The Level One Wonk Holiday Special: 2017

‘Tis the season, nerds and geeks, fellow wonks and gamers of all ages. The season when we gather with family and friends, reflect on the year that is ending, and look forward to the new one. And, of course, ’tis the season when your very own Level One Wonk sneaks away from his family, but only has time to hastily bang out a year-in-review article rather than bring you any new content. It has been a good year, though. We started the year with a good foundation and finished strong, bringing in tons of eyeballs with a review that was very nearly a scoop, and of a game people actually cared about to boot. Let me tell you what I’ve seen, and what I think 2018 is going to look like.

Year in Review

When we started December, we were aiming to “finish strong” with over 25,000 views for the year, a reasonable goal in light of our overall viewership trend. Where we are now is over 30,000, thanks to some great readers but also thanks to both of us deciding to pre-order Genesys direct from Fantasy Flight. Both of us had the game in our hands by Thanksgiving and immediately began writing, so when Seamus dropped Part 1 of the Genesys review at the beginning of December we were some of the first gamers to read and have an opinion on the product. The effect on our visibility has been huge. The two parts of the Genesys review have gotten us 3000+ hits; those two articles alone would have been a “very good month”. Instead of having a very good month, December has been an astounding month, with 5500 hits so far and counting. It won’t be easy to hit 6000 in December (especially not when this bottle episode is the content to bring us into the new year, I know), but it is an achievable milestone.

So our year brought us over 30,000 hits, and some very well-seen and well-regarded articles. The Genesys pair is up there, but there are others near or exceeding the 1000 view mark. Both “Unearthing the 5e Mystic” and my review of Zweihander are past 900 and inching to the 1000 mark. My review of the Fate Adversary Toolkit is past 1000, thanks to some visibility from Evil Hat as well as their advance reader copy that enabled me to write one of the first reviews of that supplement. The winner though, in terms of view count, is System Split: Cyberpunk in Powered by the Apocalypse. With around 2,300 views, it is the most-read Cannibal Halfling article of 2017. The designers of both The Veil and The Sprawl appreciated my perspective, and more than one person has said to me that “what exactly is the difference between The Veil and The Sprawl” was a burning question to many gamers that I was able to answer. From this list, it’s clear to me that Seamus and I are doing our best at bringing games and gamers together when we target specific games and supplements. To that effect, all of our top ten articles cover that ground: looking at the D&D 5e Artificer, comparing Burning Wheel and Torchbearer, and discussing both Savage Rifts and GURPS.

Like the site overall, my best articles were those which targeted specific games, especially games which were new or otherwise in the limelight. I do greatly enjoy writing some of my more abstract articles, so I’m going to try and figure out the best way to make them more useful and enjoyable. My article on Kitchen Sink games has posted the best numbers for this sort of abstract article, and I think there are lessons to be learned there: talk about specific game experiences rather than just game table advice in general, and ground this advice to specific use cases. I believe (though I may be wrong) that discussing how to implement a kitchen sink game in Fate and GURPS made that particular article more valuable.

Plans for Next Year

2017 was a good year, and now it’s time for 2018 to be an even better one. Like Seamus, I’ve been planning what my next year is going to look like. Unlike Seamus, I do plan on shaking things up a bit, though still hewing to the same basic format. Level One Wonk and Level One Wonk Reviews aren’t going anywhere, though I plan to make my advice articles more targeted and more useful. I also plan to make my foray over to the Adventure Log more permanent: in January I’m starting a Dungeons and Dragons campaign with the online group Seamus and I share (the same players as in High Impact Heroics), and by February or March I intend to start an Adventure Log of my own! Having the same playerbase will give us ample opportunities to compare and contrast D&D with Masks, two games with very different approaches. I think this will be a neat opportunity to reflect on my own GMing, and use that reflection to inform future games and articles.

I’m also starting a new feature. In considering my writing topics, one goal I’ve had has been to write the sort of material I wish was available online when it comes to RPGs. One area where I wish, truly wish someone was writing something is that of Kickstarter. Sorting through Kickstarter to find promising RPG projects, especially those that don’t get a lot of publicity otherwise, isn’t easy. It is something I end up doing anyway…I do have a bit of a Kickstarter habit (one which has helped me bring a lot of reviews to this site, but still), so reading through projects is something I do. Taking that work and bringing promising projects to light, even if I don’t personally choose to fund them, is something I think many people would find useful. I don’t yet know what this feature will be named (I’m looking for puns and alliteration as we speak), but I think the first one will be online early in January.

In planning for next year, I’m always looking for suggestions as well. Any gaming topic you’d like to hear about or think should gain more exposure, let me know.

All in all, I’m very happy with what we’ve built in 2017. I believe 2018 will be even better, as we use what we’ve already built to grow even further. As always, you can find me on Twitter at @LevelOneWonk, and find the site on Twitter, Facebook, and now Reddit (where Seamus posts as CannibalHalfling). If you’re interested in any of the games we review, be sure to check them out on DriveThruRPG; our participation in the affiliate program helps us bring more RPG reviews to you, our readers, and also possibly bring some lesser-known books to light. We hope to see you all in the new year, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you think there are other ways we can help bring games and gamers together.

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