Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns - A new Board Game Review series from GJJ Games for 2020!

If you've been following GJJ Games for a while you may have noticed that over the past few years I've slowed down drastically in the number of game reviews I've posted.  My older sons have gotten more involved in a lot of other activities, my youngest is now a whirlwind of attention devouring cuteness, and life has just gotten a lot busier in general.  This means I have somewhat less time for games, particularly in what used to constitute my free time when I used to write reviews.  I have a review queue that hasn't gotten any smaller in the last two years, not because I haven't played most of the games, but because I haven't had the time or energy to write up the reviews.

In 2020 I want to rectify that situation.  I started GJJ Games in part because I wanted to provide honest, critical, and constructive reviews of games I played and liked (or didn't like).  This new series of reviews is my attempt at getting back to my roots.

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns will take a concept for feedback and evaluation that I learned about through my leadership training in Scouts BSA.  I've adapted the concept a bit to fit my idea of game reviews, but I think it still applies.

My intent for this series is to provide a brief overview of things I liked, didn't like, and want to explore more about each game.  I'm dropping my long overview of how to play games (there are other places to look for rules explanations) that I've included in my reviews so far.  I also won't be following a set rubric like I did with my Full Reviews.  These reviews will be more about my impressions of the games after the first few plays (sometimes just one, sometimes several).  I think first impressions are very important in modern hobby games.  With so many great games coming out every week, a game really has to be special, and make that known right away, to succeed.  If a game can't grab your attention on the first play it'll be that much easier to ignore it and move on to the next shiny thing.

The format for these reviews will be very consistent and shorter, which means it'll be easier for me to write them.  Reviews will be divided into eight sections:
  • Vitals: This will show the game name, designer, publisher, MSRP, and gameplay stats (player count, time, and age).
  • Introduction: This will be a single paragraph giving a very quick overview of the game.  Depending on how pressed for time I am, I may just copy the publisher's description of the game (which will be noted if I do).
  • Blooms: This will be a bullet list of stand-out features of the game; things I particularly liked or that the game does exceptionally well.
  • Buds: This will be a bullet list of things I think are interesting about the game and I'd like to explore more.  They may not have wowed me initially, but are areas of the game I'd like to pay attention to in repeated playthroughs.
  • Thorns: This will be a bullet list of things I didn't like about the game, or any issues I feel are noteworthy.  This could range from something as simple as an odd choice of artwork or as major as a mechanic I feel is broken or poorly designed.
  • Final Thoughts: This will be a paragraph with my overall impression of the game.  I may choose to expound on points above if I feel additional explanation is warranted.
  • Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Rating: Each game will receive a rating of Thorn, Bud, or Bloom.  This roughly corresponds to my Full and Quick Review ratings of 5/54 or less for Thorns, 5.5/55 to 7.5/75 for Buds, and 7.5/75 or higher for Blooms.  A graphic with the rating will be shown here.
  • Pictures: If I took any pictures of the game I'll include them here.  I won't be taking dozens of component and gameplay pictures like in previous reviews, but I'll try to include a few gameplay photos so people can see the games in action.
I've also updated my brief description of GJJ Games Reviews that is at the bottom of every review.  This is at the bottom of this post and will be on every review I do going forward.  

Look for my first Buds, Blooms, and Thorns review coming later today!  I'm looking forward to getting caught up on my review queue and finally delivering on my promise to review these games.  Let me know what you think!

Bloom!  This game is great and worth
adding to your collection!  It should be
on just about every gamer's shelf. 
Bud!  This game definitely has some
great moments.  It's good for several plays
and should appeal to most gamers, especially
if you enjoy other games like this.
Thorn!  I can't quite recommend this game,
although you may enjoy it if you like games
like this.  I feel this game has some flaws and
there are areas that it could improve in the
experience it provides.

GJJ Games Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some were provided by a publisher or designer for my honest feedback and evaluation.  I make every attempt to be both honest and constructively critical in my reviews, and they are all my opinions.  There are four types of reviews on GJJ Games: Full Reviews feature critical reviews based on a rubric and games receive a rating from 0 to 100.  Quick Reviews and Kickstarter Previews are either shorter reviews of published games or detailed preview reviews of crowdfunding games that will receive a rating from 0 to 10 based on my impressions of the game.  Buds, Blooms,and Thorns reviews are shorter reviews of either published or upcoming games that highlight three aspects of a game: Buds are parts of a game I look forward to exploring more, Blooms are outstanding features of a game, and Thorns are shortcomings of a game.  Each BBT review game will receive an overall rating of Thorn, Bud, or Bloom.

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