About Heavy Cardboard

About Games, Play-Throughs, Reviews, and our Ratings

Financial Disclosures: How we are "paid", what we receive, and from whom


About Heavy Cardboard

Who is Heavy Cardboard?

Both the podcast and YouTube channel are hosted by two transplanted Coloradans: Edward and Amanda Uhler. Two board gaming enthusiasts that love board games, but especially the heavier, more analytical side of the hobby.

Want to know more about us? Click here!

I love your show, how can I support it?

Firstly, thanks so much for even thinking of supporting us. It truly means a lot! The support given to Heavy Cardboard by our incredible Sponsors and Patrons allows us to create what we think is, false modesty aside, absolutely first class content.

Depending on how much you want to contribute, our Patrons receive a range of benefits including:

  • Access to our Patron-only Slack Channel
  • Patron-only exclusive content, including some play-throughs, and a monthly private video chat with Edward & Amanda
  • Private Patron-only voting for upcoming games to play-through

Higher Patron levels also include exclusive Google hangouts with Edward and Amanda, private teaching of games, and an invitation and ticket to HeavyCon.

You can become a Patron here.

We also have some some cool swag you can buy in the Heavy Cardboard Store including exclusive Patron-only tshirts designed by renowned graphic designer and illustrator Ian O'Toole (The Gallerist, Lisboa).

And if you just want to just support - well we appreciate that as well. Truly! You can support us via PayPal here and during our play-throughs using YouTube's "Super Chat".

How did you get started with Heavy Cardboard?

Edward: I worked in a job that allowed me to listen to podcasts most of the day and I had noticed that not many folks ever talked about the games that me and my friends enjoyed playing. I brought up the idea for starting this podcast to my good buddy, Tony, in early 2014 and he was all for it. We had similar tastes in games, but not identical, which made for some interesting conversations. Tony and I started Heavy Cardboard around April/May 2014, and on June 6 we released our first episode. And the wild rollercoaster that is Heavy Cardboard began…. Then in early 2016, Tony stepped aside and Amanda took over as co-host. Since Amanda looks after all the production and technical aspects, I mainly work on driving and delivering high quality content.

Amanda: I was working on the podcast from day 0, but doing production stuff…. Editing, helping with prep, playing the games that were going to be reviewed by Edward and Tony, and generally helping with behind the mic stuff. I was always there, but in the background. Early in 2016 Tony realized that he wasn’t going to dedicate as much time to Heavy Cardboard as it takes to produce a quality podcast and that maybe it was time for him to move on from the show. Edward asked me if I had any thoughts about who might replace Tony and I immediately answered "Me!". So I taped a test episode, did some prep and in March 2016 recorded my first episode (Ep 45 - Antiquity). I've been a co-host ever since, while also producing the show, creating the graphics for the video streams, podcast editing, managing the website, and so on.

What game got you into boardgames?

Edward: Assuming we’re talking about modern board games, Arkham Horror was the first game that piqued my interest in the hobby. But the game that really sparked my passion for board games was Dominant Species. I played it the first time very early on and have been hooked ever since!

Amanda: Like Edward, we both started with Arkham Horror and while I didn’t fall in love with the heavier games until later, my first real love of a board game was The Castles of Burgundy and that love has endured!

Why do you play "heavy" games?

From the beginning, we've been drawn to heavier, more decision-dense games. That's not to say that we don't enjoy a lighter game, it's just that if given the choice, heavy board games are are our preference. We both enjoy the competition of decision making that heavier games provide as well as the deeper, more intricate story that they have to tell.

What equipment do you use to film your play-throughs and record the podcasts?

Around March/April 2017, we created a professional recording studio where we record the podcasts, and teach, play and live-stream game play-throughs.

We've been able to invest in top quality equipment, enabling us to create very professional results for you, thanks to the generous support of our wonderful Patrons - their support has allowed us to make the most of the studio and equipment upgrades.

Our audio and video equipment allows us to create professional, studio-quality podcasts and live-stream our play-throughs in 1080p with multiple cameras. Here's a breakdown of just some of the equipment, gizmos and gadgets we use:

Cameras:

  • 1x Canon XA30 video camera (overhead camera for live-streams as well as the main camera when we are on-location at Cons),
  • 2x Canon VIXIA R700 video cameras (the two ‘player cameras’ that are on the players during the streams)
  • 1x Canon VIXIA R400 video camera (Edward’s player tableau camera overhead that is used in some streams)

Microphones:

  • 3x Electro-Voice RE20 microphones for the podcast and other in-studio recording and live-streaming
  • 2x Shure SM58 mics for on-location interviews
  • 2x Shure SM93 Lavalier mics for on-location interviews & videos
  • 4x Shure SM93 Lavalier mics so each person on the live-streams will be individually mic'd up for the best sound quality that we can provide

Other stuff:

  • A custom-built desktop computer that we built specifically to handle our live-streaming (see below)
  • 4x ceiling mounted studio lights with diffusers
  • Mackie PROFX12V2 12-Channel Mixer
  • Steinberg UR44 Audio Interface
  • 3x Rode PSA1 microphone boom arms
  • 3x microphone shock mounts
  • Various tripods for different camera arrangements
  • Various Manfrotto articulating arms & Super Clamps for overhead cameras
  • A huge assortment of HDMI, XLR, and XLR snake cables, hubs, etc.

We built a dedicated desktop computer to ensure we could properly process and stream and process our video and audio streams - its key specs include:

  • i7-7700K processor
  • 32GB of DDR-4 RAM
  • Magewell Pro Capture Quad HDMI capture card
  • Samsung 500GB 960 EVO SSD
  • Seagate 8TB 6Gb HDD

Software we use:

  • XSplit for live-streaming
  • Adobe Suite Software for editing most everything

What about your gaming table?

We ordered a custom size table from our wonderful show sponsor, BoardGameTables.com, that we feel is the perfect size for just about all board gaming that we would want to do, and on which we can easily (and comfortably) play and stream:

  • 6' x 3.5' size table (around 183 cm x 107cm)
  • Knotty Alder "Special" (ie. dark wood stain)
  • Navy Color
  • Normal Height
  • Two slide-out cup holders on Left & Right ends
  • Double Slide-out cup holders on Top & Bottom sides
  • 6 card holders (to be able to move them as needed for cameras)
  • No topper, as when we live-stream, it would always be off of the table anyway
  • Four Wing shelves

Are you going to design a boardgame?

No! Neither of us has any desire whatsoever to design a boardgame.

That said, this tweet was an interesting perspective…

 
game-design-tweet.png
 

Do you have any suggestions for a first time board game designer?

Check out the Boardgame Design Forum on BoardGameGeek.

There you'll find many wonderful folks happy to answer almost every possible question you might have around boardgame design, and willing to provide feedback and support for your project. There is a plethora of threads filled with advice, tips, resources and suggestions. It's a staggering treasure trove that will help you design and refine your game!

Why do you sometimes say 'Glory to Rome'?

Our local game group is really a great group—a wonderful, eclectic bunch of folks spanning many ages, lifestyles and occupations. We play to win and it's not unknown, occasionally (well ok, sometimes more than occasionally) for someone on one of the tables to utter an expletive.

In the Carl Chudyk game "Glory to Rome" there's a card that allows someone to take a resource from another player - but if the person doesn't have anything to give them they say "Glory to Rome".

It's become our group's (and now by extension The Herd's) way of telling someone "well played you #(&$^!@§ø" or "go %Ω@¶§* yourself".

In order to remain PC, we use it during our live-streams since we try never to offend anyone or make anyone watching feel uncomfortable. It's a way for us to try and remain family and child friendly-ish, and still make everyone feel they are there with us in the room playing.

Who is Asher?

Asher Gent Uhler is a rescued greyhound in his twilight years. He loves nothing more than an occasional cuddle, walks, a really nice soft bed for his extended naps, and peanut butter.

Here he is in his natural habitat…

 
asher.jpg
 

Who is Davis?

Davis is the Heavy Cardboard Elephant. Our mascot. Amanda designed the Heavy Cardboard logo and we knew he had to have a name. Well, it just so happens that we enjoy train games and especially 18XX games. In one of those games, 1853 (which is set in India), the Priority Deal marker introduced an elephant on it, which signifies the first player in the next stock round. Well, Amanda’s grandfather, Ernest Davis, worked for Burlington Northern Railroad, back-in-the-day. We thought that that would be a great way to pay him respect as well as an appropriate name for our mascot, so Davis it is!

Is Amanda really a big deal in Paraguay?

Yes! Yes she is. Well sorta, in a weird, not actually related to her in any way, kinda way…

Amanda's twitter handle is @amandau. Turns out that in Paraguay, there is a famous ice cream chain called "Amandau" and for quite a while, well let's just say she was very confused as to why lots of folks in Paraguay were messaging her and wanting her ice cream!

After finally working out the issue and disappointing many Paraguayan ice cream aficionados, Amanda is still occasionally messaged by folks looking to get some delicious ice cream. She feels bad that she can't assist them with the procurement of one of life's necessities but then realizes she has none either and stops feeling sad for them, and instead is sad for herself.

One of Amanda's bucket-list goals is to one day visit Amandau's Ice Cream Shop in Paraguay and find out what all the fuss is about. They did promise her ice cream for life if she ever does come visit…

What is this Slack channel you keep mentioning?

Slack is, well, if you are old enough to remember ICQ, it's kind of like a grown up version of that. Basically it's a private instant chat service but so much more (you can read more about it here if you're really interested).

But it's really not the technical aspects of Slack or how it works that interest us - what's more important is what Slack allowed us to do - create an interactive, vibrant community of like-minded folks online. Fellow gamers who like the sort of games we like, and who are happy to support the show as Patrons.

From as little as $5 per month or $60 a year, as one of their rewards, our Patrons have access to a private Slack group we host. There we all interact and discuss, well, pretty much anything and everything. While the underlying focus of Heavy Cardboard is obviously about games we play, it's equally about the people we play them with - it's about building connections and friendships. Slack allows us to extend that connection to our Patrons around the world, and allows them to interact with each other in a friendly environment.

It's all about bringing all the members of The Herd together, virtually. We have folks from all over the world, in all sorts of stages as gamers, of all ages and occupations and walks of life. We talk, and laugh and play games on line, arrange games face to face, meetups at conventions, discuss aspects of the hobby that appeal to us and the types of games we like, talk about all kinds of random things and generally just mix with genuine, warm, friendly and just truly wonderful folks.

It really has become the main focus of all our interactions between Heavy Cardboard and its Patrons, the genuinely amazing folks whose support makes our show possible, and between the Patrons themselves.

Why do you keep talking about maintaining weight?

Back around Christmas of 2015, we were getting ready to go to Amanda’s work Christmas party. When trying to get ready, I (Edward) found that I could not fit into any of my nicer clothes and I got extremely angry and embarrassed at myself. I swore that that would never happen again and the next month, I joined Weight Watchers. Over the course of 1 year, I set a goal to get down to a target weight of 210 lbs from where I was, which was 254 lbs. It took me 50 weeks, but I made it by January 2017. I have since kept all the weight off and still maintain the 210 lbs.

What other things are you interested in besides board games?

Edward is an an avid cook and a big-time foodie and loves music. Amanda when she's not working on the show or in her day job, loves working on her planner and enjoying rare moments of quiet and solitude. Both enjoy exploring and hiking the wonderful Colorado wilderness and the many features that make Denver one of the five best cities in America in which to live. Edward still enjoys playing poker and Amanda enjoys designing things in Photoshop. And, of course, giving Asher lots of belly rubs and scritches.

 
pano.jpg
 

What is HeavyCon? How can I get a ticket?

HeavyCon is our annual, invitation-only convention in Denver, Colorado, bringing together like-minded gamers who share a passion for the heavier side of board gaming. Each year, it's held at a local hotel and we welcome fellow Elephants, along with special guests such as designers and publishers of heavy games, from around the world. In 2017, HeavyCon hosted nearly 100 attendees.

If you are interested in attending HeavyCon, you can apply here to be added to the wait list.

 
heavycon.jpg
 

I'm interested in sponsoring some of your content. Who do I talk to?

Hey, thanks so much for thinking of us! In regards to sponsoring the show itself, if you are a boardgame publisher, producer or designer though we're unfortunately going to stop you right there. As we discuss elsewhere, in order to ensure we can not only give, but be seen to give, fair, honest and thorough opinions and reviews, we do not accept publishers as sponsors. Sorry.

However, if you are interested in sponsoring a play-through of a game, you can contact us to discuss the terms of sponsoring a play-through.

We are very selective about who we partner with. Our sponsors are deliberately chosen and we work hard with them to ensure both we and they get value for money. We truly appreciate their support of the show, and are proud to say that they have become great friends as well.

If you think your company or product might be a match for Heavy Cardboard, please contact us and we'll talk with you about your expectations and how we can work together.

What's with the number on the box on the wall filled with colored things?

The number on the box on the wall is the number of Patrons supporting Heavy Cardboard. We call it the '138 Box' because when we installed it, after brainstorming some ideas with our Patrons in our Slack channel, the show had 138 Patrons.

We say it a lot, but our Patrons are simply amazingly wonderful folks who support the show in so many ways, not just with money. They are a constant source of joy to us. We have made so many connections with so many of them it's beyond description - we cannot tell you how appreciative we are to have the support of such an remarkable group of people, many of whom we're proud to call our friends.

The 138 Box is a visible statement of the thanks and pride we feel towards every single one of our Patrons, and hopefully lets them know that their support is truly appreciated by us every single day.


About Games, Play-Throughs, Reviews, and our Ratings

How do you review games?

Our reviews are based on our having played the game multiple times (usually at least 4 or 5) across varying player counts.

So that we can ensure our reviews are fair, honest and thorough, we analyze and consider the game against a number of different criteria:

  • The weight of the game, including aspects such as:
    • the complexity of the rules and mechanisms
    • how much planning is required
    • the luck and random factors in the game
    • the game's length
    • how long it takes to "get it".
  • The cardboard itself:
    • the components, graphic design, and artwork
    • the rulebook's clarity and quality.
  • How long it takes to setup, teardown, teach and learn the game.
  • What makes the game enjoyable and why.
  • What we don't like or enjoy about the game.
  • How well it scales for various player counts.

How do you rate games?

We rate the games we review on a 1-6 scale:

  1. Burn it with it with fire. It ain't me, it's you. That's a terrible game.
  2. Meh. It's fine. It has some redeeming qualities, but, meh.
  3. It's not you, it's me. I can see the merits to the game, it's just not for me.
  4. It's above average - it's good stuff. Maybe we'll own this game - we enjoyed it.
  5. Oh My! Really good, a great game, a game we're definitely going to own.
  6. Hall of Fame, really truly special. The end.

Why 1-6? We wanted there to be no middle ground… No halfsies, no maybes. Originally when we started the podcast we used a 1 to 4 scale, but realized that was probably going too far so we revised the scale to a 6. We think it works and is granular enough to have the entire scale used in our various reviews.

If you want to see all our reviews ranked by their rating, one of our wonderful Patrons has taken the time to summarize that for you here on BoardGameGeek.

Do you ever rate games a 1?

Amanda rated Troyes a "1" in Episode 42 BUT that was specifically in relation to the game at a 2-player count. If played with 3 or 4, she (and Edward) rated it a "4".

More recently, in Episode 84 Edward and Amanda, and show guests Tony and Matt, all rated No Caboose! a "1".

Other than these however we have not rated anything else a "1", and only a handful as a "2". Probably because we usually try to review games we expect to fall within the Heavy Cardboard wheelhouse. But it's always possible.

What makes a game "heavy"?

Heaviness, for us, is determined by a number of factors:

  • Depth of Analysis & Planning: What considerations must be taken into account to make the right decisions?
  • Depth of Gameplay: A game doesn't have to be complex, but it should require solid analysis during play to play well.
  • Game Length: A game doesn't have to be long, but it must comprise a multitude of meaningful decision points.
  • Low Luck Factor: Winning and losing, ultimately, should be determined by whomever made the better decisions throughout the game.
  • Opacity of Decisions & Interaction: To what degree do the critical decisions within the game have an impact upon other players?
  • ‘Getting it’ Factor: Just because you understand the rules, this doesn’t mean that you grasp them all nor pick up on the strategy right away, So factoring in how long it takes to grasp the game contributes to the weight.

What do you mean by "opaque"?

When we label a game “opaque” what we mean to say is that the effects of a decision are not always clear or easy to discern or understand. Think of it as a butterfly effect. The effects of a decision that you make in a game my not be readily visible until much later in the game. In addition to that, sometimes, even though you understand the rules of a game, understanding the WHY or HOW is sometimes really hard to grasp. That is what we mean by opaque.

Is there a list of every game you've reviewed or played through?

There sure is—and it's right here. You can also search our site for a game to see if we've reviewed or streamed a play-through of it.

You can also find the games we've reviewed and our ratings here on BoardGameGeek.

All our video content can be found on our YouTube channel.

We're also progressively cross-platforming all our podcast reviews and other audio content and adding them to our YouTube channel, for those who prefer that option.

Could you please play-through [Game X]? How do I suggest games for a play-through?

If you have a suggestion for a game you'd like to see us live-stream, you can add it to the Heavy Cardboard Play-through Request GeekList on BoardGameGeek - if it gets enough thumbs from folks, we'll probably live-stream a play-through of it! Also, each month, we let our Patrons choose one game from a list (usually from the most highly requested games) for us to live-stream the next month!

Do you stage or script your play-throughs?

Nope - everything you see is how it plays out - live and unfiltered.

Now granted, we'll often not necessarily make optimal moves, and occasionally we'll make a mistake (usually, though, the Peanut Gallery catches our error or oversight and sets us straight). But we do not stage the setup, or script any moves during any of our play-throughs.

I noticed that the intro to a video is excessively long. Why is that?

The software that we use to live-stream can take upwards of 90 seconds to ‘sync up’ with YouTube. So that means that the intro screen is there while we’re waiting for everything to Go Live. In addition to that, as soon as we finish one of our live-streams, it can take hours for YouTube to process the raw feed.

Once the processing is complete, usually the next day or so, we go back into the video on YouTube and trim the intro title screen down to a few seconds.

So if you watch a video soon after the live-stream, but before we've had the chance to trim it, you'll get this long intro. We certainly understand the frustration this could cause but hope you understand this is a YouTube issue over which we have no control. Just give us a little while and we go in and trim that excess off the front end of the video.

Your videos are very long. Why is that?

Our live-stream play-throughs usually cover:

  • a little background or history about the game and an introduction to it,
  • a full rules teach,
  • a full play-through, and
  • a round table discussion between those playing - our "thoughts on the game".

But you raise a fair point—our videos do run a long time!

We've found that the live-stream of a full teach and play generally adds an hour or more to the ‘normal’ playtime. You'll definitely find with most players "in real life" that it takes a lot less time to play than we do while streaming - we're often talking through and explaining our moves, interacting with the "Peanut Gallery" of Patrons and viewers in the live chat, and not necessarily taking optimal moves.

That all said we can understand that long videos might be a little off-putting for some folks. Not everyone has the time to be able to watch everything, or they're only interested in a particular segment.

We're currently editing our back-catalog to break out these components into stand alone videos and make things a little more accessible for folks who might only want to see the rules teach, or hear some thoughts about the game etc etc. This will take us some time as we progressively work through them all, so please bear with us.

On each play-through video though you'll see timestamps in the show notes for where each "section" starts, so feel free to click those links and jump straight to the section you want to watch! (Our most recent videos may not have yet been updated with timestamps - we generally do these in batches every week or so, so apologies if you're looking and it's not yet timestamped.)

I've noticed that each podcast episode seems to come from a different location - is there a list of these anywhere?

There sure is - and it's right here.

You use poker chips a lot. Why is that? What is a good set to get? How many chips should I get? What about the 'mini' chips some folks use?

These questions come up a lot. And they're great questions because we strongly feel that poker chips can really make it quicker and easier to play many heavy games.

Like many players, when we first started playing heavier economic games, we'd use the paper money or cardboard coins or tiddlywinks or whatever a particular game provided. As we started playing more and heavier games, like many other gamers, we started reading about those games on BoardGameGeek and speaking with some of the folks with whom we were playing. And we kept seeing comments and being told that Poker chips saved time and made cash handling easier.

Well, in our opinion, that's proven to be 100% true, and we now use poker chips wherever possible, especially when playing games involving a lot of money handling (18xx, Food Chain Magnate, Age of Steam, etc.).

Why use them?

First and foremost, time. Poker chips can easily save 30-60 minutes in a heavy game, even more for some of the longer 18XXs. That's not inconsiderable and could mean the difference between calling a game for time, or finishing it with time to spare.

Secondly, convenience. Poker chips are generally a lot easier to handle than paper money, and easier to stack and count.

What is a good set to get?

That really depends on you, your preferences and most importantly, your budget. There are many cheap sets around that many players love. Others like to create their own custom sets. Some prefer clay chips, some prefer composite chips. Some like 9.5 gram chips, some prefer heavier weights.

Our suggestion is, if it's possible, play with a few sets that other folks have and see what you like or don't like. Contact some poker chip sellers and get some sample sets - these sample sets usually have a variety of types, weights and materials - and see what you prefer. There is a plethora of retailers selling poker chips, many with an online store, and most have sample sets available at nominal cost.

How many chips should I get or what size chip set should I look for?

This depends on what you think you're going to play. If you mainly play strategic and euro games, a smaller set with more lower denominations will generally suit. If you're planning on playing 18XX, it depends on whether you want a general, pretty-much-does-most-games type set, or you instead want to cover off every possible contingency. 18XX banks can range from a few thousand to $18,000 or more, so the number of chips, which denominations and how many of each value depends very much on you.

Where can I go to get more information?

There are many great threads and discussions on BoardGameGeek on this topic. This thread particularly has a fairly comprehensive coverage of most aspects of poker chips. There are many knowledgeable folk who have contributed ideas there around different types of chips, and what they have found to be good denomination spreads, chip counts and set sizes. Hopefully it will give you some ideas around what chip set might suit you for the games you enjoy playing.

There is also Tim Koppang's very informative blog post "18xx Poker Chips". Tim goes into detail about the various styles of chips and how they differ from each other, some suggestions on distributions, and links to other resources.

$20 or $25 for green? Denominations on the chips or blank/no value?

An ongoing discussion amongst many gamers, particularly those who play a lot of 18XX! You'll see many folks passionately argue that $20 values are better, and others who prefer $25. Some like chips with values, others like blank chips that can be made to be whatever value you need.

Again, it depends to some extent on you and what you play.

We would suggest you experiment for awhile with others' sets if that's an option, talk with them, find out what you prefer and like, read the post by Tim Koppang and the BGG thread we've recommended, and then decide based on your preferences.

For the record, though, we prefer gray $20 chips for games (especially 18XX games).

What about the mini chips I've seen some folks use?

Just like poker chips themselves, many gamers like to use the small, mini poker chips. They take up less table space and are often a lot easier to transport than a large, heavy, full poker set. But again it depends on you - what you intend playing and your preferences.

There is a great thread on BoardGameGeek on this topic which discusses and compares most mini chips currently available.

I love [Game X]! What should I buy?

That's a really big question!

While we, and most of the Elephants in The Herd, like heavy games, folks like different things - not everyone likes conflict-heavy games, or games without direct interaction, or area control games, or war games, or 18XX, or certain styles of euros, etc. etc. Not every game is for everyone and you gotta play what you dig right?

We'd probably need to sit with you and spend a fair amount of time chatting about what you like about Game X before we'd properly be able to give you our thoughts on what other games might suit you, and much as we'd love to do that, it's just not possible.

If you were a Patron you could ask in our Patron-only Slack channels - you'll find a LOT of friendly and helpful folks with a truly amazing breadth of game knowledge and experience more than willing to drill into your likes and dislikes and come up with some recommendations.

Otherwise, you could head over to the Recommendations Forum on BoardGameGeek. There's a bunch of folks there who are eager and willing to help you out… chances are you'll get some great ideas!

If however you really, really want our opinion and assistance, we can help. Edward offers a game curation service which means he'll review your game collection on BoardgameGeek (or review a list of your games if you're not on the 'Geek), analyse those and then have a discussion with you to drill into more about what you like (or don't like), and come up with some suggestions for games he thinks will suit you. You can get this curation service as a Patron benefit at the African Forest Elephant level or find it as an item in the Heavy Cardboard Store.

I'm a publisher/developer/designer. Will you review/play-through my game/prototype?

You can always add your game to the Heavy Cardboard Play-through Request GeekList on BoardGameGeek—if it gets enough thumbs from folks, we'll probably live-stream a play-through of it!

Otherwise, contact us to talk about it, and we'll discuss your game with you and whether it's a fit for us and our channel.

Assuming it's a game in our wheelhouse and sits with what Heavy Cardboard is about, we'll play it multiple times before our review or play-through so we can make sure we understand the game, its mechanisms and rules etc. We might need you to send us a review copy.

We promise three things in regards to our reviews: to be fair, honest and thorough. We will not accept payment from you for our review, and hope that you understand that if we have areas of concern about the game, we'll call them out.

I'm looking at Kickstarting my game. Will you preview it and help me achieve my goal?

We treat Previews, for example for Kickstarter, differently from reviews and play-throughs. We'll work with you to create content to help explain and showcase your game, and hopefully assist you with achieving your ambition of having your game "come to life".

However, this is a commercial arrangement. It takes us many, many, many hours to play, fully understand, script, record and edit the content so that it shows off your game. Just like you, our time is valuable. We expect to be paid for our time and effort, just as we expect you to use our content to generate sales.

Contact us to talk about it, and we'll discuss your game with you and whether it's a fit for us and our channel. Assuming it's a game in our wheelhouse and sits with what Heavy Cardboard listeners and viewers expect from us, we'll talk with you about timing and your expectations. We'll also discuss and agree with you what our requirements are, and negotiate a fee for producing the content for your campaign.

You think [Game X] is too [area of disagreement]? I think you are wrong because…

We understand that you feel that the level of whatever in Game X is not as bad (for you) and we're perhaps being overly sensitive or too critical. But to paraphrase Devon Harris (@HatsOffGames):

When people say that this element or that element isn't that bad and give stats or explanations, it's like telling someone that the dish isn't that spicy because the ingredients only rate an X on the scale of spiciness.

It's a matter of taste. If the meal is too spicy for someone then it is too spicy. You're not going to change that and you shouldn't.

So we totally understand and accept every game is not for every gamer! The particular game we like you might not like, and vice versa. We get that. Totally. Ya gotta play what you dig (and eat at your preferred level of spiciness - Edward prefers pretty hot and spicy, Amanda, not so much :D ).

All we can do is tell you OUR thoughts on that game, and what OUR experience was and how it affected US.

What's the difference between a review and a trailer?

A review is a featured review on our podcast. We dissect a particular game and give it 45+ minutes of critique from the heavy gamer’s perspective.

A trailer is a shorter, less involved review. Either we don’t have enough plays of a game (yet) to give it a full review or it’s possible that there isn’t enough there that warrants a full review. That said, if we still want to highlight a game, we’ll feature it as a trailer. Think of them as ‘mini-reviews’.

I'd like to get some of the earlier podcasts, but they don't show up in my feed. How do I get to old episodes?

It's a fair question, and it's actually a bit annoying for us. It seems our website host has an artificial limit of 100 episodes - recently we noticed the earliest episodes and podblasts had "dropped off" the feed of what was available to download.

We're currently looking at ways to remedy this. We'll update this FAQ once we've resolved those archives.

In the meantime, all our older content is still available through this website. For a particular game you can click straight through to the relevant episode, search for a particular game, or step through our entire catalog of content.

What are these Winsome games people talk about, and how can I get them?

Our video discussion about the 2017 Winsome Games Collection talks through this somewhat unique game publisher, their games, and how to get them.

What about [insert other questions here]?

Feel free to hit us up and ask your question - we love interacting with y'all. You can email us and we're very active on social media:

Financial Disclosures - How we are "paid", what we receive, and from whom

Do you produce Heavy Cardboard full time? How do you afford to run the show?

Yes, well sorta, hopefully.

Since May 2017, thanks to Amanda's careful budgeting and our savings, and with the help and support of our wonderful Patrons and show Sponsors, Edward has been working on Heavy Cardboard full time.

That has allowed us to ramp up the amount of content we produce for both the podcast and the live-streams for the video channel, as well as the "Conversations with Heavy Cardboard" series where Edward talks with designers, publishers and other folks in and around the boardgaming hobby. Thanks to our great Patrons and Sponsors we've invested many thousands of dollars into new equipment and creating a professional studio to record the podcasts and live-streams.

But savings can't last forever and if Edward is to continue producing Heavy Cardboard full time, we need more Patrons to support the show. If that's something you might consider, we'd certainly appreciate it!

How do you get paid, and from whom?

We receive payment from these sources:

Our show sponsors: these are usually long-term and ongoing commercial arrangements between Heavy Cardboard and the particular sponsor.

Patrons: these are the amazing, kind and wonderful folk who provide the backbone funding for Heavy Cardboard. Patrons pledge on a monthly (via Patreon) or yearly (through our Store via PayPal or Credit Card) basis and receive certain rewards based on how much they pledge.

Previews: these are commercial arrangements between Heavy Cardboard and the particular publisher.

Advertising: we receive standard advertising revenue from sites such as YouTube.

In addition to this direct funding we also occasionally receive review copies of games from publishers. Except for these review copies of games, we do not expect, receive or accept any payment whether in cash or kind from publishers for our reviews or opinions about games.

Do publishers pay you or give you free games or incentives? What is your Disclosure around Review Copies and payments for Previews, Reviews and Play-throughs?

There have been a lot of questions asked recently (actually over the past few years as our hobby has grown and matured) and they are fair questions.

We have nothing to hide. Indeed we welcome the questions as we are absolutely totally 100% committed to ensuring our reviews are fair, honest and thorough.

We talk a LOT about this topic, our views, and what we do and don't do in Episode 81. We suggest you have a listen.

The short answer

We DO accept review copies of games to enable us to properly, effectively, honestly, and fairly assess the game and give our opinion on it. We have always disclosed this when we have received a review copy in the play-through or podcast for that game, and we always will.

We DO NOT expect, receive or accept payment whether in money or in kind from the developers, publishers or creators of the games we review, although we might receive review copies of games. Never have, never will.

We DO charge for, and expect payment for, previews of games.

The long boring detailed answer

Before we talk about how and from whom we get paid, we need to define what we are talking about…

Review Copies

A "Review copy" of a game is usually provided to us by a publisher free of charge or at a discount. They are used to allow us to properly review, or play-through, the game and could be:

  • literally a review copy, that is a special version of the game specifically issued to reviewers, or
  • a retail copy of the game exactly the same as you would buy in a store, or
  • prototype, proof or advance copy of the game, or
  • a special version of the game, like a special edition, or upgraded Kickstarter edition.

Review copies may sometimes be kept by us to do with as we wish after the review or play-through, or may need to be returned to the publisher, or on-forwarded to another reviewer.

If we do get a review copy we always disclose that in the play-through or review of that game.

Whether we get or do not get a review copy does not change how we play or review the game. It's just as easy for folks to simply assume we get review copies of everything - our opinions are based on a detailed consideration of the game, are fair, honest and thorough, and don't change based on whether we got a review copy or not.

Preview Copies

Preview copies are different. Typically they are used in preparing a marketing campaign for an upcoming release of that game. This usually means Kickstarter, but could also be a traditional pre-release campaign.

Preview copies are almost always in prototype form, often with draft rules, basic components, no or draft artwork, and just generally unfinished. They will probably have been playtested but perhaps not fully. It is more than likely there will be ongoing rules tweaks and adjustments, and artwork and components still to be finalized.

So now let's look at reviews and play-throughs in detail…

Reviews and Play-throughs

If a publisher says they want to send us a game for review or a play-through, before accepting it, we work hard to try to figure out ahead of time if it's a game that suits what Heavy Cardboard is about. If not, we'll tell them right up front "You know, we generally don't like party/memory/whatever games, so we may not be the right channel to cover this for you," and pass or maybe refer them to another reviewer that we think might better suit their style of game.

Basically we don't want to have to spend the time playing and live-streaming or reviewing a game that's not in our wheelhouse or that we think our viewers and listeners would not want to hear about, from a heavy gamer’s perspective.

Sometimes a publisher will send us, unsolicited, a review copy of a game that they think might suit our channel.

If we are sent a review copy, we'll then start forward planning when we might be able to slot it into our upcoming schedule.

We need to make sure we'll have enough time to do a review or play-through properly. That means usually at least 4 or 5 plays of the game at varying player counts.

We try to schedule the games we're planning on reviewing for the podcast and those we're playing through on the live-streams at least a month or two in advance (sometimes up to three months). We also make provisions for a play-through of a game roughly once a month that our Patrons have voted on, for any games that have had enough thumbs on the BoardGameGeek Request List, and for contingencies (we try and plan for the unplanned).

So whilst we might accept a review copy, we rarely agree to a time frame for the review or play-through - we'll get to it when we get to it. We know that that sounds abrupt, and we try to schedule out a few months ahead, but life happens, so we try to stay flexible. Semper Gumby - Always Flexible!

A publisher could sponsor a play-through of the game, to create buzz, assist with marketing, or simply allow folks to see the game being played. You could say this is a mashup of a play-through and a preview - sending us a review or preview copy of the game and sponsoring us to host a play-through of it. These sponsorships are commercial arrangements limited to that game and are always disclosed up front, before the play-through begins.

We maintain a list of every playthrough sponsored by a publisher.

We also differentiate our podcast reviews and the round table discussion we have at the end of a play-through.

The end-of-play-through round table discussions are short abbreviated general chats between friends about their off-the-cuff thoughts on a game they just played, and what they liked or didn't like about it—the same as we would have were we playing it in our game group—the only difference is we have viewers, folks like you, watching us while we chat.

Our reviews are detailed and in depth. When we review the game we give our opinion on the game covering a variety of aspects.

This tweet from Edward sums up our position…

 
review-tweet.png
 

We DO accept review copies of games. Except for those review copies, we DO NOT expect, receive or accept money or payment of any kind from the developers, publishers, creators etc of games we review. Never have, never will.

If we do get a review copy we always disclose that in the playthrough or podcast of that game.

We maintain a list of every review copy we've received and reviewed or played through.

It's worth noting however that most of the games we play-through or review are already owned by us, or borrowed from other folks in our gaming group.

Play-throughs that were sponsored by publishers

  • Brass: Birmingham (sponsored by Roxley Games)
  • Feudum (sponsored by Odd Bird Games) *upcoming*
  • Moa (sponsored by APE Games)
  • The Ruhr (sponsored by Capstone Games)
  • Tulip Bubble (sponsored by Moaideas Game Design)
  • Wildcatters (sponsored by Capstone Games) *upcoming*

Review copies received for games we've reviewed or played through

  • An Infamous Traffic
  • Brass: Birmingham
  • Brass: Lancashire
  • Feudum
  • Founders of Gloomhaven
  • Lignum
  • Lisboa
  • Moa
  • Rhein River Trade
  • Solarius Mission
  • Terraforming Mars
  • Terraforming Mars: Hellas and Elysium expansion
  • The Ruhr
  • Three Kingdoms Redux (2nd edition)
  • Tulip Bubble
  • Wildcatters (2nd edition)