What makes a board or card game fun? Well, that question could be answered differently about as many times as there are people on this Earth. Though, there are definitely certain camps within the stratosphere that pull some of those disparate opinions into line.
Its where that whole “Eurogame” or “Ameritrash” argument comes from. Those titles aren’t all that positive or exciting, nor are they a good way to break down board games.
So let me tell you about an example of a “Eurogame” that is lesser known and that I truly love. Constantinopolis has little blocks, its a game about economy, and there are little symbols that mean things with no text associated. All things I commonly put in to the “Eurogame” camp. Though, the thing about this game that I love, there is a solid THEME. When I play this game, I can truly imagine myself being a wealthy patrician, trying to become the best damn merchant that this fictional port city has ever seen.
I’m just glad that my imagination can make sense of what the board and the pieces represent and that it is not just a “points salad”.
I also love some “Ameritrash”, more often than not. Though I think you could put a game like Risk into Ameritrash, and I don’t really care for it. The way the mechanics of Risk work, its just hard to envision and there is no story at all, its all just some simple mechanics, which can be just fine. Its just not what I love as a gamer. I can crunch numbers, but what I want in a game is that elusive story and theme.
Enter another unspoken hero. Android is a game with a ton of text, a ton of moving pieces, and a ton of cards. I LOVE it. I had wanted to play this game for so long and never could find the right group or the right time, as it is a long game. I finally got to play this with a friend before he moved far far away and another buddy. I am always worried to introduce games to people that have a lot of moving parts. I know that this one went well when, after the game, they both wanted to play again right away. We didn’t have time for that, but the thought counted.
The game drips with story and theme. And with those friends, I knew that would hook them as it did me. Games, to me, are just so much more memorable when you can talk about a story that unfolded because of the game and the people that played it.
I know that some people like the min-max game approach, and others like challenging puzzles, but my argument is that a game is best if you combine either of those or other elements with a solid theme.
That is all.