Tag Archives: reviews

Rules for Reviews

I read a lot of RPG reviews from many good sources – RPG.net is my favorite, but there’s a lot of places hosting them out there.  I’ve written a fair number of RPG reviews myself over the years.

Roger Ebert has issued a blog post called “Roger’s little rule book” for film critics, describing ways in which he feels film reviewers should write and behave in order to best serve the public who reads their reviews.  I think many of his points are equally valid for RPG reviews!  Except that no one’s flying RPG reviewers anywhere first class, sadly.    Anyway, if you write reviews, give it a read.

Where To Get You Some RPG Reviews

It’s a simple question.  Where do you go to find good reviews of RPG products, so you know where to spend your hard earned dollars?

The answer, however, isn’t so simple.  But as a guide, here’s some of the key places to go read RPG reviews, with some reviews of their reviews!  (Oh, I can be so meta).

RPG.net.  RPG.net is the site I prefer to submit my reviews to.  They print reviews of anything – a given week may have reviews of super mainstream D&D products, other established products like HERO, independent games, super old games, totally fringe PDF games…  Their volume isn’t huge but is larger than most, maybe 2-5 RPG reviews on every Monday and Friday, but they are notable for having the most complete reviews.  The average RPG.net review is long, steps through each chapter of a work, gives summaries and analysis and opinions – there’s not a formal standard, but the understood bar of review quality is the highest of all the review sites.  They also do board game reviews and occasional “other” (book, game) reviews.  Annoying in that you can’t edit your reviews once you submit them, but nicer than average in that the reviews section isn’t just a forum, it’s real pages.

TheRPGSite.  This site has fewer reviews, maybe a couple a week, just put into a forum.  The reviews are also in depth, and lean more towards non-mainstream games but non-“indie” in terms of the formalized FORGE/Indie Press Revolution crowd.  Reviews are pretty much all RPG.  A larger percentage are by a core set of people, especially RPGPundit, so you may agree or disagree with the reviews in bulk based on your philosophical leanings.

ENWorld.  Higher volume (a fistful every day), in a customized forum.  Some are comprehensive but some are shorter.  This part of ENWorld was dead a while and has just relaunched so I’m unsure about the sustain rate on it, and the historical review database is offline.  They also have sections for lots of non-RPG stuff.  Much more d20-oriented than the other review sites.

RPGNow.  Loads of volume; most products in their catalog have a couple reviews at least.  The down side is that most are a short paragraph at best.   Here’s a representative example. But the star rating and number of readers is surfaced on the product page, so you can quickly see the popularity and average opinion of the game.

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Wizards Presents: Worlds and Monsters Review

My review of the second 4e preview book is up at RPG.net. As a work unto itself, it’s fine; as for what it reveals about 4e, it sucks.

I’ve been letting this 4e stuff, especially the fiasco where Wizards is trying to renege on open gaming while FUDding the masses for spin control (see many of my recent posts), get to me too much. The novel openness of 3e had briefly distracted me from the truth, which is that D&D is the ghetto in which the uninspired of roleplaying languish. So no more going on about 4e from me. I’ll definitely follow the variants like Pathfinder inasmuch as they’re creative, but now I’m remembering why I had previously moved away from D&D towards other RPGs.

Maybe some of the other posters on ENWorld are right – maybe D&D being open brought designers whose creative talent would be better spent on other games into the fold. When I think Ray Winninger I think Underworld; when I think Robin Laws I think Feng Shui, when I think Jonathan Tweet I think Over the Edge, all of which stand head and shoulders above the battle-matted abortion that D&D has been transforming into especially with 3.5 and what we hear about 4e.

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Game Geeks Video Reviews

In case you haven’t come across them, the “Game Geeks” present very well done video RPG reviews on YouTube.   Here’s their latest, on Burning Empires.   Very professional, this one hooked me and I’m gunning my way through the older reviews now!