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Kevin Klemme
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Mycelia Board Game Review

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Outback Crossing Review

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× Talk about the latest and greatest AT, and the Classics.

Who wants a copy of BLACK OPS?????

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22 Apr 2008 20:55 #5265 by Gary Sax
Get the pliers and a blowtorch

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22 Apr 2008 23:32 #5269 by Ken B.
Mr Skeletor wrote:

Ken B is a fucking sell out!

Lets all kill him!




Again?!

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23 Apr 2008 01:05 #5272 by metalface13
I think what Michael is kind of pointing to in his comments is that what the board gaming hobby lacks is a professional press. And I don't mean professional printers, THAT issue is being discussed in the Last Night on Earth: Growing Hunger expansion thread.

What we have instead of a professional press is a hodge podge of user communities, blogs, fan sites like Fortress: Ameritrash, Board Game News, Board Game Geek, etc. It's all very word of mouth. Don't get me wrong, that's great and all hobbies need that sort of thing. I love reading people's impressions, reviews and views on games and gaming. But you also get a lot of people kissing up to each other because we're this great big circle of gamers, and gee isn't that swell?

There's no professional press to critically look at the board game industry and critically review games. Nobody to question publishers and designers on sensitive topics. If you follow video game blogs, you may have seen a couple of weeks ago a dialog on the upcoming Resident Evil 5 trailer. In it the game looks like it's set in Africa or the Caribbean and the hero character (the player) is a white male with a gun, you know running around and shooting black zombies. In the video game press, some people brought this up. But what about board gamers? What have they said about the "servants" in Puerto Rico? It's that kind of stuff the hobby is missing out on by not having a mainstream media. Although a "mainstream" hobbyist media sounds a little strange.

I've often thought about the idea of if a board game magazine could exist and thrive in the hobby. I keep concluding that it wouldn't really work because news comes out at a trickle for most games and board gamers are so cheap that they wouldn't shell out the $5 cover price. Although I think a board game magazine would be a totally awesome way to distribute freebies like new treasure cards for Descent or orders cards for Memoir '44. Like micro expansions. The kind of stuff they do all the time with CCGs in Scrye and InQuest.

That brings up another question. Why are board gamers so cheap when they're gaming cousins, the RPGers, Miniatures guys and CCGers are so prone to blowing tons of money on games and accessories? I know we all throw down a lot of money on our board games, but we just seem so much cheaper.

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23 Apr 2008 09:56 #5282 by Michael Barnes
Well, board game magazines have a high failure rate...and of course, most gamers won't pay a dollar for a magazine when they can go to a website and get the same information. A freebie pack-in would definitely help.

So Ryan Bretsch asked me to write a little co-op piece with him and Eric Martin...he was saying that he wanted to move some AT writing more into the "mainstream" by getting some AT thought on BGN, but then I thought about it and I realized that doing Gameshark, I already have the most mainstream venue in hobby gaming right now barring GAMES magazine (which really isn't very mainstream to begin with) or maybe that About.com stuff (if it's still updated).

The problem, like MetalFace is saying, is that there isn't a professional press- it's a loose aggregate of amateurs who have no credentials, authority, or (often) writing talent. And these self-appointed pundits, most of whom have simply risen to that position by virtue of writing a lot of perfunctory reviews, are almost always intimate with designers, publishers, and other industry figures so we never get a straight line on anything.

Sorry, but I still think there's a lot to be said for professional criticism...it's not about somebody telling you what's good or bad, it's about having serious, academic, and experential insight into the merits or demerits of a particular thing and using those insights as a springboard to make up your own mind.

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23 Apr 2008 10:26 #5284 by Ska_baron
So I'm curious Michael - what would be your course of action if an amature designer sent you a copy of their new game to review? Or has this come up for you already? Are you going to keep the game? Are you going to publicly denounce/laud it? or would you only keep it a private dialogue between you and the designer?

Just curious.

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23 Apr 2008 10:33 #5285 by pronoblem
I say, bid it up to $1,000,000.00... let's do it!

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23 Apr 2008 10:45 - 23 Apr 2008 10:46 #5286 by ChristopherMD
metalface13 wrote:

But you also get a lot of people kissing up to each other because we're this great big circle of gamers, and gee isn't that swell?


Internet anonymity helps with this. I don't see why anyone trusts the reviews of people who are known to hang out with the designers/publishers. Its a conflict of interests. And I don't just mean the risk of being blacklisted from GoF, attendence of which seems to be a status symbol among geeks now.

There's no professional press to critically look at the board game industry and critically review games.


Just because someone gets paid for reviews doesn't mean they'll be critical. This isn't any kind of dig on Mr. Barnes, but more of a generalization. If someone's writing positively spinned reviews to keep getting free games they'll do the same to keep getting paychecks.

What have they said about the "servants" in Puerto Rico?


Kind of off-topic, but its my opinion that the game doesn't portray anything below the management level people. It was colonists who owned and managed the buildings, the plantations, and the slaves.

That brings up another question. Why are board gamers so cheap when they're gaming cousins, the RPGers, Miniatures guys and CCGers are so prone to blowing tons of money on games and accessories? I know we all throw down a lot of money on our board games, but we just seem so much cheaper.


A board game with 10 mini's, 50 cards, and a 4 page rulebook might be cheaper than a game with 10 mini's, 45 cards, and a 40 page rulebook. There's a lot more variables in what determines final cost. Whereas if you buy a typical RPG book or pack of CCG cards its going to cost about the same as another of similar size. So board gamers are more used to seeing a big difference in price from one product to another. Its not unreasonable to think this carries over to always wanting the lower prices you've seen on stuff. Its just a theory though.
Last edit: 23 Apr 2008 10:46 by ChristopherMD.

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23 Apr 2008 10:47 #5287 by Ken B.
Yeah...BGN...I agreed to write for them last year and then promptly forgot about it for two months due to crazy times at work (this is the same period last year where I wrote next to nothin' for the blog for a very long stretch too.) By the time I remembered "hey, I should probably send them something" I was too embarassed because I hadn't send them anything at all.

In the end, we have this website now, it's more suited for my style anyway. Boardgamenews is great for just that--news--but I don't really go there for opinion pieces anyway. Eric Martin's a super nice guy, though.

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23 Apr 2008 11:17 #5288 by Michael Barnes
So I'm curious Michael - what would be your course of action if an amature designer sent you a copy of their new game to review? Or has this come up for you already? Are you going to keep the game? Are you going to publicly denounce/laud it? or would you only keep it a private dialogue between you and the designer?

Almost exactly that happened with CONQUEST OF THE FALLEN LANDS. They guy wanted me to do a review of his game, I guess because he was really sure that I'd like it so he sent me one. I didn't like it. At all. In fact, I thought it was unbelievably bad. So I started to write a review (this was back before F:AT, incidentally) and I realized that I wasn't really going to do this guy any service by giving my honest opinion on it. Furthermore, I realized that it wasn't any help to anybody to do a full, formal review of a miniscule game with (at that time) almost zero attention. I wrote the guy back and told him that I didn't like the game at all and that I could either write an honest review that would be almost wholly negative or I could not do one at all and send him the game back at my expense so he could pass it on to someone else. He didn't want the game back, and he didn't want the review. However, I still commented publicly that I didn't like the game and if asked, I'll tell you that it completely sucks. I just didn't think doing a full review was the thing to do. And honestly, the game was so depressingly awful I really had nothing interesting or constructive to say about it. A "this game sux" review is just as boring and useless as a "this is a wonderful game by my best friend, Joe Designer" one.

I don't feel the need to write about everything I play...when I play a game and I think "hey, I really like this and want to share what it's like to play it", then that's a review to write. Likewise, when I play a game and think "holy shit, this is crap, people need to be warned that I, at least, think this is garbage". But sometimes I play games and I feel no compulsion to write about them good or bad. It's a kind of editorial sense. If I think a review is helpful or interesting to readers for positive or negative reasons, then it's something I'm going to write.

The counterpoint here is MUTANT CHRONICLES. FFG sent me that for free and I wrote about it. Jeremy called me all excited and said "Hey, we're sending you a MUTANT CHRONICLES preview". And I wound up writing a piece that was highly critical of the game but cognizant of the fact that what I was playing was just a small piece of it since it's collectible. I didn't worry if I'd fall in FFG's bad graces, I didn't worry that Jeremy was going to go pout in the corner, and I didn't worry that they wouldn't send me a preview of something else in the future. I was more concerned with being honest and offering an opinion that I felt was helpful to them as well as to readers who might be interested in the game. They didn't ask me to write about it at all though. But if I didn't feel that I could put out a straight opinion on it, I wouldn't have written anything about it.

The BGN thing is going to be fun...it's just kind of a back and forth thing...I'm going to do whatever I can to light a fire under their asses there. The first topic is "Gateway games"...

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23 Apr 2008 11:30 #5290 by ChristopherMD
Michael Barnes wrote:

"Gateway games"...


The second most elitist term ever devised by boardgamegeeks.

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23 Apr 2008 11:41 #5292 by Michael Barnes
Don't you know? The "sheeples" are too dumb to play These Games of Ours.

The funny thing is that the real gateway games are CLUE, RISK, and MONOPOLY.

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23 Apr 2008 11:47 #5293 by ChristopherMD
Michael Barnes wrote:

Don't you know? The "sheeples" are too dumb to play These Games of Ours.


Exactly. Although I'd replace These Games of Ours with "Gamers games", the most elitist term devised by boardgamegeeks. ;)

The funny thing is that the real gateway games are CLUE, RISK, and MONOPOLY.


All too true.

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23 Apr 2008 15:56 #5298 by Michael Barnes

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23 Apr 2008 16:02 #5299 by Gary Sax
HAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHA!

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23 Apr 2008 16:34 #5301 by ChristopherMD
Michael Barnes wrote:

www.boardgamegeek.com/geekstore.php3?act...iewitem&itemid=99504

No comment. No fucking comment.


Maybe now he can finally afford to keep the site working.

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