Barnes on Games presents Theel, Mann and Campbell on Games- Review Corner Showcase

Barnes on Games presents Theel, Mann and Campbell on Games- Review Corner Showcase Hot

Michael Barnes     
 
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Something a little different this week.

For the first time in Cracked LCD's eight year history, I won't be writing the reviews. Instead, I wanted to highlight some of the great writers I have working for me at Miniature Market's The Review Corner. We're coming up on six months' worth of writing reviews for this project and let me tell you, applying the ol' editorial red pen to six or seven reviews a week tends to make you VERY critical. Not that I wasn't already.

So here are a couple of folks I'd like to bring to your attention- I think they're doing great work and really carrying the torch for high quality WRITTEN reviews, which I still believe to be vastly superior to the hordes of cutey-poo video reviews that sadly pass for game criticism these days.

charlie

First up is Charlie Theel, who has been seen also around 2d6.org and FortressAT.com. He's my Lead Writer, but secretly he is the Johnny Ramone of this entire Review Corner project. He masterminded it, brokered the concept with Miniature Market, and brought me on board. He came to me a while back looking for some advice about his writing and I gave him the "you'll never make a dime, kid" but it didn't work. I'm glad he stuck it out, because he's a damn fine writer with a good critical eye and I'm happy to be working with him. Charlie tends to specialize in highly social games and miniatures, but he covers a wide range of titles. He's also a designer himself- check out Fistful of Dinero.

Charlie's review of Star Wars: Armada

Charlie's review of The Resistance

byron

Next up is Byron Campbell. I just promoted this guy to Senior Writer and he has completely earned all five of the extra dollars that we are going to pay him per piece. I had never heard of Byron before Charlie recruited him and I kind of wish it had stayed this way because this guy is costing me money. His reviews of Darkest Night, Legendary Encounters and Sylvion opened my wallet like a smooth criminal. But more importantly, Byron's reviews have a refined, multidisciplinary approach- he appreciates that games are artistic, expressive mediums capable of storytelling and illustrating themes. He's written for Entropy Magazine, Indie Cardboard and NerdSpan and now he's rockin' his Mohawk for us on The Review Corner.

Byron's Review of Sylvion

Byron's Review of XenoShyft

kyle

Finally, we come to Kyle Mann. I fired Kyle on his first day on the job for insubordination but somehow he didn't get the memo. He continued to submit reviews regardless of the pink slip, and I figured what the hell, I'll publish them. And then I wound up promoting this lumberjack shirt-clad feller to Senior Writer as well. Kyle is my go-to man for any kind of wargames writing- he comes from an old school Avalon Hill background and maybe that's what has informed him about what makes a really good "pop" wargame. But he's versatile, and I've come to really enjoy editing- and reading- his fine work.

Kyle's review of Quartermaster General

Kyle's Review of Fortune and Glory

We've got some other great folks on board too- Dan Thurot, Drew M., Craig Cliessen, Shane White, Pete Ruth, Nate Owens, Jason Meyers- check them out while you're over there too. I'll highlight some of their better work the next time I find myself with no article ready on Thursday morning!

 

 

 

Barnes on Games presents Theel, Mann and Campbell on Games- Review Corner Showcase There Will Be Games
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Posted: 16 Jul 2015 20:36 by tomvasel #206407
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Isn't it possible to say that these guys write excellent reviews without spitting out hatred towards video reviews?
Posted: 16 Jul 2015 20:54 by repoman #206408
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Not until Minature Market green lights video reviews. Then they will be the best thing ever.

Kind of like how paid reviewers were just shills...until they weren't.
Posted: 16 Jul 2015 20:59 by Sagrilarus #206409
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I greatly prefer written reviews. I appreciate the work you do Tom, but written reviews have to be more carefully crafted by their nature in order to make their points. They can't resort to gimickry or bling to hide their faults.

Granted, if someone fails at a written review they're toast. But when they succeed they're sublime. Good writing is majestic. No one in this industry has the time or money (or incentive) to create majestic video reviews.

S.
Posted: 16 Jul 2015 21:37 by Michael Barnes #206410
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Jeffery, do you have some kind of evidence that these guys or any other writers I manage - or myself - are "shills"? Because I will tell you straight up that these are hard working, honest people that are doing an awful lot of work for literally peanuts. They wouldn't be doing it if they weren't honest, passionate about games and committed to good writing about games. I personally wouldn't have them on staff if I felt like they were shilling anything and I'll stake my entire career to defend my writers' credibility. We also have the blessing of the Miniature Market people - including the owner of the company - to provide completely on-the-level, no punches pulled reviews. I insisted on that in our first conversation about this project because, as I told him, we needed 100% integrity if this were to succeed.

But maybe you can indicate to the readers here that you have some kind of example of the reviews where there is "shilling" going on?

While you're at it, I'd also like for you to find any instance in my 13+ years of writing about games professionally where I have at any point declared that paid writers are shills. In fact, why don't you take a look at the article I wrote a couple of years ago "Games Journalism?" where I argued that part of the reason that games criticism has failed to break through a certain level is because there is no professional incentive for there to be serious, consistent games writing. In other words, because the field is largely filled with unpaid, amateur writers and those with the talent and ability to do more are doing so elsewhere, where they are being paid.

Pretty rude to attack not only me, but also these writers, their credibility and the work they are doing right here on the front page. But please, by all means, if you have something to back up your BGG-style passive-aggressive comment, let's hear it.
Posted: 16 Jul 2015 21:44 by Michael Barnes #206411
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Sorry Tom- no hate spat here- I just don't care for video reviews at all. It's a format that I think has pretty much torpedoed widespread interest in written reviews, and there are very, very few video review programs that provide any kind of consistent, valuable games commentary or criticism. Most are, unfortunately, exactly what I said- cutey-poo.

I'm not disparaging or discrediting the hard work and commitment that running a show like The Dice Tower requires. But shows of substantial quality and consistency are very few and far between.

And games writing has suffered because of it, IMO.
Posted: 16 Jul 2015 21:52 by repoman #206412
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Firstly, let's clear up your misuse of the word passive-aggressive. That in no way describes the shots I take. They are clear and in no way passive.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Pete Ruth is one of your staff writers, is he not? He also is the same Pete Ruth who spared no effort in condemning reviewers who were compensated saying time and time again that their objectivity could not help but be compromised in the process? I seem to recall numerous rants on the subject.

I also seem to recall a certain dismissive tone used in reference to Tom Vassal. the implication being that his success at branding his name and actually being able to make a living off his reviews somehow invalidated their worth and credibility.

Also, having a large ad for a commercial website posted on the front page of the fort masquerading as an article is in somewhat poor taste.

Lastly, I would be willing to bet all of my lunch money that the second Minature Market offered to pay for video reviews, the snarky shots, like the one Tom rightly calls you on, would quickly be replaced with glowing praise for the cutting edge work being done on their site.
Posted: 16 Jul 2015 22:20 by Michael Barnes #206413
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Full disclosure- Pete Ruth expressly asked to NOT be paid for his work. _I_ insisted. I can produce email evidence if need be. Pete and I have scrapped in the past, but after getting to know him I will tell you that he is one of the most straight up genuine people in the world. And I ain't letting him work for me for free.

Tom Vasel is one of the most successful personalities in games. I've not ever suggested that his success has made him "invalid". He sells a very successful product. Good for him. Doesn't matter what I think about it.

Charlie and I both explicitly discussed keeping video reviews off the table because neither of us care about them. If MM wants them in the future, we would likely not be involved and they would probably be in house productions.

What's in "poor taste" - aside from you taking personal umbrage at a "political" post on our FB page last week under the guise of offering us "advice"- is being a dick like this on the front page of our site not only to me but also to these writers that I am very proud of and want folks to take a look at.

Feel free to PM me wih any further negativity or unfounded aspersions.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 04:24 by tomvasel #206419
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Michael said...
Pretty rude to attack not only me, but also these writers, their credibility and the work they are doing right here on the front page. But please, by all means, if you have something to back up your BGG-style passive-aggressive comment, let's hear it.

I am sometimes just astounded that you can make comments like this. You JUST DID THE SAME THING to all video reviewers, who put a ton of work and credibility into their work.

Michael, whenever someone insults you, your hackles go up, and you scream about "passive aggressiveness", and then you do it yourself! Like I said, your writers do a fine job. It is perfectly simply to say that they do a fine job without then insulting a pile of other reviewers.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 05:32 by ThirstyMan #206420
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Wow! You're certainly right it's something completely different this week...it's an infomercial.

You know what? I don't remember you EVER showcasing the Forts writers in this way and never on the front page. It is totally out of order for you to use a front page spot to advertise ANOTHER SITE. Since when did we become a free advert for Miniatures Market? I don't remember that being discussed. You want to advertise another site then PAY FOR IT like everyone else has to.

I don't really care how you earn a crust but I totally object to you trying to redirect subscribers to the Fort to a DIFFERENT site so that you and your writers get more exposure by bouncing off this site.

I repeat, where was this fawning praise of OUR writers when it was needed? Nowhere to be seen.

Tell me again how the Miniatures Mart gig would not affect the Fort at all??

While I'm at it, I have no fucking idea who the staff members are at this place any more. Shellie asked us to contact her for seats at the table. I never heard anything back, so who are the overlords and what are their responsibilities? Interested parties would like to know in case, you know, they don't have enough time to devote to the Fort due to other paying gigs.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 06:49 by charlest #206422
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Concerning video reviews - Michael and I were in complete agreement about the vision of the Review Corner being mostly written content to remain distinct from the other media outlets. That may limit our exposure perhaps, but we both vastly prefer the written medium.

I could definitely see The Review Corner having videos some day for miniature product reviews or perhaps painting tutorials or modeling examples for the miniatures side of the site.

I actually am a Dice Tower and Tom Vasel fan and I don't think I've hid that before. I walk on my lunch break at work every day and consume a great deal of their content. Tom was also gracious enough to review A Fistful Of Dinero and gave it the "Approved" verdict. I met Tom at Origins in 2014 and liked him. I will likely see him at Gen Con and say hello, so no ill will at all.

In regards to this being a big advertisement? I can see that. I don't think Michael really intended it that way, I think he didn't have an article and thought this could be a neat idea and I have to admit when he mentioned he was going to do this the other day I didn't think about the backlash that would likely occur.

Is this a step farther than linking your own reviews on other sites? Probably a bit, but it's still the same kind of thing.

I get the anger but I think people are taking things a bit too seriously. This is the closest thing Michael has to a blog and I view this as that type of post.

I guess we'll never be able to shake the shill thing even if we've given 2 1/2 stars or less to the following:

Chaos Marauders
Eclipse Ship Pack One
Empire Engine
A Fistful Of Dinero
Just Desserts
King Of New York
MERCS: Conflict
Mythotopia
Space Hulk: Death Angel
Imperial Assault Ally/Villain Packs

My own game was given an average/low average rating. Miniature Market's subsidiary Homeland games has over 100 copies of it still, so do you think they really wanted a less than glowing review?

King of New York is another one that I haven't seen a negative review on from a major media outlet. In a world where we're shills there's no way that's getting less than 3 stars.

A couple of writers have said they feel even more free to give a negative review in this context as opposed to a review copy from a publisher as there's no risk of damaging a relationship.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 07:15 by Sagrilarus #206423
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I'm a little pissed off that you used a professional model in your photos, attempting to pass it off as Charlie Theel. Just another example of how low you'll stoop for click-throughs.

No gamer is that pretty.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 08:02 by ThirstyMan #206425
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Yes, it is quite a big step further than linking your reviews and I'm surprised that you can't see that. I never had a problem with Barnes linking his reviews in previous years but this is an outright ad for MM. Some of those writers are absolutely nothing to do with the Fort and have never contributed here.

The shill argument is not relevant and never has been.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 08:07 by Grudunza #206426
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Tom, Michael did say "which I believe to be superior to" and specifically referred to "the horde of cutey poo video reviews." So he stated that he personally prefers written reviews (I read the same essential comment by people on BGG all the time) and wasn't necessarily disparaging *all* video reviews.

I usually prefer videos, but not necessarily the review aspect of them. I just want a brief visual interactive overview of a game to gauge my interest from, and I've usually clicked off by the time the *review* portion comes around. I do value your voice and opinion as a game reviewer, Tom, but by the time you've gone through the gameplay overview in a video I can already tell how you feel about the game (usually).

Well written reviews can be a lot more satisfying in terms of game analysis and perspective, but a lot of times I don't care about that too much unless I'm already into a game or on the fence about buying it... then I want to read how others feel about it in a more in-depth sense. I suppose it's odd to only read more involved written reviews of a game after I've already bought and played it, but that is where the value of written reviews is of most interest to me.

For my time, SU&SD is the best thing, overall; very entertaining and creative (without being hokey), timely (who has time to watch those 45 minute game overviews/reviews??), an engaging personality with good pacing (I can't watch Rahdo for more than a few minutes because he can be so jittery and hurried in his delivery that it physically makes me nervous), and with a real personal review and perspective that is not only described but is often demonstrated as part of the video production. He is great at specifically showing you *why* he likes/dislikes a game (or aspects of the game) as an integrated part of the experience he's presenting. Within ten minutes, he's given you some solid game analysis, some entertainment and a good visual overview of how the game plays and feels.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 08:26 by jay718 #206428
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I've been a fan of both Barnes' and Vasel's reviews for many years now. Both reviewers (and their respective types of reviews) have influenced my game purchases or lack thereof. I totally get how as a writer, Barnes wanted the project that he was leading to be only written reviews. Makes perfect sense. That being said, I don't think a game review necessarily needs to be written, much less written eloquently to be effective.

With a video review (especially ones that are done as well as the Dice Tower) you can actually see for yourself the quality of the components, actual gameplay, and whether or not the game looks fun or if it's to your liking. While this can be conveyed through a well written review as well (such as those penned by Barnes and Charlest), much more is left to the readers imagination. I'm not the slightest bit interested in watching a video review of a book or a movie, but for a board game, it makes perfect sense.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 08:34 by VonTush #206429
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Video didn't kill demand for written reviews or valuable games commentary or criticism, there just never was big demand for it to begin with, but written was the only supply as recently as just a few years back so people settled.

Video is the next best thing to a test drive, and I for sure wouldn't buy a car based solely on what the professional pundits say until I got behind the wheel and tried it for myself.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 08:47 by Alastair MacDirk #206430
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Seems like a pretty good precedent has been set that a poster to this site will cross link to their blog or review and open a thread here where we can have a discussion about it here. I see this instance of Barnestorming as a failure because some of the reviewers you mentioned are unknown here and we are not using this space to have a give and take with them about what they wrote. Instead we are debating what is passive aggressive, video vs. written boardgame reviews, whether it's a breach of an unwritten rule to link to a commercial game site.

Ok, I take it back.... Not a failure at all. It's actually kinds interesting and entertaining.

Friday freak out worthy?

But as a solution to all this, maybe have those reviewers open their own thread with their review in it here, and we can discuss them?
That's mostly why I come here... To read discussion about games.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 10:04 by Shellhead #206435
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I prefer written reviews over video reviews, because I can read at my own pace but I can only get through a video review at the pace of the video. Also, there are a variety of situations where it might be convenient to read text but not listen to/watch a video.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 10:28 by Motorik #206436
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Two points:

1. Some of us are extremely busy and can't justify the time commitment required to sit through a video.

2. The majority of video reviews are glorified demos (no different than what you'd get at a gaming con) with a little bit of opinion tacked on at the end. There's nothing wrong with that, but the level of insight and analysis you get from a video review doesn't come close to what's offered by the best written reviews.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 10:45 by ThirstyMan #206438
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Alastair MacDirk wrote:
Seems like a pretty good precedent has been set that a poster to this site will cross link to their blog or review and open a thread here where we can have a discussion about it here. I see this instance of Barnestorming as a failure because some of the reviewers you mentioned are unknown here and we are not using this space to have a give and take with them about what they wrote. Instead we are debating what is passive aggressive, video vs. written boardgame reviews, whether it's a breach of an unwritten rule to link to a commercial game site.

Ok, I take it back.... Not a failure at all. It's actually kinds interesting and entertaining.

Friday freak out worthy?

But as a solution to all this, maybe have those reviewers open their own thread with their review in it here, and we can discuss them?
That's mostly why I come here... To read discussion about games.

The issue isn't really a link to a commercial game site. Barnes has been doing that for a long time. It's discreet and I don't mind. A huge front page infomercial on MM is a different matter altogether. I don't give a shit about THEIR writers but I do give a shit about OUR community. Some of those guys have NEVER been seen here. Come on that is definitely a step too far.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 10:56 by Mr. White #206440
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Yeah, I'm also not a big fan of this Review Corner Showcase.

I'd be curious if these cross postings are a two-way street. I mean, when someone puts up a great article here is it mentioned/linked/highlighted at GameShark/NoHighScores/Miniature Market/Wherever or is it all one way traffic diverting eyes away from The Fort?
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 11:09 by Michael Barnes #206441
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Now I'm embarrassed- not for myself or these writers, but for FortressAT.com. I don't even want to direct my own staff over here to participate given this reception from a couple of members.

We've got Tom Vasel popping his head in- not to talk about games, of course, but to get defensive about something and claim that I "get my hackles up and scream passive-aggressive" or whatever when I don't think I've ever actually done that before outside of criticizing his "Let's Donate to BGG!" comments in the thread on that site where my eternal banning was announced. And he's taken offense, for whatever reason, that I have a low opinion of video reviews. Yet I said nothing about The Dice Tower or anything he's done. In fact, I praised him for being so successful at what he does- I actually have a lot of respect for him in terms of marketing himself as a brand and becoming effectively the face of hobby gaming. That takes a lot of work and commitment as well as good business sense.

We've got members raging about "infomercials" on the front page WHEN EVERY SINGLE REVIEW YOU WILL EVER READ OF A GAME IS TO SOME DEGREE AN ADVERTISMENT. You know why companies give out free games for reviews? BECAUSE IT'S ADVERTISING.

You are damn straight, I am 100% advertising my work and my writers. We are affiliated with Miniaturemarket.com and there is 100% transparency there. You can go read these reviews free of charge and there is no obligation to sign up for anything, participate in anything or buy anything. It's a subsite at an e-retailer that houses content that I curate. And they actually pay their people instead of appealing to good will and "passion" for the hobby or whatever community. Because of this job, I have extra money each month to take care of my family. And I get fucking grief from a VOLUNTEER site that I have worked on, contributed to and promoted for getting up close to ten years.

And I get this "where were you when our writers needed promoting"...well, why the FUCK do you think I asked who I felt were our strongest writers to get on board with us? Aside from that, where is all the great feature-level F:AT writing from the past three years? There hasn't been much. But lately, F:AT has been going through a renewal and there has been some nice work on our front page. It's been a while since we had fresh content every day other than whatever me or Matt post. So I'm not sure what you're trying to get at there, Andy. Especially when I've been this site's biggest cheerleader since long before you joined up.

Surprise, there are great games writers outside of the tiny, backwater F:AT community. I specifically tasked Charlie with finding mostly UNKNOWN or LOW PROFILE writers that WOULDN'T be recognized by the people here or elsewhere. Fresh faces. Some of whom had no idea what F:AT is (or used to be). How terrible I am for promoting them as well as my own project that I've put a lot of time and effort into. How could I have ever expected the community I helped found to support me...

Pitiful.

The video versus written review discussion is useful at least, it is an aspect of the culture that gets tossed around but rarely seriously discussed. But it's also not the intent here. All I wanted to do was say "hey, I like what these guys are doing, maybe check them out if you're interested". That's it.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 11:21 by hotseatgames #206442
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Look at all these panties, all bunched up.

I like video AND written reviews. Although honestly as far as video goes, Tom is about the only one of them I can stand. He gets to the point.

I don't think Miniature Market is poaching any attention from this site. The people that come here don't come here for anything that is offered elsewhere, in my opinion. Nor are they confused on what the MM review corner is.

Lighten up, people.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 11:40 by Motorik #206444
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Please don't lighten up; I want this to evolve into a douchey, self-righteous "it's about ethics in game journalizm!!!111" Gamergate-style display of impotent opprobrium, so I can point and laugh at it.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 11:50 by Green Lantern #206445
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I'll admit I don't get all the fuss either and don't really care. I only come here for the chicks.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 11:51 by Frohike #206446
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Written reviews of games implicitly invite a different level of engagement with the subject, both on the part of the reviewer and the reader. Video reviews or overviews as currently structured are much more about how a game presents itself, visually and mechanically, but these often don't get into the places where a game really "seasons" and sinks into a player's experience, where it takes hold in the context of other game experiences or genre expectations. You instead get an overview of the components, some rules explanations, a few turns of the game, and a general product assessment. Those videos that attempt to go deeper than this often become long unstructured rants, which can be informative but sometimes difficult to sit through. That's really where good writing and editing come into their own: in the more considered critique and sometimes broader cultural context of a game presented with a clarity and depth that seem to elude most if not all video content.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 12:00 by Green Lantern #206448
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Michael Barnes wrote:
It's been a while since we had fresh content every day other than whatever me or Matt post. So I'm not sure what you're trying to get at there, Andy. Especially when I've been this site's biggest cheerleader since long before you joined up.

I blame ASL. Not sure how it's involved or why but I find it a compelling culprit since both HypocrisyLad and Repo enjoy it and play together and are the most vocal opponents to Barnes article. Coincidence? I think not.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 12:09 by ThirstyMan #206450
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People's authority on this site does not stem from how long they have been signed up to the Fort. I don't give a fuck if you signed up in 2001 or 1854 you are still doing something, without discussion, that is a fuck sight more than simply posting links.

You do know the difference between advertising and infomercials I would assume? One masquerades as an information/education piece while the other plain advertises. Look at your front page post and have a think which one it is. BTW we haven't got members raging about infomercials you got ME annoyed about the lack of consultancy. Is it a two way street? like fuck it is because there's no money to be made here so why direct people from MM to here in the first place.

This is a community site first and formost. I don't put ads in here and pretend they are something else although we have had a few chancers try that technique before and stopped them pretty fast.

So are we to assume that this little volunteer site is your personal plaything. So what, you were one of the first, you can do what you want with it regardless of what anyone else thinks? Christ, if you'd just accept some criticism now and again that would be a fucking start.

Where are the great ads for The Fort quoting our writers (yourself included) all over the hobby's media? That's right, there aren't any, because no one gets paid here. That's why it's a non profit making site. MM is not that. Hence there is a significant difference, whether you like it or not. Unpaid for ads pretending to be information, bigging up another site, is not why I come to this site and you know as well as I do that promo shit from game's manufacturers sent to the Fort is not the same thing at all. If you cannot see the difference, than I have seriously overestimated you over the last 5 years or so.

Yeah, yeah I get it Green Lantern, you don't give a shit, so keep the fuck away while the grown ups talk it out.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 12:16 by Michael Barnes #206453
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You know what, I'm just going to roll my eyes and walk away. I don't have to defend myself, think whatever you want about whatever I do, I could care less. Never have.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 12:33 by scissors #206454
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comment deleted/changed. For a moment there, forgot I no longer give a fuck about FAT freakouts.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 12:44 by ThirstyMan #206455
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For fucks sake. Make the fucking argument if you believe it.

Don't give me that 'slamming the door screaming I couldn't care less' shtick. Surely you hear that enough from your kids, I know I do.

Your fucking site (apparently), one would think you'd want to defend a community site that you set up from commercialisation.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 12:55 by Motorik #206457
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hashtag gamergate
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 13:10 by ThirstyMan #206461
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Motorik wrote:
hashtag gamergate

err...sexism in the video game industry?
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 13:21 by The*Mad*Gamer #206462
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Great news Barnes! Looking forward to this! Looked over your new staff and it looks like they are just what the hobby needs! Fresh faces instead of jaded old farts! Love it! Count me in as a regular reader!
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 13:40 by Motorik #206464
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ThirstyMan wrote:
Motorik wrote:
hashtag gamergate

err...sexism in the video game industry?

GG's schtick is to get super, super self-righteous about perceived collusion between moneyed interests and games reviewers, then rant and scream incoherently about it, all while flavoring their impotent outrage with a dash of Infowars-style delusional paranoia.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 13:56 by VonTush #206465
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Really wish that the early momentum this site had could have been sustained. It felt like it was on the cusp of really being a brand, with a vision...And then came Black Barney...

Momentum lost and now we have these little dust-ups whenever the clubhouse is shaken up too much.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 14:01 by scissors #206466
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.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 14:41 by Green Lantern #206470
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ThirstyMan wrote:
Yeah, yeah I get it Green Lantern, you don't give a shit, so keep the fuck away while the grown ups talk it out.

Hi Mr. Pot, I'm the kettle. I quote, "I browse where I want."

@ Barnes - hey man, don't sweat this criticism. I took the article as an introduction to a resource available to fellow gamers. Nothing more, nothing less, so thanks for sharing. I for one appreciate all the work you do and your contributions, even if I don't agree with your assessment of Sentinels of the Multiverse or Man of Steel. At least we agreed on Fury Road and you put me on Dungeon Command.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 15:09 by ThirstyMan #206471
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Yeah but I'm an arrogant dick. I thought you more subtle.

Errr... there is no link between reviewers and moneyed interests is there? Not that I can see. I just don't like to see commercial ads on the front page of a volunteer website trying to direct us elsewhere. Particularly without, at least, some consultation with the users. As I keep saying, Barnes always used to put a link into his writing directing us to another website to read the review. I have no problem with this.

I can't recall seeing a front page ad for Cracked LCD extolling the virtues of the writers and encouraging us to go there and see for ourselves. It was sufficient to put in a link. I don't care where reviewers earn their money.

So who are the overlords who decide what goes on the front page? I have no idea except that Barnes is one of them and probably Shellie. Quite a few others had responsibilities but don't turn up any more. Wasn't there a moderator at one point? Someone who dealt with wargames? etc etc
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 15:25 by JonJacob #206472
OldHippy's Avatar
There just isn't enough money in boardgames to hire shills. No company will do it because it's way too expensive (although if anyone's looking I'm about as cheap as they come). These are all good writers.

I don't really like video reviews either but I've seen a few good ones and Tom does a good job most of the time as well. I skip a lot of stuff but generally if there's a game I'm interested in (Blood Rage just recently-looks awesome Tom) then I will watch that... or some of it anyway. I do, however, usually read the full write ups for whatever reason.

But all this bickering is fucking stupid, Barnes caved and apologized for his opinion on paid reviews a long time ago (people change) and Pete still isn't getting paid. So everyone wins and gets to keep their morals in check. Whoo Hooo.

I just don't get what this fight is about.... I still am ok with being a shill though if anyone's reading....

(to the tune of Leonard Cohen's 'I'm Your Man')

If you want a gamer I'll play anything you ask me to
and if you want another kind of nerd, I'll wear a beard for you
If you want a grognard just sit still I'll line up to charge that hill
oh you know I will, I'm your shill
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 21:54 by Sagrilarus #206491
Sagrilarus's Avatar
VonTush wrote:
Really wish that the early momentum this site had could have been sustained. It felt like it was on the cusp of really being a brand, with a vision...And then came Black Barney...

It wasn't Black Barney who scared people off.
So who are the overlords who decide what goes on the front page?

Any member that actually spends the time to step up an contribute an article. Care to take a shot at it?

To those of you whining that your free entertainment wasn't as good this Thursday -- try writing one of these each week for eight or ten years and see how well you do. I ran out of steam around article 20.

S.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 22:26 by Pat II #206492
Pat II's Avatar
Video killed the radio star...just sayin'. Some things don't change around here. I'll accept money for anything - bribes, gifts etc...If you ain't shillin' you aint tryin'.
Posted: 17 Jul 2015 23:42 by VonTush #206493
VonTush's Avatar
Sagrilarus wrote:
VonTush wrote:
Really wish that the early momentum this site had could have been sustained. It felt like it was on the cusp of really being a brand, with a vision...And then came Black Barney...

It wasn't Black Barney who scared people off.

Poor attempt at a joke to lighten the mood around here...Seems like it failed...
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 01:42 by scissors #206494
scissors's Avatar
Michael Barnes wrote:
Tom Vasel is one of the most successful personalities in games. I've not ever suggested that his success has made him "invalid". He sells a very successful product. Good for him. Doesn't matter what I think about it./quote]
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 03:07 by ThirstyMan #206496
ThirstyMan's Avatar
Sagrilarus wrote:
VonTush wrote:
Really wish that the early momentum this site had could have been sustained. It felt like it was on the cusp of really being a brand, with a vision...And then came Black Barney...

It wasn't Black Barney who scared people off.
So who are the overlords who decide what goes on the front page?

Any member that actually spends the time to step up an contribute an article. Care to take a shot at it?

To those of you whining that your free entertainment wasn't as good this Thursday -- try writing one of these each week for eight or ten years and see how well you do. I ran out of steam around article 20.

S.

Thanks for the unnecessary sarcasm, Sag.
What I was actually asking is who are the administrators and what responsibilities do they have?
FYI at no point have I denigrated any of our writers and I don't intend to.
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 08:15 by Sagrilarus #206504
Sagrilarus's Avatar
ThirstyMan wrote:
Thanks for the unnecessary sarcasm, Sag.
What I was actually asking is who are the administrators and what responsibilities do they have?
FYI at no point have I denigrated any of our writers and I don't intend to.

There's no such thing as unnecessary or necessary sarcasm. If it's necessary, it's not sarcasm.

This link --

fortressat.com/index.php?option=com_comp..._srmch=&cb_location=

. . . provides you with the list of staff that "run" FortressAT. It's available through the Site Tools menu item. It's under the F:At Members submenu. Also available is the Submit Article option, which is how anyone can get published here. Two guys have been carrying this site for a couple of years now, both of which have indicated that they're working hard to come up with new materials.

I've had the intention of having a contest for "best article from a new writer" where people would submit articles and I'd give away a game for the best one but there's a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo that gets in the way and I don't want anyone starting a bitch-fest with Shellie because of something I did. That seems almost inevitable in the current state of things.
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 08:25 by Mr. White #206505
Mr. White's Avatar
Pat II wrote:
Video killed the radio star...just sayin'. Some things don't change around here. I'll accept money for anything - bribes, gifts etc...If you ain't shillin' you aint tryin'.

Pat II!! Great to see you back, man! Been wondering for a few years what happened to ya. Hope all is well.
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 09:10 by ThirstyMan #206507
ThirstyMan's Avatar
Sagrilarus wrote:
ThirstyMan wrote:
Thanks for the unnecessary sarcasm, Sag.
What I was actually asking is who are the administrators and what responsibilities do they have?
FYI at no point have I denigrated any of our writers and I don't intend to.

There's no such thing as unnecessary or unnecessary sarcasm. If it's necessary, it's not sarcasm.

This link --

fortressat.com/index.php?option=com_comp..._srmch=&cb_location=

. . . provides you with the list of staff that "run" FortressAT. It's available through the Site Tools menu item. It's under the F:At Members submenu. Also available is the Submit Article option, which is how anyone can get published here. Two guys have been carrying this site for a couple of years now, both of which have indicated that they're working hard to come up with new materials.

I've had the intention of having a contest for "best article from a new writer" where people would submit articles and I'd give away a game for the best one but there's a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo that gets in the way and I don't want anyone starting a bitch-fest with Shellie because of something I did. That seems almost inevitable in the current state of things.

Yes, that's brilliant Sag. I already realised Barnes and Charlest do a lot of work here. Apparently, one of them doesn't give a shit about what people think about him or his actions but we have to respect him because he's been here longer than most. Good luck with that logic.

Really? Lots of people been having a bitchfest with Shellie then? Would that be approximately none ish but keep scaremongering, you are good at that.

So, Nate is never to be seen here. Ken B very irregular (so much for trash talk moderator). Where's our wargaming 'expert'?
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 10:02 by Sagrilarus #206508
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Dude, you've lost all respect at this point.
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 10:15 by Motorik #206509
Motorik's Avatar
I figured this thread would cool off after a day but homeboy is straight-up doubling down on this Howard Beale routine.
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 10:56 by ThirstyMan #206511
ThirstyMan's Avatar
Sagrilarus wrote:
Dude, you've lost all respect at this point.

Never had any anyway.

Homeboy? Is that some tedious American euphemism I'm unaware of?
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 12:54 by Ken B. #206516
Ken B.'s Avatar
ThirstyMan wrote:
So, Nate is never to be seen here. Ken B very irregular (so much for trash talk moderator).


Excuse me? I hope you're joking. I clean up freaking spam on this forum every day since I've been back. Sorry if I haven't been more "visible."

I used to do a better job of helping carry this site. I was 'regular' in writing articles from 2006-2009. In the blog days sometimes I put up three articles a week just to keep things alive. I took some time off for personal reasons. Returned and was regular for three more years before burnout hit again.

Constant content is much harder than it looks, by an order of magnitude I'm willing to bet you are seriously underestimating. I'd love to get back on the horse again but I've been out of the game for well over a year now; getting back in the saddle is extremely difficult, so I contribute here as I can. My avatar on BGG sports not only an FA microbadge, but an overbadge advertising this site as well.

I am very proud of what we created and what we accomplished. Mike Barnes, whatever you may think about this week's contribution, has been here week in and week out and has put a lot of effort into keeping this site going. And he's done it for free. Not a single one of us have EVER made a dime off of this place. It's always been a labor of love.

As Sag said, we welcome contributors. Step up where others have fallen. If you've got a voice? Lend it.
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 13:29 by ThirstyMan #206521
ThirstyMan's Avatar
You seem to think that I am criticising the current administrators, I am not, I simply didn't know who they were.

Yet again, I have to say, I have NEVER accused anyone of taking money from 'shilling' or whatever. You may remember a few weeks ago Shellie asked for interested parties to contact her for positions in the admin staff. She, apparently, had set a deadline for around 10th July for this (I can't remember the exact date). I assumed there would be some kind of an announcement relating to this 'call to arms'. I just wasn't sure what had happened.

The infomercial, on the front page, for a commercial site is a whole different matter. This has not been done before, as you know. I wondered if there was any level of consultancy amongst the admin staff to accept this. I really don't like this blatant commercialisation of a volunteer site. However, I accept I may be in a tiny minority that disagree with this approach. If I am, then carry on and do what you want.

No one, but no one, is criticising the amount of work people, like yourselves, put into this site but there is room for criticism when I see a front page article from a lead writer encouraging people to go somewhere else to see good writing where he is an employee of said site. Is there a reciprocal link at MM? No and Barnes now has a good excuse why there isn't such a link....people(me) are just so unappreciative of all the work done it would simply be too embarrassing to put a link there. Separate that idea, if you would, from the front page infomercial for another site, whose writers I don't care about if they have had no communication with the Fort.

I genuinely haven't seen you around much but, fair deal, if you've been working behind the scenes to protect us from assorted scammers then I thank you for that. I think regular users of this site should have a say about site policies no matter how long they have been a member.
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 13:56 by scissors #206522
scissors's Avatar
Count me in as part of that tiny minority. I don't want to fan any flames but Thirstyman has a legitimate concern and criticism and for that he has the book thrown at him. Really, for what it is worth (maybe not much, dunno) Mike Barnes get more praise or respect directly/iindirectly here than most for his free work here and it IS very appreciated viz the article about Knizia which was referenced just last week etc. so this boo hoo you don't appreicate what we are doing argument... not sure it stands up. sorry we are your readers and we have been coming here for years for a reason. I don't see why, when this kind of scuff ups come up ever few years, he storms out or pulls rank or draws the line between him and others or whatever, that response suggests thirstyman hit a nerve. like I said, I dont a care about friday freakouts anymore but thirstyman and others brought up a point which deserved to be discussed.
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 14:32 by ubarose #206523
ubarose's Avatar
ThirstyMan wrote:
You seem to think that I am criticising the current administrators, I am not, I simply didn't know who they were.

The below is addressed to everyone, and not specifically to or at Thirsty Man.

Right now the Administration is just myself and Mad Dog. We have been focusing on adding staff and maintaining day-to-day operations. The staff list has not yet been updated to reflect these changes, frankly because we are waiting to see how the new staffers shake out. People tend come in guns ablazing and then get bored and drop out.

Hopefully we will be adding another person to our admin team in the near future and begin addressing larger issues.

Please continue the conversation. I am listening, and giving careful thought to everything that is being presented here. I would like to point out, however, that I give more serious consideration to the opinions expressed by individuals who can express those opinions without being a dick.
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 18:57 by Mad Dog #206524
ChristopherMD's Avatar
Wow, so I totally ignored this thread but saw it had gotten to a few pages and dropped in. Reason I ignored it is I didn't read the article as it seemed like just a shill for miniature market. I thought the same thing about Barnes' previous article announcing the Review Corner. My personal opinion on this is that Barnes has written regularly for long enough that he's earned that Thursday spot to write about, frankly, anything he wants to. He can review a game, tell us about running a game store, rant about kickstarter destroying the hobby, or push another sites reviews as being worth our time. Honestly I think Michael has to worry about keeping his own readership happy more than the Fort has to worry about people reading reviews elsewhere too. I'm certainly under no illusion that ya'll don't also read game reviews on other sites since the Fort began. Maybe someone could even write an article pointing out what other reviewers they think we should be checking out and why. As has been said, we're more of a community/volunteer site and aren't looking to monopolize the hobby. I've always thought since I came to this site that the hobby can only benefit from having many sites for people to visit instead of trying to shoehorn everything/everyone onto a single site. So is he sending people to another site to read reviews? Yes. Are those people coming back here afterwards? Yes. So big fucking deal. However, if MM ever adds a forum and actually tries to steal members from here I will burn their fucking site down to binary.

For the record, I've never watched a video review and probably never will. So I don't really have much to say on that subject.

PS - We are always looking for more front page content. As someone else suggested in another thread you don't have to be a regular contributor. If you want to write an article about games every week, every month, every year, or just a one night stand we have an audience that wants to read it.
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 19:11 by Gary Sax #206525
Gary Sax's Avatar
Thank you, Mad Dog. Exactly what I think. This site needs good content, that's it. So submit it.
Posted: 18 Jul 2015 19:51 by Pat II #206526
Pat II's Avatar
I'm good Mr White thanks for asking. Life has a way of keeping you way too busy but I'm glad to see you guys still at it. Tying this into the current discussion, over the last few years I have dropped in from time to time to read articles and the site has always been here supplying the same quality product in addition to supplying me with much needed laughs on occasion.

Every once in a while people get all uptight about how certain things should work in this hobby and how that relates to earning cash or shilling etc...Mad Dog just stated the obvious. When I popped in here last night I saw Michael's article - didn't care to head somewhere else and moved on to the comments. I much prefer drama to run a little more shallow than how people earn or volunteer their time. I'm just glad this place is still around since the early goings of the blog. Keep up the good work and it takes a lot of effort to throw up pictures of stick figures every day never mind what is presented here.

That being said I'm taking requests on articles, tailor made to your interests for a small fee, in video format cuz its better.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 07:35 by SuperflyTNT #206554
SuperflyTNT's Avatar
repoman wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but Pete Ruth is one of your staff writers, is he not? He also is the same Pete Ruth who spared no effort in condemning reviewers who were compensated saying time and time again that their objectivity could not help but be compromised in the process? I seem to recall numerous rants on the subject.

You don't pay close enough attention to what I said, I think. But since you're trying to throw stones, you should have so you don't sound like a shit-stirrer. My problem is, has been, and will continue to be with the fact that people get free product. I've also said that I admire Tom's business savvy and ability to make a living. If Dice Tower was paying for the lion's share of his games, I would have no problem other than style with his business model. I've written several articles about this very subject. It's not "money" that bothers me. I've said that a thousand times. It's that people have none of their skin in the game because they're being handed product to review, and at some point, when you've earned some modicum of nerd fame, you can't afford to piss off the publishers or the nerd fame goes away when you can't produce the volume of reviews that the brand now requires you to. It's always been that simple.

Really, my underlying problem is in the fact that most reviewers will not review games they find bad, which ends up meaning that you're stuck reading a lot of positive reviews about any given game because nobody wants to piss off publishers. I understand that there's time involved in learning, playing repeatedly, and writing about a bad game, but that's part of the job. If you want to review products, review them all. Every one you receive. Otherwise, you're stuck in the trap.

About this shill thing, though....
For example: www.miniaturemarket.com/escapezombiereview.html

I got paid 20$ to shit on a horrible game, by the people who sell it. I'm still pissed off that I bought it. It's still sitting here awaiting range day, because I'm keeping some of the bits for and then shooting up the rest. Fuck this game.

Finally, I don't like the idea of Michael posting MM reviews here, but then again, he's posting NoHighScores reviews here, so what's the difference, I guess? I don't like that either but I'll take what I can get. All I know is that I "work with" the other writers at Miniature Market and have never read a single line of their reviews. Why? Because I don't know them, or their personalities. I know what Nate likes. I know what Michael likes. I know what Charlie likes. So I read them because I have the background to read it and know where they're coming from.


NOW....

PAT II!!!!!! Welcome back! I missed you so much!!
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 08:09 by The*Mad*Gamer #206556
The*Mad*Gamer's Avatar
You don't pay close enough attention to what I said, I think. But since you're trying to throw stones, you should have so you don't sound like a shit-stirrer. My problem is, has been, and will continue to be with the fact that people get free product. I've also said that I admire Tom's business savvy and ability to make a living. If Dice Tower was paying for the lion's share of his games, I would have no problem other than style with his business model. I've written several articles about this very subject. It's not "money" that bothers me. I've said that a thousand times. It's that people have none of their skin in the game because they're being handed product to review, and at some point, when you've earned some modicum of nerd fame, you can't afford to piss off the publishers or the nerd fame goes away when you can't produce the volume of reviews that the brand now requires you to. It's always been that simple.

Really, my underlying problem is in the fact that most reviewers will not review games they find bad, which ends up meaning that you're stuck reading a lot of positive reviews about any given game because nobody wants to piss off publishers. I understand that there's time involved in learning, playing repeatedly, and writing about a bad game, but that's part of the job. If you want to review products, review them all. Every one you receive. Otherwise, you're stuck in the trap.

Wow, I didn't realize you were on the same page as me on the "Payola" issue! Love it! I was sounding the "free games" horn back in 2006 but it seems this is widely accepted now as not a big deal, I still disagree. What's worse now, is I suspect Publisher payments to Podcast Kickstarters. This to me is even worse especially if the product reviewed is for the most part always positive.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 08:21 by SuperflyTNT #206561
SuperflyTNT's Avatar
superflycircus.com/2012/07/consumerism-c...board-game-industry/

The formatting got nuked a bit when I went from Blogger to my site, so it looks like a wall of text, but it sums up why I don't like the way the industry's sales and marketing is set up.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 08:45 by Egg Shen #206564
Egg Shen's Avatar
So I'll admit, when I first saw the article I was kinda like, "Eh, this kinda blows". I didn't think it was cool. That was my gut reaction to it and I don't think I was alone with it.

I didn't post anything right away because I wanted to think about it. The more I got to thinking the more I understood the article. Is it a showcase of these writers talents and what they're currently doing? Sure, I guess. However, it's more of an advertisement for the reviews over at MM. It's a project that Barnes is obviously very proud of and he is trying to bring attention to it. You know what? I can't say I blame him.

For me when I think of places to go for boardgame reviews/discussion I think of here...Shut Up and Sit Down , The Dice Tower and Rab Florence at Rock Paper Shotgun. You know what I don't think to check? Miniature Market. Barnes knows this. He is trying to change this. Again, he is obviously proud of what he put together over there and I'm sure he wants to make as many people as possible aware of its existence. Creating something only to have it fade into obscurity, like it was never even there, is not fun.

I also think he was genuinely looking for feedback. If there is a place on the internet that doesn't pull any punches it is F:AT. On top of that I think he wants the readership here to be aware of another source of quality gaming information. Some people are going to take umbrage with the way he went about doing it. Barnes is smart enough to know this was going to ruffle a few feathers...hell it was probably a calculated choice lol. This one time article isn't something meant to sink F:AT. Or get people to stop posting here or whatever other doomsday scenario that this article was meant to be.

It's painful to have something fail and I think Barnes is just doing his damnedest to make sure it doesn't. In the end, that is something I understand completely.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 08:57 by repoman #206566
repoman's Avatar
Egg Shen wrote:
I also think he was genuinely looking for feedback.


Senator Barnes wrote:
You know what, I'm just going to roll my eyes and walk away. I don't have to defend myself, think whatever you want about whatever I do, I could care less. Never have.

Strange thing to write for a fellow who wanted feedback.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 09:08 by SuperflyTNT #206568
SuperflyTNT's Avatar
repoman wrote:
Senator Barnes wrote:
You know what, I'm just going to roll my eyes and walk away. I don't have to defend myself, think whatever you want about whatever I do, I could care less. Never have.
Strange thing to write for a fellow who wanted feedback.
I would like to point out, however, that I give more serious consideration to the opinions expressed by individuals who can express those opinions without being a dick.

I think this might be why he responded how he did. :)
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 09:21 by The*Mad*Gamer #206570
The*Mad*Gamer's Avatar
The formatting got nuked a bit when I went from Blogger to my site, so it looks like a wall of text, but it sums up why I don't like the way the industry's sales and marketing is set up.

Brilliant article! Really goes much deeper than I expected and explains exactly what is going on with the industry. I really like your discussion that talks about geeks HATE TO BE WRONG! I don't understand why that is so true. I have made many bad buying decisions over my gaming career and laughed them off. We are not talking big money here plus you can get some of that back on ebay.

Your article really exposes the whole underground industry of the review business better than I have ever seen.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 09:30 by SuperflyTNT #206571
SuperflyTNT's Avatar
I'm a business analyst and marketing/PR guy....I see how things are sold better than some others, and I wanted to kind of put my perspective on the boardgame "business" marketing side. I liked the article after I wrote it, I'm glad you did. You should've seen the row created when I put it on BGG. For every attaboy there were 50 "you're a piece of shit" comments, with my favorite (and the one I remember the most), "how dare you compare board game marketing to the eradication of the Jews by Hitler". Not that I did. I simply used a quote from Goebels, who was the prodigy of Bernays.

The really short version is that the industry knows how to communicate with its core audience's addictions and personalities very well, and uses bloggers and reviewers to to their marketing. This is why there's no massive "game days" at FLGSs, doing demos and whatnot. They don't need to. They have us all by the short and curlies already.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 09:38 by The*Mad*Gamer #206573
The*Mad*Gamer's Avatar
I'm a business analyst and marketing/PR guy....I see how things are sold better than some others, and I wanted to kind of put my perspective on the boardgame "business" marketing side. I liked the article after I wrote it, I'm glad you did. You should've seen the row created when I put it on BGG. For every attaboy there were 50 "you're a piece of shit" comments, with my favorite (and the one I remember the most), "how dare you compare board game marketing to the eradication of the Jews by Hitler". Not that I did. I simply used a quote from Goebels, who was the prodigy of Bernays.

The really short version is that the industry knows how to communicate with its core audience's addictions and personalities very well, and uses bloggers and reviewers to to their marketing. This is why there's no massive "game days" at FLGSs, doing demos and whatnot. They don't need to. They have us all by the short and curlies already.

You also talk about how no one wants to do a negative review because they are completely destroyed. This is similar to modern issues such as the Confederate flag, gay Marriage, or Obama care...you express a well thought out opposing opinion and they destroy you and your business and your family and ban you from the net. So on a smaller board game scale not many people want to put up with that abuse , except maybe me and you! LOL So, like you say all you get are positive reviews for the most part.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 09:42 by The*Mad*Gamer #206574
The*Mad*Gamer's Avatar
I also didn't realize FFG canned Matt Drake for a negative review, I heard about Barnes but not Matt Drake.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 09:49 by The*Mad*Gamer #206576
The*Mad*Gamer's Avatar
The really short version is that the industry knows how to communicate with its core audience's addictions and personalities very well, and uses bloggers and reviewers to to their marketing.

The real truth is that they are not doing reviews at all just commercials for board games.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 09:52 by Egg Shen #206577
Egg Shen's Avatar
repoman wrote:
Egg Shen wrote:
I also think he was genuinely looking for feedback.


Senator Barnes wrote:
You know what, I'm just going to roll my eyes and walk away. I don't have to defend myself, think whatever you want about whatever I do, I could care less. Never have.

Strange thing to write for a fellow who wanted feedback.

Hehehe....Barnes, who I don't know personally, strikes me as a guy that likes to put off the "I don't care whatcha think" vibe. Could be wrong, just a taking a guess. However, someone doesn't write articles...log into the forums daily to discuss things...for almost a decade without caring.

He also strikes me as a guy with alot of pride in what he does. I wouldn't be surprised if the negative reaction to the article got to him. I know if I was in his shoes it would have certainly affected me.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 09:53 by Ken B. #206578
Ken B.'s Avatar
The*Mad*Gamer wrote:
I also didn't realize FFG canned Matt Drake for a negative review, I heard about Barnes but not Matt Drake.


Their draconian policies regarding reviewers was exposed by Barnes years ago. I've found it increasingly difficult to support them as time has worn on. With the exception of Star Wars LCG Force Packs, I haven't purchased a first-hand product from them in a few years now. I do have a couple of games from the past few years of theirs, but I've traded or flea marketed to acquire those.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 09:56 by The*Mad*Gamer #206579
The*Mad*Gamer's Avatar
Their draconian policies regarding reviewers was exposed by Barnes years ago. I've found it increasingly difficult to support them as time has worn on. With the exception of Star Wars LCG Force Packs, I haven't purchased a first-hand product from them in a few years now. I do have a couple of games from the past few years of theirs, but I've traded or flea marketed those.

WOW! I missed a lot of this and would normally overlook if this happened once. But now we have two confirmed cases of this, I have to agree with you here. I will no longer purchase any Fantasy Flight Game products.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 10:02 by SuperflyTNT #206580
SuperflyTNT's Avatar
Fuck that, I still will. Some of their products are awesome, and I'd rather deal with them being a dick to my friends than boycott them and never have an X-Wing or Armada made. I don't read many reviews anyhow, and neither Barnes nor Matt have been chanting the BOYCOTT shouts, so if they're not all kinds of pissed off about it, why should I be? I hate to say this, but Michael deserved what he got. He was on a huge Anti-FFG (or really, "Fuck Petersen") rant for 6 months before CP decided to write him a shittygram and then dump him like last night's spicy carne asada.

Really, it wouldn't matter anyhow. If I were to boycott every publisher that uses bloggers until they get a bad review, then dumps them, I'd never be able to buy anything.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 10:07 by Ken B. #206583
Ken B.'s Avatar
SuperflyTNT wrote:
Fuck that, I still will. Some of their products are awesome, and I'd rather deal with them being a dick to my friends than boycott them and never have an X-Wing or Armada made. I don't read many reviews anyhow, and neither Barnes nor Matt have been chanting the BOYCOTT shouts, so if they're not all kinds of pissed off about it, why should I be?


I'm definitely not calling for a boycott, my objections are purely personal. It just leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth and you do start to view any reviews on FFG products as sort of suspect, especially from established reviewers. Why? Because they're going to spin positive to keep FFG products coming in, and let's face it, FFG products are some of the flagship games (and often, the more expensive.)

I think if you reach a critical mass like Tom Vasel, then you're free to say what you want without FFG cutting you off. But still, that's a pretty sad state of affairs.

So yeah, keep buying 'em. Again, my objections are purely personal.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 10:17 by charlest #206585
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The only publisher that I've worked with that has explicitly stated "Go ahead and write negative reviews and it won't affect your status" is Z-Man.

Asmodee has never stated the above, but my relationship didn't seem to be affected by severe criticism of Mythotopia's end game, which they distribute and sent to me.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 10:19 by Motorik #206586
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Publishers recoiling from a negative review and subsequently--out of spite--cutting off reviewers from receiving free copies/access codes = standard industry practice in the video games arena. You would think top-of-the-food-chain companies like Nintendo/Ubisoft/EA/etc. would have thicker skins than that, but nope. Makes sense that it would happen in hobby games too.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 10:34 by SuperflyTNT #206590
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About the idea that Tom is untouchable, it's not that he's untouchable as much as he is their go-to sales agency and you don't shit where you eat. He has more people than anyone else in the world watching his videos and videos-by-proxy through his network. One bad review here and there is going to hurt that one product, but not the brand. If Tom vowed to not review X company's products on his network, that company would be FUCKED. Doubly so if he AND Lance did the same thing.

If Tom got blacklisted by a company, we wouldn't know about it anyhow. First, Tom is not one to throw stones. It's not in his nature, and further, it's bad business. If he got banned from receiving review copies, I don't know that he'd be quick to out the publisher. He knows that there are no such thing as permanent disagreements, and that eventually, he may be able to reconcile. That's just my 2c and a character judgement. I think if he got blacklisted, he'd find a way to make it work out.

But, to the greater point, this more proof of that the threat of free shit being taken away is a powerful motivator. It's not about greed, it's about power, influence, and the ability to be "inside". People have influence when they write reviews. They get a cult following. They get invited to parties and stuff at GenCon. This is not something that many people would be able to walk away from for the small price of their integrity. Integrity isn't what it used to be, and there's no Game Reviewer Bar Association that vets us. So, we can literally lie and cheat readers all day long and the only thing stopping us is our own integrity. Worst of all, people can write reviews all day long, even critical ones, by simply reading the rules, thinking about other games that seemed similar, and then punting their way through it. And nobody would ever know, because at the end of the day, they can say, "ITS MY OPINION" and that is that.

Maybe I'm too cynical. All I know is that I know plenty of salesmen that lie on call reports, lie to customers, and lie to themselves for money and influence. And they do it for a living, and are held to the standards of their company's ethical code, not to mention the US Uniform Commercial Code. Bloggers aren't, so I see them as much easier to influence by payola, especially since ego is such a big part of why people write.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 10:59 by eekamouse #206592
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charlest wrote:
The only publisher that I've worked with that has explicitly stated "Go ahead and write negative reviews and it won't affect your status" is Z-Man.

Asmodee has never stated the above, but my relationship didn't seem to be affected by severe criticism of Mythotopia's end game, which they distribute and sent to me.

I've never had it affect me either. It's a giant myth constantly perpetuated on the internet. I've negatively or luke-warmly reviewed games from (I think) every publisher, and it's never affected getting review copies or not.

Honestly, anyone who thinks or states that... doesn't know what they are talking about.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 11:20 by SuperflyTNT #206594
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Except Michael Barnes and Matt Drake, who were. And me, who was lambasted and ridiculed directly on BGG by the publisher and the designer, who never received so much as a nasty note from the BGG Admins. So, it does happen, but I think we're talking apples-and-oranges, Joel. I'm not talking about megareviewers like you, Lance, and Tom. I'm talking about the small fries. I'm talking about up and comers, guys that for whatever reason decided to take on the thankless job of espousing opinions on the internet.

You stated that you don't like to do negative reviews, for a variety of totally valid reasons, and I understand that. That's a different subject anyhow - that's the big one I discussed in my aforementioned article. It's the domino effect of many people not wanting to "waste time" or "hurt relationships", or whatever reason, doing negative reviews, which ends up with the net effect of having 50 positive reviews and very few negative reviews in the first 120 days of a product's launch. I think that's a far more profound problem when it comes to forming a public consensus on a game than integrity issues or things of that nature. That's why I pushed the issue so hard for so long - people need to see a balanced overall view, and without negative reviews, or even critical reviews (as Michael would put it) we're relegated to seeing the same game demo done by different people ad infinitum. That's kind of why I dislike video reviews as a source of constructive buying decision information, really. It's the format's fault, not the people's. Written articles just seem to be able to explain the WHY better than the HOW, but I've watched dozens of your videos, in particular, because you have a very specific talent that is lacking in many videos: you are great at teaching rules. So, I've watched a shitload of your videos before game nights to be able to SEE the game in action while reading the rules, so it gels in my head.

Back to the "payola" thing, I don't know if you remember this or not, but way back in the day, like maybe 3 years ago (LOL) there was a guy named Larry soemthing-or-other from the now-defunct INd20 Group. They put out a video review of Pixel Lincoln that was 100% infomercial. I was publicly shit on for bringing it to the attention of the BGG crowd. I was in the middle of a ban (for calling a guy a racist, which he is, or at least was), and so it was like being shot while standing still. Couldn't respond. Even my FRIEND, who was using Larry to jump-start his own thing, shit on me (although he later apologized and admitted that they were paid a lot of money to do the KS preview).

boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/11654/ind20-g...e-your-view-deckbuil

They never disclosed payment, which was the crux of the problem. This is one of the rare times that I found that integrity issues caused people to buy something because of chicanery. Other than that, there's one other video that really got under my skin, but I'm not going there.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 11:24 by VonTush #206595
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I don't buy that Barnes and Drake were dropped solely because of negative reviews. What I find more plausible is that FFG no longer wanted to have a relationship with or contribute to their brand. Kind of like how F:AT has established a very Anti-KS brand and now all we have is a place holder that says "Advertise Here".
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 11:30 by Michael Barnes #206596
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Joel is exactly right. Most people do not understand how review copies work in the first place. I have never been approached by a publisher or designer offering a dumptruck full of money nor have I ever encountered a situation where I was made to feel that negative reviews would result in being "cut off".

With one very, very notable exception, and that was a relationship that was kind of mutually terminated. I was taken off the press list at FFG after I wrote a negative article about Descent at the personal behest of leadership there, who also got upset when I made negative comments about the Battles of Westeros announcement. I got kind of a "second chance", and was offered the first review copy of BoW. Which I gave a lukewarm at best review to at Gameshark.com. I've not received a single FFG product for review since that chain of events. I was very definitely made to feel like positive press was expected if I were to continue to stay on the press list, so it was a situation that I was glad to be quit of.

But by and large, publishers do not actively care about reviewers that give negative reviews provided that they are professional and not some kind of obnoxious "slam" piece or not actually about the game. I have received "sorry you didn't care for it, thanks for taking a look" emails but for most part at the bigger places like Z-Man or Asmodee, you never hear anything back and they move right along because your review is not going to make THAT much of an impact and they understand the scope of it.

Where it does get a little hairier is when smaller publishers/designers want to lock horns with you after a negative or less-than-favorable review. It's REALLY unprofessional, but there have been a couple of times when a designer or publisher wants to engage me in a debate about the review. I don't mind answering questions, I don't mind having a conversation about it, but I DO mind when I'm having to get into four, five emails effectively defending my position with a designer who is sure that I'm doing something wrong or just can't see how great the game is. The most notable time this has occurred was with Sirlin. I gave the game a crazy good review because I loved it, but I dinged the quality of the cards. Because the first edition had cheap, junky cards. He didn't like that, and he wanted to argue with me about it. I guess he wanted me to retract that part, but I didn't and just cut it off.

The reality, even in video games, is that you RARELY see actual impropriety. I know of ONE situation that I actually can not disclose the full details of, but it involved a video game review (not one of mine) where a publisher relationship was in the mix and a B+ rating was changed to an A+...and the original review was replaced by one provided by the publisher and written by a freelance writer who was not on the staff. What happens more often in video games is that they wine and dine reviewers, set up controlled testing environments, offer exclusives and do all these kinds of things to sway opinion in their favor. It's almost never an issue of "we will pay you X amount of dollars or give you Y review games if you write a positive review". It's more subtle and insidious than that...but it's also MUCH rarer than people think.

And it's VERY rare, if not non-existent, in tabletop games.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 11:36 by Ken B. #206597
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Yeah, seconding what Barnes said, actually FFG is the only publisher I've known to cut off reviewers for poor to middling reviews. If it were widespread, well, I'd be condemning more companies for it.

I received a few disappointed emails from designers over the years on games I either didn't like or gave "meh" reviews to, but it rarely escalated. I was once in the playtest group for David Sirlin, but what Barnes said is correct--you can totally slob the knob of his games (and it's generally easy to do, they're good games), but if you have even the slightest ding, the slightest criticism about the game or something he's done to promote it (like three editions in that many years or less), then he will absolutely try to take you to task. At one point he was asking me privately to "silence" or chastise users on our boards who were critical of him or of any of his games. I basically told him to take a hike, that's not how we did things, and haven't been in contact since.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 11:38 by Ken B. #206598
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VonTush wrote:
I don't buy that Barnes and Drake were dropped solely because of negative reviews. What I find more plausible is that FFG no longer wanted to have a relationship with or contribute to their brand. Kind of like how F:AT has established a very Anti-KS brand and now all we have is a place holder that says "Advertise Here".

The notion we're "anti-KS" is silly. Over the past few months I've kickstarted both Tiny Epic Galaxies and Mare Nostrum.

We do take umbrage with shady Kickstarter practices or established companies using Kickstarter as a pre-order system where they take users' money up front to make the game. I personally believe once you're at a certain scale, you're beyond the "spirit of Kickstarter."

Anyway, I digress.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 11:49 by Motorik #206599
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Considering events like the Up Front debacle and the Eric Chevalier fiasco--literally the first and only time the Federal Trade Commission has ever taken legal action against a crowdfunding campaign--I'd think an anti-KS stance would be something of a badge of honor. But, unlike the world of video games, where shitty business practices are held to the fire on a daily basis, there is literally no one in board game journalism who writes from the perspective of consumer advocacy.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 11:52 by The*Mad*Gamer #206600
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And it's VERY rare, if not non-existent, in tabletop games.

The only reason it is rare is because Nerds are using board games simply as a medium to to achieve nerd fame and boost self esteem. I know this to be true because look at all the rampant game rules errors, in Dice Tower Videos, Rahdo's videos, and Wheaton's videos. These guys don't care about games really, their interest is promoting themselves. If their focus was on games they wouldn't release a video that had game rules errors in it. When they look back and edit these videos their focus is on their cute zingers and one liners, not the game!

You are quite wrong saying it is non-existent
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 11:56 by SuperflyTNT #206601
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I'm pissed that Tiny Epic Galaxies passed and I didn't know about it until the last day, the day my bills came due. So, I missed that one. REALLY wanted it. Looks FANTASTIC. I was willing to give them a second go after really not liking TEKingdoms, but I just missed out. Figure I'll get it after the fact, as usual :(

I think that SOME PEOPLE here have a very anti-KS vibe (one reason Duke decided to walk away, which sucks, because I really liked him), and I have a great deal of skepticism about a lot of the games that get published due to them, but now it's really become a P$$,$$$ preorder system for major designers (read: Launius) with a lot of credibility, so I think things are changing for the better there.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 16:12 by Michael Barnes #206621
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Kickstarter sucks. Hopefully our readers are able to discern that my opinions do not reflect those of the membership, other staff or the site as a whole. Lots of folks here participate in all kinds of crowdfunding boondoggles. And I review games that were produced through Kickstarter.

Steve, what you are talking about is really quite different than what I mean. I'm talking about publishers/developers currying favor with reviewers, "buying" positive press with exclusives, early access, favorable status and so forth. Not quite "payola", but more like that. What you're talking about is something that is going on at the reviewer level, which definitely does exist and does go on.

Something that I think a lot of people don't realize is that it's actually very rare, at least for me, to have a publisher or designer approach me and ask to do a review or offer a review copy. It happens every so often, and I do get the occasional Kickstarter representative asking me to do a "preview" (which is a flat no, unconditionally). But I've not ever really been pursued as a reviewer. Most of the review copies I get come from simply emailing the press contact at a publisher or the designer directly and just stating some credentials and that I'd like to give the game a look, here's what I can offer you (1000-1500 words, you can use any part of the review to promote the game as you see fit, no promise of a 'good' review) and this is when I'd like to publish. I don't have boxes and boxes of publisher-sent games at my door every day like I'm sure happens with the Dice Tower folks. I have to directly ask for everything, which is why my reviews tend to be positive- because I've "vetted" whatever it is to make sure it's something I'm interested in and feel like is worth covering.

I wish it were more glamorous, but it's just not. Including my involvement with Miniature Market. Very straightforward, very on-the-level. I provide them a service, they pay me for said service and expectations on both sides of the arrangement are met.
Posted: 20 Jul 2015 18:49 by VonTush #206626
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Michael Barnes wrote:
Kickstarter sucks. Hopefully our readers are able to discern that my opinions do not reflect those of the membership, other staff or the site as a whole. Lots of folks here participate in all kinds of crowdfunding boondoggles. And I review games that were produced through Kickstarter.

KS Project creators looking at this site as an advertising possibility would see a very negative bias and animosity towards the platform and thus take their marketing money elsewhere.

That marketing money could have been used to recruit the highlighted talent, the point of controversy of this thread, here to provide content for F:AT.

Stupid derailment of this thread averted.

Just sayin'...
Posted: 23 Jul 2015 13:32 by mikecl #206817
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I just read the front page article only to discover that while I was away sick, I missed the kind of Friday Freakout I have on occasion in the past initiated myself!Thankfully I see Thirstyman was more than up to the task. He may not be the most diplomatic F:ATtie, but this site needs people like him and Pete Ruth who aren't afraid to call bullshit when they see it.

Personally I'm prepared to cut Barnes some slack because he's a huge contributor, but Thirsty raised some valid points and it's good for everyone to have this kind of discussion. It's what makes this place great.

But it was the comments on Kickstarter that got me to post in this thread. I think Kickstarter sucks too. I've used the model, but I think it's ruining the board game industry. That said, I haven't used it much. I've only backed Omen: A Reign of War, Omega Edition and most recently, Misftall.

I think Kickstarter is giving us a lot of beautifully crafted, gorgeous looking, half-baked games. These are games like Fallen or Chaosmos which look great and don't reveal their flaws until a few plays in at which point you discover fatal flaws that make you put the game permanently on the shelf. For me, it was the Final Battles in Fallen which invalidate the entire rest of the game because your drawn battles are totally random and have nothing to do with the preceding adventures. So my very buffed up Magic User who had dominated the game wound up pulling final Strength challenges and lost badly. And it happens a lot because there's a compete disconnect between the two halves of the game. A gamer came up with a small fix (it needs more) than should have at least been part of the original rules.

Galactic Strikeforce another Kickstarted dog from the makers of Sentinels of the Universe whose gameplay is also fundamentally flawed and I could go on. (Hell even Sentinels itself doesn't scale (only really good with four) and its Heroes, Bosses and Environments have to be so carefully selected to work together gamers have developed charts. (Funnily enough I still like the game despite its flaws).

My point is there's more games than ever, but many are not fully developed because the Kickstarter model is more focused on stretch goals than finished product. There's no incentive for "finishing" the game. There's more effort and thought put into shipping it instead. It's going to become increasingly rare to find deep, well-play-tested gems like War of the Ring, Earth Reborn, Dominant Species or Twilight Struggle. Instead we're getting nice-looking, incomplete or pretty-with-no-brains games like Chaosmos or convoluted messes like Myth.

Now legitimate publishers are jumping on the Kickstarter bandwagon. These guys used to gamble their own money on a game product. Now they're using ours. The more Kickstarter heats up as a vehicle for games, the worse this is going to get. And as long as we continue to accept ridiculously inflated prices in exchange for half-baked games, that's what we're going to get ... until of course we quit buying games altogether which is where I sometimes wonder this could all be headed.
Posted: 23 Jul 2015 13:48 by Chapel #206820
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What's all this bru-haha about? Bunch of funking sellouts.

Heh, just kidding, I don't read reviews anyway. Barnes, you need to sell some games soon. I hear they are releasing a new version of Fury of Dracula. Want to sell the classic version? :)

Bring on Friday Freak out!

P.S. I didn't forget to send you Razzia, just been too lazy to hit the post office. Should be on it's way this weekend.
Posted: 23 Jul 2015 14:22 by VonTush #206827
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Chapel wrote:
P.S. I didn't forget to send you Razzia, just been too lazy to hit the post office. Should be on it's way this weekend.

Ditto for me (different game).


Spellfire renders any argument about publishers being Gatekeepers preventing chaff from hitting the market invalid.
Posted: 24 Jul 2015 06:39 by charlest #206898
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mikecl wrote:
I think Kickstarter is giving us a lot of beautifully crafted, gorgeous looking, half-baked games. These are games like Fallen or Chaosmos which look great and don't reveal their flaws until a few plays in at which point you discover fatal flaws that make you put the game permanently on the shelf. For me, it was the Final Battles in Fallen which invalidate the entire rest of the game because your drawn battles are totally random and have nothing to do with the preceding adventures. So my very buffed up Magic User who had dominated the game wound up pulling final Strength challenges and lost badly. And it happens a lot because there's a compete disconnect between the two halves of the game. A gamer came up with a small fix (it needs more) than should have at least been part of the original rules.

I apologize if I steered you wrong on Fallen Mike, but I don't wholeheartedly agree with this. First of all, I've never been in a game where more than two back to back were a stat a character was weak in. Typically it evens out.

Some of it depends on the Dungeon Lord you are facing as their decks are not identical. There's some strategy there and you have to be able to compensate for that.

Another thing is that you need to be saving your equipment to burn on those tests that you may not have much of a chance on. There's a subtle mind gaming going on when the DL draws a Strength test in the Final Battle against a hero with poor strength. Since the DL chooses how much to commit against a particular challenge first, he needs to decide if he's going to blow through Fortune or a strong monster. He needs to decide if he's going to burn Fate cards and increase his dice pool. If he lays off knowing you don't have a big pool, you can come in strong using equipment and fate to augment your roll. Sometimes you need to know when to just tank it and let the bad guy win, much like a BSG crisis check. That's why it's best of 5.

Some of the heroes also have the opportunity to increase skills in a more jack of all trades fashion, that's something to leverage if you're particularly worried about the Final Battle and luck halting your progress.

The game to me is all about experiencing the narrative while trying to build up your tools to win in the Final Battle. Sometimes luck will work a bit against you but in 9 plays now I've never felt like someone was cheated.
Posted: 24 Jul 2015 11:39 by mikecl #206953
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charlest wrote:
I apologize if I steered you wrong on Fallen Mike, but I don't wholeheartedly agree with this. First of all, I've never been in a game where more than two back to back were a stat a character was weak in. Typically it evens out.
I don't feel misled for a second. Truth is I'd already bought the game at that point. Maybe the Final Battle deck wasn't shuffled adequately form its new state but two games in a row where I was the Hero, I drew three completely off-my-skill cards in the Final Battle which is when it occurred to me they don't have a lot to do with the rest of the narrative which is pretty disappointing.

A gamer suggested a variant where you pull cards equal to the level of the highest monster plus the skill level of the Hero -- says for instance Level 3 monster plus Level 3 Hero for six Final Battle cards. Lay them all face up. The side whose darkness track is in this favour chooses first and then players alternate choosing -- the point being, you get to choose. I think it's an excellent rule, but the game needs something else too, to bridge the disconnect.

I felt that flaw should have been discovered on playtesting and the user-suggested rule should have, at the very least, been included in the final product which was my point about the kinds of beautiful sloppy eye candy you get in a Kickstarted product. Nothing wrong with your reviews Charlie. At the time I totally agreed with it too because I love this type of choose your own adventure and I didn't run into this problem until the fourth and fifth plays.
Posted: 28 Jul 2015 00:52 by Space Ghost #207255
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VonTush wrote:
Chapel wrote:
P.S. I didn't forget to send you Razzia, just been too lazy to hit the post office. Should be on it's way this weekend.

Ditto for me (different game).


Spellfire renders any argument about publishers being Gatekeepers preventing chaff from hitting the market invalid.

Everybody is always down on Spellfire. I'm convinced nobody played the expansions. The game is better than people give it credit for.
Posted: 28 Jul 2015 07:05 by VonTush #207265
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I always enjoyed it as a goofly little game. It was actually the only game outside of GW that I played a bit of back in HS, we played it more than Magic.
Though there was some downright goofy shit going on in that game. Like the characters who you had to ask permission if you wanted to cast a spell. The ones that trigger to real world events, like if the sun is down the character is more powerful. And some of the artwork is just very memorable, but not in a good way. Mainly the photos of people dressed up in costumes. I should pull my cards out I still have kicking around some day.