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Coming the Week of July 15th (12 Jul 2019)

Seal Team Flix and Campy Creatures Reviews, a second look at Tiny Towns, Brainwaves Podcast on Megagames, Tank & DPS News and more TBA.

Charting Our Course - Member Input

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11 Jul 2019 13:41 #299560 by Vysetron
I'll echo FCM's sentiment. The press releases/game announcements are too much. I don't know if the site has some kind of obligation to do so or why certain games go up when others don't but they feel like they get in the way of the articles/blog posts, which are typically really good.
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11 Jul 2019 14:56 #299561 by dysjunct
That is a good callout. There's many places to get new release info. Publisher mailing lists, online retailers, various blogs, BGG's official news column, etc. Copy-pasting of press releases isn't our unique voice here. I'll pay attention if a game starts getting buzz in the forums though.
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11 Jul 2019 15:42 - 11 Jul 2019 16:08 #299562 by ubarose
You can filter the front page by clicking on the little buttons (just under the advertising banner). So if you just want to see the board game reviews, for example, click on the board game review button and wait a few seconds. You can see just the article discussions by going to the Article Discussion forum.

People always complain in July that there is too much news. We are pre-GenCon right now so literally 100s of games have been crossing my desk, and the vast majority are Ameritrashy because that's the kind of games that debut at GenCon. Out of those hundreds that we have received, we have posted 17 in the past 14 days. I could split out the news into a separate section of the front page, but it's not worth re-coding the front page for 4-6 weeks of the year.

News will die down to a trickle in about a 3 weeks, and then pick up again a bit for Essen (you'll see more Euros in the news then) and the Christmas season. And then be dead until Spring. Go back to about a month ago in the news listings and browse back and you will see that there is way less news. As you go further back past pre-Origins season into the winter, there are days or even a week or more between news items. News Listings

Game news drives a large percentage of our traffic to the site. That is a factor in what gets chosen. Batman Talisman has over 7000 hits. Macho Koro Legacy is has over 9000. The Dune sneak peak is at 96,000 hits. For comparison reviews and articles usually get 1,2000 to 1,500. A review of a hot game may hit 5000. Traffic from news drives traffic to our reviews and articles (which is why we don't do a link that sends people away from the site). Traffic on reviews gets review copies which allows us to do more reviews. It's a big old catch 22. So news isn't going away. It's a matter of balancing what drives traffic with what active forum members want to know about and talk about.

Culling through the new games announcements and choosing which ones to publish is like drinking from a fire hose even in non-GenCon season. Other than pulling out the ones that look like they will draw traffic (i.e. licensed games, popular franchises, popular designers), it's kind of a crap shoot. Publishers' descriptions are big on hype but lean on real information. Games also typically get chosen relative to what crosses my desk that day, as opposed to relative to the week or the month. I try to cull out the crap, although sometimes I publish the ridiculous just for the sake of entertainment (i.e. Axis & Allies Zombie Edition, RBG), and then pick what looks like it might be of interest to forum members and might be something they want to talk about. I'll also do expansions if the game has gotten a lot of discussion in the forum, since people seem to want to know about those.

We also run member submissions, which is usually a good gauge of what folks in the forum are interested in. Wargames, CCGs, Tabletop Minis and RPGs are outside my wheelhouse so I have a hard time evaluating them, and usually depend upon member submissions for those. Kickstarters are also usually submitted by members.

I use the publishers copy on games because 1. I'm not going to spend the time trying to re-phrase what they send me, and 2. once an announced game gets released, the news item is converted to a board game listing in our directory which serves as a hub/cross reference for all reviews, articles and blogs related to that game, as well an an anchor for it's thread in the forum. The listing continues to pull traffic and filter it to the reviews and articles attached to the listing, and sometimes the forum. See for example Dungeonquest

So this week you got:

Licensed games: Crusader Kings, Batman: Talisman, Official Metal Gear, Mutant Chronicles (had a lot of these this week )
Popular Designers: Black Angel
Member Submissions: Britannia, Pret-a-Porter, Complexcity, Doctor Who Expansions

Last Week:
Licensed games: Ghostbusters, War of The Worlds
Popular Franchises: Talisman, Vast
Popular Designers: Carnival of Monsters, Nanty Narking
Wild Cards: Tribe (Kosmos), The Menace Among Us (Smirk & Daggers)
Last edit: 11 Jul 2019 16:08 by ubarose.
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11 Jul 2019 16:39 #299569 by Frohike
"Game news drives a large percentage of our traffic to the site."

I'm actually curious about this. Is the traffic coming from these news articles as shared on social media or something?

I'm assuming from what I've seen on the FB feed that basically any front page content gets announced on whatever other platforms are set up (I don't do Twitter) so I'm wondering if this means that people are sometimes clicking on more of the news articles because there are just more of them? Basically wondering if we're looking at a "chicken vs egg" situation here, or when given more or less equal proportions of news vs reviews vs articles, people still gravitate toward the news?

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11 Jul 2019 16:52 #299571 by ubarose
@Frohike

Most of the traffic comes in via google search. So people are searching for news on a specific game. Once people land here, they usually browse 3 - 7 additional pages.

Social media typically brings in less than 100 hits per item, whether it is news, review, article or blog.

In our top searches right now are Crusader Kings board game (3000 hits), Batman Talisman (7000 hits), Carnival of Monsters (1000 hits), RBG game(1700 hits).
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11 Jul 2019 17:26 - 11 Jul 2019 17:28 #299575 by ubarose
Also, I am not ignoring you Josh. You just gave me a lot to chew on.

TLDR for what I wrote about news. The priority boils down to:
  1. Member submitted - usually an auto publish, unless it is spammy
  2. Will it drive traffic here?
  3. Is this something that might be of interest or be amusing to active forum members. (this is sometimes the most difficult to judge, so see #1)?
Last edit: 11 Jul 2019 17:28 by ubarose.

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12 Jul 2019 09:16 #299595 by jason10mm
I like where the site is going, even if I don't personally agree with some of the "wokeness". But debating that stuff in a civilized manner is both fun and educating. I usually come for the insightful session reviews (the recent DnD and Warhammer ones in particular) since I don't get to game much (but now I've moved next to the amazing Knight Watch Games in San Antonio I hope this will change!!) and those blogs (?) can help recapture what I love (and dislike) about the hobby.

New game reviews are interesting only when it is something of interest, like the Dune reprint. Those definitely need to be curated and I think Ubarose is doing a good job filtering out the wall of KS and low quality releases. It might be interesting to go find a die-hard grognard wargamer, a hard core Friedmann Friese-savant euro gamer, and a total beer n' pretzels ameritrash gamer and let them pick a few choice gems from the past year so those of us who just like to dip our toes in can see what was really good versus just a KS flash in the pan.

The more contentious stuff is also great. I don't mind having my opinions and beliefs challenged. But they do need to be edited so there is a coherent point and some hooks for meaningful discussion, rather than just a bashing of some hypothetical status quo.

Essentially I'd like to sue this place for the type of pre- and post- game discussion you can have in real life with a group of civil, well versed, but diverse gamers. What is good, what is bad, what did most folks miss out on, where should the industry go in the future? And also what video game adaptation of a board game works the best, which color blue is best for meeples, and whether or not games should be allowed to broach sensitive topics.
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12 Jul 2019 11:19 #299602 by ubarose
@jason10mm

Thank you. This is very helpful!

jason10mm wrote: I like where the site is going, even if I don't personally agree with some of the "wokeness". But debating that stuff in a civilized manner is both fun and educating...The more contentious stuff is also great. I don't mind having my opinions and beliefs challenged. But they do need to be edited so there is a coherent point and some hooks for meaningful discussion, rather than just a bashing of some hypothetical status quo.


I think you are correct that when these topics are discussed there needs to be "hooks for meaningful discussion", and not just bashing or attacking the industry, the community (both ours and the larger board game community), or individual publishers/designers/games/people. My own and other staff members' insistence on this caused some friction earlier this year, and resulted in some drama and staff departures. Going forward we are striving to be more diligent regarding reviewing and editing articles with regards to how these difficult and complex issues are framed.

It might be interesting to go find a die-hard grognard wargamer, a hard core Friedmann Friese-savant euro gamer, and a total beer n' pretzels ameritrash gamer and let them pick a few choice gems from the past year so those of us who just like to dip our toes in can see what was really good versus just a KS flash in the pan.


This is a great idea! Now I just have to see if any of our staff or associates are willing to tackle it.

Essentially I'd like to sue this place for the type of pre- and post- game discussion you can have in real life with a group of civil, well versed, but diverse gamers. What is good, what is bad, what did most folks miss out on, where should the industry go in the future? And also what video game adaptation of a board game works the best, which color blue is best for meeples, and whether or not games should be allowed to broach sensitive topics.


Unfortunately, I think a lot of this type of discussion has moved into podcasts. But I will share it with our staff and associate writers in case they missed seeing it here.


@Everyone

In a related note, I am actively seeking out new associate writers/bloggers and affiliate sites.

I know a lot of good and interesting content is happening on small blogs that aren't getting as much traffic as they deserve. If anyone knows of a blog with content they like or has one of their own that might want a signal boost and some solid back links in exchange for cross posting here, please let me know.

We have an Alexa rating that hovers around 600,000, a solid authority score and page rank, get about 100,000 page views a month and typically get around 16,000 unique visitors per month.

You can check out our affiliate site page in the main menu under About, as well as our associate author pages in the main menu under Articles > By Author (a page just of associates is currently under construction)

And of course, our Blogs are always open to our members. I think some of the best content so far has been in our member blogs.
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13 Jul 2019 10:21 #299609 by quozl
I missed the Friday Flashback.
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13 Jul 2019 12:25 #299611 by ubarose
@quozl

Sorry. You kind of got a Throwback Thursday with the Thurn & Taxis article. So I thought a Flashback Friday would be too much. I won't make that mistake again.

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13 Jul 2019 14:52 #299616 by Msample

quozl wrote: I missed the Friday Flashback.


Or the Friday Freakout.....
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14 Jul 2019 21:20 #299638 by Sevej
More pictures, please! And in the paragraph body, not just upper right corner gallery! At least provide us the component spread instead of just box covers.
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14 Jul 2019 22:12 #299639 by ubarose
@Sevej

Thank you.

We started limiting pictures and putting the thumbnails that you can click on to enlarge in the corner back when people were first accessing the site on their phones. They complained about the pictures taking too long to load, eating up all their data and making the articles difficult to read. But I think this is no longer an issue. At least we haven't gotten complaints lately on the articles that have had pictures in the body of the article.

I think it is a good idea to try and include more pictures. And then we will see if people complain or not.

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15 Jul 2019 16:01 #299666 by Erik Twice
Some thoughts:

ubarose wrote: What do you like best on the site?

What I like about TWBG is that people here have a better perspective on games than most other places.

It may not seem like much, but the fact that so many people here have been playing for a long time and have tried games as important and diverse as D&D, Warhammer, Catan and Magic gives them a clearer perspective on what games are and what they can be. Most of the time, you can either listen to people who are new to the hobby and don't know much or people who are very much into "their thing" and can't see beyond it. Having people who are in the know but who are not specialists is very interesting and helpful.

What kind of content do you want more of? What kind of content are we missing that you would like to see?

I would like to see more opinion pieces on the hobby as a whole, commentary on games culture and so on. I don't want TWBG to devolve into complaining about nerd outrage like some publications have, but I would like to see more pieces that cover games as a whole.

What do you think of our new columns 5-Second Reviews & Flashback Friday?

5-Seconds Reviews are ok. I like that they can jumpstart discussion and cover lessser known games without the involvement a larger article would require.

I really like Flashback Friday. I love how it gives the community a change to discuss older games and chip in on what they think is interesting about them. I also think they are a good jumping point for people who haven't posted much.
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15 Jul 2019 17:04 #299667 by WadeMonnig

Sevej wrote: More pictures, please! And in the paragraph body, not just upper right corner gallery! At least provide us the component spread instead of just box covers.

I'll be the first to admit that I am horrible about doing this. My process for pictures sucks (take them with a phone, mail them to myself, resize and upload) and I'm not particularly comfortable in laying them out in the article... and it consumes time I'd rather spend writing or playing.

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