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New HFC policy regarding Kickstarter campaigns & reviews

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on February 13, 2015

To all whom it may concern, please take a few minutes to learn about some changes regarding our support of Kickstarter campaigns and reviews based on sent in games by publishers/designers.

gamer-tagThe HFC started as an accompanying website for a small gaming club, publishing reports of our activities and  game reviews in German. After the club fell apart, we changed the site first into a wargaming website, publishing news and reviews in English. Later, we changed it into what it is now – a gaming & history blog where we share our thoughts with the community about games we play (wargames and non-wargames), battlefields and museums we visit and what we think about stuff that happens in the gaming world.

We were happy to see that many readers like our site, we managed to reach even more gamers via Facebook, and even though these days more and more (board)game reviewers use Youtube as a platform for video reviews, it appears that some people still prefer written reviews.

The HFC is known (some say notorious) for long and very detailed reviews, giving the reader as much insight into a game as possible (including information on how the game works, the Sequence of Play etc. – something some people don’t like because they think these information can be found in the rulebook, but we don’t agree with that and consider the ” game engine” a main part of the game and therefore of the gaming experience – and a review is all about the game experience!), spicing it all up with some nice photos, so folks get a good basis to decide whether to buy the game or not. In order to write these reviews, we have to learn and play the games in question and we don’t write reviews based on only a few game sessions… so, all in all, it takes quite some time in total until a review is finally published.

We take our reviews very seriously and don't write them until we got a solid impression and played a lot of games!

We take our reviews very seriously and don’t write them until we got a solid impression and played a lot of games!

Over the years, we were happy to see that game companies and designers wanted us to publish reviews of their new games and they sent them in. For us it was no question that these games were put on the table before any other games we wanted to play, in order to bring the review online asap. The more readers we got, the more games we received in this manner and the less we were able to play the games we bought and had on our shelf waiting to be played.

Crowdfunding was an interesting idea, first used by video game designers and independent game publishers, and it is now a chosen platform for boardgame/wargame publishers as well. Wargaming is a niche hobby and many companies are rather small, so this is a good way for them to get the money needed for publishing games people want to play. If everything works out well, it’s a win-win situation for all involved. There’s always a certain risk that a game is not what the players thought it would be, but still it’s a great way to allow smaller companies to stay in business.

That was the reason why we supported Kickstarter campaigns, started by wargame companies, by advertising them on the HFC site, to let people know what is in the works and how they could help to make it happen that a certain game is actually published. Usually, the deal was to get a copy of a game at release, so we were able to see if the game we supported before it was even available, was any good and worth the money. Since we were very restrictive in whom we supported this way, it usually turned out to be a good game, so everything was fine. Except that we had even more games in the pipeline to play and review (we were not forced to review these games, because we got them in exchange for the support of the Kickstarter campaign that made it possible to publish it, but still… we thought we should bring these games on the table before any other games…).

Travelling to battlefields and historical sites is also an important part of our hobby

Travelling to battlefields and historical sites is also an important part of our hobby

Today, more and more games are crowdfunded, it seems to have become the norm (at least with the smaller companies and these are the majority in the wargaming hobby), so in order to support these games, more and more announcements had to be written, because a new game was always trying to get crowdfunded, thus eventually landing on your gaming table.

And this is where we are now.

Since we are not satisfied with the current situation, we decided to change our policies for the future. The point is: we don’t want to turn the HFC website into a sort of “advertising blog” – and that’s an impression one might get if more and more of these crowdfunding campaigns are started – if they are from companies we trust, why not help them out with their new game, if we did help them with their last? So, again, a new announcement is online.

In addition to that, we see that Real Life (and two other blogs we run) lately got us under some real pressure, job, family, health problems, i.e. things that need attention before games do, so we got less and less time to play games and write reviews. And when we did, despite our tight time schedule, we thought the games in the “review copy pipeline” should come first. Eventually, we were stuck between all that.

232_Engineer_WWII_posterWe are “mood players” by heart, that means we watch a movie, or read a book, or visit a museum or historical site, and then are in the mood for a certain topic and then we play a game about this topic. That’s our motivation to play wargames or it used to be… we didn’t do this anymore, because we had no time left. So, we realized that the HFC had slowly turned into a kind of “job” we had to do because of the “review copy/Kickstarter campaign deal” instead of being a fun hobby project, where we tell others about the games we play and share our impressions.

So, in the end, we decided we had to change some things in order to clear the way for more content in the future and to get back in tune with the hobby character of our site!

This means, we won’t do any crowdfunding campaign ads anymore, not because we don’t trust the companies we supported in the past or wouldn’t wish them success, but because it begins to seriously change the character of our website. And to send in a game does not mean that we will automatically publish a review. We were not forced to do this, we know that, but we forced ourselves to do it.

We dedicated our sparse time to learn these games first, over other games we were interested in. We played them for a long time in order to give you a fair judgement, not a hasty review after only a few games, as some other reviewers do. Last but not least, we spent much time writing extensive reviews, pondering over each aspect of the game, so in the end, all our time we usually spent with wargaming and blogging about wargames, was consumed by review copies, while a ton of games we bought, sat on our shelf, watching us with sad eyes.

Learning and playing new games takes time... currently, we are enjoying WH40k conquest, where we just divided the factions among us

Learning and playing new games takes time… currently, we are enjoying WH40k conquest, where we just divided the factions among us

Lots of articles about other aspects of gaming, or about our travels to historical sites, were neglected because there was always a game waiting to be learned, played, and reviewed. Not that we didn’t enjoy this – most of the games we reviewed were really cool, some were even awesome. But this is about the freedom of choice what to play when and what to write, and we just don’t have enough time or manpower to play the games we buy or want to play at a given time, write articles about all kinds of wargaming-related topics, and learning, playing and reviewing “officially” sent in games – at least not in the quality and elaboratedness we expect from ourselves and which had become our trademark.

We want to be fair with you and share our thoughts about the decision – the wargaming community is small and gamers and publishers, designers and reviewers are in the same boat, because we all want to see these games and the hobby flourish.

What does this mean for you as a game publisher/designer?

If you think it would be cool if we write a review about your game – by all means, send it in! Chances are quite high that we are curious and will check it out… and if we like it, chances are even higher that we will publish an in-depth review – if we don’t like it at all and find serious flaws, chances are also quite high that we write a review… but a game sent in as a review copy does not guarantee you a published review! If you are ok with that, feel free to support us with a copy of the game you published/designed.

"HFC - back to the roots" means: Finally time for ASL again!

“HFC – back to the roots” means: Finally time for ASL again!

This way we hope to be able to bring some of the games on the table we wanted to play but didn’t have the time for, and that might be a new game-kid on the block or an oldie but goldie! So, future reviews will be based on what is landing on our gaming table and that can now again come either fresh from a publisher, or dusty from our shelf, depending on our mood and current interest in a given topic, era, or setting. You can also expect articles about other wargame-related stuff.

So you may rest assured that getting back into the “mood gaming” we started with (and which we deeply missed recently) and running the HFC as a hobby site – as a hobby, not a job -, will still bring you the reviews you like to read here 🙂

We just wanted to let you all know about our thoughts and hope you’ll be still with us as readers, friends and supporters.

One Response to “New HFC policy regarding Kickstarter campaigns & reviews”

  1. Great reviews by people with similar interest looking forward to your regular reviews of games in my favorite hobby.

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