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Subject: Is Gaia project more thematic than terra mystics? rss

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Atari 2600
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Hello

I Own Terra Mystica, but unfortunately do not bring it on the table as often as I would like to because I don’t have other players that like it, but when I do I enjoy the experience.

One of the things that people complaint more about terra mystics is that it is not a ver thematic game. I have heard Gaia project improved a lot
Of things from Terra Mystica, Was this one of the things they improved? Is Gaia project more thematic ?

Thanks,

 
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Henrique Mussoi
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I'd say the thematic improvement is marginal at best, although technology does make more sense than the cult tracks.
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Andreu P.
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I'd say it's not, because instead of fantasy races with somewhat thematic special abilities you have random aliens with random names who are good at doing random stuff. The tech tracks may be more appealing than the cult tracks from a theme perspective, but in the end it's still a decliciously soulless optimization puzzle, just like TM.
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I think the theme makes more sense. Making planets habitable, and improving technology in your attempt to improve your faction - and very good technology awards you points.

However, the races certainly made more sense in Terra Mystica, and for me, that was key to giving it some thematic feel.

I really do enjoy Gaia Project, and I rate it over Terra Mystica right now, but I felt like Terra Mystica had more theme after some games, since the factions powers made sense - with Gaia Project, I feel it's the other way around. It looses theme for every game because the factions feels more "random", like already said :-) They are more unique, but have less theme.

Long story short: both games doesn't have much theme, and Gaia project doesn't change much on this, but has both improvements and setbacks - at least for me.
 
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Space Trucker
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Atrusni wrote:
Hello

I Own Terra Mystica, but unfortunately do not bring it on the table as often as I would like to because I don’t have other players that like it, but when I do I enjoy the experience.

One of the things that people complaint more about terra mystics is that it is not a ver thematic game. I have heard Gaia project improved a lot
Of things from Terra Mystica, Was this one of the things they improved? Is Gaia project more thematic ?

Hi,

lately (https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/2158181/help-request-do...) we had a user asking a similiar question and the personal answer for him was a relativly clear "No".

For you, my impression is that the answer is not that easy.
The most important point is that you actually like Terra Mystica, which is a very good starting point to also like Gaia Project.

On the specific points you mentioned:
- Getting the game on the table: This totally depends on you but Gaia Project scaling much better for two players and also having a well regarded solo mode might already seal the deal for you. On the other hand, for 3-4 player evenings it might even be a tad harder to get Gaia played, as it's a bit longer and also a bit more complex than TM.
- Being a thematic game: That's not easy to judge, because people expect very different things when it comes to "being thematic". There is hardly any flavour frosting in Gaia and no story telling, no surprising events, no hidden stuff - it's not this kind of thematic game and it never meant to be such a game. On the other hand, from my personal perspective, the game makes sense. You try to build up an empire in space, start with two little houses and see it grow. Building a lot usually helps a lot. So it's no completely abstract game where you only collect 3 green and 4 yellow things to trade it against 11 victory points, there's an idea of building up (but that was already pretty much the same in TM). The new tech part, as already mentioned above, brings some extra flavour - unlocking abilities by scientific advance definitly makes sense for a old-school-scifi-space-setting. Up to you to judge this according to your personal taste and expectations. Does the economic focus of a Terra Mystica game bore you, or is it just "other people complaining" (that maybe simply do not like heavy economic games)?
- On improvements compared to TM: I'd say the clearest improvements compared to TM are the much better scaling for 1-3, especially 1-2, players and the much nicer integration of the technologies and "cults", which are merged into the new tech board. More up to taste are the more asymetric factions, the random, more variable game setup (including the game board) and the more "sandboxy" game feeling which invites to experiment (which on the other hand could of course be critized as less "straightforward" or "clear"). Also Gaia is a bit more forgiving, it's less common that plyers are really blocked - which is also a subjective matter to like or dislike.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Not particularly.
 
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Mateusz M
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Not very thematic, but still a great game (even better than Terra)

What would be great to be done - is create races that have some backstory and feeling that fits their abilities
And not make random words as race names liek "Ivits" but make something like "Tech Federation", "Hegemony", or even "Dark Elves"
 
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Matthew Charlap
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DarkVaati wrote:
I'd say it's not, because instead of fantasy races with somewhat thematic special abilities you have random aliens with random names who are good at doing random stuff.


I disagree with that. Although you may have a preference for fantasy vs. sci-fi settings, the abilities of the races are just as (non)random in both.

The thing is that fantasy races are more generic (in the sense that they are not copyrighted, so anyone can use them), so they can use well known names (Dwarfs, halflings, giants, &c.) Even there, there some generic/random names, such as Engineers or Auren.

For sci-fi, most of the well-known races are copyrighted. For example, if you took one of the science focused races and called them "Vulcans", you would would not have a "random" name, and it would make sense. Call the Hadsch Hallas "Ferengi" because they are the merchants. A tech based faction could be "Vorlons" or "Shadows". The Swarm could be any one of a dozen insectoid/expansionist races (choose your favorite one). And so on.

I don't think the window dressing really makes either more thematic than the other. I think that the tech tracks do give the edge to GP over TM, though. Now, when the next TM expansion comes out (it is still planned, correct? I haven't seen anything on it for a while.), which seems like it will add a tech-like aspect to it, that may change; it really depends on whether it adds to the theme of TM, or breaks it by being too much of a shift.
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James Ataei
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Qurqirish Dragon wrote:
I don't think the window dressing really makes either more thematic than the other. I think that the tech tracks do give the edge to GP over TM, though. Now, when the next TM expansion comes out (it is still planned, correct? I haven't seen anything on it for a while.), which seems like it will add a tech-like aspect to it, that may change; it really depends on whether it adds to the theme of TM, or breaks it by being too much of a shift.


There are 2 coming expansions for Terra Mystica, Merchants and Innovations. Innovations does add a tech like aspect but different than Gaia Project. Merchants is the expansion I have developed, and it adds a Shipyard with Merchants sailing, flying, or tunneling to other players' buildings for resources and VP while the visited get to charge power/leech.

If you are talking about theme, I'd say that Merchants adds a lot of theme to the game along with the strategic implications. Playing Innovation additions with the 20 current factions also adds a Renaissance theme (IMHO) and more strategic implications.
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Flo P
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Space Trucker already provided an incredibly helpful and unbiased answer, so I'd like to give my own reply a different, subjective spin.

First of all, personally there is no question for me in which game is more thematic. TM wins this one easily, but GP has other qualities compared to TM. In GP we have races that, at least to me, are basically a random concatenation of consonants and vowels with no provided or already established lore behind them to tap into, which would help to explain their faction mechanics from a thematic standpoint (except mad androids and swarm). Terraforming, one of the characteristic mechanics of the game, has been abstracted/streamlined away. Some very mechanical shenanigans (gaia forming, federation forming) have been added to the game and together with the systems already present, everything has been glued together very cleverly by an improved power/mana system and a new universal ressource (qics). Even the setting isn't pseudo hard-scifi à la Terraforming Mars, but of the fantasy/cheesy/esoteric variety - "quantum intelligence cubes" goo

Don't get me wrong, the game is almost perfect as it is and I count it among my favourites, but the point I want to make is: You don't buy either of the two because of theme. Theme is a nice window dressing for the system that is tertiary in importance at best, but there is a reason why the hyper-minimalistic snellman implementation is so popular and works so well that a lot of people actually prefer to play there instead of one of the official releases (BGA, Steam) with original artwork. You buy/play this sort of game because it provides a zero luck framework of tightly interwoven systems with a high skill ceiling.

So you liked TM and want to get your group to like it as well? My suggestion would be: Ask your group again and reflect critically on what they did not like about the game. If they prefer scifi to fantasy or if the cult track was a distinguished source of complaint, GP might be the right step, although it still is a gamble. If however they were frustrated by the way the economy works, felt like they could not achieve something without putting some commitment (in the form of repeated plays) into it and ended up disheartened, or simply did not like the fact that the metric used to quantify and assess win-states were victory points, GP might actually end up being received even worse.

Usually when these sort of questions pop up I like to get a better picture of the person asking, which is a little difficult given your sparse profile. You have rated exactly one game, which is Descent, and gave it a 10. Likely the game is a big hit with your group and to have found something you share a passion in is already very precious in itself. Now TM/GP are sort of the antithesis to Descent and I do not mean that to be judging in any way, I myself can enjoy a very broad variety of games and don't like to stick to any categories or labels and am constantly discovering and appreciating new genres. But if your group brings some sort of dungeon crawling background to the table, there is the possibility that not everyone can make the transition to the other end of the spectrum as painlessly as you did.
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Sergio Perez
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The degree to which one is more thematic than the other is roughly equivalent to how much more thematic chess is compared to checkers.
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Atari 2600
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Awesome! Does the new TM expansion add an automa as well?
 
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James Ataei
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Atrusni wrote:
Awesome! Does the new TM expansion add an automa as well?


No... sorry to bust your bubble.
 
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