The Games Journal | A Magazine About Boardgames

Letters - March, 2001

Doug Cooley: I found Andrew's article regarding Theme vs. Mechanics to be interesting, although I suspect his experience is somewhat limited. As a person who has played many themeless games (such as Backgammon, Bridge, etc), I find that his comments on immersion are well taken, although I think that immersion is only an entry point for most "euro-style" games. Once the theme has gotten you to play, the mechanisms and play itself brings you back.

Also, Andrew equates the idea of "theme" as being the same in wargames and "euros". These are radically different uses of theme. In wargames, theme is everything, as the designer is attempting to model a game on a historical or quasi-historical event, and the rules follow from trying to simulate aspects of that event. With euros, the theme is intended as a point of entry for the designer, or perhaps a unifying element, but it never completely dictates mechanics. In many cases, the theme is changed for a variety of reasons during the design process, and sometimes even between releases (as with Grand National Derby and Titan: the Arena). To equate the two is a mistake, and detracts from Andrew's other excellent points.

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