Board Game Reviews: The Setup

There are already a lot of people out there who publish their own reviews of board games, and those reviews are valuable. Reviews can help spread the word about new games that haven’t even hit the market yet, and they’re a great tool to help people who are new to the board game world find a good place to start. Because of that, I’ll be publishing reviews of new games, as well as my personal take on games that may have already been around for a few years. In order to give some insight into different aspects of the game, I plan to divide my reviews into the following sections:

Overview – I’ll start each review off with the basics: target age range, intended number of players, etc. Where possible, I’ll list the MSRP. I’ll also mention whether the game is currently in print or not.

Introduction: I’ll include the elevator pitch for the game here and talk about what led me to try it out. If appropriate, I’ll explain a few of the game’s basic mechanics, as well. If there’s any background on the game’s development, I’ll include it here.

Gameplay (*/10) – Arguably the most important aspect of the review—what is the game like to play? What are the mechanics like? How smoothly does the game flow? I’ll go slightly more into depth on the mechanics and how well they interact.

Theme (*/10) – Some games are abstract and have no theme, and that’s totally fine. Other games are strongly tied to their themes. Most of this rating will be based upon how well the gameplay matches with its intended theme—whether the game designers have managed to actually capture the “essence” of the experience.

Visual/Physical Appeal (*/10)  – While you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, a game’s art can do a lot to enhance your enjoyment of the game. After all, if you’re going to be staring at a board and game pieces for anywhere from 10 minutes to 4 hours, it may as well be pleasant to look at. This category extends to the physical construction of the board game, the character pieces, the tokens, the cards, etc. Games where the developer has invested in making the game physically satisfying to play will score higher than games that clearly cut corners in order to save a buck or two in production.

Setup Time (* minutes)/Play Time (* minutes) – If it takes forever to set up all the pieces of a game, it can put a serious damper on the evening. Of course, some games may be worth some extra setup time, and I’ll go into that here.

Complexity (Rank 1–10, high number=high complexity)/Teach Time (* minutes) – How difficult is the game to learn? If I want to play this game again, with a different group of friends who have never played it before, how easy will it be for me to teach them? A high complexity score isn’t necessarily a bad thing if the game is fun (and it can even be a good thing!), but if I can’t get anyone to play with me because it’s too complicated, then that’s no fun for me.

Replayability (*/10) – Some games, you only play once, while others can still keep you entertained after the 50th playthrough. If you’re going to be dropping $50 or more on a game, you want to be able to get more than one evening’s enjoyment out of it. (Of course, some games are intended to only be played once, and that’s fine, too.)

Overall (*/10) – This is my overall opinion of the game. I’ll go into my full overview of what I do and don’t like about the game here, as well as a general description of my playing experience.

Weekly game night kicks off tonight!

Tonight’s Feature Game—Mistborn: House War

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