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    Avatar photoTim Snoddy

    I had an interesting experience on my Facebook feed today.  A friend felt a recent purchase, SPQR from Warlord Games,  was so poorly written rules wise that he visited several groups to warn people off buying it.  It got me to thinking that we very rarely see any reviews of new gaming products that are not glowing with praise.  Or if there are I am missing them.  An example would be Star Wars Legion by Fantasy Flight.  Universally praised online (it does have good models) but in my local gaming scene it barely has a foothold and even it’s most enthusiastic players describe the game only as a muted “OK”.  I had the experience recently of buying a fantasy rule set and after playing a game I simply could not believe anyone had play tested it.  Now I know we all look for different things in games and any given game may not be exactly what we hoped for, that is not what I am talking about.   Have you bought anything that you could not believe was so poor in play compared to the online reviews?

    Avatar photoDeleted User

    I have bought a few that didn’t match reviews.

    On your question about critical reviews. I think it’s because this hobby isn’t large enough for anyone to review rules as a job so unbias critism isn’t seen as a virtual. For the same reason I think people who do review the rules tend to be more lenient and praising to encourage the hobby. I have read some bad reviews on drivethroughrpg and sister sites and I value them more than the other reviews. Myself, I avoid writing reviews because I tend to be very critical and very direct about it, doesn’t make for very good constructive communication.

    Another way of looking at it anyone who didn’t like the rules probably wouldn’t feel invested enough to spend time writing reviews.

    Avatar photoMike

    I had the experience recently of buying a fantasy rule set and after playing a game I simply could not believe anyone had play tested it.

    /Checks records for sales/

    Avatar photoRhoderic

    I feel like I see strongly negative reviews fairly often, but they’re usually wrapped in a message to the effect of “everything new is bad and it was all better in the good old days”, which leaves me doubting the objectivity of those reviews. Perhaps the ruleset is genuinely bad, perhaps not, I just can’t trust the reviewer to be able to inform me about it when they treat irrelevant factors (the age of the ruleset) as centrally relevant.

    Taking those reviews out of the equation, I still wouldn’t say I never see objective, critical reviews. Rogue Stars (AKA Homework: The Game), for instance, got the reviews it deserved when it launched, at least as far as I saw. But are there enough honest reviews? Couldn’t say.

    Avatar photoAngel Barracks

    Now I know we all look for different things in games and any given game may not be exactly what we hoped for, that is not what I am talking about

    Unless the game is published by a proper publishing house then I am not that fussed over grandma and spelling, as long as I can work it out, I am ok.
    Same with images, not massively fussed.
    (The above assumes I am paying an indie price for an indie game.)

    However when buying a game by a full time games company that has the resources to get it done properly I expect it to be on a par with any book from a traditional bookstore, just cos it is a wargame book will not excuse it for me.

    Reviews are often vague and of no value, at least the ones I have read.

    As for it not being what I thought, yes they are often not what I want, but they are almost always what they set out to be.

    Don’t recall ever having anything that I saw as unplayable, just things that it turns out I did not want to play as they did not deliverer what I hoped.
    Future War Commander being an example, works fine, very popular, just not for me.


    I think most reviews I see seem to smack of people playing a game or three and then giving their impressions.  With that, you usually get a positive review for a given game.  People seem reluctant these days to give a negative review.  There are some, like on Board Game Geek or Wargame Vault, that give a numeric review without qualifying it with even a single sentence.

    I tend to not write reviews but rather overviews.  At my age, I know what I like and I know what ticks the boxes…for me.  I will usually work out some of the probabilities and then, if I get around to playing several games, I will even say what I liked and what I didn’t like.  I’ll even say what worked and what didn’t work.  I try to make the user understand that I am writing the review from my point of view based on my tastes.  There will always be a sprinkling of YMMV throughout as a reminder.

    Those that wish to write reviews should consider doing something similar to what I do.  No need to heap praise or sling mud.  That  I find is useless.

    YMMV 😉


    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

    --Abraham Lincoln

    Avatar photoThorsten Frank

    It´s really complex. I´ve read so many reviews and most of them left me more confused than before. If possible I look for internet videos and look how the game mechanics work. Well, and than happens something totally bizarre. A few weeks ago I watched a tutorial by the guys which wrote a rule set. I didn´t understand anything and it all seemed overly complicated. Buyed it anyway for the fluff (fluff is very important for me). Then tried the rules at home – and was surprised how fluently the game works for me.

    "In strange grammar this one writes" - Master Yoda

    Avatar photoShaun Travers

    I am like John – I tend to write overviews that highlight the mechanics of the game and what worked for me. Realising different gamers like different things, I tend to focus on describing the system and then people can make up their own mind whether the rules are suitable for them.

    Avatar photoWhirlwind

    Have you bought anything that you could not believe was so poor in play compared to the online reviews?

    I can’t actually think of any off hand.  Maybe some of the games in Paddy Griffith’s “Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun”.  I am not quite sure that the brigade game or the army game were really tested too much in actual play as written.

    More generally, I am going to write quite positive reviews of things most of the time because if I stick with it long enough to be competent enough to review it, I have to like it enough to stick with it.  I do try and highlight areas that I think other gamers might not enjoy but obviously that is a quite limited way of doing it (I am not going to always know what would wind someone else up about a ruleset).


    Avatar photoNorm S

    I run a blog, which on first inspection would appear to be a review site, but it isn’t. I buy all the games I write about and I am only encouraged to write about those games that I have enjoyed and therefore by definition have played and understood. So the text is not a ‘critical’ or ‘objective’ look at a system, but then those that follow the blog know that and they probably follow because the like the same kind of things that I do.

    If one is to do a critical and objective and independent review, then I think, rather like camera reviews etc it should be formatted in a way that Pro’s and Con’s are listed and the reviewers credentials as being independent become a given (together with any declaration that the game was supplied for review).

    In this day and age, production standards are superb and for virtually any new product, it is on first inspection easy to gush and become enthusiastic due to aesthetics and so the reviewer almost has to divorce themselves from that initial emotional contact with the game and start with a clean slate for a clinical and critical review, which can only come from immersion and play, repeated play at that, if nuance and design understanding is to be discovered.

    It also surprises me why a person who generally plays say WWII games would be sent and accept a game outside their comfort zone, for example a game on say The French Indian Wars, the big danger here being that the reviewer likes the ‘game’ but doesn’t understand the subject and cannot therefore review in terms of simulation, so the review is only half complete.

    So I think by default, there are some weaker reviews out there for reasons other than they want to please the publisher or perhaps not offend the publisher, because the flow of games with £100 price tag might stop, though I think this is also a contributing factor by degree depending upon the reviewer. In the camera world, a reviewer might be sent a camera for two weeks to have a play with, on the understanding that it is sent back. I have no idea whether that involves any form of other reward.

    I have never understood why a gamer would want to spend precious time (which should be MANY hours) looking at a game or period that does not interest them, on the basis that in the mix, they may also get some games that they do like.

    There is of course a part of me that is sometimes (perhaps unjustly) critical of the review system as my own ‘reviews’ / observations tend to be thorough and as honest as I am consciously aware of, but I do it by buying games out of my own pocket, so seeing weak reviews that might be just one step up from an ‘out of the box’ type report, leaves me a little cold.

    I recently bought a few military books from a series, I had seen a 1 paragraph review, which said little more than the blurb on the back of the book would give. I ended up speaking to the publisher on another matter and by the way discussed this, I got the impression that the series had been sent to the reviewer for review, simply because he had a web page and it was obviously a way to get the title ‘out there’. I didn’t get the impression that they regretted getting such a weak effort of a review, so perhaps they just write off a review circulation of say a dozen sets and hope that a few splashes are made here and there.  So I think there are reviewers who’s ultimate goal is to receive free stuff and the consequence of that is a weak review. These people don’t help the army of serious reviewers who love what they do.

    Avatar photoChris Pringle

    When we published ‘Bloody Big BATTLES!’ five years ago, we sent out review copies to various magazines and other outlets, with a range of results. The best experience was with Andrew Brentnall and John Drewienkiewicz for Miniature Wargames. They not only playtested properly, they also sent me questions, and they are experts on the wars covered by BBB to start with, so their eventual review was very well informed and authoritative. At the opposite end was the chap who not only clearly hadn’t bothered rolling any dice with BBB, he actually wished he’d been sent a different game entirely: his complaint was that it doesn’t have a points system or army lists and doesn’t seem suited for 28mm tournament games – which was kind of the point. Reviews by people who haven’t played a game and that just give an overview of the mechanisms really aren’t that useful.

    I attach much more worth to the well-informed ‘word-of-mouth’ reviews – spontaneous, unsolicited – that get posted by enthusiastic players on blogs etc. Here you find comment from people who are excited enough about a game to write it up, and therefore you tend to learn what they think is good about it and why they like it. OK, mostly these are self-selected positive reviewers (though occasionally someone will be disgusted enough by a bad game to make the effort to damn it in print), but still, you will get a good sense of whether this is the kind of game for you.

    Examples of all these (except the disgusted ones – happily we haven’t had any of those) are on the BBBBlog:




    Bloody Big BATTLES!



    Avatar photoTim Snoddy

    So many good points everyone.  Certainly my expectations of a small indy game are lower than those with the backing of a big company.  I think a lot of reviews happen after a game or two and as such are more first impressions than reviews.   Ideally reviews would happen six months down the line from release after multiple plays but of course that is not when the demand for reviews is greatest.  Yes I can see how people playing a game months after release are kind of self selecting and likely to be more positive.  I do get the feeling that companies are pushing out games on the strength of their name and the good miniatures you get with the game.  Companies thinking we want to release these minis and as long as we have some sort of rules system to go with them no matter how incomplete or broken that is OK. I think explanations of mechanics can be useful so you can quickly say that looks appealing or not for me.

    Avatar photoA Lot of Gaul

    The good folks at Little Wars TV do thoughtful and comprehensive rules reviews:



    "Ventosa viri restabit." ~ Harry Field

    Avatar photoMcKinstry

    I’ve seen reviews all over the board. From the very negative which often reflect personal bias such as “This rules set is really for large scale battles in 6mm and I like 28mm skirmish so it sucks.” to the ridiculously positive often along the lines of ABC wrote this and I love his rules therefore this is wonderful.

    I usually focus on scope and scale and ideally, a brief description of basic mechanics  such as IGO/UGO, activation rolls, described as very detailed or heavily simplified etc, and if it seems in my wheelhouse, I’ll give it a shot although an $8.00 Wargames Vault PDF will find me much more willing to try than a $42 hard back.


    The tree of Life is self pruning.

    Avatar photoAlan Hamilton

    I was at Claymore yesterday and the “Bring and Buy” table seemed to be a wargames rules review in its own right.  A few of the older rule books were there but lots of different sets of the newer “glossy” picture book style.  Maybe people who bought them and found them wanting?

    Avatar photoMartinR

    Wargaming is a broad church, and only a tiny minority of us get paid to write game reviews, so I’ll only write stuff up for things that either enthuse me or I hate.  I’m aware in both cases that it reflects my personal bias, and for things I hate or which leave me cold, I generally find polite silence is often the best approach.

    I took part in some play testing a few years back, and made the rookie error of assuming that when the author said they wanted feedback,  they actually wanted feedback. Well, I won’t be making that mistake again, unless it is working with people I know and trust.

    So for game reviews in general, I will assign as much value to them as I have paid for them, and go by the opinions of people whose opinions I value instead.


    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Avatar photoRhoderic

    There also seems to be an increasing tendency for rules writers these days to try to carve out and fill new niches in regard to game design. Just a few days ago here on the forum we were discussing the prospect of a fantasy adventure ruleset with a solo/co-op “heroes vs world” premise (which, to me at least, feels like a game design concept that hasn’t been explored enough, not counting boardgames of course where the Arkham Horror-style format has caught on in a big way). The suggestion came up of taking the game even further into experimental territory by having the player(s) control the “evil” world instead of the heroes. In that light, I can see why most people would rather not write reviews. There’s always the risk that the reviewer simply isn’t looking at it from the “right angle” (rules “glitches” and embarrassingly obvious mistakes in writing and editing notwithstanding). There’s even the opposite risk that a reviewer might unfairly pan a ruleset for being “too orthodox”. Better, then, to write overviews that don’t have a critical dimension.


    I was at Claymore yesterday and the “Bring and Buy” table seemed to be a wargames rules review in its own right. A few of the older rule books were there but lots of different sets of the newer “glossy” picture book style. Maybe people who bought them and found them wanting?

    Maybe old rulesets have had plenty of time to wind their way through the second-hand market into the hands of the “right” people (the collectors and devotees who won’t keep selling them on) and the new ones haven’t. I’d be interested in finding out how many of those old rulesets were in evidence at the bring-and-buy tables decades ago when they were new. Also, maybe the old rulesets have attained a degree of rarity now, especially if they’re not still in print and not available in digital format. Publishers of new rulesets nowadays often offer special bundle deals where you get both the print and digital versions together for a lower price. People could be selling off their print versions knowing they still have the digital.

    Avatar photoSane Max

    I made a very strongly worded criticism of a set of rules by a well known company. I mortally offended the owner. He’s a bloke I see on a regular basis, and really had NO intention of offending him, but I really did, so I am glad he has never recognised me, or I fear he would punch me on the snout.

    I meant every word, but could perhaps have phrased it more kindly.

    The point is – we are a small hobby. There is actually a good chance if you upset someone, it may well be someone you know, or a friend knows. I wonder if that’s not a major reason so many reviews (of games, figures, everything) are slanted toward the well-meaningly bland rather than an honest ‘That’s rubbish’ when they really are rubbish.

    I also think, since all of us have been in the ‘here is my first ‘photo of my first painted figure, what do you think?’ league, we are instinctively kinder to each other 🙂

    Avatar photoBlackhat

    It takes time and effort to put together a review and I think that a lot of people cannot be bothered to write a detailed review of a game they dislike and aren’t going to play again.

    The only detailed negative review I can think of in recent years was of Crossed Lance’s (sic) which seemed to be deserved and helpful and it stopped a number of people spending £20 on a poor set of rules.

    I have bought rules that I thought were poor but have simply sold them.  I don’t seem to get on with Too Far Lardies rules but have accepted that their style of play isn’t mine so I no longer buy them…

    I thought that Bloody Barons was one of the worst written sets of rules that I had seen at the time but sold it on and other people (who know the RCFM system) seemed to like it…

    As Norm says it is seems more worthwhile to talk about a set of rules you like than ones that leave you cold even if you feel ripped off slightly by the price you have paid.

    I would never post of multiple forums to warn people off a set of rules…



    Avatar photoOldBen1

    I haven’t posted in a while, here goes. . .

    I like simple rulesets.  I have found with the amount of time and energy I have by the end of the day is pretty limited.  I have bought many rule systems and have noticed that the simple dungeoncrawl, lots of tables, skirmishy type games appeal the most to me.  I noticed I am often biased towards games that also have simple mechanics and combat.

    One thing I have discovered lacking in rule sets is how the book flows from one topic to the next.  Some books have a strange way of demonstrating basic rules and then tying them into to more advanced scenarios.  I am really enjoying 4 against darkness lately, but the rulebook is not organized well and jumps from topic to topic.

    Some rule sets are also too complicated.  Combat is a chore for me if I have to remember dozens of modifiers for armour, weapons, movement, or abilities .  I like Alternative Armies Monster Hunter, but the amount of modifiers is insane.  I give a lot of bonus points to a writer who seems to have done their research, and is passionate about their game.  Even bad games have their highlights.

    Avatar photoPhil Dutré

    Fair and honest reviewing is hard, and that’s why it’s taken very seriously in some businesses (literature, theatre, …). In the academic world, the publishing of scientific papers revolves entirely around reviewing (although its function is different compared to commercial products), and is debated endlessly on how the process should be managed etc.

    Reviewing in a small niche hobby such as ours isn’t really reviewing. It’s more like writing an announcement for a product by a 3rd party. The reviews can range from ‘I looked at the product and browsed it’ (often) to ‘I have played nothing else during the past 6 months and these are my findings’ (rare).

    Since reviews in our hobby are published in trade magazines, it is not surprising they take the role of announcements rather than good reviews. The so-called review has to be in an issue close to the publication date of the product, so there is rarely time for a good and decent evaluation. But I don’t mind that. As long as you know that the review is really an announcement, there’s not a problem 😉

    The real reviews in our hobby are done by customers during months or years afterwards.

    Avatar photoSane Max

    I thought that Bloody Barons was one of the worst written sets of rules that I had seen at the time


    SNAP! That’s the very one that led to me offending Martin at PP. I think it was when I suggested recruiting a dimwitted small child to proofread that it got  ill-tempered.





    Avatar photoirishserb

    My first thought, after reading the title of this thread, is that when I look for rule reviews, I am not typically looking for a critique.  I realize that broadly, we tend to consider reviews to be a critique, but they are not inherently the same thing.

    Within gaming, I generally find that the writing on the box or book doesn’t tell me enough to know whether I want the rules or not, with the result being that I do not buy them.  In a review, I want facts, review the facts about the rules, give the scope and scale they address, talk about the mechanisms used, how do the rules work.  I want to know if they include the detail that I like, or abstract it into oblivion.  I don’t care if the reviewer likes the scope, scale, or mechanisms so much.

    I want a review of what you get with the rules.  I typically don’t know the reviewer, so his personal preferences are mostly meaningless to me.  He is welcome to offer some thoughts, and say that he will or won’t adopt the rules, but I’m looking for info, not whining because the rules are so 2017.

    Avatar photoSane Max

    That’s a pretty good point. Personal taste varies so widely in what you like in a wargame that a ‘I Liked them’ is pretty useless in a review – unless you know the reviewer well enough that you generally agree with their ‘taste’


    But ‘This company makes rules that I have played, and greatly enjoyed – one of their earlier sets is a genuine favourite of mine –  but this set of rules is so ill-written that I could not physically force myself to finish reading them, could not therefore grasp the rule mechanics they were trying to explain, and so I threw them in the bin’ has to be recognised as useful too.


    Avatar photojeffers

    Oddly, I discovered Neil Thomas’ books because of an adverse review. What the reviewer didn’t like was the thing I was after. Perhaps sometimes the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    I suppose I’m fortunate that I’m settled on rules so can indulge the odd £20 or so on a new set to see what it’s like for myself. After all, it might be the holy grail… But that’s not the same as forking out £60 plus for a complete game. If I don’t like the rules, big deal; I’ll still have the toys. With a game you can’t move on and keep the counters, or whatever. It’s all effectively binned (like all bar one of my S&T mags) so a decent, knowledgeable review – as Chris stated above – is vital.

    Btw, I have a list of individuals and companies I now know I will never see eye to eye with so can completely ignore their offerings. Bet I’m not alone 😉

    More nonsense on my blog: http://battle77.blogspot.com/

    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage


    My review, by Not Connard Sage age <cough>

    No amount of opprobrium is too great for this festering pile of ordure.


    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    Avatar photoSteve Johnson

    Most reviews in magazines are too vague to be of any use to me, as they tell me little of how the game actually plays. As others have mentioned, I want to know the core mechanics, is it IGOUGO, does it use 2D6 as opposed to say D10 etc. If the latter I’m pretty much put off straight away based upon games I have played that have used this to resolve combat etc. Some examples of actions, combat etc would be nice to get a feel of the game. Ultimately this depends upon how much space is allocated to the review by the magazine; if a 2 page spread or more then this should be easy to do, if a quarter page not a cat in hells chance of anything meaningful being written.



    Avatar photoPhil Dutré

    For me, a review should not be a description of the game. That’s what you buy the game for.

    But a review should offer an *opinion* about the game.

    Avatar photoAngel Barracks

    Burning Sands – my own Sand and Sorcery rules.


    When I was writing the above I asked people for feedback, I asked for feedback specifically around a certain area of the rules.
    I received feedback from everyone, which was nice, but only half them gave me feedback around the area requested.

    Having chatted with a couple of rules writers (some quite prominent) feedback from the community is almost always like this.
    You ask for thoughts around A and you get feedback on B and C.

    Not being able to afford professional proof readers makes indie game design harder.


    Miniature Wargames featured my rules, though it was not a review, more a regurgitation of the blurb from my site.
    They also referenced a couple of other games in the same vein in my review, but got the name of one of them wrong.
    Bit disappointing to be honest.

    I had a chap over on LAF criticise the price, saying that compared to another set of similar rules mine were more for less pages, and as such mine were not as good value.
    Having access to both sets of rules, I did a word count and found that with quite a lot less pages, my rules actually contained a lot more words, the other rules using a bigger font and having some pages with sparse word content.

    I was tempted to point out the flaw in his review, but he was begrudging me asking for a fiver in my pocket for each set of rules sold (which meant selling at about £8.50 on Wargame Vault).
    I did try to suggest that for hundreds of hours of writing and playing work, hundreds of hours of painting and photography that a fiver was not really that much, but he was adamant the rules/me were bad.
    So what point arguing, haters gonna hate.

    It is not easy producing things in this hobby, and a small outfit can often take quite a hit from a negative review, as bad news travels faster, further and louder these days it seems.

    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    That’s why, to be honest, I’d rather have almost the exact reverse of what Phil wants.

    I do want a description of the rules – not a subjective feel for whether they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (apologies to NCS – I share his excellent critical review opinon above).

    I don’t want every mechanism reproduced but I like a description of the type of game the rules produce, how they seek to do it and do they achieve it within the reviewers experience. They are of course allowed to say they don’t like X mechanism and the rules don’t achieve their purpose in their opinion. But I want to know why.

    And a simple word count does not make something good or bad or value for money anyway. I’ve read some very thick books about war and I’d put Stephen Crane’s slim volume ‘The Red Badge of Courage’ above most of them for conveying a feel of  seeing the elephant (even though Crane was never involved at all). It’s quality not quantity.


    Avatar photoSteve Johnson

    “For me, a review should not be a description of the game. That’s what you buy the game for.”

    I want to know what I’m broadly getting in a game before I shell out my hard earned cash, otherwise how do I know how the game plays etc? Too many times I’ve had my fingers burned buying games based upon reviews/opinions only to find them not to my liking through to frankly awful. I’m not alone in this as my friends share the same opinions and experiences.

    Avatar photoPatG

    There also seems to be an increasing tendency for rules writers these days to try to carve out and fill new niches in regard to game design. … The suggestion came up of taking the game even further into experimental territory by having the player(s) control the “evil” world instead of the heroes.

    Maybe old rulesets have had plenty of time to wind their way through the second-hand market into the hands of the “right” people (the collectors and devotees who won’t keep selling them on) and the new ones haven’t.

    The Dungeon Keeper and DKII video games were the epitome of Evil vs Good.  Brilliant pieces of work – though stay away from the more recent app – it’s effectively pay (a lot) to play.

    The WRG/DBx series certainly fit into the “right rules finding the right people” category. As a new player, DBx is nearly opaque but they give a very good game for some players who choose to stick it through. Parsing Barkerese just to play a game is not for everyone. Having re-acquired some old board games and acquired some old rules that struck my fancy as a youth but I was unable to purchase at the time, there is definitely an element of nostalgia. I can see how I as a teenaged wargamer would have powered through confusing or poorly written rules because I was in love with the theme; now as an over 50, I don’t have the time or patience to invest when there are better rules out there.

    Avatar photoPaint it Pink

    As a former reviewer and columnist for a number of wargame magazines over my life (more years than I care to count), this subject has many facets, and by this I mean points of view that depend on assumptions.

    The first reason, I’m a former reviewer, because the effort versus benefit makes no sense to me. For example I stopped writing for one magazine because the payments were derisory, and late.

    Now as an amateur this is not an issue. You write what you love and the time spent is hobby time. As a professional this is an issue.

    When one can combine the two, passion and professionalism, then the results “may” produce an in-depth analysis. Terms and conditions apply, because “may” is not a certainty.

    One can also argue that those who are professional critics are those without the skills to teach, or the ability to create. 🙂

    The second reason I’m also a former reviewer comes from the realization that I enjoy creating, not critiquing. I also believe that when it comes to an emotional response to a game, book, and films etc. that no amount of argument or analysis will change the other person’s opinion, which is my last reason not to write critiques.

    Now reviews that say I loved this are OK. But as has been said, you have to know what I like to make sense of my response. In most cases, this is unlikely to be the case when reading reviews.

    One is good, more is better

    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    I think wargame reviews are also a bit skewed because the people who like the game are the ones who are going to review it.
    Unless something is truly dire, we’ve all seen enough games that the reaction to a bad one is to shrug and move on.

    Or you bought the game to check out one mechanic or even just to read. I’ve certainly done that, so I wouldn’t really feel comfortable reviewing it.

    I did have a reviewer tell me that myself and the gentleman who’d written the game in question were criminals though 🙂

    Avatar photoWhirlwind

    I did have a reviewer tell me that myself and the gentleman who’d written the game in question were criminals though

    How come?

    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    The game in question had some bugs that needed fixing. Just stuff where testing hadn’t caught it because the guy running the game knew how it was “supposed to work”.
    Basically the sort of thing that experience teaches you to notice, but it was the guys first game writing.

    I’d say it was stuff that wasn’t that big a deal, the game certainly wasn’t broken and we fixed it all a couple days later, but apparently that was beyond the pale 🙂

    Mind, Im not protesting that we got beaten up a bit, but the wording of “criminals” stuck in my mind as being pretty funny.

    Avatar photoWhirlwind

    I see. Oh well, you and nearly every game developer ever, then…


    Many people have commented on how complicated this issue is.  Posters may not know of me, but I run Wargaming Recon.  It is the longest-running tabletop wargaming podcast in existence.  For many years we did not review anything because of the issue being so complicated.  Then we only reviewed items we purchased.  As time moved on we’ve accepted product for review with the understanding that we will cover it when we can AND we will provide an honest opinion of the product.  If we like the product, we’ll say it.  If we dislike the product, we’ll say it.

    We do have a standing rule about reviews.  If something is truly heinous, it never gets air time.  Constructive criticism in a review, or elsewhere, is valuable.  Giving a turd an hour of air time is not valuable to my show, its listeners, or the wargaming community.  We’ve never had something truly heinous sent to us for review.  Some products have been less than ideal.  When that happens we dedicate extra time to utilizing the product to make sure we are doing things properly and not being blockheads.

    If the product still is less than ideal, we think about why it doesn’t perform well and how it can possibly be improved.  Then we’ll share what, if anything, we enjoy about the product along with why.  We’ll also share why we feel the product doesn’t work well and how we think it can be better.

    The worst review we’ve ever given to any product is to Redgrassgames’ Everlasting wet palette.  More than one of us accessed the wet palette.  I even reached out to professional painters and industry people I know and respect to see if I was being dense.  Each person confirmed my concerns as valid.  When the wet palette was reviewed on the show, I made sure to highlight what problems I saw.  I also talked about why I think those problems are problems and I did share what few things I liked about the wet palette.

    Reviewing anything is tricky.  Doubt anyone wants to say negative things about a product whether they received it as a review product or purchased it out of their own funds.  That said, I have seen far too frequently when people will “review” a game or product on their blog and give a negative review when it is clear they haven’t spent the time to learn how to play the game, work out the mechanics, or really dig into the product.

    For me there’s a difference between a proper review of a product and covering a product.  Covering a product can be a simple opinion or editorial whereas a review has to be based in fact.  The review can, and in my opinion should, include the reviewer’s opinion.  But, if a reviewer hates Games Workshop, for example, it isn’t fair to give all of GW’s products poor reviews because the reviewer dislikes GW.  If GW makes a good product, they deserve to have a good review for the product.  Just like if they make a bad product, then they need to have a review explaining why the product is bad.

    As more and more people cover and review gaming products outside of traditional structures, I think we’ll find that perhaps reviews may not be as critical.

    When I look at other institutions like Meeples & Miniatures, Henry Hyde, and some of the wargaming mags I know I can respect and trust their reviews.  For me that is no different than knowing which news agencies release trustworthy content and which ones do not.

    Podcast Host: Wargaming Recon
    "Discussing Historical & New England Gaming"

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