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Amun-Re» Forums » General

Subject: theme or no theme - Some think it has; others not. What's going on? rss

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Greg Lorrimer
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It seems like some people think this game is nice and themey, and others not.

So which is it? Why these strongly varying opinions? I've not seen this phenomena with other games.

 
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chris thatcher
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Well euro's are hardly known for theme but i think Amun-re with its game reset mechanism due to flooding of the nile? seems pretty good to me.
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Goo
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I think the mechanisms follow the theme very well. The provinces next to the Nile rely heavily on farming but the provinces away from the water rely on camel trading. Farmers are more likely to give offering to Ra in hopes of receiving favors and producing more bountiful harvests whereas camel traders tend to steal from the offering to anger Ra into bad harvests. And as was said, the the 2 epoch mechanism represents the flooding of the Nile and the return to rebuild, but there are still pyramids and temples to re-inhabit.

The theme as as there or missing as in Tigris & Euphrates, so depending on whether you think T&E has a strong theme may be similar to how you feel about Amun-Re.
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David Jones
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Gelatinous Goo wrote:
The theme as as there or missing as in Tigris & Euphrates, so depending on whether you think T&E has a strong theme may be similar to how you feel about Amun-Re.


I don't want to sound hoity toity about this, nor will I claim to be an Egyptologist, but I've studied Egypt academically twice and seen several documentaries about Ancient Egypt. T&E has absolutely zero theme. I'm not aware of any political event or war in Egypt's history that T&E remotely simulates or is related to. At best you could pretend that T&E is about the unification of upper and lower Egypt, but that's a deep stretch. Setting it in Feudal Japan would actually be mildly more thematic. If somebody more knowledgeable about Egypt wants to correct me, I would be genuinely interested to hear it.

(As for the OP, I've not actually played Amun-Re so I can't comment. I'm only subbed because of the rumored TMG reprint.)
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Jonathan Schindler
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I find Amun-Re thematic for a Euro. There's not a strong storytelling element, but the game does have a narrative arc.
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Brian B.
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davypi wrote:
Gelatinous Goo wrote:
The theme as as there or missing as in Tigris & Euphrates, so depending on whether you think T&E has a strong theme may be similar to how you feel about Amun-Re.


I don't want to sound hoity toity about this, nor will I claim to be an Egyptologist, but I've studied Egypt academically twice and seen several documentaries about Ancient Egypt. T&E has absolutely zero theme. I'm not aware of any political event or war in Egypt's history that T&E remotely simulates or is related to. At best you could pretend that T&E is about the unification of upper and lower Egypt, but that's a deep stretch. Setting it in Feudal Japan would actually be mildly more thematic. If somebody more knowledgeable about Egypt wants to correct me, I would be genuinely interested to hear it.

(As for the OP, I've not actually played Amun-Re so I can't comment. I'm only subbed because of the rumored TMG reprint.)


Did Egypt even rule any land between the Tigris and Euphrates? (Genuine question.) I'm pretty sure the theme of T&E isn't intended to have anything to do with ancient Egypt, and thus certainly not the unification of upper and lower Egypt.

edit: Yeah, Google says they never made headway into Mesopotamia. So Egypt's history doesn't really matter from the theme of T&E's perspective.
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David Jones
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brianmbe wrote:
Did Egypt even rule any land between the Tigris and Euphrates? (Genuine question.) I'm pretty sure the theme of T&E isn't intended to have anything to do with ancient Egypt, and thus certainly not the unification of upper and lower Egypt.


No, they didn't. So my bad on the geography. Since I've never studied Mesopotamia, I have to withdraw my little rant up there.
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Greg Lorrimer
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davypi wrote:
brianmbe wrote:
Did Egypt even rule any land between the Tigris and Euphrates? (Genuine question.) I'm pretty sure the theme of T&E isn't intended to have anything to do with ancient Egypt, and thus certainly not the unification of upper and lower Egypt.


No, they didn't. So my bad on the geography. Since I've never studied Mesopotamia, I have to withdraw my little rant up there.


Guffaw!
 
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Brian B.
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davypi wrote:
brianmbe wrote:
Did Egypt even rule any land between the Tigris and Euphrates? (Genuine question.) I'm pretty sure the theme of T&E isn't intended to have anything to do with ancient Egypt, and thus certainly not the unification of upper and lower Egypt.


No, they didn't. So my bad on the geography. Since I've never studied Mesopotamia, I have to withdraw my little rant up there.


Someone on the internet acknowledging a small mistake? Is it a full moon? I think an angel just got its wings.
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Phelan
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Like most eurogames, you could very easily put another theme on the game without the game suffering for it, and my initial response was "theme is pasted on, like most Knizia games"*, but Tariff and Goo's posts made me change my mind.
The two ages mechanism is something I don't remember seeing in other games, and fits the theme really well.

*Amun-Re is one of my favourites, this is not a negative point for me.
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Snooze Fest
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Knizia is, as I'm sure you are well aware, highly regarded for his thematic games:

TIGRIS AND EUPHRATES
The rise of civilization! Even thousands of years ago, the secret societies were there. We know some of the modern day equivalents: the Masons, the Society of Skulls. Back then, though, they were: the Hunters, the Lions, the Claymakers, and the Bulls. Players each represent one of them, with agents rising up to become leaders in nearby kingdoms. They grow their kingdoms, expanding their influence (in their respective fields, of course). Sometimes these secret societies clash in open conflict (they weren't as civilized as we are now, of course).

AMUN-RE
Here, players represent Egyptian dynasties. Farmers farm, pyramids get built, flooding happens ... it's almost like being there yourself!

RA
Egypt, again. Players represent minor gods, or perhaps the ancestors of a dynasty. RA has a plan for the universe, with key events happening in Egypt. Over the course of time, the player (minor gods/ancestors) exert what (little) influence they have to have members of their descendants benefit from RA's plan: become pharaohs, develop farming and grow their nation, find civilization advances, etc. Of course, even minor gods can't know the true mind of RA ... and sometimes his "plan" seems a bit "random".

GO, KNIZIA!
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Christopher Dearlove
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davypi wrote:
Gelatinous Goo wrote:
The theme as as there or missing as in Tigris & Euphrates, so depending on whether you think T&E has a strong theme may be similar to how you feel about Amun-Re.


I don't want to sound hoity toity about this, nor will I claim to be an Egyptologist, but I've studied Egypt academically twice and seen several documentaries about Ancient Egypt. T&E has absolutely zero theme. I'm not aware of any political event or war in Egypt's history that T&E remotely simulates or is related to. At best you could pretend that T&E is about the unification of upper and lower Egypt, but that's a deep stretch. Setting it in Feudal Japan would actually be mildly more thematic. If somebody more knowledgeable about Egypt wants to correct me, I would be genuinely interested to hear it.

(As for the OP, I've not actually played Amun-Re so I can't comment. I'm only subbed because of the rumored TMG reprint.)


Theme and simulation are not the same thing.

I don't think anyone is suggesting simulation, so that's a strawman.

It's fairly well known that Reiner's process in games such as this is to start with the theme (Mesopotamia, two rivers, farmers, kingdoms and so on) and follow a process of abstraction and mechanism. Whether what you end up with has theme is one of perception.

For me, what matters about theme is whether it helps create associations that make the game easier to play. (It also of course matters in whether it sells, and it does help make me look at a game.) What if the game was just stripped of all labeling like its name, terms like farmers and monuments and was purely abstract? There are of course people for whom it would be just as easy (and satisfactory). But I think for most of us, it helps.

Edit: Duh on not noticing it was Egyptian knowledge claimed as relevant to E&T (as I still think of it). But really that's not important to my points above.
 
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Christopher Dearlove
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Phelanpt wrote:
Like most eurogames, you could very easily put another theme on the game without the game suffering for it, and my initial response was "theme is pasted on, like most Knizia games"*, but Tariff and Goo's posts made me change my mind.
The two ages mechanism is something I don't remember seeing in other games, and fits the theme really well.

*Amun-Re is one of my favourites, this is not a negative point for me.


And pasted on is wrong. There are Knizia games with a theme added after it was developed, or during it - many small games, and it's been reported for Through the Desert. But games like those being discussed here more commonly start with a theme and then evolve from that.
 
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Christopher Dearlove
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snoozefest wrote:
Knizia is, as I'm sure you are well aware, highly regarded for his thematic games:

TIGRIS AND EUPHRATES
The rise of civilization! Even thousands of years ago, the secret societies were there. We know some of the modern day equivalents: the Masons, the Society of Skulls. Back then, though, they were: the Hunters, the Lions, the Claymakers, and the Bulls. Players each represent one of them, with agents rising up to become leaders in nearby kingdoms. They grow their kingdoms, expanding their influence (in their respective fields, of course). Sometimes these secret societies clash in open conflict (they weren't as civilized as we are now, of course).

AMUN-RE
Here, players represent Egyptian dynasties. Farmers farm, pyramids get built, flooding happens ... it's almost like being there yourself!

RA
Egypt, again. Players represent minor gods, or perhaps the ancestors of a dynasty. RA has a plan for the universe, with key events happening in Egypt. Over the course of time, the player (minor gods/ancestors) exert what (little) influence they have to have members of their descendants benefit from RA's plan: become pharaohs, develop farming and grow their nation, find civilization advances, etc. Of course, even minor gods can't know the true mind of RA ... and sometimes his "plan" seems a bit "random".

GO, KNIZIA!


I spot a tiny touch of sarcasm here.

How much theme is in the eye of the beholder. One thing on this subject is that Michael Barnes (yes, that one, Fortress Ameritrash) wrote an article on Reiner Knizia, Master of Theme, quoting T&E as prime candidate.
 
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Andy Holt
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Dearlove wrote:
But games like those being discussed here more commonly start with a theme and then evolve from that.

However at the end of his playtesting it is certainly not unknown, and may be common, for the question to be asked as to what alternative themes could be used. Presumably for the situation where it is possible that a publisher likes the game (in the abstract) but thinks that the theme is not commercial at the moment*.

e.g. Pirates/dinosaurs/Japan/Egypt† is overused/unfashionable/"not our style"† currently
† select as appropriate.
 
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Snooze Fest
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Dearlove wrote:
snoozefest wrote:
Knizia is, as I'm sure you are well aware, highly regarded for his thematic games:

TIGRIS AND EUPHRATES
The rise of civilization! Even thousands of years ago, the secret societies were there. We know some of the modern day equivalents: the Masons, the Society of Skulls. Back then, though, they were: the Hunters, the Lions, the Claymakers, and the Bulls. Players each represent one of them, with agents rising up to become leaders in nearby kingdoms. They grow their kingdoms, expanding their influence (in their respective fields, of course). Sometimes these secret societies clash in open conflict (they weren't as civilized as we are now, of course).

AMUN-RE
Here, players represent Egyptian dynasties. Farmers farm, pyramids get built, flooding happens ... it's almost like being there yourself!

RA
Egypt, again. Players represent minor gods, or perhaps the ancestors of a dynasty. RA has a plan for the universe, with key events happening in Egypt. Over the course of time, the player (minor gods/ancestors) exert what (little) influence they have to have members of their descendants benefit from RA's plan: become pharaohs, develop farming and grow their nation, find civilization advances, etc. Of course, even minor gods can't know the true mind of RA ... and sometimes his "plan" seems a bit "random".

GO, KNIZIA!


I spot a tiny touch of sarcasm here.

How much theme is in the eye of the beholder. One thing on this subject is that Michael Barnes (yes, that one, Fortress Ameritrash) wrote an article on Reiner Knizia, Master of Theme, quoting T&E as prime candidate.


Not exactly. I think all three of these actually are quite thematic! It's just not what is commonly expected of his games. Irony, maybe?
 
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Christopher Dearlove
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andyholt wrote:

Dearlove wrote:
But games like those being discussed here more commonly start with a theme and then evolve from that.

However at the end of his playtesting it is certainly not unknown, and may be common, for the question to be asked as to what alternative themes could be used. Presumably for the situation where it is possible that a publisher likes the game (in the abstract) but thinks that the theme is not commercial at the moment*.

e.g. Pirates/dinosaurs/Japan/Egypt† is overused/unfashionable/"not our style"† currently
† select as appropriate.


That applies to the smaller and simpler games. The major games that made his reputation here (but we're only ever a minority of his output) generally had a theme from the start. I've indicated a known exception. But sometimes even the lesser games had a theme from the start, Tutankhanun for one.
 
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Len
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itsastickup wrote:
It seems like some people think this game is nice and themey, and others not.

So which is it? Why these strongly varying opinions? I've not seen this phenomena with other games.



It depends upon how strong your imagination is...
 
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