Merric's Musings

Thoughts from an Australian Board Gamer and RPGer
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Musings on Reviews and Session Reports

Merric Blackman
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Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
My fourth session report on Dungeon Command should be going up soon. Alas, I was hit by illness last week and played nowhere as many games as I wanted to of Dungeon Command.

I intensely dislike writing reviews of board games that I haven't played sufficiently. What's sufficiently? At least 10 times is the normal number I use, but it depends on length of game, the number of variants involved, and so on and forth. Morrus might promote my original report as a "review", but for me it's a "first impressions session report with rules explanation". Of course, my initial report is probably as detailed as many reviews!

I was lucky with Lords of Waterdeep - I managed to play that game ten times before I wrote the review. It's going to be a lot trickier getting in the plays before Dungeon Command gets properly released. Can I even properly review it without experiencing warband-building? Well, I can, but it's going to be 'incomplete', and I hate that.

What I really, really want to do now is get a good boardgamer and play 3-4 games back-to-back with them to see how the game goes when I have an experienced opponent. Sarah might find herself in that role come Thursday night (when I'd probably prefer to be hitting her with Paths of Glory), but when I write a review, I want to do it right.

Of course, the "play ten times" goes out the window when I start reviewing role-playing games. "Play once" is hard enough. And how the heck do you evaluate a book like Martial Power? 4E has, in my opinion, the most rule elements of any version of D&D, and they can have very subtle interactions. Each class, despite its superficial similarities to other classes, is its own beast and even if the same power were to be given to two classes, it'd be used in different ways and have different implications to the power level of the class.

I never felt that way with 3E - I could happily write reviews of the Complete books. Ruleswise from the player's side, 4E is a lot more opaque to me. (This doesn't mean it isn't a game I really enjoy, because it is). Mind you, 4E adventures and DM supplements tend to be a lot clearer to me as to how they work!

Reviewing board games and reviewing RPGs are definitely two different things!
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