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Theme-fullness (was Re: [Unity_Games] Re: Meridian)

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  • Matthew Gray
    ... Oh boy, this wonderful discussion again. Themed, abstract and in-between. Clearly theme is a spectrum, but there s a tendency to talk about things as
    Message 1 of 9 , May 29, 2001
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      > When I'm sitting down to play Acquire, or UP or El
      > Grande or just about any other German game I don't
      > feel like I'm playing a game like Quarto, Corridor,
      > Octi, Chess etc. Meridian felt very much like that -
      > much more so than Medina.

      Oh boy, this wonderful discussion again. Themed, abstract and
      in-between. Clearly theme is a spectrum, but there's a tendency to
      talk about things as themed, abstract, weakly themed, etc, when
      obviously we need more refined terminology.

      So, I hereby introduce a terminology, and expect everyone to use it
      from now on, or else. :-) Without further ado:

      THE MATTHEW GRAY THEMEDNESS SCALE

      MGT-0 Purely abstract. (eg, Go, Checkers, Quarto)
      There is no theme at all.

      MGT-1 Abstract with nominal theme. (eg, Chess, Rosenkonig)
      A theme which provides essentially no mnemonic aide for
      remembering rules, nor any substantial thematic "feel".

      MGT-2 Weak theme. (eg, Traumfabrik, Mamma Mia)
      A theme which provides some simple mnemonic aide for
      rule memory and adds to the "feel" of the game, but
      could easily be replaced by many other themes.

      MGT-3 Moderate theme. (eg, Settlers, OfuA)
      A theme which provides substantial mnemonic aide for
      the rules and has a substantial feel of the theme, but
      could be replaced by a few other themes.

      MGT-4 Substantial theme. (eg Mississippi Queen, RoboRally)
      A theme which is core to the game and helping remember the
      rules. Not quite a simulation, but close. Switching to
      another theme may be possible, but would usually
      require some game changes.

      MGT-5 Theme driven/simulation. (eg, Circus Maximus, Roads & Boats)
      The theme determines the game rules, though some aspects
      of the simulation's reality may be substantially modified
      for gameplay reasons.

      MGT-6 Simulation. (eg, ASL?, some wargames)
      Theme determines the rules, and rules are intended to as
      accurately as possible simulate reality.

      Fractional ratings are acceptable (eg, I would rate "Ra" a MGT-1.5,
      since the "themes" on the tiles are useful for helping remember the
      scoring rules). Further, some games emphasize the "mnemonic" aspect
      of theme over the "feel" aspect and vice versa.

      Having never played Meridian or Medina, I don't know where they fall
      on this scale. Most of these games we play fall between MGT-2 and
      MGT-4, though many of the more abstract are closer to MGT-1.

      ...Matthew
    • Craig Massey
      ... Nice post Matthew. Using the scale, I ll give Medina a 1.7 and Toscana a 1.5. ===== Craig W. Massey cwmassey@yahoo.com
      Message 2 of 9 , May 29, 2001
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        --- Matthew Gray <matthew@...> wrote:

        > Having never played Meridian or Medina, I don't know
        > where they fall
        > on this scale. Most of these games we play fall
        > between MGT-2 and
        > MGT-4, though many of the more abstract are closer
        > to MGT-1.

        Nice post Matthew.

        Using the scale, I'll give Medina a 1.7 and Toscana a
        1.5.


        =====
        Craig W. Massey
        cwmassey@...

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      • AndAgainMA@aol.com
        Matthew s MGT scale is an interesting means of relating theme and rules. My own perception of themefullness is influenced also by the bits. If I were to
        Message 3 of 9 , May 29, 2001
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          Matthew's MGT scale is an interesting means of relating theme and rules.

          My own perception of themefullness is influenced also by the bits. If I were to introduce a measure for this, I'd call it APT (Andrew's Perception of Themefullness). Running it from 0 to 6 sounds reasonable.

          For example, I'd place Samurai at 2 (weak theme) on the MGT scale. But it's at least a 3 on APT, since the bits support the theme so well.

          Since APT is subjective to the point of idiosyncracy and beyond, its use by anyone else would be very disturbing.

          Andrew.
        • Matthew Gray
          ... Ah yes, but the bits (and the gameplay) contributes to the feel aspect of theme. Plus, the boats v. land pieces clearly help remember the rules, if
          Message 4 of 9 , May 29, 2001
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            > My own perception of themefullness is influenced also by the
            > bits. If I were to introduce a measure for this, I'd call it APT
            > (Andrew's Perception of Themefullness). Running it from 0 to 6
            > sounds reasonable.

            Ah yes, but the bits (and the gameplay) contributes to the "feel"
            aspect of theme. Plus, the 'boats' v. 'land' pieces clearly help
            remember the rules, if only marginally more so than two different
            colored (unthemed) tiles would.

            > For example, I'd place Samurai at 2 (weak theme) on the MGT
            > scale. But it's at least a 3 on APT, since the bits support the
            > theme so well.

            If it weren't for the nice bits, Samurai would probably be a MGT-1, or
            maybe a little highter, but with the nice bits, it goes up, I'd agree
            it's about MGT-2.

            I would propose a bit rating scale, but think we've already got a
            sufficient vocabulary in which we describe quality of game components.

            ...Matthew
          • Dan Schmidt
            One more criterion for themedness is If I know the theme well, but not the game, will decisions based on my knowledge of the theme turn out to be good
            Message 5 of 9 , May 29, 2001
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              One more criterion for themedness is "If I know the theme well, but
              not the game, will decisions based on my knowledge of the theme turn
              out to be good gameplay decisions as well?" Well, that was awkwardly
              phrased, but you get the idea. I guess that would start being true
              at MGT-4 or 5.

              --
              http://www.dfan.org
            • Joe Hartley
              I just bought a copy of Union Pacific in German, and am looking for a copy of the rules in English. I have a bare text version that I found at the Rio Grande
              Message 6 of 9 , Jun 4, 2001
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                I just bought a copy of Union Pacific in German, and am looking for a
                copy of the rules in English. I have a bare text version that I found
                at the Rio Grande site, but was wondering if anyone's put together a
                better-formatted version. Thanks!
              • AlanRMoon@aol.com
                In a message dated 6/4/01 9:15:33 AM Eastern Daylight Time, jh@brainiac.com writes:
                Message 7 of 9 , Jun 4, 2001
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                  In a message dated 6/4/01 9:15:33 AM Eastern Daylight Time, jh@...
                  writes:

                  <<
                  I just bought a copy of Union Pacific in German, and am looking for a
                  copy of the rules in English. I have a bare text version that I found
                  at the Rio Grande site, but was wondering if anyone's put together a
                  better-formatted version. Thanks!

                  >>Hi Joe,

                  I think Dave Bernazzani or Mark Edwards told me has the Rio Grande version.
                  Maybe you will see them this week at a game night? If not, I'm coming to SSG
                  on Saturday. I can bring a copy with me. Or I can mail it to you if you give
                  me your address.

                  Alan
                • Dave Bernazzani
                  Hi Joe, The only copy I know of was at the Rio Grande site. The text is basically the same as for the official English rules (as you would expect from Rio
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jun 4, 2001
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                    Hi Joe,

                    The only copy I know of was at the Rio Grande site. The text is basically
                    the same as for the official English rules (as you would expect from Rio
                    Grande) so they are perfectly good to play the game with. A bit of
                    formatting in MS Word or some other such program will probably be your best
                    bet if someone else doesn't come up with something else.

                    http://www.riograndegames.com/games/rules/UnionPacific.htm

                    --
                    Dave Bernazzani
                    dber@...
                    http://www.gis.net/~dber (South Shore Gamers)
                  • Joe Hartley
                    ... That s the plan, but if someone s done this ahead of me, I d rather use that - time s tight these days. --
                    Message 9 of 9 , Jun 4, 2001
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                      Dave Bernazzani wrote:
                      > The only copy I know of was at the Rio Grande site. The text is basically
                      > the same as for the official English rules (as you would expect from Rio
                      > Grande) so they are perfectly good to play the game with. A bit of
                      > formatting in MS Word or some other such program will probably be your best
                      > bet if someone else doesn't come up with something else.

                      That's the plan, but if someone's done this ahead of me, I'd rather
                      use that - time's tight these days.

                      --
                      ======================================================================
                      Joe Hartley - jh@...
                      Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority,
                      it is time to reform. - Mark Twain
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