The System, Unveiled
We’ve done reviews here at the Epic Slant Press, LLC blog on occasion, but nothing quite as systematic as seen elsewhere–with 1-10 ratings, seals of approval, or the like.
One of our 2016 resolutions as bloggers was to develop a systematic approach to categorizing our responses to games. And while our personal New Year’s resolutions may have faltered, this is one resolution we’ve corporately kept. And I, Dave, am here to explain the ratings so you know what we mean when a game achieves one of them. You’ll also get to know each of us a little as reviewers.
Without further ado:
Each reviewer has their own personal stamp, used across three tiers of game ratings: Playable, Approved, and Recommended. Let’s break down what each rating indicates about a game.
Playable. This simply means that the game works, mechanically. You’ll find a product that’s been put through the paces of game design, but for one reason or another didn’t grab the reviewer.
Approved. This rating means that the reviewer enjoyed the game; in addition to generally sound mechanics, something stood out about the game as clever in regards to theme or gameplay.
Recommended. Through a combination of strong mechanics, theming, and game play, this game has achieved the highest praise a gamer could heap on it: a lasting place in the reviewer’s collection and on their table.
But, wait! There’s more. Why should you take our word on games, you might ask. Well, we aim to give you a profile for each of us reviewers so you can make up your own mind, dear reader, as to whether your gaming interests and needs align with our own.
Dave, Playthrough Boardgames
# of Players: 1-2. Frequently, I game either solo, or with my wife or a gaming buddy. Either way, the ideal game for me plays well with one or two. It’s not that I don’t like more, I just don’t often have them.
Cooperative vs. Competitive: I tend to like games where everyone wins or loses together, so cooperative has the edge. If a game is short enough (about an hour), or silly enough, I’ll play competitively. But cooperative tends to preserve my friendships and marriage.
Theme: I like a thematic game. Sure, some games are just grand because they are puzzly Euro games, but I want to look at the endgame and be able to say: “we totally beat that [Pirate/Ninja/Supervillain/Lord of Nine Hells].” I like beating monsters, looting treasure, and that sort of thing. But, surviving a desert or on a desert island is equally thematic. Give me an experience!
Some Favorites: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Isle; Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game; Champions of Midgard
So, that’s me.
Let’s hear from Shoe and PyroFrog!
Shoe (Just Shoe)
# of Players: I absolutely hate 2-player games, they breed competitiveness because every action is a zero sum of hosing the opponent or helping me and so they get really aggressive. Sometimes I play games with only two players but it’s because I’m forced to by that being the number of people I can gather for a game.
Cooperative vs. Competitive: Neutral. I like both. That being said, cooperative games have something to prove to me, as many of them seem like somewhat lazy designs.
Theme: I can go either way. I can play abstract and thematic games regardless. Sports or political themes don’t do much for me though.
Some Favorites: Lewis and Clark, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Dominion, 7 Wonders, Small World
# of Players: 1-6. My game nights average 4 or 5 players, but they could range anywhere from 2-6. I also tend to prefer games that can accomodate 4+ players. However, since my gaming sessions are about every other week, I highly prize any game I can play solo in between.
Cooperative vs. Competitive: I really enjoy my cooperative games especially, however, a good duel or tactics skirmish can make for a great evening. I don’t mind head to head card games, but do tend to shy a bit away from PvP in most board games. In the end, I just like to play games.
Theme: Theme and artwork do alot for me. I love when I can look at the art and/or flavor text and know what is going on in that world. Sure, we’ve all played those games that were fun and just seem to work mechanically without a story… but how cool is it when you can make the connections between components or cards and mechanics through the theme of the game. Is Theme the most important facet of a game, no, but it certainly adds to the excitement and likelihood that any particular product will make it to my table more often.
Some Favorites: Machina Arcana, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Steampunk Rally, Dungeon Dice, Krosmaster: Arena, Havok & Hijinks
Knowing is Half the Battle
And now you know us and the review system. See you all next time!