About reviewing games

A typical subject for discussion is how many times a reviewer should play a game before reviewing it? I know I’ve lowered my standards as I’ve written more and more reviews and I’ve even written reviews based on one play of the game (and even part of one play, as was the case with Time Control).

I think Brian Bankler has it right in his review of Amun-Re: The dedicated reviewer owes it to the reader to have glanced at the game for several seconds, and possibly even learned the rules. Shannon Appelcline echoes the thought in the interview by Tom Vasel, where he says he’s happy with one play.

Of course, that takes experience. Playing lots of different games gives a reviewer the confidence needed to make assesments of the games based on few playings. It’s not how much you play the game, it’s how many other games you’ve tried that matters. It also varies by game. Some games I find very easy to evaluate after just game or two (those are usually broken or simple games). More complicated games, where the game experience varies more (for example depending on the number of players or the strategies chosen by the players) need more time.

Fortunately I do online reviews, where I can go back and alter the review and the grade I gave, if my experience changes. This has happened a lot. Mostly I’ve downgraded my ratings, as I’ve tried more games and found some games I used to like to be rather ho-hum. For example, I used to like Faidutti’s games more before, but further experience has shown that his design style doesn’t fit my current taste well.

(By the way, Brian’s Amun-Re review is excellent and pretty close to how I feel about the game — and really, The Tao of Gaming is one of the very best blogs about board games right now)

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One thought on “About reviewing games”

  1. Thanks for mentioning Vasel’s interview with Appelcline. It was a good read and I would never have come across it if you hadn’t mentioned it.
    I agree with you that Brian Bankler is pretty concise with his reviews. His reviews manage to capture an entire rule set in a few short paragraphs.

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