Recommend
1 
 Thumb up
 Hide
83 Posts
1 , 2 , 3 , 4  Next »   | 

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: Theme meets Mechanics rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Joel Mayeski
Thailand
Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hey everyone,

So, this weekend I'm speaking for a bit at a local gaming convention about "Theme meets Mechanics". I have some games I've played and enjoyed that showcase this, but I thought all of you on BGG might have great examples I haven't though of.

I'd be interested to hear what games really tied the theme and mechanics together in an unforgettable way for you.

(A basic example is "Lords of Waterdeep" where you are a lord recruiting adventurers (colored cubes) who reside at your tavern before they go off to complete an adventure/mission. During the quest you may rescue other adventurers, collect gold, etc. or simply gain fame and glory. All of this from a simple "set collection" mechanic)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andreas Esbech
Denmark
Odense M
Danmark
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
With Lords of Waterdeep I don't see it being a much different game if the theme was that you were a Burger shop and the quests were orders. You then have to go to the market to pick up the ingredients and put them in your fridge. You could also spend money to open your own market stalls.

So to me, at least, I don't see Lords of Waterdeep that thematic.

I will offer up Viticulture where the mechanics actually have you go through the process of making wine in order to fulfill the recipes. It isn't just about collecting the right amount cubes.
16 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Julian S
Singapore
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
For me, it would be Lords of Vegas. The thrill of high rolls,gambling on rerolls, selection of casino colors is evocative. The mechanics makes the randomness of it all so enjoyable even when you've lost.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Hoare
United Kingdom
Chippenham
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

I presume you're ignoring RPG's, wargames &c.

The most "thematic yet Euro-y" feeling game that I've played recently is Sons Of Anarchy.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mystery McMysteryface
United States
Florida
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Theme meets Mechanicsf
K2
Snowdonia
Pret-a-porter
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Challis
United Kingdom
Hungerford
West Berkshire
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lords of Waterdeep is usually held up as an example of a completely pasted-on replacable theme! I'm good with that, and don't care about theme, but it's not strongly themed at all.

Archipelago
Dungeon Lords
The Cave
Agricola
Anachrony
The Colonists
Mage Wars Arena
Village
Doom: The Boardgame

6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John
United Kingdom
Southampton
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Resistance - paranoia and distrust

Impulse - Theme through abstraction, or Chudyk (gloriously) does 4X
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kathleen Nugent
United States
Tamworth
New Hampshire
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lewis & Clark
Rococo
Grand Austria Hotel
Power Grid
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan Keane
United States
Medford
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
Most historical wargames, but particularly those that don't try to simulate but rather use what seem like very abstract Euro mechanics that just work well to create a historical narrative, like the card play in Maria or the competition over control counters in Struggle of Empires.

Simple racing games that just get the feeling right, like gear selection in Formula D, card play in Flamme Rouge, card play in K2.

For most Euros, the theme is just some nice flavor, but I like those where you can see you've built something at the end that you can describe and compare related to real-world models, like how you built an all-meat farm in Agricola or a polluted industrial city in Suburbia. There's a few Euros where in-game I feel the mechanisms do just mesh really well with the theme, like wake-up time and color mixing in the otherwise standard cube pushing game of Fresco, or the exploration and building in the otherwise pretty bland action selection game of Lost Valley: The Yukon Goldrush 1896. Merchant of Venus classic does a great job of taking the standard pick up and deliver system like Crayon Rails, but adding just enough theme to make it more enjoyable, but doesn't ruin it with excessive chrome like FFG's standard version of MoV, Merchants & Marauders, or Firefly: The Game.



2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
BG.EXE
United States
flag msg tools
Favor Euros + Ameritrash, but I like pretty much all games.
badge
Don't forget to have fun!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
a_esbech wrote:
With Lords of Waterdeep I don't see it being a much different game if the theme was that you were a Burger shop and the quests were orders. You then have to go to the market to pick up the ingredients and put them in your fridge. You could also spend money to open your own market stalls.

When is your Kickstarter? I would like to back this product, thank you.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Trevor Taylor
United Kingdom
FARINGDON
Oxfordshire
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
a_esbech wrote:
With Lords of Waterdeep I don't see it being a much different game if the theme was that you were a Burger shop and the quests were orders. You then have to go to the market to pick up the ingredients and put them in your fridge. You could also spend money to open your own market stalls.

So to me, at least, I don't see Lords of Waterdeep that thematic.

I will offer up Viticulture where the mechanics actually have you go through the process of making wine in order to fulfill the recipes. It isn't just about collecting the right amount cubes.


But just because you CAN swap out the theme for another that works, that doesn't mean that the mechanisms DON'T fit the theme. My main concern with poor theme is when a game has a mechanism which is so at odds with the theme that it breaks immersion (like ship/captain battles in Nova Cry which can happen even if you're on different planets).

The best games that tie theme strongly are usually harder to swap out the theme, but it's not black and white.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert Bracey
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
Napoleons Triumphdoes this best for me, and it does it by being very clever - it does not try to build mechanics that feel like a battle but rather mechanics that feel like a representation of a battle and then builds an aesthetic that looks like representations of battles.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Wilbert Kiemeneij
Netherlands
Eindhoven
flag msg tools
I know the rules, but how do you win this game?
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Definitely Food Chain Magnate for me. You just feel like you're running a big fast food empire.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
"I was born not knowing and have had only a little time to change that here and there."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Instead of games, I'll give you designers to explore who do very thematic work IMO:

Vital Lacerda
Vlaada Chvátil
Uwe Rosenberg
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bryan Carpenter
United Kingdom
Haverhill
Suffolk
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
boardgamesdotEXE wrote:
a_esbech wrote:
With Lords of Waterdeep I don't see it being a much different game if the theme was that you were a Burger shop and the quests were orders. You then have to go to the market to pick up the ingredients and put them in your fridge. You could also spend money to open your own market stalls.

When is your Kickstarter? I would like to back this product, thank you.


WilbertK wrote:
Definitely Food Chain Magnate for me. You just feel like you're running a big fast food empire.


I think WilbertK answered your question, boardgamesdotEXE!

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
William Beasley
msg tools
badge
mbmbmb
a_esbech wrote:
I will offer up Viticulture where the mechanics actually have you go through the process of making wine in order to fulfill the recipes. It isn't just about collecting the right amount cubes.


Basically what Andreas mentioned just slightly altered.

Viticulture Tuscany to me is hands down the game where the mechanisms utilized have me feeling like I'm in the world of producing and selling wine along with some other options that don't feel tacked on.

William
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Austria
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Anything by Phil Eklund.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
C Bazler
United States
Bronx
New York
flag msg tools
"Come, and trip it as you go..."
badge
"...on the light fantastic toe."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I would second a game like Suburbia, where the game's theme doesn't simply come out by the tile names, but really emerges through the decisions players make. For example, an airport gives you negative reputation near residential areas (because of the noise), so as a player you want to place airports in more industrial sections, just like city planners do. Dozens of the tiles/buildings work this way in the game. It's a very clever and thought-provoking merging of mechanics and theme.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
A M
United States
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I see a lot of Euros mentioned above, which may be more what you're looking for. But for more purely thematic games, I would say Betrayal at House on the Hill. The modular board evokes the exploration of a haunted house very well, and the betrayer mechanism (as messy as it is) works fantastically.

I'd also mention Android. It's my all-time favorite, so I am horrendously biased, but I think it carries its theme through brilliantly. In particular, the "side plot" mechanic is outstanding. Each character is given one or two side stories that will resolve, in a fixed amount of time, with either victory point penalties or bonuses. In practice, however, it's just a question of collecting enough resources of the correct type to ensure you beat the clock. The design and flavor completely mask the simplicity, however; you feel like you are really influencing the story in a very qualitative way.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric M
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Dominant Species
You play as an order of animals and get to either adapt to the environment or change the environment to suit your needs.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
C Bazler
United States
Bronx
New York
flag msg tools
"Come, and trip it as you go..."
badge
"...on the light fantastic toe."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
murjani1 wrote:
I'd also mention Android. It's my all-time favorite, so I am horrendously biased, but I think it carries its theme through brilliantly. In particular, the "side plot" mechanic is outstanding. Each character is given one or two side stories that will resolve, in a fixed amount of time, with either victory point penalties or bonuses. In practice, however, it's just a question of collecting enough resources of the correct type to ensure you beat the clock.


I should disclose that I do like Android, and I think it evokes its theme well, but not through its mechanics, which I feel are a little clumsy.

Even the bolded section you typed above makes me think the mechanics are NOT connected to the theme, since the baggage you're collecting is so nondescript. (and don't get me started on the evidence mechanic, which makes players feel they're framing a suspect more than finding out who committed the crime).

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
M Smith
United Kingdom
UK
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
For a relaxing zen type game Herbaceous does a lovely job. Growing and planting herbs . Aaaahh.

For a bit more meaty would have to go for Lisboa. Lots of moving parts but when you look at them all and the way they link it all makes sense.

For the record I replaced the cubes in Lords of Waterdeep with 10mm fantasy figures. Dripping with theme so much my brother still hasn’t returned it. I bet he uses them for miniature wargaming now cry .
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
A M
United States
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
cbazler wrote:
murjani1 wrote:
I'd also mention Android. It's my all-time favorite, so I am horrendously biased, but I think it carries its theme through brilliantly. In particular, the "side plot" mechanic is outstanding. Each character is given one or two side stories that will resolve, in a fixed amount of time, with either victory point penalties or bonuses. In practice, however, it's just a question of collecting enough resources of the correct type to ensure you beat the clock.


I should disclose that I do like Android, and I think it evokes its theme well, but not through its mechanics, which I feel are a little clumsy.

Even the bolded section you typed above makes me think the mechanics are NOT connected to the theme, since the baggage you're collecting is so nondescript.


That's an interesting way of looking at it, though I disagree. My perspective on it is this:

1) All mechanics, at their heart, are nondescript. So much so, in fact, that you can (more or less) effectively break down all board game mechanics into the categories listed here on BGG.

2) There are two primary ways to take those raw mechanics and marry them effectively to theme. First, you can dress up the mechanical end (e.g., make the baggage more interesting). Second, you can weave the thematic element of the game around the mechanic, so that the plainness of the mechanic is irrelevant.

I regard the baggage/side plot element of Android as a superb example of the second method. The side plots are so well done that, to me, the plainness of the baggage is irrelevant. And because the OP was *not* asking for examples of gussied-up mechanics, but rather examples of games that integrated theme and mechanics in an unforgettable way, I think the example remains on point.

cbazler wrote:

(and don't get me started on the evidence mechanic, which makes players feel they're framing a suspect more than finding out who committed the crime).


My friend.

My comrade.

My fellow Android-lover (or, at least, Android-liker).

Let us not relitigate the "framing vs. discovery vs. cinematic" argument, especially with regard to how players "feel." Suffice it to say there are well-worn differences of opinion, and much nuance to this discussion. But, if you do wish to discuss further, I am more than happy to do so on the Android page, rather than hijacking this thread.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Laura Creighton
Sweden
Göteborg
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think you need to distinguish between 'has a lot of theme for a Euro' in which case you might also be interested in
Alien Frontiers and Navegador and Village

and simply 'has a lot of theme' in which case

Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery
1960: The Making of the President
The 7th Continent
Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem
Henry VIII: Intrigue in the Tudor Court (this one is PnP, and thank you Abeizer Coppe for recommending it!)

is more of what people are looking for. Lords of Waterdeep, which the OP finds thematic is one of my top candidates for 'don't want to play because there is not enough theme to suit me'. I like abstracts, which have no theme, and I like heavily thematic games, but that doesn't mean that I like the games in with a middling amount of theme and a middling amount of abstract strategy, which seems to be where a lot of Euros land. So, if you are giving a talk about theme and mechanics, it would be useful if you mentioned this, so that wouldbe designers didn't think that the middle must automatically be 'the sweet spot'. It's only that for some of us.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jared H
United States
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
It's easy being Easy
badge
Hands off my kitty
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Captain Sonar's theme and mechanics mesh pretty good.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2 , 3 , 4  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.