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Subject: abstract with a theme? rss

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Have folks used that phrase to describe games? Is it even a thing? There have been user created scales on BGG, and from what I could tell, it would be one or 2 notches above "not having any theme at all" or "pure abstract".
 
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James C
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There's a healthy debate about Patchwork being an abstract or not.
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maf man
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hmmm. any tiers I've used really are only how I see theme and plenty would disagree with my definitions. A phrase that might help: "abstract with a setting"
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Jordan S.
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Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends is a game that looks and feels very abstract for the most part...and yet there's an underlying sort of logic and flow to the game that actually brings out the theme fairly well.
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Nathaniel Baker
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Literally Santorini.
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CARL SKUTSCH
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knatebaker wrote:
Literally Santorini.

Yeah, Santorini.
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mafman6 wrote:
hmmm. any tiers I've used really are only how I see theme and plenty would disagree with my definitions. A phrase that might help: "abstract with a setting"


I'm probably wrong, but it looks like the OP might be defining "abstract" and "theme" as being almost opposite ends of the "setting" spectrum.

i.e.,

Abstract = no setting -> dripping with theme = elaborate setting.

If you define abstract differently though - say, as a perfect information game - and define theme as something different from setting (although even so, a perfect information game can have a setting), then you can probably have whatever you want.


I think of something like Samurai. Loosely abstract; it's a perfect information game, the setting is medieval Japan (it could be any number of things though, you have just 3 things to collect and you do so with number chits), and the theme is picking your battles and balancing your goals.
 
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maf man
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casualcasual wrote:
and define theme as something different from setting

I've found it useful to consider theme as more of a feeling where setting would be a factor of something more encompassing. I know I'm being a bit lose with terms but it first struck me with dominion. Most say it has a pasted on theme (which I agree with) but some of the card actions make thematic seance, I'd say it has zero setting though.
 
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Hey, That's My Fish!
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John
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Abstract is used in two ways:

1. A game with no (or very little) theme.
2. An abstract strategy game - usually having no theme and no hidden information, no non-deterministic elements (such as shuffled cards or dice rolls), and (usually) two players or teams taking a finite number of alternating turns.

A game which fulfills most or all criteria of #2 but has a theme might be described as "abstract with a theme".
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casualcasual wrote:


I think of something like Samurai. Loosely abstract; it's a perfect information game, the setting is medieval Japan (it could be any number of things though, you have just 3 things to collect and you do so with number chits), and the theme is picking your battles and balancing your goals.

Samurai isn't perfect information You draw tiles blind, you can't see the tiles your opponents currently have available to play, and scoring is hidden (though trackable).
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Russ Williams
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I've seen geeklists of them. There's no contradiction at all if one considers "abstract game" to mean combinatorial game, as it is often used. E.g. Homeworlds, Through the Desert, Hive, Stephenson's Rocket, etc.
 
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Adrian Schmidt
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casualcasual wrote:
mafman6 wrote:
hmmm. any tiers I've used really are only how I see theme and plenty would disagree with my definitions. A phrase that might help: "abstract with a setting"


I'm probably wrong, but it looks like the OP might be defining "abstract" and "theme" as being almost opposite ends of the "setting" spectrum.

i.e.,

Abstract = no setting -> dripping with theme = elaborate setting.

If you define abstract differently though - say, as a perfect information game - and define theme as something different from setting (although even so, a perfect information game can have a setting), then you can probably have whatever you want.


I think of something like Samurai. Loosely abstract; it's a perfect information game, the setting is medieval Japan (it could be any number of things though, you have just 3 things to collect and you do so with number chits), and the theme is picking your battles and balancing your goals.


My interpretation of the words setting and theme are as follows:

Setting: Where and when the game is set. A game might be set in Whitechapel in the late 1800's for example.

Theme: What the game is about. Said game set in Whitechapel might for example have a murder mystery theme.

As far as I know, this is what "setting" and "theme" means in regards to movies, so it feels natural to apply it to boardgames as well.
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Drew
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yeah, +1 for Santorini
 
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Timothy Young
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I feel like Neuroshima Hex! fits into this category.
Others will disagree because:

It has some hidden information,

It can be played with more than two players.

And possibly other reasons as well. Which is fine. Feel free to offer a counterpoint.




Other games that come to mind:

Stratego Legends
Navia Dratp

These probably fit into this category even better than NH, since there is no hidden information, and they are strictly two-player games. Additionally, the units have highly thematic special abilities.



So to answer the original question, I think "abstract with a theme" is a valid term, one that has legitimate use in the hobby, even if it does rankle a few purists here and there, because, for the most part I think most of us immediately get the gist of what kind of game you're referring to if you use this term.
 
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Mark B
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I've been enjoying Android: Mainframe recently which is basically the dots and squares game but with the artwork and theme of the Android (Netrunner) universe.
 
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wayne mathias
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An abstract with a theme - an abstract where the theme "works" as an explanation/setting/cosmos for the abstraction but the abstraction is not dependent on them?

"Fox and Hounds" (1 checker vs 4 checkers and no jumping - the hounds cannot go backwards and are trying to trap the fox) is abstract with a theme in this sense (barely).

OK - this is not self-promotion and the thing is in the WIP and playtest forums and an entry in the 2 player PnP contest and I need to find out if the 16x16 board is worth having in a production version before it even thinks about being anything other than PnP and Vassal module. I just want to reference the abstract mechanics and theme combination.

Very short rules (3 pages with text - the rest is component pics and a notation method to record moves for PBEM).
http://thesingularitytrap.com/alchelemental/pdfs/alchelement...

Not a part of the rules, but I was bored and did this to the original component listing - all theme and totally not needed for the game:
http://thesingularitytrap.com/alchelemental/pdfs/Syllabus_In...

Does this exemplify the idea of abstract with theme ?
 
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Go Jira
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I think there are many example of an abstract with a fairly decent setting attached to it.

Fjords, Aton, Santorini, and even Indigo due to the graphic design and art lending the players to create their own setting in regards to how lavish it is. I'd say most of knizias designs fall under this heading.

I guess even chess fits this category as well, and may be the prime example.
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Mashpotassium wrote:
casualcasual wrote:


I think of something like Samurai. Loosely abstract; it's a perfect information game, the setting is medieval Japan (it could be any number of things though, you have just 3 things to collect and you do so with number chits), and the theme is picking your battles and balancing your goals.

Samurai isn't perfect information You draw tiles blind, you can't see the tiles your opponents currently have available to play, and scoring is hidden (though trackable).


Yes sure, I knew someone would pick me up there is a hidden aspect and a random aspect, however, in the end, you still know which pieces have been used and which will be left. There's no reason you could not play the game without the random element; hiding your pieces would not be necessary then either.

But you are right

The point was, it depends a bit on the OPs definitions.... to me, a game which might appear "abstract" to some people can be quite thematic

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Mark Jackson
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Dungeon Twister 2: Prison is the first one that comes to mind personally.
 
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Michael Debije
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Trent Boardgamer
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ackmondual wrote:
Have folks used that phrase to describe games? Is it even a thing? There have been user created scales on BGG, and from what I could tell, it would be one or 2 notches above "not having any theme at all" or "pure abstract".


Depends on how struck you want to be with theme. Hive is an abstract with a theme.
 
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Russ Williams
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TIM0THY wrote:
I feel like Neuroshima Hex! fits into this category.
Others will disagree because:

It has some hidden information,

No it doesn't. But it certainly has randomness (luck of the draw).

Quote:
It can be played with more than two players.

And possibly other reasons as well. Which is fine. Feel free to offer a counterpoint.

Ability to play with more than 2 players doesn't disqualify a game (for me), e.g. Blokus seems clearly an abstract game in both of the typical senses of the word (combinatorial=randomless & no hidden info, themeless=no theme or representational art, setting, etc).

NH's randomness makes it not an abstract for me in the combinatorial sense.

And of course its blatant over-the-top wacky post-apocalyptic theme and very representational artwork makes it not an abstract in the "themeless" sense.

Also an "abstract game" typically has very minimalistic simple elegant clear unambiguous rules, which I'm afraid Neuroshima Hex does not have, especially once you start playing with expansion armies and all the weird interactions which send us to the rulebook or rule forum for many pair-ups... (And I say this as one who likes the game a lot and has played hundreds of times.)
 
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CARL SKUTSCH
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russ wrote:
TIM0THY wrote:
I feel like Neuroshima Hex! fits into this category.
Others will disagree because:

It has some hidden information,

No it doesn't. But it certainly has randomness (luck of the draw).

Quote:
It can be played with more than two players.

And possibly other reasons as well. Which is fine. Feel free to offer a counterpoint.

Ability to play with more than 2 players doesn't disqualify a game (for me), e.g. Blokus seems clearly an abstract game in both of the typical senses of the word (combinatorial=randomless & no hidden info, themeless=no theme or representational art, setting, etc).

NH's randomness makes it not an abstract for me in the combinatorial sense.

And of course its blatant over-the-top wacky post-apocalyptic theme and very representational artwork makes it not an abstract in the "themeless" sense.

Also an "abstract game" typically has very minimalistic simple elegant clear unambiguous rules, which I'm afraid Neuroshima Hex does not have, especially once you start playing with expansion armies and all the weird interactions which send us to the rulebook or rule forum for many pair-ups... (And I say this as one who likes the game a lot and has played hundreds of times.) :)

Also the various abilities of the different factions in NH are very thematic.
 
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Kaijuotaku wrote:
I guess even chess fits this category as well, and may be the prime example.


This.
 
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