Financials of a Hobby Board Game Reviewer

I was asked the other day what my approach to crowdfunding is and which pledge levels I usually back. As those of you that follow my first impressions and reviews might have noticed, a substantial part of the games I play (roughly 1/3) actually are coming from crowd funding, so that was indeed a good question. I thought I rather post about the overall financials of this hobby of mine of writing about board games and turn it into more of a pseudo behind the scenes. So be warned, stats are incoming 😀

 All numbers are for 2023 only.

Buy & Sell

  • In total so far, I have bought 58 new-to-me games in 2023 of which 5 are not yet fulfilled crowdfunding projects (and to answer the obvious follow-up question: Tycoon: India 1981Molly House, the German Edition of World WondersMicro ArchitectsInventions: Evolution of Ideas). For comparison, my whole collection including card games is in the 100-150 range and I’m aiming more for the bottom end.
  • In total, I’ve spend ~3500€ on games, but after sales and not counting the not fulfilled games and those to be sold, it goes down to approx 800€ which is 72€ / month … which is still a lot but sounds way less crazy than the initial number!
  • Of those games that I bought and that landed on my table (including retail and second hand), only 22% I actually kept and 10% I’m still undecided on. That might sound oddly low but I figured out a while ago that I enjoy it more to do the discovery myself and strike out sometimes rather than do tons of research before buying a game. Also makes for better writing 😀
  • Only 16 games so far have been interesting enough (to me) to write about them this year, though I have three more in the pipeline. Writing each piece takes 6-8 hours to write and take photos, plus all the hours of play time. So if I don’t enjoy playing a game or there is nothing valuable I can contribute to the discussion, I just skip and re-sell it.
  • The total net inflow of games for this year so far is: one! I’m pretty aggressive in selling games even if they are very good but I don’t enjoy them enough (I’m still sorry Lisboa, it was me, not you!). Funny enough, I still have a storage problem because box sizes have gotten pretty ridiculously lately (e.g. La Granja Deluxe, Castles of Burgundy Special Edition, Roads & Boats, …).
  • 52% of those games I bought on the second hand market. Since I do not request review copies from publishers, using the second hand market is a great way for me to get a game, try it out thoroughly and then re-sell it if I’m not absolutely smitten by it. I considered using my local board game café more, but I need way too many plays of each game before I can write about them that that would be feasible. Note: this stat would have been substantially higher if I wouldn’t have gone to Essen this year!
  • Top 3 purchases for me personally so far this year: Horseless CarriageSky Team, and Hegemony: Lead Your Class to Victory. Runner-up: Barcelona.
Horseless Carriage
Horseless Carriage

Crowd Funding

  • If I back a crowdfunding project, I almost always go for metal coins (see So You’ve Got Metal Coins, Right?) and expansion content but ignore art packs. I add minis if they contribute an essential amount to the fun (e.g. Stars of Akarios, Tidal Blades 2) but won’t otherwise (e.g. Castles of Burgundy).
  • I only had one crowdfunding project get stuck in limbo so far and that is Tranquility: The Ascent. I’ve written a preview on it after fashioning my own PnP version and it’s a super nice game! James, the author of the game, is currently trying hard to salvage the project and bring it to another publisher. He’s putting in a tremendous amount of work in this, so please support him! I really, really hope it succeeds, both for him personally and also because base Tranquility is one of my favourite small-box games.
  • A substantial number of crowdfunding games I don’t back myself but rather wait for fulfilment and see what others say whether or not the finished game is actually good. If so, I’m either hoping for one of the backers to be unsatisfied with the game and looking for someone to take it off their hands – or – bite the bullet and pay a premium to get it. I found I dodged so many duds on crowdfunding that I still out on top this way
  • The ones that got away: I had a chance to buy a Kickstarter copy of Caper: Europe including the playmat for a rather cheap price as well as a collector’s edition of I C E but ultimately didn’t act on them. I regret not getting the former (I only have a retail copy without the metal coins), but the latter I assume isn’t really that substantial a game and more an art piece. I would have loved to play and write about it though and then sell it to someone who enjoys it more than me. Otherwise there’s no FOMO regarding any campaigns.
Votes for Women


A substantial amount of the overall cost of this hobby project (besides the many, many, MANY hours of work) is actually gear. But granted, I like doing stuff “the right way” and geek out a bit about tech. Also most of it was purchased for Origin Stories – An In-Depth Interview Series and wouldn’t be necessary just for doing reviews.

Again, the key to keeping everything somewhat reasonable is to buy used:

  • My camera is an old Canon 80D with the 24mm F1.4 L lens but I got that last year already. The lens alone would have cost a fortune back in the days but is quite reasonable now that everyone else switched to mirrorless cameras.
  • I bought a second (also used) Sennheiser MKH 416 to do interviews which seriously is overkill but the side-noise rejection is incredible. The recording I did with Martin Wallace at Essen is surprisingly listenable despite it happening inside a very crowded hall.
  • I got an (again used) Zoom PodTrek P4 which is amazing for recording interviews, both on-site as well as a backup recording when doing them online. Super happy with it so far. It saved my bacon when 15 min into the call with Asger about Heat the online recoding software simply stopped recording without any warning!
  • Also got a (you know it: used) light meter which basically cut my photo editing time down to zero. Super helpful, should have gotten this ages ago
Camera and Recording gear
Camera and recording gear

So there you have it. Hope you are not too shocked. The key takeaway here is: even my modest effort of doing reviews already requires a lot of investment both in time and money. I don’t envy all the YouTube reviewers. Although they get a substantial amount of their games as free review copies, working with video is so much harder than writing and they have the pressure to actually produce content on games they requested. Me, I just have to worry about re-sell values 😂

Thanks everyone for all the positive feedback in 2023. All those thumbs-up, comments, and interesting questions are what makes it all worth it.

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