Pursuing Theme in a Board Game

Game Design
We talk about the importance of theme in a game and why we think it's the single most important aspect to a game design.

What do you think about theme? Is there another aspect to a board game that is more important than theme? What are themes you just absolutely enjoy?

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Supporter4 months ago

Usually theme is what drives me in to look at a game page, then I check if the mechanics and game play are any good. I really really love thematic games that are correctly used. #Star Wars: Rebellion is probably up there for me on how good it emulates the source material. 

4 months ago

Yeah, I think I agree with your assessment. Theme is what drives me to try something but it is then mechanics that get me to stay at the table.

Supporter4 months ago

I really like your banner pic. That is excellent advice, not only for game designers, but for all of us as we go through life. 

4 months ago

Thank you! The quote comes from a Facebook post I made fretting over design choices when a designer brought me back to Earth and said this. I thought it was quite potent.

4 months ago

I think I have found myself putting increasing value on theme, or more specifically the integration of theme and mechanics. I think there is a base level of mechanic quality that is needed but after this theme (or theme integration) is what makes a game really pop for me. I know in lots of co-op games (often because it is easier to suggest rule changes in these situations) I often tweak or interpret rules differently (often to our own detriment) because it feels like the more thematic thing to do. Similarly, in competitive games I often dislike when the thing that gets me the most points or wins the game feels thematically off or flat and am tempted to do the less efficient thing just cause it feels right. On the flip-side I love in when the decisions in a game feel right for the setting even in more eurogames like #Great Western Trail or #Architects of the West Kingdom. So while I absolutely agree that if I had to chose between mechanics or theme I would chose mechanics, but if I had to chose between a great mechanics and good theme or good mechanics and great theme I would often go for the later.

Supporter4 months ago

I hear where you are coming from. I think that theme is becoming more important for me as well. 

4 months ago

I definitely used to be in the 'mechanics over everything' camp, but as I delve deeper into the hobby (and quality of games gets better) I have been noticing that the games I 'love' often have mechanics that match the theme and create opportunity for you to thread a cohesive narrative through the game.

4 months ago

This is the same for me. I do enjoy games with great smooth mechanics but the story and the narrative are really what gets me excited about a game. I know in the community we talk back and forth about the importance of each and I think there are legitimate arguments for both sides. However, in the end the game needs to be marketed and eyeballs need to be looking at the game. Theme helps to establish who is going to play the game and who wants to play the game. At least, that's my argument in my article.

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