×
Coming the Week of November 18th (18 Nov 2019)

We have reviews of Horrified, Kingdomino Duel, Dragon Market, Flesh & Blood, and Rolled West. "Why Do I Own This" and "Beyond the Veil" returns. And more TBA

Play Matt: The 2018 Not-Awards Show

More
09 Dec 2018 19:28 #287814 by Matt Thrower

When I sat down to write this, it was going to be an awards piece. Something to celebrate the very best games I've played this year. It was all planned out: I had a series of categories, a winner in each and an overall game of the year. A pleasant exercise in rewarding excellence to cap off an excellent year of releases.

Read more...
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gary Sax, ChristopherMD, Ancient_of_MuMu, Jexik, Deleted, Frohike, xthexlo, WadeMonnig

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
09 Dec 2018 19:58 #287815 by Deleted
That says it so well.

Critics’ “best of” lists don’t matter because there’s no way they played everything
The following user(s) said Thank You: Matt Thrower, Gary Sax, WadeMonnig

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
09 Dec 2018 20:19 #287817 by Shellhead
Great article. The glut is real, and it is difficult for anybody to sort through all the mediocrity to get to the good games. I think that the art theory is valid, and absolutely the best explanation for the popularity of an epic compromise like Scythe.

I played Rising Sun, once, and feel no urge to ever play again. It isn't a bad game, just a very forgettable one where the setting is diminished by the structured and arbitrary gameplay. Rising Son is an assymetrical area control game that play out like a vaguely themeless Chaos in the Old World. The appeal most likely comes courtesy of the nicely sculpted miniatures. I could say similar things about Root, except that Root is more boldly assymetrical, to the point where certain factions are obviously better than others.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
09 Dec 2018 20:22 - 09 Dec 2018 20:25 #287818 by Gary Sax

SuperflyTNT wrote: That says it so well.

Critics’ “best of” lists don’t matter because there’s no way they played everything


Absolutely. I think the only thing that makes sense these days is a "best new to me." Very few critics play enough to have a legit top 10 that could credibly encompass a good portion of major games coming out... maybe like Charlie Theel? Not many others.

Good article matt, but I still want to hear your best plays of the year. I promise I won't call it your best games of the year or use it as a buying guide. ;)
Last edit: 09 Dec 2018 20:25 by Gary Sax.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Matt Thrower, Deleted, WadeMonnig

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
09 Dec 2018 21:25 #287821 by hotseatgames
I see nothing wrong with a "best games I played this year" list. It's the truth. These are the best games YOU played this year. Nobody plays everything.

My favorite game of all time is Neuroshima Hex. I didn't play all abstract war games before declaring it my favorite.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gary Sax, Frohike, ecargo, WadeMonnig

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
09 Dec 2018 22:16 - 09 Dec 2018 22:30 #287823 by Josh Look
Thanks for not making a list. Lists are the epitome of lazy writing and is the weapon of choice amongst the clickbaiters.

EDIT-No offense to Jeff and his list, aside from it being wrong.
Last edit: 09 Dec 2018 22:30 by Josh Look.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Matt Thrower, CranBerries

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
09 Dec 2018 22:51 - 09 Dec 2018 22:54 #287824 by charlest
Dig the article Matt and it's a bit sobering.

I will say though that I feel it's somewhat obvious that a critic or reviewers top release list is based solely on their experience and not definitive. Nothing we can ever say in a qualitative sense could be definitive, whether about new releases or old. That's just the way it is, we can talk about our own experiences and that's it.

But let's imagine we could play every new release. So what? We'd still disagree on selections for a top releases of the year.

If you're looking for a top list or awards show to find any sense of truth, you're missing the point I think.

These lists exist as a discussion piece and a spotlight to bring certain games into the greater conversation. Taking them too seriously is a path that will only lead to disappointment.

Your readers won't possibly buy or commit to every game you recommend. You're merely providing another data point they can bring into their net. Furthermore, many won't even be reading your best of list for purchase advice, maybe we just want to see you write a few words about games, glean some of your thoughts, and take a break from the daily grind.
Last edit: 09 Dec 2018 22:54 by charlest.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Matt Thrower, hotseatgames, Frohike, ecargo

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
09 Dec 2018 22:52 #287825 by WadeMonnig
Just for the record: When my best of 2018 list comes out, I'd like everyone to know I had no idea Matt was planning this article.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Matt Thrower, Gary Sax

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 Dec 2018 05:06 - 10 Dec 2018 09:22 #287832 by Matt Thrower
Thanks all, glad to know the piece struck a nerve.

Gary Sax wrote: Good article matt, but I still want to hear your best plays of the year. I promise I won't call it your best games of the year or use it as a buying guide. ;)


It's not just because people see it as a buying guide but because I feel listing them would really undermine the impact of the article.

hotseatgames wrote: I see nothing wrong with a "best games I played this year" list. It's the truth. These are the best games YOU played this year. Nobody plays everything.

My favorite game of all time is Neuroshima Hex. I didn't play all abstract war games before declaring it my favorite.


Here's the thing though: I know that and you know that and, in theory, everyone reading a list article knows that. But in reality, that's not how people behave when they read them.

Same goes for Charlie's reply, really. It's about perception, not about the facts on the ground. And if all the critics could play all the games and all come up with entirely different lists - which is unlikely, but plausible - at least they'd all be honest and properly considered. As it stands, the risk is that what we likely end up doing is - deservedly or not - re-hyping already-hyped games. Which is a key part of the problem here.
Last edit: 10 Dec 2018 09:22 by Matt Thrower.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 Dec 2018 09:16 #287838 by BaronDonut
Nice article! You make some great points about how year-end lists can contribute to groupthink and a myopic focus on a few big games, especially when the glut of releases means trying to get a handle on a year's output is downright impossible. But I have to say, I love the year end list format and always have--even though I know it's flawed, it creates a great rhetorical space for a writer to wrestle and compare things and make grand hyperbolic statements. I mean, any kind of hierarchical, numerical ranking of art is a totally dubious and inherently failed task. But sure do I love it as a way to generate conversation.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Matt Thrower, Frohike

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 Dec 2018 10:16 #287843 by Legomancer
I'm not interested in playing all or even most of the stuff that is firehosed out every year. I like playing new stuff, but only with an eye towards finding out if it's something I'll enjoy in the long haul. I'm not interested in playing a new game for the sheer sake of playing a new game.

I'm in the minority at the moment. My interactions with others (some even in my group) show that a large portion of gamers love learning and playing new games and aren't bothered if they then move on to something else. The current environment is great for them, so they see nothing wrong. There's always something new and therefore exciting coming out.

For me, though, it's a hassle, for a few reasons. First, if any game will do then every game will do, and so much chatter makes no attempt to speak to the quality and longevity of a game. I'm told how beautiful it is, I'm told how fun it is, I'm told how interesting it is, how novel it is, how complex or simple it is, and (laughingly) how some randomized setup element allows for tons of replayability -- it seems on the surface this is all I need -- except that every single "review" makes the exact same points over and over for every game. Everything ends up a 7 or 8 and never gets any long-term look (by which I mean more than just "I played this 7 times in one weekend") and so none of these assessments ultimately mean anything. It's not a review, it's a ritual.

I do the "Best New To Me" thing, though I shouldn't (not because I think best of lists are bad or lists are bad but because I'd really not like to add to the fetishization of 'new') but I try to not just look at how much I enjoyed my play of this game but how much I'd like to get future plays out of it and how well I think it stands up to that. But I'm no writer.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Frohike

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 Dec 2018 10:24 #287845 by xthexlo
This is an excellent piece, Matt. One that really resonates with me.

One of my (many) personality flaws is that I feel compelled to run counter to hype. If everyone is into something, I tend to avoid that thing. That’s why I’ve never watched Game of Thrones and have no desire to see Hamilton. It’s also why I will likely never seek out Blood Rage or Scythe or Conan or any other highly hyped game. In fact, the greater the hype, more I think, “Well, they certainly don’t need me!”

Sadly, there are reviewers that seem to gravitate to hyped games and popular titles. Perhaps theirs is a conscience decision fueled by the belief that following hype will lead to increased readership. There are others, such as your yourself, Michael, Charlie, Dan, etc. who I believe go out of their way to discuss games they have found interesting for reasons other than popularity: quirkiness, excitement of children, behavior of their play group, etc. I find these discussions to be clever, insightful, and honest. And they don’t make me feel marginalized for not being a member of the Cult of the New.

In my opinion, the greatest damage a review can do is cause a reader to feel left out, bypassed, or somehow ill-advised in or by the choice of games they purchased, played, or loved. This is seldom deliberate, but often implied by poor writers and newly minted critics.

Carry on, Matt. I’m with you.
The following user(s) said Thank You: hotseatgames

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 Dec 2018 13:41 #287853 by ubarose
Best of lists and awards always represent a specific slice of the board game market. They usually reveal more about the reviewer/awards committee than they do about the games.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gary Sax

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 Dec 2018 14:05 #287854 by Jexik
Lists are fun, and there are two ways to digest them.

1. Find the game that's on all the lists, and then go play that. Root will be everywhere; I still want to try that.

2. Find the game(s) that only show up on one or two people's lists, but sound interesting to you- maybe it's something you might have missed and is a genre standout.

xthexlo wrote: That’s why I’ve never watched Game of Thrones and have no desire to see Hamilton.


I've read the 5 books that are out but seen scattered episodes plus the first season. With Hamilton, just find the soundtrack (or part of it) and see if you like it. We still haven't "seen" Hamilton but count it as one of our favorite musicals in the house. It, along with some noisey articles and This is America caused me to go back and look at rap for the first real time in my life.

I found out about some of those 2000s Rio Grande titles because of the groupthink (Dominion, Power Grid, Race for the Galaxy) and still enjoy them over a lot of the now-new stuff, and I'm still excited for my occasional D&D 5e session.
The following user(s) said Thank You: xthexlo

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
10 Dec 2018 20:10 #287880 by Jackwraith
Great article, Matt. I agree with others that there's value in doing a "best of" list, if only so that your regular readers can get your perspective on the games that you played. I know that there's never been a Top 10 of the Year list that I've ever seen in which I've played all 10 of the games listed. Sometimes I haven't even played a top 5, since I'm almost perpetually behind the regulars and/or the Cult of the New. (I only played my first game of Blood Rage a few months ago.) No compulsion, but I wouldn't let the lack of comprehensive knowledge prevent you from writing whatever you want.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Matt Thrower

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Moderators: Gary Sax
Time to create page: 0.248 seconds