There are lots of sites that do reviews, and I can guarantee that the rubric each reviewer uses is completely different. As such, it can be hard to tell sometimes whether a reviewer’s take on a game is going to match your own, and whether you find whatever scoring system they have in place a legitimate system. The following is meant to give you some idea of how I approach reviews.
COG Gaming does not use a rubric for reviews. While I can appreciate other reviewers using a scoring system to rate games to either try and make their overall impressions known at-a-glance, or to give their reviews consistency, I’ve determined that’s simply not the kind of experience I’d like to offer our readers. Instead, I’ve taken inspiration from years of writing academic book reviews and approached board game reviewing in a similar manner. The reviews I write are meant to be critical guides, and attempt to give readers the information they need to evaluate the product on their own, while also giving my own personal evaluation of the game along with the rationale behind my thoughts. After reading each review my aim is for readers to be able to make an intelligent, informed decision for themselves regarding each game.
I do accept review copies, but the majority of reviews are done from my own collection; copies provided by publishers are clearly marked with a disclaimer at the top of the review in full-sized font if that’s something you take into consideration when reading reviews. I’m pretty diligent about researching games before I buy them both because of monetary constraints and because I don’t like wasting my time with games I won’t enjoy, and as a result you’re going to find I’m at least luke-warm towards most of the games reviewed on the site, and many are ones I really enjoy. That said, you’ll find I am still critical of titles I like, and I endeavor to point out areas I think those games could improve, or aspects about the games that may turn off certain segments of the gaming population.
Though the structure of each review may differ somewhat from game to game, you’ll generally find they each run 2,000-3,000 words and include the below elements:
Basic information about the game(publisher, year, etc.), as well as a cheeky one-sentence synopsis. Most reviews will also have some sort of introductory section to help introduce the game, and in the case of newly-delivered Kickstarters give some background about the game’s genesis.
An overview of the rules. Please note that the reviews here are not meant to be walkthroughs, and they’re not meant to fully reproduce the rules. I will endeavor to keep rules explanations as brief as possible while still giving the information necessary to understand the game, and my critiques.
A discussion of how easy/hard the game is to learn, and why.
Comments regarding elements I like/dislike about the game, and the logic behind each so you can decide for yourself whether what I’m saying makes sense for you, or if perhaps we’d have a difference of opinion. Older reviews have most of these comments separated out from the main text after the rules explanation, while from 2016 on I’ve tried to intertwine my commentary with rules explanations for better narrative flow and integration.
A critique of the components quality, ranging from component material quality to how well everything packs away.
A COG Takeaway section at the end that gives a brief synopsis of the review, and who I’d recommend or not recommend the game for. If people are looking for a quick takeaway, this is the section to check.
As far as the typical types of games I review, you’ll find that I enjoy a pretty good spread and am willing to at least sit down and entertain a game outside of my comfort zone, and produce a review that speaks to what others may find enjoyable even if I personally found the game lacking. That said, COG Gaming will generally not review party-games, or games meant for children. I personally just don’t overly enjoy light party games, and I’m ill-equipped to evaluate the enjoyment younger audiences may get out of a game made specifically to appeal to them. Everything else- bring it on! If you’re interested in having COG Gaming review or preview your game, please us the Contact Us form.