To us, a preview is a game that has not yet been published. That means the game is currently in prototype or production stages. A review is a game that has been fully produced and is or soon will be available to the public.
We differentiate between the two because we apply different criteria to games that are not yet finished yet from those that are. Essentially, our previews look at what the game seemingly has to offer, whereas reviews take a critical look at which audiences will enjoy it.
While we try to keep the door open to most board, card, and pen-and-paper games, we do have our limits. As of September, 2013, this is our list of games we will likely pass on:
- Non-analog games (yes, we actually have to state this apparently)
- Traditional-style war games
- Minis game systems, such as Heroclix. Board games will lots of minis, however, are fair game.
- Most (though not all) licensed games, such as Spaceballs: the Board Game.
- Games with a distinctly explicit nature to them, such as drinking games or games about sex or drug use.
- On the opposite end, games designed solely for children, as we currently don’t have a huge pool of kids to test them on.
- We do not do previews of any CCG/LCG/ECG, though reviews for existing ones are possible.
- Any tabletop RPGs that center on d12 (or similarly strange) dice systems without a really good reason.
- Most dexterity games, though exceptions are made.
This list is not ironclad, but it does give a good litmus test as to the things we tend to shy away from. Comparatively to the whole of gaming, it’s a fairly small list!
It depends. Print-and-Play games fall into two groups:
- If the P&P is part of a current or upcoming crowdfunding project or independent release, and mailing a prototype is not an option due to time, scarcity of copies, or money, then yes, that is a potential option. However, with occasional exceptions we do not do print-and-play for deckbuilders or other games that require a super lot of cutting. We get little enough sleep as it is.
- If the P&P is for a game that is available on the web for download, you are welcome to inquire regarding it. Due to our workload though, we do not guarantee if and/or when we will be able to get to them.
Potentially. We find that maps, tabletop aids, additional figurines, custom dice, etc. are fantastic additions to the gaming community since they help customize the playing experience. So, you are welcome to inquire. If we find the item is particularly appealing for one reason or another, and we have the time to look at it, we’d love to help, but we do prioritize games themselves over ancillary stuff.
In our reviews and many of our articles, you may see mention of terms like Architect or Immersionist. These are what we refer to as gamer archetypes: a class of six distinctive player styles that you see in tabletop gaming. You can read more about them on their page.
We’d argue it’s more accurate than most other personality-style quizzes on the web, but if you’re asking if it’s a foolproof system, no. We custom-built the test to evaluate a person’s core gaming tendencies at that point in their life, and while there are occasional outlier results we feel it does that well the majority of the time.
Just bear in mind that short-term factors like a person’s mood, how tired they are, and the gaming group they’re in can affect or override an archetype’s preferences on a temporary basis. Similarly, long-term factors such as age, children, gaming groups, and changes in attitudes can alter one’s archetypes entirely.
In an ideal setting, if you are going to be launching a crowdfunding campaign on places like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, and you are seeking a preview of your game, we ask that you contact us a month before the campaign launches at a minimum. This gives us time to play the game and look it over, and it gives you the ability to have it available at the launch of your campaign. During busy periods, such as around conventions, additional time may be required. That said, we know this is not always possible.
We do not do paid previews. That said, asking us to preview a game does not guarantee that we will. If we opt not to, a reason will usually be specified, be it time constraints, content, etc.
Generally, we aim to play a preview game a few times within 7 days of receiving it and have the preview article written up with in a week of playing it.
Once the preview is finished, we let you know. Normally we time the article to be published with the launch of your campaign as to keep it relevant and to put links to the campaign in the article, but if requested they can be posted ahead of time. Once posted on our site, we usually also post the link to the Weblinks section at Boardgamegeek.com and on our social media.
In return, all we’d ask that if you like the article that the link be posted on the reviews section of your campaign page back to us.
If you’re interested in having us preview your game, please email us at: email@example.com
All Seal of the Republic recipients are previews, but not all preview articles receive the Seal of the Republic.
As we state on its page, the Seal is our way of recognizing those that we feel are worth a little extra attention when looking at pre-production games for one reason or another. Additionally, you are able to watch the progress of those projects while they are listed on the Seal’s page.
That said, just because a preview does not get the Seal of the Republic endorsement does not mean that we think it’s bad.
When reviewing a game , we tend to stick to these guidelines:
- We do not do paid reviews.
- The game must be a finished product.
- We aim to play the game within 2-3 weeks of receiving it.
- Every game will be played at least three times, ideally with different gamers and play sizes, to give it a full and thorough inspection.
- After the game has been played enough times, we aim to have the review completed within 2 weeks. During busy periods, such as around conventions, additional time may be required.
These are guidelines and not concrete rules, however, so we do not guarantee that we can have a game’s review posted within a specific period of receiving it. We do try though!
Furthermore, asking us to review a game does not guarantee that we will. If we opt not to, a reason will usually be specified, be it time constraints, content, game availability, out of our scope, etc.
Currently, we post a review every Friday, though additional games occasionally may be reviewed outside of this schedule.
Once the review is posted our site, we will let you know. We usually also post the link to the Weblinks section at Boardgamegeek.com and on our social media.
In return, if you really like the article all we ask is that if your game’s / developer’s / publisher’s website contains a reviews section that a link to it be posted there. If you are active on social media, it’d also be a nice gesture to let your audience know about it.
In short, yes, we do. We have no intention of hiding that fact, and to do so we feel would be unethical.
That being said, we pay for many of the games we review as well. Regardless of whether it is a review copy or one we picked up ourselves, we maintain the same objective approach to reviewing them. We maintain the right to be honest about the game regardless of where it comes from, and we are never under any obligation to give favorable or preferential reviews of games we don’t feel aren’t warranted.
The monthly Indie Spotlight is our way of showcasing independent games. To be eligible for it, games must qualify for at least three of the following conditions:
- It must come from an indie developer and/or indie-focused publisher.
- The developer/publisher in Rule 1 cannot have printed a commercially successful game in the last ten years.
- The game cannot be a reprint or new edition of a game made in the last ten years.
- The game must be released within a month on either side of the month it is selected for. (e.g. an April Spotlight game must be released between March and May)
While we purposely choose to review games through the lens of archetype preferences, we also wanted a quick and dirty reflection of how we feel the game fares on a number of criteria. It is not meant to be an “up or down” style rating, but rather a brief approximation on how it fares in certain areas. These include:
- Artwork: The game’s overall detail of graphics of cards, player boards, the central game board, etc. This includes how the artwork affects the game’s theme and premise.
- Rules Clarity: Whether 1 page or 20, this looks at how well the game’s rules are laid out in terms of level of detail, examples, visuals, ease of understanding, and if there are areas of confusion or ambiguity.
- Replay Value: The game’s ability to remain viable over time. In addition to being a good game, it looks at if there’s enough variety to remain fresh and exciting to play after many playthroughs.
- Physical Quality: How well put together the game is. This includes the level of detail of materials, quality and durability of components,and even the game packaging.
- Overall Score: An amalgamation of the other categories and how they all affect gameplay. This does not take into account a game’s worth if it’s being played by an archetype it isn’t aimed at.
The overall score ranges from a 1-5, with the approximate levels as follows:
- “I will not play the game no matter what, and I advocate it be avoided.”
- “I would not recommend the game, and I have no interest in playing. I will, however, if that’s the game everyone else really wants to.”
- “I enjoy playing the game and would recommend it to others, but it is not a game I would purchase myself.”
- “I thoroughly enjoy the game, and I am definitely considering getting my own copy.”
- “I adore this game, and I will make an effort to get a copy if I don’t have it already. If there are expansions or supplements, I’ll look into those too.”