TBM Update: Our Review System

Greetings, dear reader!  You may have noticed in our reviews that we give each game a numerical score from 1-10, and you may have wondered where those numbers came from.  Well, friends, the truth is that those numbers were completely arbitrary… until now.  We have re-evaluated our rating system and come up with a better way to make the numerical ratings we give have more meaning. To that end, we’ve created five different categories in which to evaluate the games we review. We’ll both rate games from 1-10 in each of these categories, and then our overall rankings will be an average of the five categories. So without further adieu,  here are our new ranking criteria, along with some guidelines to show how a game would get no marks, half marks, or full marks in that category.

  • Gameplay/Mechanics
    • This category describes how well the game plays from an objective viewpoint.  Do all the rules make sense, is the game fair for all players, do all aspects of the gameplay work well together, and so forth.
      • 0 – This is a game that’s horrible to play, where the game mechanics don’t make sense or seem really broken.
      • 5 – This is a middle of the road game.  There are some ok aspects to the gameplay, but there are some questionable mechanics or areas of the game that could really use improvement.
      • 10 – This game is very mechanically solid.  You can tell the designer put a lot of thought into the game, extensively playtested it, etc. and the result is a game that plays smoothly, seems fair for all players, and is all around a good game from the gameplay perspective.
    • (Note: We expect most games to do pretty well here, and it’ll be fairly rare that a game gets below a 5, because most games that aren’t very well mechanically put together are probably not going to be published, or if they are, are not going to get much good press.  Games that came directly from Kickstarter from small/unknown/first-time publishers may fall into the lower end of this scale, but not necessarily)
  • Theme & Integration
    • This category is based on the game’s theme and how well it integrates with the game and its mechanics.  This doesn’t mean that a themeless/abstract game can’t score well here, as long as it makes sense that there’s no theme (e.g. checkers or Scrabble are examples of games that don’t require a theme, and wouldn’t necessarily make sense if they had one).
      • 0 – This game’s theme is absolutely abhorrent, or makes no sense with the actual game itself.  This could also be for a severely overused theme on a game that could have had any other theme (did your pasted-on theme really have to be zombie Cthulhu pirates?).
      • 5 – The theme is decent, but doesn’t really mesh too closely with the gameplay, or it’s a game with a pasted on or dull theme that somewhat integrates with the game.
      • 10 – This game has a great or unique theme and the theme makes total sense with the type of game it is.
  • Components & Artwork
    • This category should be pretty self explanatory – it describes the quality of components in the game and the artwork on the game components/box (if applicable).
      • 0 – This game has just awful components and art.  This game is an eyesore to look at, and the components look like someone put a print-and-play game in a box they found on clearance at the dollar store.
      • 5 – This game has serviceable components or art, but definite room for improvement.  Maybe the cards don’t quite look like your 8-year-old nephew did the artwork in MS Paint, but it’s not far off.
      • 10 – This game looks and/or feels amazing.  The box art is eyecatching and makes you want to grab the game off the shelf.  Card and board art is superb.  Cards and tokens are high quality, if there are minis they look good and aren’t flimsy, wood and plastic pieces look nice and are fun to play with, etc.
  • Scalability
    • This category defines how well a game scales to differing numbers of players.  In other words, is the player range on the box accurate?  Since we most often play with two players, this aspect of a game is fairly important to us.  Conversely, when we bring one of our games that we know plays well with two to a meetup hoping to play with more people, we want to make sure that experience will be good as well.  So the scalability factor ensures that a game is good for the full range of players it was designed for.
      • 0 – This game does not scale well at all.  The box says “2-10” players, but really it’s only good with 5 players, no fewer than two of whom are astrophysicists, and also you must be playing by the light of a full moon.
      • 5 – This game works really well… towards one end or the other of its player spectrum.  For instance, a game that says it plays 2-4 but is only good with 2, or 2-6 but is really best with 4 or more.
      • 10 – This game is the epitome of scaling well.  It says it plays well with 2-8, and dagnabbit if it doesn’t play just as well with 8 as it does with 2, and all numbers of players in between.
    • (Note: There are definitely games that are designed only for a certain number of players, commonly just 2.  These games won’t necessarily always get a perfect 10 in this category just because they play to the exact number of players the game was designed for.  Rather, in these cases we must determine whether the games make sense as 2-player [or whatever] games, or if they would have been better if they had been designed for a different number of players.)
  • “Fun Factor”
    • This is the part of the review criteria that’s still fairly subjective, and describes how “fun” a game is and/or how likely we’re likely to want to play it again or play it instead of other games in our collection
      • 0 – Terrible game, why do we even have this?  Put it with the firewood.
      • 5 – Ok game, I’d play it on occasion or if I’m in the right mood, but I probably wouldn’t request to play this game.
      • 10 – Awesome game, the cream of the crop.  I’ll never turn down this game and regularly want to play it.

3 thoughts on “TBM Update: Our Review System

    1. Hi Lee, thanks for the feedback! As we often play with each other or other adults, we don’t often consider this kind of feedback! Rest assured, we still play plenty of family games that are great for kids and adults alike and will be reviewing some in the future!


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