the game is very cutthroat and you are constantly attacking your opponent(s) by stealing from their hand/board/score pile, while they are doing the same to you and how no game plays the same way twice.

I would NOT say things like "when the age 1 deck is exhausted, players then draw from the age 2 deck unless their board has an age 3 or higher card because........ *SNORE*

And that's the gaming experience. A user would be able to decide for him/herself if they like it. This is why I love the game, but I don't need to state this because I already did during my review. I don't love it because you need to get points to get achievements (wow, gee, so amazing and original and fun). I love it because of the reasons I stated above.

Granted, I can be an armchair critic all day long and be everything I hate about politics, but starting from the macro and having a linear progression through to the micro, rather than state the rules and force the listener to tie all the different objectives in his head to each other, is the way I would do things.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
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.