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Theme and Logic

[the series contents:
episode I: About Michiel, the guy who had a strong gut feeling...
episode II: The Needle in a Haystack or How I Came to Find a Publisher
episode III: Does eurogame need a theme?]

Theme and Logic
Michiel Hendriks

The origin in Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy lies with a restlessness I felt after playing another bland euro with even less theme than the previous one. Theme, for me, is crucial, and if theme is applied, then I do expect it to be followed through logically (to an extent, of course). If theme isn’t applied, then that’s fine with me as well – card games such as Hearts and Spades, or abstract board games such as Chess and Blokus of course have their place in the world of board games, and this is not to say I don’t like them. But if you go with theme, at least make an effort!

In The Legacy, you will play the role of a matriarch or patriarch and you wish to create a lasting legacy that will be heralded for centuries, indeed, one that will celebrated in history books for ages to come. The questions are, how do you achieve this? What would you do? Well, obviously, in the times in which The Legacy is set, namely the 18th century, you make connections with powerful and wealthy families, you gain riches and power yourself, and you do anything to make sure your family rises in importance.

Furthermore, a true legacy does not stop with yourself – a truly legendary family name is not just one person, it is the family in its entirety, however powerful the matriarch or patriarch is. Therefore the choice to go with three (main) generations, who will each have their moment in the limelight, was easily made. Logically, this is achieved through marriage (the connections with other powerful and wealthy families) and having children (who can make connections of their own when they grow up). The player plays the matriarch or patriarch, and therefore this is not just you playing god, it is you as the head of the family determining who your children or grandchildren will marry, what they should do to improve the family’s status, etc.

Another important issue that I wanted to address was the difference between men and women. They are not the same, especially not in those times, and I wanted to celebrate this difference by showing the value of what each can bring to the family. Women have a social status and are good at making new connections with other families. These are the so-called spouse cards you have in your hand – the people you can marry (through these connections you can marry your family member off to a member in that family). Men, on the other hand, will bring money to the family, a stipend, so to speak. Both sexes add prestige to the family name, depending on the level of fame that their family has.

Finally, we might want to take a quick look at the four main actions in the game then:


You have a number of connections in your hand – people you have befriended socially. You choose one of these spouse cards of the opposite sex and a member of your family (from the current generation!) gets married.

With the marriage taking place, there are costs (for the wedding) and benefits you might get immediately, such as support in certain things (such as convincing the king to give your family member a title). Furthermore, as was ordinary in those times, the marriage needs to be consummated, meaning you immediately have a child. Now, how does that work then?

From gallery of Mr Mjeh

Nicolas Lancret - Declaration of love

Have a Child

Once again, this is where I like to apply logic. In the day and age in which The Legacy takes place, children weren’t just born. It was uncertain what would happen and whether or not the mother or child would survive.

Anyway, when you have a child, luck determines whether you have a daughter, a son, or a complication at birth. The complication at birth is the doctor coming to you, the matriarch or patriarch, and informing you he can only save one, the mother or the child. A heart-wrenching decision, to be sure, but a meaningful and thematic decision nonetheless.

From gallery of Mr Mjeh

Vigée Le Brun - Marie Antoinette and her children

Ask Friends for Money

In the unfortunate circumstance that you find yourself in need of money, you of course have wealthy friends you can ask for money. To obtain this money will require time and effort (an action), but it very much depends on how much you ask for whether it has any other effects. Again, logic is applied thematically here.

If you ask a friend for a small sum of money, I am sure they will be happy to help you out, but if you ask them for a larger sum, they might not be too happy, and gossip about you behind your back, losing you the prestige you desire so much. In fact, and that is the third option given for this action, you could ask for a substantial amount, and your friends will indeed help you out, but the gossip will be so malicious that one of your connections will up and leave – they will not want anything to do with you anymore!

From gallery of Mr Mjeh

The Money Lender


Socialize works in the same way as asking friends for money. Logic is applied to the theme. How does one make new connections? Well, there are easy ways that aren’t extremely successful, moderately successful strategies, and immensely successful methods. Once again, therefore, three options are given. The first is just spending time and effort on making these new connections. The five socialites that you are most likely to meet (as they’re out and about in society continuously) lie open on the board, and those are the ones you can woe. Logically, the connections you spend most time and effort on (your choice) will become your friend.

However, time and effort are not always adequate. Sometimes you need to spend money. Here you can imagine arranging a masquerade ball for upper society, or attending one such ball. You could get a new fancy suit or dress, and make a splendid appearance, arriving in a fancy carriage, all decked out in the latest fashion, to convince those socialites that you indeed are worthy of becoming their friend. Suffice to say that here too, for this action, there are three options – you determine yourself how many new connections you would like to make. Careful planning will take care of the rest.

From gallery of Mr Mjeh

French Masquerade Costume 18th Century Ball Dress Fashion – Chromolithograph
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