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Subject: An attempt to re-theme Felinia - any artists want to help? rss

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Sean Moore
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So I bought this game back when it was dirt cheap, thinking "I don't have any games that feature anthropomorphic cat merchants, so maybe this will be interesting". Then I played the game and discovered that the "theme" was barely present at all. Why are these cat merchants trading books, clocks, silk, glass, and barrels of wine to the residents of Felinia?
I found the mechanics of the game to be sound, but after a single play I am having a hard time convincing anyone to play it again. The reason? We spent the entire game shaking our heads and asking "where's the cat theme?"

So...

Having nothing better to do with my free time, I decided to see if I could come up with interesting ways to change aspects of the game in order to make Felinia stand out better amidst a crowd of similar merchant trading games. The goal is to find a way to keep the mechanics in tact while altering the aesthetics of the game to make it really own that potentially unique theme of merchant cat people.

I started by replacing the meeples (which are just...people-shaped) with wooden cat tokens. You'd be surprised at how big of an impact such a small change makes. Towards the end of a game, you now have a board populated by little kittens instead of just generic wooden men - loads more interesting to look at.

But I want to take it a step further, and this is where I need some assistance. I want to change the 5 goods tokens to commodities I think cat people would actually want - you know, stuff like kitty litter, scratch posts, birdcages (with birds inside of course), and cardboard boxes.
Even though I have an art degree, I'm afraid I don't have the skill to draw these items in a style similar to the original game's artwork. I was hoping to see if there might be an artist out there who would be willing to take on the task.

This is obviously not a project that I want to be spending a bunch of money on, so I'm not looking to "hire" an artist. I just thought I'd explain my thoughts on the idea and see if there's anyone out there interested in helping out. I honestly believe I would enjoy this game more and get it to the table more often if it really owned that theme.
 
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Mark L
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This baffles me.

Firstly, they're not just cats, they're cat-people, which is why they're trading people-type things.

Secondly, if you think it's a good game, ignore the (admittedly pasted on) cat-people theme and just consider it a Renaissance trading game. I think the bidding mechanism, the beautiful board and 3D ships, and the multiple ways to score should be enough to make it stand out. But definitely use the advanced version; it's barely more complex but substantially better.

Thirdly, I think the meeples are meant to be cat-people; they have whiskers, don't they?



Those things sticking out of the sides of its head look like they're meant to be whiskers to me.


Having said all that, wooden cat tokens sound very cool! Are they available to buy or did you make them yourself?

(Btw, I'm afraid I have no discernible artistic skill. Sorry!)



(Edited for typos. And again for new typos.)
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Jacob H. T.
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I agree with the above post. I love the theme.

As an illustration major, and a someone bored of pasted on cliche themes, it saddens me that people find this game so unapproachable, just because they're cat people.

Board games have absolutely exhausted a dozen themes to the point that I cringe when I see a new game have these elements. Please, no more dragons, zombies European trade routes, dungeons, and trains. Bleh!

Good luck with your re-theme. I'm sorry your friends won't accept cat-people. I know I'm in the minority with my thoughts on this. I do appreciate the original theme on this game though.



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Kevin B. Smith
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MinnesotaPenguin wrote:
Good luck with your re-theme. I'm sorry your friends won't accept cat-people. I know I'm in the minority with my thoughts on this. I do appreciate the original theme on this game though.

When I saw the thread title, I assumed it was going to be about removing cats from the theme. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the goal here is to make it MORE about cats. I also like the cat-people theme, however thin, and am bummed that it is a turn-off to so many people.

xipuloxx wrote:
Thirdly, I think the meeples are meant to be cat-people; they have whiskers, don't they?

To me those things sticking out on the sides look like the brim of a hat. Especially since all the cats on the game box seem to be wearing hats. And of course my mind has been further warped by the Puss-n-Boots character in the Shrek movies.

I would love to see a photo of the cat-meeples.
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Sean Moore
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I wouldn't call these meeples really - I found a company in China that makes animal-shaped buttons and I think they sent me 100 for something like $1.37. So now I have a bunch of extra cat buttons lying around that I'm trying to find a use for...

So in response to Mark: I acknowledged that they were cat-people and not just cats. Are you honestly making the argument that it's thematic for cat-people to want things like glass and clocks? Why? How hard could it have been to make these commodities even slightly address the cat theme? For example: if you're deadset on having them WANT clocks for some reason, why not cuckoo clocks? It just seems like a missed opportunity to really embrace that theme to me.
Second, I even stated that I liked the game and its mechanics. I usually have no problem looking past a pasted-on theme and focusing on the game itself. I've just noticed that every time I suggest to my group that we try Felinia again, they all collectively groan and immediately suggest we play a different Renaissance era trading game instead like Hansa or Serenissima...and I think it's because of that pasted-on theme.
Third, I'm pretty sure those aren't whiskers - they're hats. It doesn't help that about 25% of the meeples that came with my game look mildly deformed, which I understand was a common complaint with this game.
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Mark L
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MasterCactaur wrote:


I wouldn't call these meeples really - I found a company in China that makes animal-shaped buttons and I think they sent me 100 for something like $1.37. So now I have a bunch of extra cat buttons lying around that I'm trying to find a use for...

Those do look pretty cool!

Quote:
So in response to Mark: I acknowledged that they were cat-people and not just cats. Are you honestly making the argument that it's thematic for cat-people to want things like glass and clocks? Why?

Well, since they are people, it's not unthematic. And you said:
Quote:
I want to change the 5 goods tokens to commodities I think cat people would actually want - you know, stuff like kitty litter, scratch posts, birdcages (with birds inside of course), and cardboard boxes.

To me, those sound like things cats would want, rather than cat people. I actually think if they were trading kitty litter or scratching posts that would get in the way of me enjoying the game; it sounds too cartoonish. The minimal theme that is there doesn't help me get into the game, but it doesn't get in the way either.

Quote:
How hard could it have been to make these commodities even slightly address the cat theme? For example: if you're deadset on having them WANT clocks for some reason, why not cuckoo clocks? It just seems like a missed opportunity to really embrace that theme to me.
Second, I even stated that I liked the game and its mechanics. I usually have no problem looking past a pasted-on theme and focusing on the game itself. I've just noticed that every time I suggest to my group that we try Felinia again, they all collectively groan and immediately suggest we play a different Renaissance era trading game instead like Hansa or Serenissima...and I think it's because of that pasted-on theme.

Fair points. I guess a lot of it is down to your group. No-one I played it with found the theme getting in the way.

Have you tried the advanced game? If not, maybe you'll have more success if you suggest trying it, since they've only tried the beginner's game. And if they try that, maybe they'll find they can just ignore the theme this time and enjoy the game!

Quote:
Third, I'm pretty sure those aren't whiskers - they're hats.

You may be right, but I assumed they were whiskers (or why not just use "normal" meeples?), which helps me see them as cat people.
 
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Jacob H. T.
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Maybe I like the theme so much because I am a big fan of the original "Planet of the Apes" movies.

Maybe that would be a direction to go for theme.

It would be great if the cat-people worshipped an giant unexploded nuclear bomb.






 
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Gláucio Reis
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MasterCactaur wrote:
I started by replacing the meeples (which are just...people-shaped) with wooden cat tokens.

I was very disappointed that Matagot didn't give Felinia their usual big box game treatment: beautiful miniatures! But at least it isn't trade in the Mediterranean again. To each their own, but... your cat tokens and suggestion of commodities would actually make the game look a lot sillier to me.
 
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Dex Quest
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We, too, enjoy Felinia, and even though I really like your new cat meeples we find a great deal of enjoyment of the game is filling in the blanks in the rather vague story. In fact, this game garners so much interest because of its random feline folk and wonderful 3D cardboard boats that it's fast becoming a fave. It's actually a really strong game, too, with a dead simple 'slap down your 3 markers' auction mechanic followed by some lovely ship movement and even simpler area control and chit-grabbing stuff. As a previous poster said, do we always needs every element of the theme spelt out for us?
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