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Why I Don’t Review Games on Board Game Arena

Here at GamesReviews we get approached more and more often by publishers and developers to check out their games and give our impressions of them. With board games, the process of doing a review is a lot more involved than it is with a video game. You have to wait for the game to be shipped to you, wait for your next game night, play it a few times over a few weeks, before even beginning the process of writing a review. With video games, it’s generally a very solo experience. With board games, you are often relying on others to get your work done. As more and more games become available on Board Game Arena, a virtual table where games can be played with people around the globe, we get more pitches to play and review games on that system, as opposed to getting a physical game in the mail. At GamesReviews, reviewing titles on Board Game Arena isn’t something we do, and since we’ve had a few questions on it, I thought I would address why.

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In my opinion, the thing that separates board games and video games is that one of these experiences is very singular and solo, while the other is more social. Video games happen on a TV, where your experience is dictated by the console you have access to, or the connection of your internet. Board games are very tactile, and the experience you have is similar to the experience anyone else is going to have in a purely physical way. Video games are virtual. Board games are physical. You don’t get to enjoy the physical and tactile when on Board Game Arena!

While I have major issues with trying to play massive board games on a screen, and having to scroll around the table to see everything on the board, the biggest reason I don’t review games on Table Top Arena is because you miss one of the most fundamental aspects of board games (in my opinion): the components. One of the biggest draws for me when playing a game is the physical nature of the experience. I like putting my piece down on the board, I love collecting coins and adding them to my collection, I like building out a tableau of cards. The physical interactions you have with a board game, for some people, make up almost half the the experience itself. While I do weigh the mechanics of the game more than the components when writing a review, the components do matter. Sure, the mechanics of a game are really great, and in theory, you should love the experience. But does it feel good? Is doing the various things the game requests of you feel satisfying. If you lose, did what you built in front of you still give you pride and joy? Those are things that Board Game Arena can never provide you.


So while there are many reasons why I don’t like Board Game Arena, this is the most important. Our readers want to know about a games mechanics, of course, but they also want to know about the experience. Was it fun placing buildings in Skyrise? Was it fun building out your city in Tapestry? When building your beehive in Honey Buzz, was it satisfying using the deluxe components? This is big for many board game players, and it’s huge for me.

What is your take? Do you like Board Game Arena?


Article By

blank Adam Roffel has only been writing about video games for a short time, but has honed his skills completing a Master's Degree. He loves Nintendo, and almost anything they have released...even Tomodachi Life.

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Twitter: @AdamRoffel