We started Best Play because we noticed how mainstream board games had become and that there wasn’t really a media site out there for us.
You couldn’t call us casual gamers – we spend far too much time and money on them for that label to be fair. But you couldn’t call us hardcore gamers either. We don’t lose sleep about different print editions or go to card game tournaments or anything (well not anymore anyway).
Not that there is anything wrong with either, but we felt like there must be a middle ground.
Most tabletop sites don’t cater for a broad audience, instead focusing on in depth reviews, board game news and deeper tactical discussions.
They are all valid and wonderfully interesting topics in their own right, but there was a big gap between that and the kind of new people we saw coming to board games.
There’s Shut Up And Sit Down, which is excellent, but it’s not always especially accessible to new players, and the content errs towards the long side.
The closest alternative you usually find is when a mainstream news outlet lazily throws together an article about how there are more games than just Monopoly now (we’ve been guilty of that as well).
Our mission is to make a site that is entertaining, easy to digest and approachable for almost everyone.
We do our best to keep jargon to a minimum and try to tell the stories about the things we love, rather than delve too deeply into the underlying mechanics.
We can still do better at this and we have grand ambitions to do to not only cater to a mainstream, but to help grow the hobby as well. We thought y’all might to see what’s happened over the last eight or so months.
For this first reflective piece, it’s time to take stock and see how well we’ve done since we launched back in late April. Since then, Marcus moved house, Joel moved city and Glenn even moved country. But we’ve somehow managed to keep Best Play going.
We’ve been able to reach far more people than we ever imagined we could, way back in February when we sat in a pub in Brighton and chatted about ideas over a pint or two. Here’s a snapshot of our traffic stats from mid April to mid November.
That includes one incredible weekend in July when the Reddit hug of death took the entire site down. We probably missed out on another 100,000 visitors during the eight hours the site was buggered.
That’s what happens when you make the front page of Reddit and can only afford $20 a month for hosting.
There’s no such thing as a typical month at Best Play, but we usually get a few thousand hits a week. It usually dips only when we get busy with other things.
Joel was away for three weeks, then Glenn went away for another three just after. Marcus comes and goes, and between us all we tend to contribute to Best Play as and when we can.
But it’s certainly been cool to reach over 100,000 people, with no budget and only the occasional hour we manage to find.
Our bid, of course, is to reach people, not just rack up numbers.
But where have they been coming from? Well even though we’re Brits, meaning we refer to the worthless pound sterling and write like Charles Dickens, most of our visitors come from America. Maybe it’s a kind of shared, mutual self-loathing about what we’ve managed to do to our shambolic countries in this fateful and depressing year.
We’ve never published anything in another language, due to being filthy, ignorant philistines. It’s no surprise then, that we’ve mostly attracted those living in commonwealth nations where they speak the mother tongue, just like us.
Also in the top ten is Germany, the mecca for board games. Makes sense.
Other nations include Best Play favourites like the Netherlands and Sweden, both countries that seem like they have their shit together and speak impeccable English. We wish we were Swedish or Dutch.
Also, many thanks to the 1,600 Italians and French people who came along to say hello. Bonjour and buongiorno to you all.
Our 3 most popular articles
Marcus is enviably good at writing things that simply explode online. He has, after all, made that into his day job before, but we’re still grateful of his many talents. Two of the top three were penned by Mr Beard, the man himself.
The Best Monopoly: A Statistical Analysis
Our 3 most popular videos
Glenn has gone from amateur try-hard video editor to the world’s greatest board game videographer in the space of a few months. Seriously, he has all the gear and all the ideas.
He has been boshing out superb videos on a regular basis, and it’s no surprise the ones he makes perform the best. What a good lad.
Top 5 Board Games for Couples
Deep Sea Adventure
Our favourite things
OK. These aren’t the most popular things we did, but they were things we’re proud of and enjoyed making. And that’s why we keep doing this bloody thing, really.
Other highlights include Marcus’s bizarre success in repurposing a video of a dog playing Connect 4 that garnered more than 5,000 views on Facebook, or the imaginative attempt to link board games and Pokemon Go.
Joel has enjoyed an increasingly surreal series of articles that seem to make precious little sense to anyone but him, but apparently it’s fun to write them. The best ones are about backpacking round Europe, the stock market, ‘80s footballers and some weird games he found online.
For Glenn, it’s been the steadily improving 60 second overview videos we’ve released most weeks called Gists. Top moments are when he becomes a ghost, attempted to pronounce Haleakala or when he found some great stock footage of an Indian merchant
We are incredibly happy and proud of our first eight months, especially considering that it’s just three of us using our spare time trying to make this site happen.
A genuine thank you to everyone who has supported us and shared the site. Your feedback fuels us, keeps us going.
Do let us know what your favourite stuff has been below or on Twitter, and tell us if there’s anything you would like to see more of.