So1ks Gaming has been a family of friends that have been playing board games and more for a long time. The name So1Ks came from one of the original members running Battletech and other gaming events from as far back as Gen Con in Milwaukee. So1ks stands Survivors of 1 thousand systems and through our experience we have probably survived over a thousand different gaming systems. The idea of having me write reviews came as I had recently became medically retired and extra free time on my hands. Everyone thought it would be fun and they were all excited to have a part in it. At Origins 2015 I was at the Mayday Games booth looking at Viceroy and mentioned that I was going to start writing reviews. Ryan from Mayday was immediately encouraging and gave me my first review copy to start out. That one gesture gave me the push to get the ball rolling and really try to produce something people would enjoy. I posted my first review on Board Game Geek and got all types of feedback that I still work on to improve. Review link: boardgamegeek.com/thread/1385665/so1ks-gaming-presents-tacos-take-viceroy
After Origins, I was already planning on who I was going to talk to at Gen Con and all the delusions of grandeur that popped into my head. In the 2 months of conventions I wrote reviews of games I owned and started emailing every company I knew. I learned early on that social media was extremely important and would be a huge factor in ever aspect of So1ks gaming. Instead of reading blog articles from those in the industry about do and do nots of being a reviewer/industry person, I rushed ahead and made probably every mistake in the book. Even with all those mistakes, the people behind these companies and other industry folk gave me chances and recommendations. At Gen Con I got the chance to have meetings with Asmodee, Iello, and some others that were publishing their first games. There is a quote by Wayne Gretzky that says " You miss 100 percent of the shots you do not take". Anyone wanting to give something a try, do it because at least you tried. I emailed and communicated to a lot of companies and early on I would get 1 email back out of 10, but it was something. If I did not try, I would never have gotten replies back from Bridgette from Passport Games and Jared from CMON saying sure let's give you a try. If you are looking to try and be a game designer or anything to do in the industry, prepare for no responses, but celebrate the ones that do respond back. Let each positive thing motivate you to the next positive spot.
After Gen Con I decided that to be taken seriously I needed my own website. On August 21st 2015, I created a basic web design off a template that was offered by the hosting site. Before this I knew nothing of web publishing or how to create a site. To this day I still know very little but try to improve as I learn. I used social media to promote the site and I would see highs of 50 unique visitors and lows of 8. Each time I wrote a new review, the visitors would go up and stay slightly higher than before. This showed me that no matter how much promoting I do, I had to trust that the content to bring the people and focus on that. Feedback was sometimes a hard pill to take, especially from Reddit, but it was needed. For the rest of 2015 I focused on trying different forms of content and establishing contacts. One of the biggest enjoyments of this journey has been getting to know different ones, not just from the industry but also those who really enjoy gaming. Those first months had many highs and lows but it was the people that kept me going.
2016 has been extremely busy. I have gotten to play and review a ton of games and went to 4 conventions. I was invited down to CMON expo and got to play in their All-Star game of Unusual Suspects with so many outstanding people. Even though I felt like the undeserving rookie among all theirs veterans of the industry, I was warmly included and will be highlight for the rest of my life. If you ever get a chance to say hi to someone whose work you really appreciate, do it without hesitation. I learned that they are gamers just like us, they just happen to do a lot for the hobby. If you like CMON's games, you have to go to CMON Expo. I got to play so many games that they were releasing this year and met so many great people.
This was also the first year I went to Geekway to the West. This was my convention to just enjoy games and not worry about any review work. If you want to play a truck load of games, this is a great con to do that at. I met up with Nils from Artana/ Cyrils Brettspiele and got to spend a half of a day with him. I originally met him in line at Gen Con 2015 and he told me all about the industry. He is really a fun, nice guy. If you ever get the chance, stop by and say hi to him at Artana's booth at Origins or Gen Con. At Origins I got to have dinner with the Dice Tower guys and a few other awesome people. Afterwards we played Captain Sonar and talk about nerve racking. I was the captain of a sub against Tom Vasel. Thanks to Eric Summerer and his elite radio skills, we came out on top the majority of the time. Also got to play Royals with Eric and had a great night.
The reason I talk about all these experiences is to show that if you give it your best, your going to come out with some great memories that you never thought you would get. I never thought I would hit over 50 thousand unique visitors to the website in it's first year, or been able to discuss games with people like Jamey Stegmaier and Ignacy. This is all possible to anyone who tries. The great thing is the board game community is extremely supportive. Everyone is willing to help each other. I can not think of another hobby that a gamer can at any time tweet or message a designer, a reviewer, or a company and get an almost instant response and develop friendships. The hardest part has been actually scoring games. I love games in general and currently games are in this awesome modern era of innovation and creativity that rarely do I see a game that is under a 7. Remember that even if you did not like a game, there is someone out there who probably will enjoy it. My score says how I feel about it, but I try hard to say who would get the greatest enjoyment out of this game. My goal when I started this was to have fun, introduce people to games they may not have played before, and get to know the industry. After my first year I can whole heartily say that I have accomplished that. So what is next? More reviews, a podcast from Jordan and myself, and more fun.
I am going to try my best to list everyone, but I am sure I will forget some. If I did forget you I am sorry and I do really appreciate you.
Thank you to my whole So1ks Family: without you I would be lost.
Special Thanks to: Page from Bored Games! and Kurt from MFGcast. You guys have helped me with so many ideas and encouraging thoughts. Been a blast talking to both of you on twitter.
Special Thanks to:
Ryan from Mayday Games- You gave me that first chance and been supportive ever since.
Bridgette formally from Passport Games Studio- You gave me a chance before many others would even answer back. Blast to talk to and full of help.
Jared from CMON- Gave me opportunity after opportunity and was always positive. You always made me feel like I was important. Always great talking to you and hope to get a game in soon with you.
Jamey from Stonemaier Games- Always great talking to you and your blog has provided me with so much info that has allowed me to grow. It was great playing a game with you at Geekway and I look forward to playing another game with you soon.
Nils from Artana Games and his own reviews: One of the most genuinely nice and open person I have met. I did my first and currently only video review with you and I couldn't think of a better person to do that with.
Tony from Arcane Wonders- Gave me an early opportunity and then surprised me when you quoted me the Mar Wars Academy pamphlet. That made my month and an achievement I never thought I would ever happen.
J.C. formally from Asmodee and now with Fox Mind Games- You gave me great advice and told me to never give up.
Nate from IDW Games- You emailed me just to see how I was doing after I had been sick. Always supportive and just all around awesome.
Ignacy- Thank you for all the gaming tips and opportunities. Sorry about the destroyed cookie cake this year.
Fred from Geek Attitude Games- Provided me some great opportunities including some outside of reviewing. You have encouraged me to get more into different avenues of the industry and it has been great seeing the whole game creation process.
Thank you also to:
Debbie and Rob from White Wizard Games
Mark from Upper Deck Entertainment
Agnieszka from NSKN Games
Sara from Renegade Games Studio
Keith and Danni from Iello Games
Tiffany and Greg from Broken Token
Stephen Buonocore from Stronghold Games
Scott from Passport Games Studio
JR Honeycutt from Artana
Dan from RnR Games
Caryl from Quiche Games
Mark from Board Game Corner
Rodney from Watch it Played
Tom, Sam and Zee from Dice Tower
Brandan from Blue Orange Games
Touradj and Andrew from AEG
Suzanne from Dice Tower
James Mathe from Minion Games
Asmodee Digital Twitter person
Chris Renshaw from several podcasts
Daily Magic Games
Chaz from Pair of Dice Paradise and Passport games
Roll for Crit
David Gerrard from Junk Spirit Games
Josh from Grey Fox Games
Daniel from Mayday Games
Rolling Dice and Taking Names
Boards Alive podcast
Board Game Reviewers Facebook Group
Board Games Facebook Group
BoardGameGeek Facebook Group
Reddit Board Games sub
A special thank you the readers. I hope you have enjoyed the content and I will strive to put out even more. Thank you,
Josh "Taco" Eisbrenner