OK, Now I’m Dead

CashBirdI’m not really dead. But I’m also not going to be writing any more reviews.

I got into this review racket to get free games. In the last 15 years, I have written more than a thousand reviews, for everything from actual, printed magazines to dark-corner-of-the-Internet fan sites. Most of those reviews were right here, at Drake’s Flames. I’ve enjoyed it, too. I loved writing rants that got people riled up. I got a kick out of making whiny game designers show their asses to the public when my review didn’t say what they wanted to hear. But most of all, I absolutely loved connecting with people who were actually taking the time to read my dick jokes and wildly uninhibited opinions.

With all those reviews, I also got a whole hell of a lot of games. Sure, there are more coming out all the time, and yeah, I want to play lots of those. I would love to get a review copy of Imperial Assault or the Krosmaster Arena expansions. I think it would be awesome to actually get the copy of Galaxy Defenders that the assholes at Ares Games promised me when I reviewed their Kickstarter, because that game was fun but those people can run up to my house and lick my balls because they never gave me the game (like it’s my fault ‘GD’ means something else to Americans).

But what I’m saying here is that I have enough games. Hundreds and hundreds of them. I’ve donated games to charities, given them to the local church for game nights with the kids, and handed out enormous stacks of games to my friends, and I’ve still got more than a hundred, even after a thorough culling.

Not only that, but I recently got a magnificent promotion. I’m no longer a graphic designer. Well, not exactly. Now I’m an art director, which means I’m the boss of the graphic designers. And that bump came with a whole lot of paycheck. I don’t need to get free games any more. I can just buy the ones I want. Considering how many absolutely worthless games I’ve reviewed in the last 15 years, I don’t have a whole lot I want to buy. I do want Imperial Assault, but I’ll just buy it like normal people. I don’t want shitty prototypes of games that are about to go on Kickstarter and tell you the exciting story of cooking snacks for the high school booster club, or the self-published crap from Serbia with rulebooks that were translated by the mice from Cinderella.

The other thing is, with that kick-ass paycheck comes a whole lot of busy. I don’t get home early like I used to, when I could come home and play a game and still have time to write a review. I absolutely love my day job, but it doesn’t leave me the kind of time I used to have, and that means I don’t have time to pursue the stuff I really want to do. I’m writing a novel, and haven’t done anything on it in six months. I’m designing a castle out of paper, and right now it’s just a bunch of sketches. My bitchin’ cowboy game I’m designing is just a handful of notes on my iPad. And Drake’s Flames is more distracting than enjoyable.

And really, all that crap I just said? It’s an excuse. When you get right down to it, I don’t want to do this any more. I’m tired of trying to wedge jokes about prostitutes into reviews of children’s games. I’m tired of trying to get my friends to play games that should only be played by eight-year-olds with Down’s Syndrome. I don’t want to get more bad games in the mail, and even if I did get good games in the mail, I don’t want to write about them any more.

So we’re done here. I’m not taking down the site, but I’m also not going to write any more reviews. I’ll still be meeting with my friends every Saturday to play games, but I’m not going to tell you about them any more. You’ll have to find some other mysanthropic sociopath to make insecure game designers cry into their lacy panties when I don’t tell them they’re demi-gods.

Happily, this is the Internet, and there are lots of places to find offensive people. I’ll bet you don’t have to go very far to find someone who would be willing to say that silly things are gay, or that strippers are awesome, or that Reiner Knizia is overrated. You can find plenty of irreverent reviewers these days, although you still may have to hunt a little to find a reviewer that won’t bullshit you so that publishers will love him. They are out there, though – Shut Up & Sit Down, most of the guys at Fortress AT, and my boy Pete at Superfly Circus can all provide good reviews of bad games and occasionally roll in some offensive humor.

I know for some people, this is actually good news. People who go into a dead faint when they think they see the slightest bit of political incorrectness can all rejoice – another bastion of eviltude has fallen and will no longer spew the language that normal people use when they’re not trying to suck up to fringe groups. The entire nation of Germany can rest easy, knowing I will no longer make sport of their fondness for games about delivering the mail. And all those rabid fans of the Trailer Park Boys can quit showing up every six weeks to misspell ‘idiot’ and tell me I don’t understand Canadian culture (of course I don’t understand Canadian culture, you fucksticks. I’ve never even been to Canada. And your TV show sucks).

I’m not going to miss writing reviews, but I’ll miss the readers. I have appreciated you guys. I loved getting your fan mail and knowing that someone gave a crap about what I was doing. I won’t miss playing bad games, but I’ll miss meeting up with people at conventions and shaking hands with people who said, ‘I bought a game because you said it was awesome and you were RIGHT IT WAS AWESOME.’ And I’ll miss the comments, even the bad ones, because they were often so hilariously stupid.

I wish I had a good sign-off here, some last line that people would talk about for the next ten years, but nothing is coming to me. So I will crib a line from a comedian friend – I’ve been Matt Drake, and you guys have been awesome.

50 Responses to “OK, Now I’m Dead”

  1. Dave says:

    I had a great time here. You made me get at least 3 games I’d never have known about so thanks for that as well as all the laughs.

  2. Peer says:

    All Germany? No, at least i will not rejoice. I enjoyed the laughs and I really was genuine happy about your King of Siam review!

  3. Greg Sharp says:

    I saw an ad for Tannhauser waaay back and when I searched for a review I found your site. Since then I’ve bought a bunch of games based on your reviews, a bunch of fantastic games. In fact that first Tannhauser review is really what got me into this hobby in the first place. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.

  4. Sorry to see you go Matt, Drake’s Flames has been in my ‘check every day’ bookmarks folder for a few years now. Congrats on the art director gig. I can understand the burnout – people don’t realise how difficult continually reviewing games can be – but I’ll miss your unique voice that stood out in a sea of boring reviewers. Keep on gaming mate! if you ever want a guest spot on the Esoteric Order of Gamers let me know!

  5. Congrats on the promotion! As an avid reader of your blog, I’m sorry to see you go, but I’m glad you can still find a way to enjoy the hobby without the burden of writing about it. As a designer and publisher, I’m selfishly reticent because I was really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the Tuscany expansion pack to Viticulture If you end up getting it anyway, feel free to message me and let me know what you think (especially if you don’t like it–those were perhaps your most amusing posts, though you have some great ones where you really like the game too).

  6. Gam says:

    Thanks for the ride Matt, IT WAS AWESOME!
    Loved your humorous reviews, especially those for bad games :) You were the best reviewer out there.
    Congrats for the promotion and take care.

  7. Pat says:

    Sadly removing you from my bookmarks…I will miss your politically incorrect awesomeness. Thanks for all you did!

  8. Jesse says:

    Mate, thanks for all the laughs over the last few years. I’ll miss your work.

  9. Dean says:

    Congrats on the promotion. If I’d received some of the games you get in the mail to review I’d have quit ages ago, so thanks for toughing it out this long. It’s been awesome. And funny. Here’s hoping that somewhere you still have a forum for offending people.

  10. JK says:

    Hey, congratulations on the promotion. I loved reading your reviews, about good games as well as bad games and bought a bunch of games because you recommended them. However, it was the honesty and the humour that brought me back. I wish from now on, you would at least mention new games you have tried and liked, maybe not in review form but in a few short lines. Because you have good taste :)
    Have fun with the game design and the book. Drop a line here when you are done.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Man sucks. Will miss the funnies

  12. Kai says:

    I’m sad to see you go, Matt. Every week, I was looking forward to my dose of politically incorrect, sometimes pre-pubescent but mostly just barely pubescent, but always entertaining game reviews. We didn’t always have the same opinion about games, but you’ve always been great.
    But I can totally see why you want to stop, and I’m happy it’s good reasons. Being an Art Director sounds pretty awesome, even if it comes with more work. And looking at the trash you have sometimes reviewed, I would have given up in despair a lot earlier.
    You’ll be missed. Enjoy your games without the pressure to write about them! Also, maybe post an update here when your novel is done, I’m very curious about that one.

  13. Pieter says:

    Sorry to see you go Matt. Your reviews were some of the most well-balanced ones on the net, and they were consistently funny. I’ve even bought a few games because I liked your review about it so much, and all of those are favorites in my game group.

    So thanks for your reviews and the time you’ve sunk into this website. Congratilations on your promotion, and all the very best wishes!

  14. Paddy says:

    Congrats and Godspeed, sir. Your reviews pushed me into buying several great games. And Nightfall.

    Your writing was honest and entertaining and will be missed. Thank you for your efforts.

    Seriously tho, I want compensation for Nightfall…

  15. Scooter says:

    Won’t be the same without you. Sad day. Congrats on promotion.

  16. Nick says:

    I never posted a comment or sent you fan mail, but I loved your reviews and your potty mouth humor. Best of luck!

  17. Anonymous says:

    When gearing up for the final sign off, did you ever consider the Dread Pirate Roberts approach? Take what you’ve built and pass it on to some worthy successor who secretly tries to fill in your shoes?

  18. Matt Drake says:

    You know, I had not considered that. It’s so crazy, it just might work.

  19. Kenneth Harkin says:

    Wow, that sucks. Well for me it sucks, for you things sound pretty damn good and I am glad for your.

    I have enjoyed reviews where you have trashed games but really it has been those games you loved which did the most for me. Road Kill Rally, Mice and Mystics, Zombicide, The Agents, Spartacus, Flash Point Fire Rescue… All these games are in my collection because of you.

    I am asking, begging, that you don’t swear off all reviews. Don’t do them as a job. Don’t do them on a schedule. Don’t do them for crap. Do do them for games you come across that you love! You have a phenomenal gift for communicating games that you love and I cannot believe you could do that if you at some level didn’t enjoy doing so. Anything can have the enjoyment ground out when turned into work with a schedule and when forced to do things you don’t enjoy (crap games). When you come across a game you love and which you would tell your friends about take some time to please tell us. I and many others really value your opinion.

  20. Jerry M says:

    I agree about the pussified fringe groups that can’t handle certain incorrectness but will happily shove their own agendas down everyone’s throat. The disingenuousness out there is cloyingly disgusting.

    Sorry to see you go, your reviews were refreshing and fun to read, regardless of whether I agreed with your opinions. I appreciate different perspectives and could always find a unique angle here at Drake’s Flames. Sad to see that come to and end.

    Good luck on all the other things you want to accomplish.

  21. Chen J. Y. says:

    I must at least thank you for not taking down the site for as long as you can. A few younger cousins recently discovered your blog despite my best efforts and are looking forward to laughing their way through archive binges of your blog (Or is it sniggering? Hard to tell actually, but they do enjoy it.)

    This is probably the last question I will ask you for a long time: one cousin asked if the photo in your New Orleans Visit post is actually of you and your daughter. I said no, but she insisted I asked.

    So long and thanks for all the reviews.

  22. Stefaan says:

    Sad to see a good reviewer go (and to see all those reviewers that suck stay). Be nice to those graphic designers.

  23. Matt Drake says:

    Ha! No, my daughter is younger than that girl, and I am much older than that man. And while my daughter is that good-looking, it has been a very long time since I was that cool.

    Thanks for sharing my corruption with a wider audience.

  24. Scott says:

    The best recommendation I ever got from you was actually for a book…Mistborn.
    I’ll will be forever grateful for that. Geez I loved that series.

    All the best Matt.

  25. Mike says:

    Aw, shucks. This really blows. I’ve been following your posts ever since I read your fine review of Eclipse, 3-4 years ago. It has been a blast, and I’m truly gonna miss your blog. It’s actually the only game-blog I’ve bothered to actively follow. Anyways, congrats to your new job. May you never play crappy games anymore!

  26. Nate says:

    Sad to see you go. Like many others, I’ve been reading your work for the entertaining board game reviews. However, thanks to your review of Locke and Key, I bought my first ever comic book and really enjoyed it. Thanks for all the joy you have provided me and good luck with everything.

  27. Daniel says:

    As all the others before me mentioned, sucks to see you go. But your reasons are perfectly understandable and to be frank I am surprised you put up with shitty games for so long :) So, Kudos to you for that and thank you for the many times you made me smile at the most offensive comments and metaphors you could come up with.

    Have a good time, Matt!

  28. First, congrats on that promotion. You deserved it more than that cunt who got it like 4 years ago when we had lunch in Arlington.

    Second, you will be sorely missed. There will never be someone who will be able to duplicate what you did for game reviews: integrity. No Billy Mays, no Vince the Shamwow guy, just exactly how it is and why. You’re the reason I got into reviews, as you know, and I’m in the same boat as you: I don’t have nearly as much time, and it’s just not nearly as much fun as it once was. The ban from BGG really put a damper on the whole affair, to be honest.

    Anyhow, next time I’m in town, we’re having some dinner or lunch.

    All the best,

  29. Alan R. says:

    Grats on the new job. Cya around.

  30. Richard says:

    So long Quitty McQuiterpants, just go ahead and quit, you poophead guy who’s not going to do that thing that too few people appreciate anymore. Too much ass-kissing going on here. (Enjoy your life and thanks for toughing it out for so long.)

  31. Colorcrayons says:

    Who are you kidding, really?

    The next time you play a game or see or do or watch or read something that you really enjoy, you’ll want to spread that word around. You’ll write a blurb when you get a chance to inside of your increasingly busy schedule. It won’t be anywhere as prolific, but so what? I don’t read you for prolific, I read you for your thoughts when you deign to share them.

    You like writing too much to give up the ghost.
    And I, comforted about how absolutely correct that I am, shall see you again soon.

  32. Jaden Sinclair says:

    Well, I guess my goal of having a game reviewed on this site will never happen now.

    But thank you for all of your wonderful, honest reviews. You were one of the best and probably the reviewer who was most helpful for figuring out if I would like a game (though you were a little hard on my wallet). Congratulations on the promotion and I hope you have a great life.

  33. Rudy says:

    I’ve always enjoyed reading your reviews over the years, Matt, not just for your humor but also for your insight into game mechanics and art. While I’m disappointed that you’re stopping with the reviews, I’m happy that you’re finding more success in your professional life and still pursuing creative endeavors for fun – you should, as you’re pretty darn good at this writing thing.

    Good luck and thanks for the laughs and lost dollars (spend on board games you have recommended).

  34. Kenton says:

    Sorry to see you go. Thanks for sharing your ridiculous and honest opinions with us for so long!

  35. Tim says:

    I was never offended by any of your jokes. But I am a little butthurt by your “I only did this for the games. FU. I’m out.” Bit. Still, you turned me onto Fiasco, and I never would have given a game like that a second thought without your stellar review. For that I am eternally grateful. And so I know that when I say this, from the bottom of my heart, you will appreciate it for what it is: Eat a dick. :)

  36. Sharon says:

    Well shit, how am I going to know what’s good and what’s crap? I can read through one of your reviews faster than I can watch an episode of Table Top.

  37. Bannister says:

    Hate to hear it, after my morning coffee and email check I always clicked over to see which game you were going to rip apart…now I have to start doing actual work like 15 minutes earlier! Did you think about that Matt? Did you?

    Good luck.


  38. Ian says:

    Ironically enough, I picked up my Plugged Nickel cards at the mailbox today. They are some sweet-ass cards!

    I’ve been a fan of this site for a while, but I understand the decision completely. Life is too short to play shitty games. Now I’m just going to have to find somebody else to point them out to me.


  39. Marco Wong says:

    Thanks for your hard work all the time. Miss you always and wish you every success in the coming duty!
    Drop by and leave us a message when you’re free!
    Best wishes,
    Marco Wong

  40. Vince says:

    Matt –

    Congrats on the new position! I already started missing your reviews. Their frequency was getting thin – thought something unfortunate was up. I’m happy to hear that it is quite the opposite! I think Universal Head put it best already, so I’ll second his comment. You are awesome. :) Enjoy!

    – Vince

  41. Adam Lucas says:

    I’m going to miss your honest reviews and interesting writing style. You made me aware of some games I wouldn’t have come across otherwise and though I’m kind of mad about how I could never get a hold of Potion Making: Practice, I picked up great titles thanks to you.

    I’d love to ask you to still write the occasional review for whatever you’re playing, but it was really the reviews for bad games that I’ll miss.

    Congratulations on the new job, man.

  42. Christopher says:

    I have enjoyed the site for years (our game tastes cross paths frequently) but one review – for Locke & Key – actually improved my cultural life. Thanks for that, and good luck in your new job.

  43. James Torr says:

    Gonna miss your wit, but I understand.

  44. MLDSC says:

    Loved the blog. Congrats. Glad I’m not one of those guys and gals you manage. I can seriously picture the words, “I could come up with a better pallet than this by wiping my ass after taco Tuesday” coming out of your mouth.

    You’ll be missed. Better than turning me on to games, you’ve saved me hundreds on games I thought looked cool, but trusted your word they were shit.

  45. Enderbann says:

    Been reading the site for several years now, and bought most of my collection based on your reviews and/or suggestions.

    Also know that your blog has made me laugh and cringe at the same time, all the way from another part of the globe.

    It’s been a fun ride. Congrats on your promotion!

  46. Richard says:

    So long and thanks for all the fish!

  47. Steven says:

    Thanks for the many years of enjoyable reading. Much appreciated. Best of luck in life and future endeavors.

  48. Having stopped writing game reviews something like two years ago, I can’t really blame you for doing the same – but you’re reviews were the ones I most enjoyed – bot the for the matter, even when I sometimes disagreed, and for the form, because you have a real literary style – you should not be an art director, you should be writing novels.

  49. Isamoor says:

    Thanks for all the fun man! Got to meet you in person at GenCon over 5 years ago and it was a treat. Enjoy yourself!

  50. Pablo says:

    Oh, man! I understand how difficult is to keep a steady supply of reviews and I appreciate the time you spent with the hobby. I’ll miss your reviews so much. Even more than the information on them is how you could convey that information showing all your personality. Congrats on your promotion and enjoy your “reviewing retirement”. So you know, you have a fan in Brazil, and that guy would be me LOL.