Polished Turds

I was recently a part of an ongoing Facebook group discussion about board game reviews and Kickstarter games. While the discussion is still ongoing, I have already confirmed the knowledge that a LOT of people in the board game community and industry have an opinion about how reviews/previews for Kickstarter games should be handled. I have also learned something that, frankly, annoys me a bit…apparently a lot of would-be boardgame publishers who are taking their games to Kickstarter send out unfinished games to reviewers.

While I get that boardgames on Kickstarter are subject to some amount of change, I just can’t fathom running a Kickstarter for a game that needs a lot more work done. When you start sending your game out to reviewers, it needs to be a fully developed game with most (if not all) of the production art and a proper rulebook. Apparently that doesn’t happen very often. How on earth can a designer or publisher expect a decent preview or review of their game without all of those things? And even moreso, why should they expect people to pledge their hard-earned money to support their game in Kickstarter if it isn’t even finished?

Yes, you can let your Kickstarter backers influence your game some…like adding new cards, different components or more art…but the mechanics and rules of the game should be pretty close to set in stone by this point in the process. Maybe I am naive to think this is possible, but I just don’t understand how game designers and publishers are getting away with this practice. As a writer, I have never sent an unfinished article off to an editor. When I did theater in college, we certainly didn’t invite a reviewer to view a show that wasn’t well-rehearsed and ready to be performed – so why would a game publisher invite a reviewer to play a game that isn’t ready for the masses?


I worked for two years in the pawnshop business as a social media manager and pawnbroker. During that time, I learned a lot about diamonds. Something I never knew before my time as a pawnbroker…there are some UGLY, crappy diamonds out there. My boss used to refer to those diamonds as polished turds.

You can polish a turd and even make it look kind of nice…but it’s still just a turd and it will never be a diamond in the rough.

I think boardgames are the same as diamonds. There are lots of different grades of them, but some of them are just polished turds. The sad thing is, I think a lot of these “polished turd” games have the potential to actually become diamonds instead of turds, the problem is that the designer or developer didn’t bother finishing the game before they send it to reviewers. Even worse, they polish up the turd to make it look shiny and plop it up on Kickstarter.

Why would you do that? Don’t polish a turd and send it out! Instead, work that game until it is a REAL diamond. Trust me, reviewers will appreciate it and so will your potential backers!

If I could ask ONE thing of my fellow Kickstarter game publishers, it would be this: Please take the time to playtest and really develop your game. Don’t polish a turd and send it out to reviewers. It makes us all look bad! Let’s band together, and bring up the expected quality of our prototypes!