Learning To Work With A Reviewer

By Polar_Bear
In Editorial
Jun 13th, 2014

Club Fantasci has posted their third article in their “Reviewer” trilogy with a post about working with reviewers.
Note: Again, the ideas inside are those of Club Fantasci.
TGN does do reviews and I’m always interested in talking with game designers and manufacturers about doing them. I do have a small backlog right now, but if you’d be interested in getting your product reviewed, just let me know.



From the article:

David Lowry finished his discussion on marketing with reviewers as part of a publishing strategy as well as bias in working with others on Club Fantasci

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  • odinsgrandson

    I got to the part where he says that we should read his blog several times before we have any right to comment on it, and decided I needed to comment right now before I’ve read the rest of it.

    I haven’t been following the comments that he’s responding to, so it just seems to me as though his statements have become more defensive and a little nasty over the course of the ‘trilogy.’

    Also, he really needs to learn how to use a comma. Because I’m pretty sure he doesn’t mean to be talking about a bias period (presumably after which the bias ends).

    The trouble I tend to have with board game reviewers is that they tend to be overwhelmingly positive. People rank games from good to great. I went through the first few pages of his reviews and eventually found one he rated a 6 out of ten (and he spent most of the review apologetically talking about how this is actually not a bad game, really).

    What I’m saying is- why have a ten star system if the lowest you’re willing to go is still above five stars? He’s not the only one- I don’t think I’ve found a board game reviewer who seems like they’re comfortable with writing a bad review.

    But I don’t think he has this bias because he got a free copy of the game. In fact, I think that people who paid money for the game are more likely to try and see the good in it.

    • I have my own thoughts, of course, about reviews.

      I like to post “just the facts” for the bulk of the review. If it’s a game, I’ll give a shorthand version of the rules. If it’s miniatures or terrain, I’ll give the specs and a bit about detail and so forth.

      Then I’ll say what I think type of gamer will like the product.

      Then I’ll say some personal thoughts on the product.

      Generally, I try and stay rather neutral or neutral-to-positive and here’s my reason for that:

      1. I’m a news man first. When you watch the news, they should be impartial. They should tell you what’s happening, not how you should think about what’s happening. If I were just a reviewer, I’d feel more comfortable just giving pure opinion. So my “regular job” does bleed into my reviewing job as well.

      2. There are a lot of different types of gamers out there with a lot of different tastes. A game that I might think is the worst game ever created might be someone else’s perfect game. There are certain game mechanics I loathe, but I know others love. So, if I post a review of “This game is terrible. No one should ever play it” then someone who loves that game will read it and go, “that jerk has no idea what he’s talking about. I won’t listen to his opinion anymore.” Or the converse, if I say something’s the greatest game ever, someone else my try it and go, “No, this game is horrendous. that jerk has no idea what he’s talking about. I won’t listen to his opinion anymore.” Either way, I’ve alienated someone. But if I say, “This is how the game works. If you like that type of thing, you’ll like this.” then either you’ll go, “I don’t like that, so I won’t play that game. Thanks for the heads up.” or “I do like that, so I will play that game. Thanks for the heads up.”

      That’s my take on it, anyway.

      • odinsgrandson

        I can see that. I’m just find it odd, because other media reviews that I read are no where near as positive on average.

        It is odd that in Film and vidoegames- even indy videogame- reviewers tend to find lots of things that they really hate. And indy videogames are the really little guys.

        I do read reviews in order to understand game mechanics and things of that sort- so I appreciate reviewers who talk about mechanics extensively. A good number of reviews are good for that- and most should just do away with their good/bad scale because they really aren’t using it.

        Ultimately, I do not have any kind of list of reviewers that I trust, because they really don’t tell me what they don’t like.

        • Indeed, every reviewer is going to be different.

          One thing of note for mine, though, is that I don’t have a rating system at all, for any aspect of the game. There are no “3 of 5 stars in design” or “8 of 10 dice for replayability” or “N out of

          And I could go into a list of games I don’t like, but I don’t think it’d really help anything, honestly. They’re just games I don’t like. I could tell you what movies I don’t like or what foods I don’t like and it’d be just about as informative to how it affects what games you’ll end up liking. But again, that’s me coming from my “view on reviews” as they should be neutral on the subject.

          • Soulfinger

            @odinsgrandson: I’d be happy to tell you what I don’t like about anything you want. Just let me know. In fact, instead of saying 10 things I like about this product, I’ll just include the 10 things that make me hate this product less, but mostly it will be what I hate.

            For example, Talisman is one of my favorite board games. I hate that it isn’t made by Games Workshop, because I hate that GW doesn’t make fantastic board games anymore. I hate that Fantasy Flight didn’t come up with the idea for busts as playing pieces until they made Relic, because they would be much better than the weedy looking PVC figures that come with the game (another reason I hate GW for not making the game and for their licensing considerations, since they could have been awesome figs). I hate that Gary Chalk didn’t do the artwork, like he did for 2nd edition, because Gary Chalk and Jim Holloway should be responsible for illustrating every role playing and board game produced, barring special dispensations approved by me — in fact, I want to kick the balls off everyone who illustrated the current edition . . . and so on. You want a game with great mechanics, play Screaming Eagles. For what it is, I have no complaints about that game.