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thegiantbrain
December 02, 2020
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Episode 60 - Critical Strike

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We-reNotWizards
December 01, 2020
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Zombie Kidz Evolution Review

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oliverkinne
December 01, 2020
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November 30, 2020
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November 30, 2020
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Matt Thrower
November 30, 2020
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oliverkinne
November 27, 2020
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Micro City Board Game Review

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mads b.
November 27, 2020
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Michael Barnes
November 26, 2020
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boardgameinquisition
November 26, 2020
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November 25, 2020
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November 25, 2020
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November 24, 2020
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Short Cut to Remote Gaming Forum (29 Aug 2020)

Since remote gaming has now become a significant part of how we play board games, we have added a short cut to this forum in the menu on the left.

× Talk about whatever you like related to games that doesn't fit anywhere else.

Games criticism, reviews, and SEO

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18 Nov 2020 07:38 #316251 by DarthJoJo

mc wrote: I've been playing a bit of Knizia's Babylonia over vassal, and the thing is tight. Every turn is seat of your pants decision time, and every game has it's own little thing going on, an ever so slightly different feel depending on the spread of tokens and what powers people end up taking. Terrific old school euro feel as you'd expect. Not as confrontational as say T&E or whatever but plenty of blocking of connections and horning in on other people's rackets and you are always a bit stretched. Always a big move or two to build towards. I've now played at all the counts and they are all good. I've only played on vassal asynch but it would go quick in real life. At the first pass it was yeah, okay, good solid Knizia (so, more than okay if that's your thing), but it has kept on getting better and better. Most of the guys I'm playing with have got 10s of games under their belts already (I don't!), and I'm pretty sure it's going to hold my attention for that long easily. If you like your classic Knizia's you probably should check it out and give it a run of plays - it's up there with the best.

Dan Thurot recently posted an adoring review of this, too, but I’m bummed this has gotten zero traction otherwise in the year since its release. No coverage from Rahdo, Rodney or SUSD. Same with Yellow and Yangtze, even with Vincent Dutrait’s art. It sounds like Knizia has been on point these last few years, but the audience hasn’t been there for highly-interactive euros with tight rule sets and consequential decisions. Do they feel too similar to his established classics? Are they not on Kickstarter enough What’s up?
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18 Nov 2020 08:33 #316252 by hotseatgames

DarthJoJo wrote: Dan Thurot recently posted an adoring review of this, too, but I’m bummed this has gotten zero traction otherwise in the year since its release. No coverage from Rahdo, Rodney or SUSD. Same with Yellow and Yangtze, even with Vincent Dutrait’s art.


And this is the real tragedy... if the big video "content creators" ignore your game, no one ends up hearing about it. Publishers don't do enough on their own, instead hoping that others will just word of mouth their game into popularity.

A lot of companies put their game on KS just so people can learn that it exists.
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18 Nov 2020 08:59 #316256 by Nodens
'Content creators' in most areas demand payment for coverage. I don't see why this should be different for boardgames.

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18 Nov 2020 09:20 #316259 by DarthJoJo

Nodens wrote: 'Content creators' in most areas demand payment for coverage. I don't see why this should be different for boardgames.

Because then you’re an advertiser, an arm of the marketing department but without the benefits.
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18 Nov 2020 09:28 - 18 Nov 2020 09:37 #316260 by Jackwraith

'Content creators' in most areas demand payment for coverage. I don't see why this should be different for boardgames.


Right. Rodney, Vasel, etc. do this for a living. If the publishers aren't willing to pay for that kind of promotion, then it often won't get noticed. I will say, however, that that particular phenomenon may just be an American perspective. Knizia's games have always been bigger sellers in Europe, so there may be other promoters (German game reviewers, for example) that have covered it across the pond. Does anyone know?

That's kind of the funny thing about this place. No one here charges for reviews and no one gets paid for them, but this is still a tiny corner of the game universe, because most people want video or go to BGG to get video AND a couple written things, so it's understandable that a lot of publishers aren't even interested in tossing review copies our way, since the (lack of) exposure may not be worth it. The argument when we started the overhaul was that this place would be focused on the written word. I'm fine with that, since it's what I do, but also mentioned that we could be seen to be falling behind the times, since so many other creators had turned to video (Vasel, et al.) Now when you look at the front page at any given day, half of the links are podcasts. There's nothing wrong with that, as it is a step toward the type of media that people are consuming more often, but it feels like TWBG is either changing focus and leaving things behind or has never quite developed a focus, which is part of why the place is still so unnoticed among the "giants" of the community.

Sorry. /tangent. I've been really interested in Babylonia, as well, although I hesitate a bit when reading about it, as it seems not tremendously dissimilar from T&E/Y&Y.
Last edit: 18 Nov 2020 09:37 by Jackwraith.

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18 Nov 2020 09:45 #316262 by Jackwraith

DarthJoJo wrote:

Nodens wrote: 'Content creators' in most areas demand payment for coverage. I don't see why this should be different for boardgames.

Because then you’re an advertiser, an arm of the marketing department but without the benefits.


No. I don't agree with this at all. People look at Vasel and Rodney and say they're just shills for the publishers who pay them. That's bullshit. First off, in Rodney's case, he never even says whether he likes the game he's demonstrating. He just demonstrates the game. But in all of their cases, they have an audience because people like what they do. Getting paid for that is a natural result. It's the same with any kind of creative endeavor. What Vasel and the SUSD guys do is still a creative endeavor. It's a performance. People like it. People watch and contribute to their fundraisers and publishers pay them to get their games in front of their respective audiences. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that and it doesn't lessen their critical credibility one bit. SUSD are the perfect example. How often have you seen one of their reviews that they seemed actually excited about at the end. Their end result is almost always somewhere between tepid and "decent". Most of the game reviews that they've done and been truly excited about are games that have been in print for over a decade.

No one's time is free. Believe me, I'd love to get paid for every word I've written for TWBG because it was my time and (hopefully) talent that produced those words. If other people want to take the faux high road of being above the "mercenary" level of actually making money, they're welcome to it. But some of us would love to make a living at something that we love to do and certainly not be accused of being corporate shills just because we love to do it.
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18 Nov 2020 10:38 #316267 by DarthJoJo

Jackwraith wrote:

DarthJoJo wrote:

Nodens wrote: 'Content creators' in most areas demand payment for coverage. I don't see why this should be different for boardgames.

Because then you’re an advertiser, an arm of the marketing department but without the benefits.


No. I don't agree with this at all. People look at Vasel and Rodney and say they're just shills for the publishers who pay them. That's bullshit. First off, in Rodney's case, he never even says whether he likes the game he's demonstrating. He just demonstrates the game. But in all of their cases, they have an audience because people like what they do. Getting paid for that is a natural result. It's the same with any kind of creative endeavor. What Vasel and the SUSD guys do is still a creative endeavor. It's a performance. People like it. People watch and contribute to their fundraisers and publishers pay them to get their games in front of their respective audiences. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that and it doesn't lessen their critical credibility one bit. SUSD are the perfect example. How often have you seen one of their reviews that they seemed actually excited about at the end. Their end result is almost always somewhere between tepid and "decent". Most of the game reviews that they've done and been truly excited about are games that have been in print for over a decade.

No one's time is free. Believe me, I'd love to get paid for every word I've written for TWBG because it was my time and (hopefully) talent that produced those words. If other people want to take the faux high road of being above the "mercenary" level of actually making money, they're welcome to it. But some of us would love to make a living at something that we love to do and certainly not be accused of being corporate shills just because we love to do it.

I get what you’re saying and don’t necessarily disagree. I totally agree with regards to Rodney. He’s providing a service of skilled, high-production rules explanation that very few companies could hope to match in quality. He absolutely should get paid by publishers. Rahdo does something similar enough that his reviews are pretty marginal.

Part of my problem with this pay-for-content system is it undervalues the creators’ work. Learning, teaching, playing, creating a review is a lot of time, more than any movie or album review. They deserve more a free game. But they probably also deserve more than fifty or a hundred bucks per review. This middle ground between the pure hobbyist review and professional critic is not great for the creator.
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18 Nov 2020 10:51 #316268 by Jackwraith
If you're saying people should be paid more for their work, I'm all about it, Marxist that I am. ;) You're absolutely right that getting a proper grasp on a game not only often takes more time than film reviews, but also often, by necessity, requires other people to spend that time with you. They, of course, might also be interested in being compensated for their time spent playing a game that they may not be interested in. (One of the rumors I heard was that Zee Garcia's planned departure from Vasel's crew (pre-pandemic) was centered around this issue, given the travel time involved and the amount of time they ended up playing games that he just didn't care for. (I don't know anything, obvsly.)) There's a fair amount of coin in the board game industry these days and a lot more of it could be spread to people that make one's games stand out amidst the absolute glut of production. This is why there are people making a living consulting for Kickstarters.

But you make your money where you can. Rodney has made the decision to link up with other producers to do previews and top 10 lists and whatever. I don't watch any of that stuff because that's not really interesting to me. But if he's entertaining viewers (and, thus, making money) doing what is essentially promotional work for companies who aren't paying him... Fine by me. Again, you make money where you can, especially doing something that you love.
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18 Nov 2020 11:40 #316272 by n815e
Does SUSD take any money from publishers?

What Rodney does is different than what a reviewer does. I don’t like reviews that have been paid for - publishers aren’t paying for negative reviews. And that is just marketing, then.

I want honest opinions and genuine perspectives based on actual experience.
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18 Nov 2020 12:17 #316273 by Jackwraith

n815e wrote: Does SUSD take any money from publishers?


I honestly don't know. I've just been lumping them in because they're among the most notable reviewers these days. They may just be making it work off of Patreon.

n815e wrote: I don’t like reviews that have been paid for - publishers aren’t paying for negative reviews. And that is just marketing, then.

I want honest opinions and genuine perspectives based on actual experience.


I don't agree. Do you think Vasel signs a contract with publishers that stipulate that his review must be positive? Or do you think that they just pay him to give their game exposure, no matter what he says? I'd be willing to bet a lot of money that the actual scenario is the latter. There are plenty of people who watch his reviews that don't agree with his take, if you look at the YouTube and BGG comments that accompany them. But they still watch, which is exactly what publishers want, especially in the modern glutted market. This is the next step over from "Any publicity is good publicity." It wouldn't be great if Tom trashed their game, but there are a lot of people out there that might not know it existed in the first place and would be willing to try it based on his review and/or their disagreements with said review. Plus, I can guarantee you that he and other major reviewers curate what they take in (i.e. only agree to do reviews for games that they're actively interested in.) Given the pile of stuff that comes in their doors, there's no way they could consider their time constructively spent if they used most of it reviewing stuff that they didn't like. It ain't digging ditches, but you gotta enjoy some part of it.

Movie reviewers used to get paid by their outlets (NY Times, etc.) Now many of them make their own money via audience response like Vasel, et al. But if someone got paid to go and review a film, I wouldn't immediately consider their opinion to be suspect. If you do think they're that simple-minded, why are you watching/reading/listening to them in the first place? If suddenly they're doing paid reviews for everything that company produces? OK. That's suspect. But I don't consider someone to be a shill just because they're trying to make money at this gig and the only people paying are the people producing stuff. FFG didn't cut this site off because of negative reviews. We got cut off because MB's style rubs people the wrong way (i.e. there's a difference between being negative and being scathing.) Ever since then, a lot of people around here have been taking that faux high road that says "$ = lying." That's really easy to say for people that have careers and stable economic situations and who aren't trying to make a living at this.
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18 Nov 2020 12:19 #316274 by Gary Sax
fwiw, I don't think anyone has figured out how real criticism will be funded going forward now that the journalism model of various criticisms (and journalism itself) has pretty much collapsed.

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18 Nov 2020 12:30 - 18 Nov 2020 12:35 #316275 by charlest
Publishers aren't paying Tom Vasel, SUSD, or other big name reviewers for review.

I think it's dangerous to spread this and it's one of the things that bothers me when Michael likes to state this on Twitter as he seems to do every few months.

There are reviewers getting paid by publishers but it's almost entirely for Kickstarter previews. This distinction is very important but seems to be overlooked often.

No one has been able to provide an example of big name reviewers providing an actual review in exchange for money.

The Dice Tower makes most of their money off a combination of Youtube and Kickstarter. They do get money for doing live plays with publishers but not reviews.

The best option in my opinion is for reviewers to be paid by a larger media entity whose revenue is attained through advertising.

I've spent a great deal of time seeking out those opportunities and they are out there, albeit very limited compared to video games or film.

Edit - I think there is likely problematic bias and impropriety occuring in various instances on a smaller scale. I've burned bridges with publishers due to a negative review and even saw one openly state "why would I send review copies to a reviewer who hasn't liked our games when there are other reviewers out there who do?"

I'd be much more worried about a newer reviewer or one with a small audience feeling the pressure.
Last edit: 18 Nov 2020 12:35 by charlest.

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18 Nov 2020 12:57 #316278 by Jackwraith

charlest wrote: Publishers aren't paying Tom Vasel, SUSD, or other big name reviewers for review.

I think it's dangerous to spread this and it's one of the things that bothers me when Michael likes to state this on Twitter as he seems to do every few months.

There are reviewers getting paid by publishers but it's almost entirely for Kickstarter previews. This distinction is very important but seems to be overlooked often.

No one has been able to provide an example of big name reviewers providing an actual review in exchange for money.

The Dice Tower makes most of their money off a combination of Youtube and Kickstarter. They do get money for doing live plays with publishers but not reviews.


Thanks, Charlie. Apologies for adding to the confusion.
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18 Nov 2020 13:38 #316287 by charlest

Jackwraith wrote:

charlest wrote: Publishers aren't paying Tom Vasel, SUSD, or other big name reviewers for review.

I think it's dangerous to spread this and it's one of the things that bothers me when Michael likes to state this on Twitter as he seems to do every few months.

There are reviewers getting paid by publishers but it's almost entirely for Kickstarter previews. This distinction is very important but seems to be overlooked often.

No one has been able to provide an example of big name reviewers providing an actual review in exchange for money.

The Dice Tower makes most of their money off a combination of Youtube and Kickstarter. They do get money for doing live plays with publishers but not reviews.


Thanks, Charlie. Apologies for adding to the confusion.


No worries, I get frustrated by this a bit as the conversation is often very confusing and it holds back progress on this topic.

Personally, I want reviewers taking money for actual reviews to be outed.

I think publishers paying a reviewer is very problematic because they have different goals and those goals will collide. It's why I think that layer of separation is needed.
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18 Nov 2020 13:53 #316290 by DarthJoJo
This issue is coming up now with No Pun Included. They clearly state that their copy of Horizon Zero Dawn was provided by the publisher, and then spend the back half of a twenty-five minute review destroying it. Feedback I’ve seen has been pretty positive toward them, but I’d be amazed if Steamforged sent them anything again. Not that Steamforged has a great reputation, but they have a knack for getting licenses and running Kickstarter campaigns that bring in money and attention.

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