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Subject: Nailing down a theme/era >> Help me decide!! rss

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Jay Little
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I'm just wrapping up the first draft of a new boardgame I've designed, based around assigning laborers to various tasks that need to be performed in some ancient setting. Building monuments, visiting merchants, visiting temples, etc.

It's just about at the stage to develop the playtest prototype, and I find myself waffling between several different historical eras to choose from. Help me decide!

Ancient Egypt: Laborers would be building pyramids and sphinxes, haggling with merchants for brick, drawing water from the Nile, harvesting grain and visiting the temples of Ra, Bast, etc.

Ancient Greece: Laborers would be building the Temples of Asklepios/Apollo and the great Colossus etc, haggling with merchants for gold/salt, harvesting grapes and olives, visiting the Oracle at Delphi, etc.

Ancient China: Laborers would be building shrines, castles and working on the Great Wall, haggling with merchants for gold/salt, harvesting rice and tea, praying to ancestors or the Great Buddha.

The implementation of the individual actions/areas might change ever so slightly based on the theme selected, in an attempt to have it feel as thematically intuitive as possible, but this would be easily balanced out across the myriad options...

I'm just trying to find the theme to help envelop the rules and the action, as well as influence my initial layout decisions. I think all of them are appealing, I'm not sure which one would be the most interesting, or perhaps has the list competing "clutter" of similarly-themed games in the same sort of era.
 
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Jim Cote
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China is perhaps the least visited theme of the 3.
 
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Martin Villemaire
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Ancient Greece! Their parthenon is cooler, and Egypt has been a bit overdone (although I fear I'll be in the minority for this). China is cool, but doesn't compare with the other two.
 
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Mary Weisbeck
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I agree that China would be the most unique setting. Besides, I'd love to help build the Great Wall!
 
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Richard Irving
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1) It doesn't matter to any of us. Go with whatever you like.

2) If you are thinking about publishing it, the manufacturer will possibly change the theme for reasons that have nothing to so with the game itself:
- We published a game with a ______ theme two years ago.
- _______ games just don't sell. It isn't the hot theme these days.
- We could use a game with a _______ theme and your game could be converted to it.
- Etc.

Go with what YOU like!
 
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Gary Heidenreich
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Is it married to the ancient theme?? With what you described, it could be tied into any type of civ building...the rebuilding of Chicago after the fire, San Francisco after the Quake...building an Amish farm. Will those sell?? I dunno. It seems like there are so many of the ancient themed games out there.

Thinkin' outside the box. Good luck with it!!!
 
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Brian Thomas
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Surely you jest - you didn't even include building a cathedral in medieval France as an option!

I think ancient China is perhaps the least used setting, but also the least interesting. I agree that the Great Wall is inappropriate, mostly because it is military, rather than cultural, and also because many of the builders wound up inside the Wall when it was finished.

I prefer the ancient Greece theme, of the 3 options you listed. That theme has the mythos to really make a game come alive, and you've got a whole mythology to draw on for theming wierd mechanics.

But if you want a really unique theme, you might consider one of building a palace in czarist Russia. I'm not sure if this would even fit your game mechanics, but it is a very underexplored theme (Other than St. Petersburg).
 
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Dennis Walker
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I like the idea of something different, but it's your choice. (Or possibly the publishers!)


Some other slightly different suggestions (just thinking aloud here):-

Rebuild London after the Great Fire. Build new churches (this is based on what Sir Christopher Wren did at the time). Labourers build the churches, but of course, can't go to church until it's built. Getting the stone in etc.


Erect a circle (or system) of standing stones.


You could always keep the ancient theme, but base it around building a Temple for King Solomon.








 
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Larry Levy
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Well, when you mentioned building monuments, the first thing I thought of was ancient Egypt, Jay. But pyramid building is popularly ascribed to slaves (whether or not that was actually the case) and slaves in Egypt haggling with merchants doesn't sound right.

China is indeed the least used, but still doesn't grab me. Again, I'm not sure the laborers and the hagglers seem to mix well in my mind.

Greece seems like the best fit. Even though slavery was rampant, I (perhaps wrongly) associate Temple and Colossus building with free men, who could certainly haggle, harvest, and check out the Oracle.

Of course, the Greek theme has been done to death. Have you considered an Arabic setting? Maybe the Moors in fifteenth century Spain? Or how about an Aztec or Inca setting? Or maybe even something using less urbanized native Americans, like the Navaho or the Sioux? There are precious few Eurogames with New World settings--it might prove to be a refreshing change.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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I like the expanding of a wild west town.

Of course that wasn't a choice, I just like it.
 
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True Blue Jon
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Make it about building a lunar colony.
 
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Jesper A
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bop517 wrote:
it could be tied into any type of civ building...the rebuilding of Chicago after the fire, San Francisco after the Quake...building an Amish farm. Will those sell??


I think that the ancient theme has been way overdone. Present or future themes would be great. But if the mechanics don't fit....
I can live with almost any theme though, but i think i would go with China .

Somebody should do an Amish version of Power Grid
 
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Alan Kaiser
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The China theme would be a nice change from the flood of Egyption themed games that seem to exist. Although the Greek theme might be cool. Then again, I think the artwork on a chinese themed game would be a bit more exotic. Go with China.
 
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Gerald McDaniel
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What about the ancient cities and temples of Mexico, Central America, and South America? Might be some interesting possibilities there.

Otherwise, I like the idea of China, but perhaps not the Great Wall.

Of course, you could try a railroad theme -- building the U.S. transcontinental. (Just kidding)

How about fishing villages at the Arctic Circle?

How about the Roman outposts at the height of the empire?

How about 1600's in America -- building new towns and fortifications?

How about........ Okay, enough of that -- bad grandpa!

shake
 
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quozl wrote:
Make it about building a lunar colony.


You beat me to it. I was wondering the same thing-- why go ancient at all?

You could have them building some gargantuan spaceship or something. And it wouldn't even have to be modern, as steam-punk is very hip right now.

Of the offered choices, I like the Greeks.
 
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Dave Wilson
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For whatever reason, I thought of people trying to build professional sports arena complexes. You know: Camden Yards, Pacific Bell Park, the new Busch Stadium, etc.

Do with it what you will.
 
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Chris Tannhauser
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Arcane Doomsday Device: Minions would be building the Inner and Outer Workings, haggling with Otherworldly Beings for bizarre artifacts, committing heists on national gold repositories, harvesting souls and abasing themselves before your Flaming Throne.

Just a thought.
 
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Lori
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My initial reactions:
Egypt... yeah, that's good, but hasn't it kinda been done?
Greece... OK, but kind of seems like a lesser-known version that would be same as Egypt...
China... oh, China, Great Wall, cool!

[reading down list with the suggestions of others]

... YES!!! Building a medieval cathedral in France!!!! That would be awesome!!!!!! It could be the Chartres game! What a beautiful game this could be. And it could encompass a lot of diverse gameplay. [Thinking of cathedrals I have seen, and how many different kinds of workers it took to build them, and how some of them "signed" their work high up and out of sight where it wouldn't show, and how many years it took for people to build a cathedral, and what a great enterprise it was, and how central to the culture of the time...] This wasn't one of your original ideas, but is by FAR the most appealing on the list. JMO.
 
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Denise Lavely
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Of the original three ideas, China, no contest. Completely agree with Ed Jamer that Chinese history is underappreciated in the West. If people don't like the Great Wall idea, make it the construction of the Forbidden City, now there's an opulent setting that as far as I know has never been the focus of a boardgame.

Of the other suggestions, the lunar colony/steampunk idea appeals a lot too!
 
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(The Artist formerly known as) Arnest R
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A Thai (siamese if ancient) theme.

Bhutan is also mysterious.

Please ?

 
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Philip Thomas
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India is also a possibility.But, look what we're doing! A guy comes here asking for help nailing down a theme from his 3 options, and we provide 20 more!

Anyway, the cathedral in medieval france is a good theme, but medieval france resembles ancient Egypt in the number of board games set theresnore How about a cathedral in medieval Poland? Or even in Kievan Rus?
 
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(The Artist formerly known as) Arnest R
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If you´d seen Wat Arun you would not argue.
 
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Jon
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It sounds like you have designed a Train Game that you are trying to disguise. Of course I could misunderstand what you're saying.

Actually you could call the game The Office - each player is a department manager trying to position themselves for promotion to VP. You are building your own little empire of toadies, go-fers and yes-men who you assign to various tasks. Completion of any given task gives you some resources. Various resources or combinations of resources are then used to score points with the board of directors.


 
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Philip Thomas
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Problem with the Iraq theme is that for realism the Haliburton player would have a big advantage. Oh well theme is not the bees knees in eurogames, we can level the playing fieldrobot
 
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Jay Little
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telan wrote:
Actually you could call the game The Office - each player is a department manager trying to position themselves for promotion to VP.


Hehe! I love it!! I even spent some time noodling around the different actions and mechanics I've gotten down so far to see if I could get it to fit, with actions such as Attend Meeting, Gossip at the Water Cooler, Downsize Workforce, etc...
 
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