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Reviewer Guidelines

{These were first compiled for reviewing turn-based games, so will need adapting, but the general principles should still apply.}

1 The review itself: 2,000 2,500 words is a good length. Obviously you can be a bit longer or shorter, but aim around this size.

2 What should be in the review?
First, a general plea: Don't rehash the rulebook readers need to know what the game is like to play.
i) You need a brief general description of the game. What's it about? What are its main objectives? Who produces it, what does it cost, etc? This should be brief you can expand on these points later on if necessary.
ii) The role/position you take. Is there a choice in this respect at start up? (If there are sixteen races, it is sufficient to say so, don't describe them all in detail perhaps just one to give some flavour.) If appropriate, you can say why you decided on your own choice, and may need to consider at some point whether a game with various start up choices is well balanced. You may cover how far your expectations have been fulfilled, how far you've been surprised by what's happened.
iii) The main body of the review should be concerned with what the game is like to play. What sort of things have you done while playing? Try to give a real feel for playing; quote turn extracts if relevant. Don't recount everything you've done unless this is a game where strategic development is important: select one particular war/adventure/encounter to describe in detail. Give your own feelings: what did you like, what didn't you like?
iv) Your dealings with other players should be mentioned just briefly if there's little interaction with other players, in more detail if there's lots. You can probably work this aspect into (iii) if it's a highly interactive game.
v) Tactics: what are good and bad tactics to use in this game? Give a bit of advice to those who will follow you this way.
vi) Conclusions. Give reasons 'because' is a vital word! Don't just say it's a good game or a bad game, describe its good and bad sides. All games have both, and some readers may like something you don't.
Try to say who you think the game will appeal to, and who may dislike
Comparisons with similar ideas in other well known games are helpful e.g. 'The game uses turn cards as in "It's a Crime"', but don't make passing mini assessments of other games a review of one game isn't really the place to comment on others. (However, we are always interested in comparative features weighing up different games on the same theme we'll consider one of these if you wish to write one).
Don't be too kind hearted. Writing a friendly review of a poor game because the GM is nice is always tempting, but encouraging readers to purchase a game and then be disappointed isn't in anyone's interest. Mention any bad points; if they're outweighed by good points, say so.

3 Stuck? Can't get started? Think of a significant moment and start from this.

4 Humour. It isn't a crime to be funny. You aren't trying to write the Beano, but don't feel you have to aim for the style of the Times Educational Supplement either.

5 Here's a checklist of a few points to think about that sometimes get neglected:
i) You could add a few notes on yourself and your game experience.
ii) Glance down the title chapters in the rulebook to see if you've omitted anything vital. We once had a wargame review that forgot to mention combat!

8 In our current financial position, we have to offer an extension of your subscription rather than payment in money; we regret this, as we know that writing a review is hard work.

9 Post or email the review to the Flagship editorial address. Don't throw away your version until you know it’s arrived safely! Yes, we've had reviews get lost on the way …

Thank you for your offer!


Editorial Comment

HELLO AGAIN – it’s good to be back, though I’m still rather bemused. I’m sorry, but I can’t explain why the Flagship website went down in March, just after the copies of #131 came back from our printer. It was probably my fault, somehow, but I don’t know what went wrong. Maybe the problem arose because I mislaid my credit card folder so had to obtain a new card? I really don’t know how it happened. It took some time before I could contact our webmaster (his lap-top had broken) and, of course, no-one could email me to ask why Flagship was suddenly silent. If it’s any comfort, I’ve found this a horrible experience.

I eventually registered for a second email address and send grateful thanks to Martin Helsdon and Thomas Harland, who arranged for me to post the PDF for issue #131 up on Thomas’s website. However, I didn’t realise quite how long it would take for the news of this to come out—in my simple fashion, I’d imagined that everything on the web is instant, but apparently it takes some weeks for Google to trawl through its various postings, so news of the PDF wasn’t immediate.

Fortunately, I should now be able to offer an alternative to the old website.
Paul Goldstone helped to lay out #130 and advise about finding a new printer, Mica Goldstone from KJC Games has offered us an independent section of their website. My gratitude to all! We won’t be owned by KJC, but will remain our own masters and your facility.

Of course, rumours have been flying around, on the age-old principle of Never Mind The Truth—Make It Interesting. I can best illustrate and answer this from the letter which follows below and the comments that follow it…

Little Bird or Turkey?

From a concerned moderator: ‘A little bird tells me that you are considering selling up to KJC Games? I would hope that before you did something like that that you’d talk to me and get other offers/options? Apparently KJC now own your website?’
Editorial reply:’Gosh, no, your little bird is wrong! If I were considering anything of the kind, I would publicise it around the hobby. No KJC do not own the website: they’ve offered hosting, but plan to leave us independent!’
And Mica adds, dryly: ‘Ah, bless. It’s all yours, I have my own headaches which are quite enough…’

I’ll just add that it is taking time to restore the site and gather the material for #131, but I hope to see everything up and running in due course.

Many thanks to all who’ve sent support and encouragement. Remember, Flagship’s aim is to provide a forum for games players and we always aim to mirror your points of view.

While I’m on this subject, I feel myself that we’d benefit from more regular coverage of RPG games now that Robert Rees has resigned. Is anyone keen to supply such material? Just get in touch with me, if so.


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