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The Big Book of Madness» Forums » General

Subject: Concerned about thematic disconnect with spells rss

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Nick Clinite
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Power of the Inferno ... let's you discard and draw a card?

Tsunami gives ... extra support?

Love the artwork, but what I'm seeing of the actual magic in this game seems frightfully underwhelming. Do you even feel like you're casting spells when playing this game?
 
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Richard Austen
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If you're looking for a game where the theme is heavily integrated into the mechanics this probably isn't what you're looking for. It's a Euro game with a cool theme.
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Nick Clinite
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I'm fine with games that throw a paint job of a theme on, and let you fill in the cracks of the mechanics with your own imagination using the theme (like rolling dice in Ghost Stories), but these spell cards really seem to be stretching my imagination to the breaking point.
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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The theme is completely pasted on, you either accept this or not. It's a game about collecting sets of cards to remove threats, using special actions to help you. It could as well be game about farmers fighting pest with shovels.

FWIW it's still quite a good game and the illustrations are nice. It's just that the theme doesn't quite connect with the gameplay.
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Graham Gass
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The connection for tsunami, I guess, would be that the water spells mostly center around the support mechanic. A tsunami is a strong thing associated with water so it does a strong thing with the support mechanic.

This game is mostly a puzzle with a theme that I, personally, think works for it. But theme doesn't matter very much to me. If you have strong feelings about thematic disconnect then this probably isn't a great game for you.
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Kristo Vaher
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Every board game has an abstract implementation of a theme to some extent. I find this game very thematic especially because it goes beyond a simple card game, where you're balancing your inner power of four elements and apply them to different spells.

Yes the spell effects are an abstraction the exact same way how the monsters and curses themselves are. But you're forgetting that the spells are affecting cards in your hand and these cards represent your innate energy within you.
 
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Nick Clinite
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Slashdoctor wrote:
But you're forgetting that the spells are affecting cards in your hand and these cards represent your innate energy within you.


I'm not forgetting that, that's exactly what I'm focusing on. I get all the other abstractions in the game, but here I stop short, because the spell cards don't seem abstract at all. I cast a fire spell, with a picture of a caster evoking flame, and it lets me ... destroy a card from my deck? What the heck does that have to do with evoking flame? I cast a tsunami and it ... supports my ally? How?

The problem isn't with the abstractness, the problem is that the rather non-abstract spells have seemingly nothing to do with their effect. If the spells were more abstract, I probably wouldn't have any problem as my imagination could fill in the gap the abstraction leaves.
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Kristo Vaher
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islan wrote:
Slashdoctor wrote:
But you're forgetting that the spells are affecting cards in your hand and these cards represent your innate energy within you.


I'm not forgetting that, that's exactly what I'm focusing on. I get all the other abstractions in the game, but here I stop short, because the spell cards don't seem abstract at all. I cast a fire spell, with a picture of a caster evoking flame, and it lets me ... destroy a card from my deck? What the heck does that have to do with evoking flame? I cast a tsunami and it ... supports my ally? How?

The problem isn't with the abstractness, the problem is that the rather non-abstract spells have seemingly nothing to do with their effect. If the spells were more abstract, I probably wouldn't have any problem as my imagination could fill in the gap the abstraction leaves.



You are trying to defeat curses with magic from chaotic innate energy within you represented by element cards. Knowing spells allows you to manipulate this energy to remove these curses and defeat monsters.

The game abstracts this as the mechanism is about having the symbols to defeat monsters curses. It uses deckbuilding and card activation for representing this combat.

I don't know, but I personally fi d it really thrilling and mastering some spells makes sense to me. Fire spells allow me to be a force of destruction, Air spells allow for more mental energy etc.

But people are different. I didn't have a problem with theme at all.
 
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Patrick G.
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islan wrote:
Slashdoctor wrote:
But you're forgetting that the spells are affecting cards in your hand and these cards represent your innate energy within you.


I'm not forgetting that, that's exactly what I'm focusing on. I get all the other abstractions in the game, but here I stop short, because the spell cards don't seem abstract at all. I cast a fire spell, with a picture of a caster evoking flame, and it lets me ... destroy a card from my deck? What the heck does that have to do with evoking flame? I cast a tsunami and it ... supports my ally? How?

The problem isn't with the abstractness, the problem is that the rather non-abstract spells have seemingly nothing to do with their effect. If the spells were more abstract, I probably wouldn't have any problem as my imagination could fill in the gap the abstraction leaves.

Really? That's what gives you a hangup? Given all the abstractions in this game it seems odd THAT is where you have issues. Fire burns things. Water can wash away the enemy (hence support). 
 
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Paul Glickman
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corkysru wrote:
islan wrote:
Slashdoctor wrote:
But you're forgetting that the spells are affecting cards in your hand and these cards represent your innate energy within you.


I'm not forgetting that, that's exactly what I'm focusing on. I get all the other abstractions in the game, but here I stop short, because the spell cards don't seem abstract at all. I cast a fire spell, with a picture of a caster evoking flame, and it lets me ... destroy a card from my deck? What the heck does that have to do with evoking flame? I cast a tsunami and it ... supports my ally? How?

The problem isn't with the abstractness, the problem is that the rather non-abstract spells have seemingly nothing to do with their effect. If the spells were more abstract, I probably wouldn't have any problem as my imagination could fill in the gap the abstraction leaves.

Really? That's what gives you a hangup? Given all the abstractions in this game it seems odd THAT is where you have issues. Fire burns things. Water can wash away the enemy (hence support). 


First note: I love the game and don't mind the abstractions.

But... what? Fire burns things, therefore it removes madness? Water washes things away, therefore it lets you store energy for later?

No. The theme is cool and I don't actually mind that Tsunami doesn't summon a Tsunami (and is instead "powerful water magic, water magic puts things in support"), but it definitely isn't a great correspondence between theme and mechanics.
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Patrick G.
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Paul G wrote:
corkysru wrote:
islan wrote:
Slashdoctor wrote:
But you're forgetting that the spells are affecting cards in your hand and these cards represent your innate energy within you.


I'm not forgetting that, that's exactly what I'm focusing on. I get all the other abstractions in the game, but here I stop short, because the spell cards don't seem abstract at all. I cast a fire spell, with a picture of a caster evoking flame, and it lets me ... destroy a card from my deck? What the heck does that have to do with evoking flame? I cast a tsunami and it ... supports my ally? How?

The problem isn't with the abstractness, the problem is that the rather non-abstract spells have seemingly nothing to do with their effect. If the spells were more abstract, I probably wouldn't have any problem as my imagination could fill in the gap the abstraction leaves.

Really? That's what gives you a hangup? Given all the abstractions in this game it seems odd THAT is where you have issues. Fire burns things. Water can wash away the enemy (hence support). 


First note: I love the game and don't mind the abstractions.

But... what? Fire burns things, therefore it removes madness? Water washes things away, therefore it lets you store energy for later?

No. The theme is cool and I don't actually mind that Tsunami doesn't summon a Tsunami (and is instead "powerful water magic, water magic puts things in support"), but it definitely isn't a great correspondence between theme and mechanics.

Actually if you want to go with the madness cards... Haven't you ever seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?
Otherwise using fire to remove crappier cards from your deck (again.. fire burning things) makes sense to me as well. I view the single value cards as junk and being able to get rid of them is tantamount to victory... it's like clearing brush while traversing a jungle or debris in a tunnel.
 
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Austin Andersen
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It is a great looking game... much better to look at than to play. It kind of reminds me of that pretty girl that really doesn't have much else going for her other than her looks. I'm hoping it is something that can be fixed through the upcoming expansion; although, I'm not holding my breath.

The theme is very pasted on... once again, it is a great looking game.
 
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Nick Clinite
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corkysru wrote:
Really? That's what gives you a hangup? Given all the abstractions in this game it seems odd THAT is where you have issues. Fire burns things. Water can wash away the enemy (hence support). 


islan wrote:
If the spells were more abstract, I probably wouldn't have any problem as my imagination could fill in the gap the abstraction leaves.


Can ... can I seriously not state my intent any clearer? The problem isn't with abstraction, it's with something that's quite not-abstract not fitting with its mechanics.

Paul G wrote:
But... what? Fire burns things, therefore it removes madness? Water washes things away, therefore it lets you store energy for later?

No. The theme is cool and I don't actually mind that Tsunami doesn't summon a Tsunami (and is instead "powerful water magic, water magic puts things in support"), but it definitely isn't a great correspondence between theme and mechanics.


Exactly on point, Paul. If the spells were less "Tsunami" and "Combustion", and more like "Ebbing Waters of Guidance" and "Flames of Focus", I could follow it just fine.
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Julian Wasson
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Paul G wrote:
corkysru wrote:
islan wrote:
Slashdoctor wrote:
But you're forgetting that the spells are affecting cards in your hand and these cards represent your innate energy within you.


I'm not forgetting that, that's exactly what I'm focusing on. I get all the other abstractions in the game, but here I stop short, because the spell cards don't seem abstract at all. I cast a fire spell, with a picture of a caster evoking flame, and it lets me ... destroy a card from my deck? What the heck does that have to do with evoking flame? I cast a tsunami and it ... supports my ally? How?

The problem isn't with the abstractness, the problem is that the rather non-abstract spells have seemingly nothing to do with their effect. If the spells were more abstract, I probably wouldn't have any problem as my imagination could fill in the gap the abstraction leaves.

Really? That's what gives you a hangup? Given all the abstractions in this game it seems odd THAT is where you have issues. Fire burns things. Water can wash away the enemy (hence support). 


First note: I love the game and don't mind the abstractions.

But... what? Fire burns things, therefore it removes madness? Water washes things away, therefore it lets you store energy for later?

No. The theme is cool and I don't actually mind that Tsunami doesn't summon a Tsunami (and is instead "powerful water magic, water magic puts things in support"), but it definitely isn't a great correspondence between theme and mechanics.


Fire has a lot of "healing" type effects, and the art supports it being a source of energy and renewal as much as a force of destruction. Alternatively, madness is more an externally imposed condition than a breaking down of your own mind and Fire burns away the things that have wormed their way into your mind.

Water has a fluid, surging quality to it. Think of a wave storing up energy, the waters receding at the beach only for the wave to break and come crashing down.

Like you mentioned, each element has its signature mechanics. I think those mechanics feel appropriately matched to their elements, and from a design perspective I think they fit together is a way that's pleasantly tidy.

I'd say the theme is more evocative than representational. That goes for the monsters and curses as well as the spells. They give you the vague feel of the thing but as soon as you start looking for 1:1 correspondences it falls apart. It works for me - I feel like I'm casting spells to stave off and outlast relentless, pent-up evil so long as you don't look too closely at what any single action is supposed to represent - but I definitely see how it can fall flat for a lot of people. It's like an impressionist painting: the closer you look, the less it seems like what it is and only in taking a step back and accepting the work as a whole on its own terms can you feel its full impact.
 
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