“A pause between the acts of a play.”
Or in this case, between posts!
I’m currently doing my best to tie myself up in knots. Too many things on the go at once and hence, making little headway in any of them!
I’m part way through the writing of a post that explores the use of Artificial Intelligence in games, I keep adding bits and pieces to my TSM Geek post, due for the end of this month, and I’ve had several ideas for future posts that I keep adding to before I forget what I wanted to say.
On top of this, I have developed a backlog of finished miniatures that I want to talk about, including some factions from Scythe and the Brute from Gloomhaven, and my daughter has progressed her D&D campaign, so I need to write up the next chapter of Valthana’s adventure; I also want to make inroads into reviewing all the games I have.
Of course, all this has to be fitted in around the normal goings on in life, and me being me, I keep flitting from one thing to another, where as I should really be concentrating on one thing at a time and getting something finished.
So, see this post as a delaying tactic; something I’ve thrown in to distract from the fact that there may not be a solid post from me this week!
But, why I’m here I may as well ask a couple of questions, one of which has been playing on my mind for sometime, and that’s review format.
Firstly, though, I’m trying to decide which games to review next. You’d think it would be fairly easy, but as I’ve already alluded to, I tend to bounce from one game to another in quite quick succession, but when I’ve made up my mind to review a game then I like to concentrate on it and play it to death first.
At the moment though, there are a few games that are getting more play than others, and so it would make sense to choose one of them. They are: Scythe, Museum, Tainted Grail: The fall of Avalon, The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth, and Teotihuacan: City of Gods.
But there are also several older games, which I think I should really have reviewed by now, and they are certainly deserving of some attention – Pandemic, 6 Nimmt!, Eldritch Horror, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, and Suburbia.
I also have Tiny Epic Tactics sitting on my shelf, unopened, after arriving from kickstarter fulfilment sometime before Christmas! And, of course, there’s the one I’ve been putting of for some time now, and that’s Gloomhaven – I keep thinking about a review on this, what is probably my favourite game of all time, and even penned one up, but, even though my reviews are usually pretty lengthy, I scrubbed this one after passing 10,000 words!
So, indecision has set in, though I’m currently leaning towards games from the first group mentioned above, but if anyone has any preferences, then please let me know.
Okay, review format. I’m pretty happy now with how I lay out my reviews, apart from one little aspect – How Does It Play?
This has always been a sticking point for me, and I’ve never been happy with it. I think a game review should always include an overview of how you actually play the game. This gives the reader a point of reference when you go on to say why you liked, or didn’t like, a certain aspect of the game.
Unfortunately, I think this is something that is difficult to do well in the written format. In a video you have the visuals to back up what you’re trying to say, whereas in a written overview, especially of a complex game, it could take thousands of words to get the same ideas across.
I’ve always lumped for attempting a condensed version of the rules, where I try to get across the main structure and key concept of the game play by giving an idea of the setup and turn structure. It’s tedious to write and very dry to read, I also don’t know if really works.
I’m currently toying with a couple of ideas…
Magazine reviewers, who are limited by their editor to a certain number of words, often home in on particular aspects of the gameplay, ones that they believe give a feel for the game, for example:
‘The player starts the game with a player board and a number of workers, and during the game they will aim to use these workers to build several types of building, which will then generate an income.’
This method is fine if you’re already slightly familiar with the game. But the trouble I find with this is, after reading the review, I often find that I still have no idea about what you’re supposed to do during the game, how the turn structure works, or how the game’s mechanisms function – will I actually like this game? It does, however, make for easier and more entertaining reading, so there’s the play off.
I also think that the gameplay should be totally factual and unpersonalised – having no personal thoughts spliced into the writing of it – so that the reader can get an ida of the game and how it may play out without being influenced by the writer… that comes later in the review!
I have though about leaving this section out altogether, which would be fine if I was only publishing my reviews on BoardGameGeek (BGG), where there are plenty of videos available that explore the gameplay to great depth. A fair amount of written reviews posted on there give a purely personal opinion of the game, as it is often assumed that the reader is already familiar with the gameplay. But I don’t want to jump to such assumptions; I want to cater for those new to the hobby, who are looking for new gaming experiences, and not just those already submerged into the culture.
So, there’s my current dilemma.
If you’ve ever read any of my reviews, what do you think?
Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated – please leave your comments below.
Thanks for reading.