I’m thinking of revamping the way we do reviews here. I’ve done a handful of board game reviews, and I have plans to do a bunch of rpg reviews, but the one RPG I’ve reviewed so far (Microscope) left me feeling a bit dissatisfied, so I’ve paused for thought.
Fact is, Microscope is a really great game. I felt uncomfortable giving it great marks though, because I don’t think it’s particularly great as a roleplaying game. It’s just something else entirely.
Looking back, I should probably just have changed its category to “history building game” or something, and had done with it. But anyway, it got me thinking that a rating out of five really isn’t good enough for a nuanced review. The text helps to convey the detail, but I’d like to break the rating up a bit.
We already have “type” (strategic card game etc), # players and time to play, plus text on gameplay and components and a written summary.
Here’s what I’m thinking of adding:
Complexity, from 1 to 5. 1 is “you can pick this up and be playing it inside of 10 minutes”. 5 is “you’ll need to set aside several hours to read this game, and allow time at the start to explain the rules to the other players”.
Strategic/tactical depth, from 1 to 5. 1 is snakes and ladders. 5 is Go (simple but deep) or Game of Thrones (complex and deep).
Roleplaying advice (roleplaying games only), from 1 to 5. 1 is “tells you what a roleplaying game is and leaves you to work the rest out for yourself”. 5 is “devotes a chapter or three to advice on how to run and/or play the game”. (Could widen this to boardgames I guess – play/strategy advice?)
Production values, from 1 to 5. 1 is cheapass games. 5 is Fantasy Flight Games.
Cost. In £s or $s or whatever we can get.
I feel like there’s something missing here… maybe something about how well-designed the rules are for the game it’s trying to be. “Design”, perhaps. 1 to 5, where 1 is “the experience of playing this game is radically different from how it’s sold on the tin” to 5 “rules and guidance come together to produce a game which hits the desired play experience on the head”.
So anyway. Thoughts? What would you want out of a game review? Would the above help you to identify a game you wanted to play? Do you even want ratings, or would you just prefer a good writeup?