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Does a different theme equal a different game?

Nope, same game(5 votes) 100%
Yep, different if similar(0 votes) 0%
That's the wrong question(0 votes) 0%

5 votes

So there is a podcast I listen to and the hosts were debating whether or not the two version of century: #Century: Spice Road and #Century: Golem Edition are different games or the same game. For those who haven't played them, both are relatively lightweight hand-management/resource management/deck-builder games. The base games of each are mechanically identical and all the cards have a functionally identical equivalent in the other game. However, both have very different artwork/art style and are 'themed' somewhat differently. So, my question is, in your opinion, are these two games the same game or do the cosmetic changes and the fact that some people might prefer one to the other constitute enough of a distinction to call them 'different games'?

I have only ever played the golem edition but if it is the case that only the artwork/components are changed and the cards are otherwise interchangeable then I would think about it similar to how I might think about chess. There are presumably thousands of chess set designs, and I might prefer and enjoy playing with one over the other because the theme fits better e.g. I might enjoy a Lord of the Ring themed set over an office supplies themed set but I would still be playing chess. I think maybe why it feels different is that the Century is a more complex and 'modern' game, and it is unusual for modern board games to be 'reskinned' in this way. 
I would say along the spectrum of differentiation it would go something like:
  1. Reskinning: Mechanically identical with superficial changes (Century Golem/Spice, different chesses etc.)
  2. Different edition/variant: Fundamentally the same core mechanics and/or themeing but slight tweaks (hundreds of versions of risk and monopoly etc. and multiple editions of more modern games such as war of the ring)
  3. Different versions/expansions: You are still playing a very similar game but there is enough differentiation that the game can feel very different (expansions to Carcassonne and Catan, different Catan based games, editions of fury of dracula or twilight imperium etc.)
  4. Similar but different games (things like Agricola and Carverna which have significantly similar DNA, but are undeniably distinct)
It is at this (4) point that I would probably broadly classify something as a 'different game' but it is generally quite pedantic and all of the categories have soft edges and plenty of overlap.
Let me know what you think......


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Supporter4 months ago

Yeah these are definitely the same game with a different coat of paint. 

Supporter4 months ago

If it functions exactly the same, then I'd say, it's the same game.  I may prefer the "theme" or art to one over another... but I can't imagine owning both versions because it's the same game.

Supporter4 months ago

Well said!

4 months ago

I think I only experienced it with #Machi Koro and #Machi Koro Fussball ("football").
It only has a minimal rule change so it's basically a reskin.
Even though we know it, we don't bother and play what we are feeling like at that particular time.
I guess it's a clear case of "same game". :D


Linked Games
Century: Spice Road
Century: Golem Edition
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