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Subject: What theme goes best with the 'worker placement' mechanic? rss

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Scott
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In other words, say you were going to design a game starting with just a theme, and then choose a central game mechanic (or mechanics) that best expresses - or put differently, gives the feeling of doing - that theme.

What themes do you guys think would end up best expressed by the worker placement mechanic?

I'm wondering because all the worker placement games I've played so far (and admittedly I haven't played that many) - however good the gameplay - have all had themes that felt somewhat divorced from the gameplay, if not entirely tacked-on.

What would a game look like where this wasn't the case? Any games you can recommend that pull this off already?
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Alex Despres
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What about a game in which you are a corporate CEO assigning workers to tasks? I am thinking CO₂ or Ground Floor here.
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d b
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mwanafalsafa wrote:
gives the feeling of doing - that theme.


The Manhattan Project does it best for me.

not sure about the other part
studying/research (pick your topic)
martial arts (learning moves)
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Glenn Darrin
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I really enjoy a good horror theme. I'd like to see something akin to assigning ghosts to haunt the living or assigning monsters to slay the humans. A nice twist. Maybe there's something like this out there already, but I haven't come across it yet. But alas, I am a bit slooow.
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Katherine Boag
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A game about slavery.
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Samantha RD
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- Running a zoo, with the workers as your keepers. You could even make it a bit retro, have collectors who you send out into South America or Africa to collect animals which need to be shipped back and cared for during the journey.


 
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Captain Spaulding
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Have you tried Agricola?
 
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Mads Fløe
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Kolejka - worker placement game with a theme about waiting in line :-) sounds boring at a glance, but it really isn't. Maybe because the theme actually completely makes sense in symbiosis with the mechanics.
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Sicaria Occaeco
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Someone should make a game about being an HR Rep. laugh
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Craig C
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mwanafalsafa wrote:
What themes do you guys think would end up best expressed by the worker placement mechanic?


Passive aggressiveness.
 
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Holger Doessing
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Mr_Bickman wrote:
Have you tried Agricola?

Actually, that'd be one of the WP games, where the mechanics seem somewhat tacked on. There's really no explanation for why only 1 worker can perform a given action at any given time.
 
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Captain Spaulding
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holgerd wrote:
Mr_Bickman wrote:
Have you tried Agricola?

Actually, that'd be one of the WP games, where the mechanics seem somewhat tacked on. There's really no explanation for why only 1 worker can perform a given action at any given time.


Ah, got it. Then you definitely don't want to try Le Havre; only one person allowed in the bakery at a time.
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Holger Doessing
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I have one: Bodybuilding. Players are trying to sculpt the most balanced and impressive body, but the gym is small and only has one of each machine. Come to think of it, Agricola actually favors farms with variety over specialized farms, pretty much analogous to how judges in bodybuilding contests favor balance and symmetry, I believe. Disclaimer: I don't know anything about bodybuilding.
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ys xxx
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mwanafalsafa wrote:
Any games you can recommend that pull this off already?

I think Dungeon Petz is doing a very good job in combining theme and worker placement mechanics.
 
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Jonathan Challis
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mwanafalsafa wrote:
In other words, say you were going to design a game starting with just a theme, and then choose a central game mechanic


I'd say you were doing it in the wrong order - design mechanics, then slap a theme on. The mechanics matter, the theme doesn't (and there is no real relationship between the two).
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I've heard that Martin Wallace's worker placement games set themselves apart from the crowd with theme and mechanics working together pretty cohesively. I've never played any of his games, so would be interested to hear from someone who has. Is this a fair statement?
 
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Dave Daffin
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I'd say the best theme is one that actually has 'workers'.

One of the best I've played is Snowdonia - where workers are clearing rubble and building a mountain railway. I mean, there's even a pub where your extra workers hang out!
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Benj Davis
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Unless it's literally "worker" (singular) placement, something where you're a leader or coordinator of a group, be that slaves, employees, team-members, etc.
 
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Seth Brown
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The best theme is that you are Dr. Otto Octavius, and can have each of your mechanical arms doing something different.
 
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Eduardo Guimarães
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What is this thing called theme, that euros never heard of?
 
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mike
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Slave labor has to be the ultimate worker placement theme

Think about some of the construction wonders of the world all built by slave labor

Pyramids, great wall of china, things like that

You have to gather workers and resources to build a wonder over so many turns
 
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John Breckenridge
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Kactus04 wrote:
A game about slavery.

Or its somehow morally acceptable modern equivalent, academia: imagine a game where players are professors each commanding a team of grad student minions, who have to compete for access to limited resources in order to fulfill the contracts to obtain the best grants.
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Sacre Bleu
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I'm surprised no one said that yet, it's the first thing that came to my mind: communism.

Although I agree, academia is also a good one.
 
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Scott
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Thanks for all the ideas, gang.

My thoughts...

We call it 'worker' placement, but does anyone ever place workers just as simply as the way the 'worker placement' mechanic works in most games.

I'm not sure the mechanic fits a theme involving actual workers more ideally than other themes.

A game trying to accurately mechanically represent the theme of slavery or similar might include any/all of the following that go beyond the basic worker placement mechanic...
- disobedient workers
- multitasking workers
- injuries
- etc., etc.

The mechanic, at its core, is what? What are the players doing? You've got a limited number of units and a limited number of spaces, which provide a variety of benefits, be they abilities, resources, etc. Each turn you're shuffling these units around, mixing and matching different resources (or currencies), blocking other players from acquiring different resources and abilities by filling certain limited spaces.

To me that sort of thing seems to lend itself to something like a stock market or computing theme?

I mean maybe there isn't anything else like it. But I thought I'd throw it out there.
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Beau Bocephus Blasterfire
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A factory.
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