Games with Great Themes
Jeff Brown
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
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I've decided to update (1/24/04) this list from earlier. The more I've been collecting I've been trying to figure out what my preferences are I've asked myself whether I like strong theme or strong mechanics. I've looked at different genres trying to figure out what I like. I finally have figured out that I like variety. I love to find games that are different from the games I already have. I love games with strong mechanics such as El Grande (probably my favorite) Puerto Rico, etc.

I also enjoy games that have themes that I can immerse myself in. It's also good to have decent mechanics otherwise it just feels stupid and the theme doesn't work. In order for a game to work for me I need it to have meaningful choices. I don't know all of the games that fit this description, so I'll just put the games that I know(a very short list). If you know any other games that have a great theme and play well please add it to the list.

I started a high school gaming group at the school where I teach. I have been successful at getting them to play, El Grande, Puerto Rico, Carcassonne, Settlers, etc. Yet they seem to be irresistibly drawn to the games with strong themes.

Please feel free to add any games that you think would fit.

Note: updated the new versian again (1/25) fixing a few minor things
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1. Board Game: Lord of the Rings [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:698]
Jeff Brown
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
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To me this seems to be one of the best games out there. While I know that some people think that some of the mechanics can be a little abstract, I think that the theme really works in it. The artwork the journey, and trying to stay ahead of the negative events all work together to make me feel like I'm actually on a quest to destroy the ring (I do feel kind of bad when I lose, knowing that I've just relegated middle earth to slavery). What's doubly nice is that I think it has a lot of strategic depth as well. The fact that I love Lord of the Rings is a plus. The expansions add to the game also.
 
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2. Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:414]
Jeff Brown
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
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I like this one for the same reasons as the above game. Yeah, I know the fellowship doesn't work together and is spread out all over middle earth, it still feels like I'm either trying to destroy the ring or, "get bagginses". This one has tons of strategy to it and it always feels like you are hanging on by your fingernails whatever side you're playing on.
 
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3. Board Game: Star Wars: Epic Duels [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:891]
Jeff Brown
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
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This isn't a strategic masterpiece by any means but we get it out when we want some light fun. If you play it fast enough it can almost feel like a light saber fight, (not that I've been in one recently, or would know what that feels like, but I'm sure its almost the exact same thing. This is also a favorite of the game group that I started at the High School where I teach.
It was hilarious watching the kids come up with rules (not for the sake of balance) but for the sake of giving them an advantage. Darth Maul and Darth Vader came up with the idea that ranged weapons shouldn't have a range farther than 6. I nixed that idea. It was funny seeing the kids bring out their powerful cards and gloat in your face then whine about how unfair the other players cards are.
 
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4. Board Game: Goldland [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1678]
Jeff Brown
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
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I just ordered this one on the basis that a lot of people thought that it really fit the theme well. Some people said it felt like Indiana Jones. It also looked like it had some strategic depth to it. Perhaps some of you might know, was I right to get this? Does it feel cool while at the same time have some decent strategy to it? I've always wanted to be able to hum the Indiana Jones anthem while I played a game as well.
Update: I have gotten this and yes it is fun, and I think it fits its theme well. A little low on player interaction but a fun game nonetheless.
 
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5. Board Game: Age of Mythology: The Boardgame [Average Rating:6.15 Overall Rank:2483]
Lexingtonian
United States
Unspecified
Massachusetts
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A promiscuous mixture of Norse vs. Egyptian vs. Greek mythologies. How self-indulgent an experience is this going to be?
 
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6. Board Game: Mystery of the Abbey [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1076]
Jeff Brown
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
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This game is tons of fun. There are a lot of comments on how there is too much luck but this can be modified easily if you want. I think that the cards bring in a alot of fun. I also think that the game is really won on your ability to make logical deductions from a lot of different statements made by people. It really makes me think. The board, pieces, and cards all make the atmosphere very strong as if you were hunting down a murderer in the abbey. I've put the book on hold at the library because it sounds very intriging. The beautiful box has been attracting the attention of the kids in my group also.
 
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7. Board Game: BANG! [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1018]
Jeff Brown
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
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This game was a lot of fun playing with the kids. It can easily bring up bad western accents as well. Fun quick game that I'm looking forward to playing more with the kids.
 
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8. Board Game: Formula Dé Mini [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:2288]
Jeff Brown
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
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I got this one because the theme was different but I haven't really had a chance to play it. I played it twice and my wife thinks its boring. (roll and move she thinks). I think there might be a little more to it but I don't know yet. Hopefully I can get the kids at school to try it.
 
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9. Board Game: WarCraft: The Board Game [Average Rating:6.12 Overall Rank:2694]
Jeff Brown
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
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I'm thinking about getting this one. This one looks like my kids at school would love it as they are all videogame addicts. It looks fun and fits in the right amount of time. I'd like to play it with them.
The only think I'm wondering about is if there are meaningful decisions or does it play itself. (i.e. collect resources, build up armies, attack.) I wouldn't really be bothered if the races are similar as some people have said, (Warcraft was like that also, although I haven't played Warcraft 3)
If there are different strategies that are possible I would love to get it and play it with the kids.
 
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10. Board Game: Wizard Kings [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1750]
Jeff Brown
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
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I am thinking about getting a wargame to go with my collection. My wife isn't really interested but some of the kids at school have been asking.
This looks fun but I'm wondering if I should wait for The War of the Ring to come out by Nexus. Fantasy Flight told me that it is going to come out this summer. Looks cool and I love the Lord of the Rings.
If not then this game (Wizard Kings) looks interesting and looks like it might have a lot of tactics involved. The thing I'm wondering about is that it would be expensive especially getting the extra armies so that more people can play.
 
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11. Board Game: Quest for the Dragonlords [Average Rating:5.57 Overall Rank:12221]
Mike van Schijndel
Netherlands
Rotterdam
ZuidHolland
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This game just oozes with theme!

High fantasy warfare, dragonlords, orcs, elves, barbarians, dwarves... its all in there! And it gets even better with the expansion!!!

 
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