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Subject: Spoon Fed theme, Never Pleased Theme Guru rss

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Stephen Cooper
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Have you ever played a game with someone then after they say they don't like the game. When asked why the reason given is something related to how theme didn't tie into gameplay in some way? This scenario I'm sure isn't uncommon but what about when it does tie in to gameplay but the game just didn't spell it out? My most recent is Agricola "The one baby at a time is stupid" so the game doesn't spoon feed it but in farming you can infer that you don't have much space and need to grow your living condition or even at the time there were still effects of plague, pestilence, and disease. Another one that I remember quite well is zombicide "the shoot your own guy thing is stupid it makes no sense" so you don't like the game because of that? if you ask me it makes perfect sense your shooting at a person who is attacking another person if you hit the zombie and it goes through him and his the human he gets hurt and the zombie doesn't. Its all happening so fast and 99% of people aren't sharpshooters add in fatigue from running lets not even talk about shooting at a moving target while moving yourself! Should the book put this near the rule to help feed the "theme" of the rule?. Share some of your stories. I would love to hear if others deal with this as I do.
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Lucas Smith
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If a game is 100% real, it is not a game any more, but a simulation (some wargames go that way, however even they have only about 70-90%). You simply cant convert every element of real life into a gamee, imagine a rules manual, naming every fact out of the reality! I think Agricola is pretty thematic, and deals very well with the theme! (i don't like it though , but thats because of another reason!)
I like thematic games. There are many games that are far more abstract than agricola.
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Lucas Smith
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18xx are pretty thematic. and WARGAMES! euros are normaly less thematic than agricola
 
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Markus
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Mechanics that are plausibly close to reality can be said to be thematic. A simulation is a game where the mechanics are close to 100% realistic. A thematic game is a game where the mechanics are plausibly realistic, but still abstracted enough for it to be called a game. Wargames are generally very thematic, because everything in them draws from a real world event and some probably come very close to being simulations and not games.

Agricola's worker placement mechanic that forbids other families from doing activities that another family is already doing are plausibly realistic I think - with the exception of the family growth action. It makes absolutely no realistic sense for what one family is doing in the privacy of their own house to affect whether other families can do it too. I don't think it's a thematic mechanic.

Zombicide's targeting priority is surprisingly abstract for a game that is otherwise very thematic. You can shoot at an area that has 20 zombies and one survivor and always 100% hit the survivor. No matter how bad of a shooter you are, I don't find that plausibly realistic at all. Another abstract mechanic that makes no thematic sense.

Please understand, that I consider both Agricola and Zombicide to be highly thematic games (Zombicide a little more so) but in most thematic games there usually are one or two mechanics that simply don't fit in. Usually they are there to make the game a better game instead of promoting the thematic experience.

Another fun example is Libertalia that could be consider highly thematic. However, despite the high quality pirate art, the premise and all of the very nice components, it is a highly abstract game with very little to do with a plausibly realistic event of pirates sharing loot. I would not consider Libertalia as a thematic game.
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I think Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game might be an example of this too. I see a lot of people complaining about how the game being "semi-"cooperative doesn't mesh with the theme and makes it a bad game. ("Why are we competing for victory points? We're all superheroes, we should be fighting together!") On the other hand you could argue that superheroes bicker all the time in comics and the victory point mechanism is just a way of reflecting that while the heroes are working together they don't necessarily all like each other. More importantly not liking Legendary solely because of the victory points seems a bit odd since it's fairly easy to simply play the game fully cooperatively, increasing the mastermind's power by one or two to compensate, and it works just fine.

Another example I've seen mentioned is in Francis Drake which has a mechanic where you move your workers along a track as far as you like to visit stores and get supplies but you can't move them backward to visit anything you passed by. Some people complain the mechanic makes no sense but you could easily rationalize it as saying that the track is chronological and anything your agent passes by is something that they ignored and missed out on because it's come and gone. They focused on getting to be first in line for something else coming up soon rather than grabbing an opportunity that was currently available for a limited time.

Personally I love games with good themes, I'm not much of an abstract game person, but I'm perfectly happy overlooking game mechanics that might not be entirely thematic but which enhance the enjoyment of the game by introducing interesting decisions or streamlining gameplay, etc.
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Stephen Cooper
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dugman wrote:

Personally I love games with good themes, I'm not much of an abstract game person, but I'm perfectly happy overlooking game mechanics that might not be entirely thematic but which enhance the enjoyment of the game by introducing interesting decisions or streamlining gameplay, etc.


This was the point of my post. I agree 100% If feels like the previous posts didn't even read my entry or understand what I was getting at. Sometimes things are a little abstract because it's a game in the end and if it isn't fun its nit a good game.
 
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Richard Ham
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DeePee wrote:
Agricola's worker placement mechanic that forbids other families from doing activities that another family is already doing are plausibly realistic I think - with the exception of the family growth action. It makes absolutely no realistic sense for what one family is doing in the privacy of their own house to affect whether other families can do it too. I don't think it's a thematic mechanic.


The family growth space is the town midwife, who can only service the first player to land there. If you don't have a midwife to help you, you don't have a baby. Easy peasy...
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J C Lawrence
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I imagine that rather a lot of people have had babies without the services of either a midwife or a classical medical practitioner.
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Kurt Van Hoeyveld
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rahdo wrote:


The family growth space is the town midwife, who can only service the first player to land there. If you don't have a midwife to help you, you don't have a baby. Easy peasy...


...lemon squeezy :-)

Ok, maybe it doesn't make 100% sense, as Richard proves, with a little omagination, you can make loads of things make sense. Be creative ;-)
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Richard Ham
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clearclaw wrote:
I imagine that rather a lot of people have had babies without the services of either a midwife or a classical medical practitioner.


Actually, midwives were pretty indispensable in the middle ages... Do a search for "middle ages midwife" and you'll see plenty of sites talking about how essential they were to life at that time (and actually throughout most of society's modern development)

http://www.hsj.gr/volume5/issue1/515.pdf
http://nursingandmidwiferyinhistory.blogspot.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midwifery_in_the_Middle_Ages
http://www.crystalinks.com/midwifery.html

So yeah, I suppose in Agricola you could try to have a kid without consulting the village midwife, but chances are your kid would die, and it's probably just as well that the game didn't model that aspect of medieval life...
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Stephen Cooper
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The idea wasn't to get the examples given scrutinized so ill post another in hopes fellow gamers might share. After playing a 3 player game of city of remnants player 2 said it was awesome and cant wait to play again player 3 says " It was ok, I don't like how we all have the same minis just in different color" to which I replied theres a few different mini figures "Yeah but we all have them" This is easily attributed to the drafting portion of building a gang. Cant please em all
 
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Under the paving stones, the beach
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smithlucas wrote:
If a game is 100% real, it is not a game any more, but a simulation (some wargames go that way, however even they have only about 70-90%).


Theatre style LARP arguably hits around 95%.

Really though, this sounds to me like the OP's friend is just very hardline on theme/mechanics integration. While there are potentially games he'd be happier with, it's also possible that a boardgame will never be able to offer what he seems to be after. For that, he needs to look at RPGs.
 
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Stephen Cooper
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Abiezer Coppe wrote:
smithlucas wrote:
If a game is 100% real, it is not a game any more, but a simulation (some wargames go that way, however even they have only about 70-90%).


Theatre style LARP arguably hits around 95%.

Really though, this sounds to me like the OP's friend is just very hardline on theme/mechanics integration. While there are potentially games he'd be happier with, it's also possible that a boardgame will never be able to offer what he seems to be after. For that, he needs to look at RPGs.


These are all different examples from different people over time not just one person haha
 
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Under the paving stones, the beach
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krzykoopa wrote:

These are all different examples from different people over time not just one person haha


Hah, got you! I just thought you had one single really awkward player.

Still though, from the sounds of it, your group should probably look at RPGs.
 
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Stephen Cooper
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Abiezer Coppe wrote:
krzykoopa wrote:

These are all different examples from different people over time not just one person haha


Hah, got you! I just thought you had one single really awkward player.

Still though, from the sounds of it, your group should probably look at RPGs.


II wouldn't be able to deal with one persons constant complaints. Its not from my group this is from many plays from many people groups or just things I have heard people say.
 
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Bruno Pigeon
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Witch of Salem, a somewhat thematic game, with a few abstract mechanics that breaks it for some.

Movement: You can only go to a location which you have not visited yet, but if you go to the university, you reset your hand of location cards.

Monsters: 2 identical monster make bad things happen.

Fighting: You can kill monsters with a pair of glasses.

Sharing info: It's a coop game, but you can't share info about the location of portals. That mechanic is one the receives a lot of complaint.

But, all of these mechanic are there to, IMHO, transform Arkham Horror into a simple Euro.

The movement rules is easier to manage than a movement stat like in Arkham and makes the game go quicker.

The 2 identical monsters simulate a monster surge and terror effect while being easier to manage and also quicker.

Fighting, easy rules for fighting monsters. Removes all the tedious inventory management, removes 3 deck of cards from the game. remove all the calculation and stats to determine number of dice to roll.

Sharing info, make the game harder to win.
 
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Richard Ham
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krzykoopa wrote:
The idea wasn't to get the examples given scrutinized so ill post another in hopes fellow gamers might share.


Ah I misunderstood... though you were looking for solutions to "thematic issues" that people might complain about...

krzykoopa wrote:
Share some of your stories. I would love to hear if others deal with this as I do.


Ah, I see now what you were talking about. Okay, probably not quite what you were thinking, but here's a geeklist you might enjoy...

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/18878
 
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Stephen Cooper
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rahdo wrote:
krzykoopa wrote:
The idea wasn't to get the examples given scrutinized so ill post another in hopes fellow gamers might share.


Ah I misunderstood... though you were looking for solutions to "thematic issues" that people might complain about...

krzykoopa wrote:
Share some of your stories. I would love to hear if others deal with this as I do.


Ah, I see now what you were talking about. Okay, probably not quite what you were thinking, but here's a geeklist you might enjoy...

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/18878


I checked that list out a while ago Rahdo. It was entertaining this is the opposite sort of though
 
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J C Lawrence
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rahdo wrote:
Actually, midwives were pretty indispensable in the middle ages... Do a search for "middle ages midwife" and you'll see plenty of sites talking about how essential they were to life at that time (and actually throughout most of society's modern development)


Absolutely. That has not stopped many millions of live births without a midwife.
 
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Alison Mandible
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Well, I agree that it's more important for a game to be fun than for a mechanic to be perfectly themed.

On the other hand... I think frequently complaints about theme actually mean:

- this rule is frustrating, and
- I keep thinking things should work a particular way because of the theme, and then getting EXTRA frustrated because I remember they don't work that way

Both of your examples seem to fall into that category. I bet the friend who didn't like shooting his teammates in Zombicide didn't like the rule much better even after there was a reason--friendly fire isn't fun!
 
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Stephen Cooper
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Heres another one.

Empires of the void- "The planets done revolve around anything thematically that kills it for me" and "there are way to many habitable planets to be in a single star system" … Wow
 
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