Table Talk - Should Your Board Game Tell A Story? - cutlassboardgame.com

Table Talk – Should Your Board Game Tell A Story?

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In many games, the objective is to win, but how much of your experience is also tied to the story a game has to tell? Do you value the experience of a story in your game, or does it just get in the way? Let’s discuss!

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60 Comments

  1. Something i really wish they would add to Magic Arena is a story-based campaign for each new set. For example the latest set Brothers War, I’ve absolutely no sense what that is all about beyond a CG trailer and flavour text on cards. They had a kinda story-based campaign in the old Duels of the Planeswalkers games, I really wish they would bring it back.

  2. Clearly there are some great games that are very abstract. Even fairly abstract games are more fun for me if the design has a sort of theme that lets me imagine a connected story (maybe to help give me a sense of stakes): Falling Skies, Doom Machine, Rove, and from long ago even things like Chitin I or Ogre. There are definitely lots of games that allow emergent storytelling, but those seem more RPGs, for me. And then there are games that actually try to spin a story. That is best of all for me but…. it only works if it works. Generally the board game designers are not good writers, and the writers they hire are also not very good. Arkham Horror works for me because Lovecraft's stories are so good, and AH:LCG is fun but always just a little disappointing for that reason. And yet, I really like those games. But it's interesting you mentioned the Robin Hood game. That's another example isn't it? It starts with a great story, written long ago, and the game tries to use your love of that world to draw you in. There are other games where they lean heavily into the storytelling but didn't do well on their own and weren't leaning on a great foundation of stories from elsewhere, and it falls flat for me. As for original stories… I haven't played Sleeping Gods but it sounds like that's a game that builds its own story without using someone else's IP

  3. Great Vid Rodney, Been watching since the first ep of table talk really happy to see it back.

    I think on this topic I am definitely with Mathew, I believe story driven games are largely group driven which is why I havent had the chance to play many of them, mainly because usually these types of games take quite abit longer to play and arnt as replayable. I feel the stories made during the game between the players is what makes games memorable. This being said though, I must admit games that have interesting art and decent flavour text open the door for those types of player moments a little more.

    My most memorable game night are those when everyone is standing up around the table fully focused on what another player will do on their turn reciting inside jokes that we only just made together 10 minutes ago and pronouncing character names incorrectly.

    Maybe if i tried gaming with a different group i might enjoy story games more but as a guy who just loves playing board games the memories i make around the table is more than enough for me.

  4. I definitely do like story driven games or a game with a historic setting (e.g. pax Pamir). A lot of time when I teach a game I try to do it as a story of what the game is and wants a player to accomplish.
    One of the reasons why I could never get into souls games is simply because by the time you get good at them i forget what was going on in them.

  5. Narrative in games is not a huge priority for me, but I think it can greatly enhance the theme and feel of the game by giving a compelling reason for “what are we doing in this game anyway?” Some games, in my opinion, don’t have exciting background, like Ticket to Ride’s “We’re successful train tycoons all trying to race each other around the country” or Ark Nova’s “we’re all trying to build a great zoo.” This doesn’t mean that these games are bad, but I like premises that are a bit more interesting, like the background in Galaxy Trucker, Spirit Island, Scythe, Betrayal, Terraforming Mars, the Crew, and even Clue.

  6. I played Wonderland the other day and now I want to watch some of the movies to remember all the characters. I did this with Nemesis, then watched all the Alien and Predator movies.

  7. As a ccg enthusiast, I think ccgs and lcgs are usually very good at telling a story with very little actual storytelling. Legend of the Five Rings is a prime example of this: an entire universe came to life with cards depicting characters, actions, items, events, etc. There was just the right amount of flavor in the game, and it was complemented with story material outside the game, such as short stories in rulebooks, letters to fan according to their clans, storyline tournament events, and of course rpg books and novels. This all meant you could invest yourself in the story according to your preferences, as little or as much as you wanted.

    In the board game world, I think Plaid Hat and Jerry Hawthorne created amazing stories. While Mice & Mystics was very heavy on reading (and it did feel a bit like work at times), Familiar Tales greatly improved on this with an audio track, and great voice actors. The inclusion of professional (mostly anime) voice actors in storytelling games was also amazing in Forgotten Waters.

    And finally, there are sometimes games that are a bit of a trainwreck, but that are in a way something you should experience. Android comes to mind. The game is heavy and somewhat clunky, and it rarely hit the table, but our game from 10 years ago still offers us some legendary memories. And even if I have no immediate plans to play again, I am extremely attached to that game, simply because of the story it created for us.

  8. I think it is important to distinguish between narrative and story. I would argue games like wingspan and Castles of Burgundy tell a story with their components and mechanics. Narrative I think of as written language story telling. IMO, all good games either have or help players develop good stories.

  9. First, I love Table Talk. To answer the question I love a board game with a story. I find that when I play a game that doesn’t have a “story” that it guides you through, I end up creating my own narrative.

  10. Ymmm flavour text. I started in this hobby from Mtg back in 1998 and I really enjoyed being immersed in the story by reading the flavour text on the cards.

  11. The primal sin of your Eldritch Horror game box cover not in the correct orientation to the back cover gave me chills.

  12. I don't think the game's should have long texts. A few lines maybe. But for me, what's more important than narrative is the world I'm playing at. The game needs to have a world that works in a certain way that explains what we are doing. And no, I'm not talking only about themes, this is just one aspect of it. Theme, mechanics and lore must combine into a functional fiction world simulator that uses cards, boards and little pieces to show you rather than tell you. And none of these things should be without reason and place in this world.

  13. This sure makes me appreciate the arkham lcg even more. Rewarding players for staying true to their backgrounds, like Monterey Jack getting more resources for exploring. Our group was originally mostly roleplayers before we got sucked into board games, so narrative is pretty essential for us at least.

  14. Great video Rodney! For me… I was drawn to board games during the pandemic, and due to the situation, I was limited to games that included solo variants. Since I didn't have the opportunity to play with others and I dislike anything digital, I found the best balance in Eurogames. If I have a group of friends I feel that Legacy or RPG style games provide a better thematic experience than for solo, but for now, I find peace playing solo Eurogames. Theme is a bonus but does not need to be part of the game to bring the experience that I'm looking for. Lacrimosa is probably the closest I can get to theme driven-ish 😁I am starting to dive into wargames like Cuba Libre though….Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

  15. Thank you Rodney! Great topic that I never really thought about!Sleeping Gods is one of my games that I adore. I love the flavor text, the narrative. Although the narrative is some what disconnected, I make connections myself!

  16. I'm probably with Naveen. Just play the game. But I do love immersive games with a strong theme. I've got to go with 'sometimes' on the flavor text.

  17. Love to see the return of this series! I must say, I really love and appreciate the extra bits of production value and effort put into this (as with all your projects)! Hearing from the whole team's differing perspectives, setting up seamless transitions, and even the ad break felt natural and within the flow of the video. Awesome job!

    Here are some of my thoughts on the topic (warning in advance, I can get a bit long-winded at times 😆):

    I am definitely somewhere in the middle of the spectrum for appreciation of story in my games. It certainly isn't essential, and I enjoy plenty of heavier Euros like Monique and Naveen were describing, but I have come to realize a little bit goes a long way for me. In abstract games, I can often feel disconnected and disengaged; an example that comes to mind looking at my shelf is Cryptid; despite loving the puzzle that game presents the theme is so threadbare it sometimes dissuades me from playing it over other similar contenders with a just a slightly better executed theme (like Search for Planet X). On the flip side, games that are purely (or largely) narrative are difficult for me to get into, because I am ultimately looking for a more interactive and 'thinky' experience when I sit down to play games; a recent example of a game that I bounced off of for this reason was Sleeping Gods (which I also disliked their combat non-rewards system, but that's a different topic 😋 ).

    Another point I'd like to reflect on a bit from your video: when you state we're operating under the assumption we all want the games to be 'good/functional', regardless of story. I've found for myself that there are some games that mechanically, would not be enough for me to get them to the table, but because of their story tying in so well with their mechanics, I get more engaged playing it. The perfect example is one you already used in the video: Eldritch Horror; mechanically, it's a bit too swingy, dependent on die rolls, and sometimes repetitive. But when you add in the story, all of a sudden I don't have a generic +1 die to some stat checks, I have SLEDGEHAMMER, and I'm going to use it to cave in that Shoggoth's face. This is one of the games where I do ask players to read the flavor text on their encounter cards, because the story is a big part of the experience for me here.

    This does bring me to my central point, one touched on slightly in the video but I'd to dig deeper into, since it is the way I most appreciate story in games: when it is closely tied to the mechanics. To use an example from your video, the character that is always prone to fighting; my ideal games take that character's story and then design him mechanically so that he is frequently incentivized to be in combat (or vice versa). It is when this is done particularly well that you get some of my favorite games. Easy example is my favorite game of all time, Spirit Island; the Invaders are coming to this island and Blighting it, the native Dahan are all but powerless to stop it, and you play as a literal force of nature in an attempt to stem the tide, sometimes by brute force, sometimes by subtle suggestion and manipulation, and others by outright terror. Some of these things are told to me, but most I experience through the gameplay and mechanics of the game, as it was designed. Similarly with the Spirits (player characters), each one has mechanics that reinforce their theme, and vice versa. This immerses me deeply in the game I'm playing, and makes for some very memorable stories.

    Another category I want to carve out a mention for: IP games. While many, especially in the past, have been somewhat obvious cash-grabs with little thought put into them, in the last decade I think we've seen a big boom in fantastically well designed and executed IP Games; some examples that come to mind are Star Wars Rebellion, War of the Ring, almost all of the Dune games of recent memory (and the OG as well), and even the new Pandemic system games (which I was highly skeptical of upon announcement), have served their IPs well while still delivering an engaging mechanical experience. IP games can help players too because it 'saves them some work' of having to understand a new world or story and just puts them into one they already know well; this can result in some of the best moments and personal stories to be told, that seem to be the peak of all gamer's experience with stories (Star Wars Rebellion is particularly good at this)

    And for a final note, wargames and historical games in general. While I greatly appreciate all the hard works that goes into these games and am glad so many enjoy them as they do, this is a genre that I struggle to play. For me, gaming is largely about escapism; getting away from my troubles and spending some time (be it alone or with friends) with a fun experience that will keep my brain turning. Unfortunately, these games, depicting real-world conflicts and the very real anguish of very real people, make it hard for me to achieve that, and can often just remind me of the things I'm trying to escape from. Just to reiterate: I do not begrudge these games' existence, or anyone who creates or enjoys them; I think they are a worthy lens into the past and, in almost every case, are extremely mindful and respectful of the reality of the conflicts they are depicting. It's just a genre that doesn't quite work for me, for the reasons mentioned above. That being said, it seems only fair to mention a couple of games that are the exception to this (both WiP recommendations as it turns out): first is Watergate; it's a theme I don't feel strongly about, but it masterfully executes on it, and the mechanics of the game are just so tight and enjoyable, and packed into a relatively short playtime, that I just love to play it again and again. The tug-of-war mechanic in particular is something so unique and clever; I hope we'll see more games using this. The other (in true WiP fashion) is a COIN game, specifically Andean Abyss; this is one I rarely get to play, but due to my connection to the source material, I do enjoy experiencing; it makes me feel like I have a better understanding of the forces at play in that conflict (something I suspect many other players of the genre enjoy as well)

    Well there you are! Apologies for the long-winded response, I tend to get carried away 😅 . Just goes to show you had a lot of great talking points in the episode! 😋 😄

    Cheers!

  18. I love narratives in board games, especially games specifically centered around it like trudvang, stars of akarios and lord of the rings journeys in middle earth.

    I also love board games like nemesis that gives me the ability to tell a special kind of story that’s not scripted, but isn’t necessary to enjoying the game. If I want to be just tactile and make the best choices and just play it as a game or create a world for 2hrs with my friends, I can do so.

    But narrative isn’t the end all be all for games. Sometimes, I just want to game and other nights I wanna be immersed in them. It’s really amazing how flexible board games can be and how deep or not you really want to dive into the worlds they create.

  19. I say that story telling in games depends on the game. If they are quick games, you might not care too much. But some games, story telling makes the game, they add so much depth and colour to the game. For example, "This War of Mine" has an amazing story telling to the game, where it's not too long, but long enough for you to get emotionally involved. Losing a character can hurt, but you know it's a part of life, but you feel so much for the game.
    Some games, you don't need much story telling. A game I'm starting to play again, "Letters from Whitechapel" great story telling, yet it doesn't say too much, since its a historically accurate game that involved real people. To play and escape each night as Jack, or to be the police, to investigate each move hoping to catch Jack, makes the game so intense, and everyone get so involved in it. You don't feel like the characters, but you sure do enjoy the art of escape and capture.
    Another game I can think of is Pandemic, which is interesting. The game doesn't need story telling, but if you buy the Legacy game (which I have yet to play), you get to enjoy the characters and what happens in that game affect your next gameplay. And that's why so many people like to play the Legacy version of Pandemic rather then just the main replay able game.
    So many games I could say just add a major element of your game, and makes you want to be that character, but yet, not every game needs a story.

  20. I haven't yet played any games that were successfully story driven (I'm not very experienced gamer, so that speaks only to my experience, not to an opinion about whether it's possible). But I know that I like games where the theme works and makes sense with the game. A theme that is irrelevant is annoying (I'm looking at you, The Crew). And I don't like when the theme isn't central (I still don't understand why the creation of the 7th Wonder in 7 Wonders Duel doesn't end the game).

  21. Its great you do these video essays. Great stuff. Great narrative!

  22. The Mansion of Madness was the 1st one I have seen on Watch it played YEARS after it turned into Watch it Played. It's actually the reason I got the game and still have it.

  23. Most important to me is a coherent setting paired with actions within the game. From there, I'm willing to bring in my own imagination. Which isn't to say that I don't love a good storytelling game. I just think about narrative games as a separate category from other games. I think Obsession is a great example of a narrative that evolves as you play the game, even though it isn't a "narrative" game. The photos along with some very brief flavor text always seem to have players working to embody imagined characters by speaking with accents or discussing why Lady Moneybags wasn't invited to an event, but Lord NeedsAGoodBarber was.

  24. I think at this stage in my life, I've come to the conclusion that the story IS the game.
    100 times out of 100 I would rather lose a game and create a unique experience, than win a game by figuring out the meta.
    It's more of a thrill to follow a character's impulses and lose colorfully, than to drag that character through a generic strategy and win.
    Nemesis and Zombicide come to mind as I write this. Thanks so much for the discussion! I'm so glad gaming is a "Thing" for people like us.

  25. OK, Rodney – long-time watcher here, first-time commenter. ABSOLUTELY board games should, and do, tell stories, but that goes beyond explicit narrative textual elements. I collect children's books from 1900-1940, and those often include stamped or illustrated covers and limited sets of tipped-in full-color plates (usually 4, 8, or 12 pictures per book). A beautifully designed board or components function just like a beautiful color plate: they invite you to imagine a story even before you begin reading the rules.

    In many ways that's what you're talking about: not the importance of novel-length stories in games, but of the story POTENTIAL of great imagery and aesthetics. They can inspire our imaginations to fill "the spaces in between," just as you said. We learn that as children even before we can read for ourselves, and the stories we create or embellish by connecting images and patterns in our little-kid heads often remain incredibly vivid and powerful memories.

    I've been playing a lot of puzzle games lately, like Sagrada and The Whatnot Cabinet. They have no explicit narrative at all, but the tiny hint offered to me by the tokens, the colors, even the art style – those encourage me to immerse myself and imagine, "What if?" What if I was back in my childhood, trudging through the Appalachians in the fall, looking for pretty leaves and neat stones? What if I was in a beautiful cathedral with sunlight streaming through the intensely colored stained glass windows? Those aren't whole narratives, but they take me out of my own here-and-now and put me in another reality, just for a few moments. And that counts as story to me, in a really fundamental way.

  26. Love audible and a good story in a board game!! One that really caught our attention was The Initiative that builds the story into the puzzles you are trying to solve and add some of those really funny and exciting moments to pieces that you get to discover along the way. We also love Call to Adventure where you build out your own story! You get to choose you past and your future, whether you are good or bad and fulfill your destiny, it's great!

  27. For my gaming group and I, it is the stories we create that matter most. I liken it to a tabletop RPG with a good and bad GM. When they are bad, they overly control the flow and narrative robbing the players of agency, creativity, and imagination. When the GM is good, then they serve to create the conditions and environments for memorable moments to emerge. That's where the best stories come from, so for us theme, thematic mechanics, flavor text, unique art, etc… are really important narrative elements because they create those conditions and environments for good stories, but things like storybooks steal away those opportunities for investment and immersion.

  28. I guess I have a little different approach when it comes to games or, for that matter, movies, books, and shows. If a product needs to tell a story, it should! As a creator and a novelist, I'm intensely interested in the process. There are so many talented people in this industry! I love to see what these artists come up with and I try, hopefully with some success, to consume that product as the creator intended. For me, it's not important for a developer to try and match some kind of pre-conceived preferences that I might have. Instead, a game is successful if: A.) The game establishes a clear promise of its intentions, and 2.) It delivers on that promise. If I could underline that last sentence, I would. This approach means I'm free to embrace all sorts of amazing games that are well-designed, set solid expectations, and then meet (or exceed!) those expectations! Some games need to tell a story, or offer narration, or have none at all. It's when creators understand their designs and execute them well that they are successful and those are the ones I love to play. (And Rodney, you always exceed your promises!)

  29. I'm a creative writer. Creating stories took my whole life. I love writing, drawing, and playing boardgames since I was a kid. Even simple games such as Monopoly or Snakes and Ladders intrigued me because they provided a sort of mini-world where I can craft a story with. That's also the reason why I love euro games the most. They might look boring to some, but to me, they're like a systematic worlds where people struggled to live and gain their life. (I personally prefer flavor narrative texts on cards rather than on books, and yeah, euro games with story cards are my favorites, like Oh My Goods story expansions!)

    I guess that's also where my habit of making custom standees and story generators for every games possible came from. 😀

  30. For me, a game needs to tell a story in some way or another. I enjoy some drab, dry, boring euro games because of the great mechanics, but they are rarely if ever memorable. I like stories in all sorts of formats, up to and including reading paragraphs of text. If the writing is done well, it doesn't take me out of the game at all…quite the opposite. Forteller is another fantastic tool for big narrative style games.

    By far my favorite and most immersive story moments in games have been in plays of This War of Mine. Favorite may not be the right word…as many of those moments were tragic and heartbreaking…but they made such an emotional impression that lasts to this day.

  31. I love as much story in my games as possible. I'm fine either with narrative storytelling in a scenario or a story being told through the gameplay. If it's just droll card playing or dice rolling, while I can play the game, I won't truly enjoy it. I certainly won't remember it long term. Some of my favorite storytelling game sessions have occurred from Arabian Nights, Pathfinder ACG, or Shadow Hunters.

  32. I think my favorite games are the ones that provide a solid foundation for a story, but which then let you make it your own.

    One of my absolute favorite games is New Angeles. The players act as CEOs of mega corporations in an urban sprawl, and there is a lot of flavor there for fans of the Android universe. But while the game kind of guides what challenges the players face, the most interesting tension is the negotiation, the in game alliances and rivalries, the scheming when a powerful asset comes up for bid. The story isn't handed to us, but develops organically from the sandbox it places the players in.

  33. My favourite game right now, Marvel Champions, is all story whereas most of my library is not. I am finding the story element more intriguing as I dive more into this hobby and amateur designer. And I do think the art adds to the immersiveness to the story. Great video as always, great conversation starter.

  34. My favorite type of games are narrative based, even when I play video game I tend to prefer narrative based. Fav. Table top game Mansions of Madness.

  35. I want games stories to then drive interesting choices. Some dungeon crawlers can be a novel to read between each battle and do nothing for the battle, while some abstracts can develop emergent narratives that I remember for a long time. The other great pitfall is when the flavor pushes you one way, but game mechanics push you another. I don’t want a game story to convince me to lose. When theme and mechanics work together, it is magical, I put wins here of Star Wars rebellion and sleeping gods, while losers are house on the hill and mice and mystics.

  36. I mainly play board games with two groups. But I'd say neither group really builds or engages in stories from the games. They are mainly concerned, basically, with earning points, or whatever is involved with mechanically winning the games. Meanwhile, at least in my head, I'm often creating little narratives, or at least evocative moments. But I've learned, over time, that with my two groups, those narratives need to be set aside if they might in any way adversely affect the chances of mechanically winning.

    About the closest to narrative either of these groups get is when one of them plays Eldritch Horror. We normally read out the encounter cards. But, a couple of the players break those readings down to, literally "yada yada roll this to get the clue." And, as the play goes on, often for hours with that game, I find myself rushing my own readings as well.

    I find myself craving a sillier sort of group, that would be willing to risk a win simply to exercise a good story. Ah well.

  37. It’s easy for me to find and plug into the narrative aspect of a game involving a character in the midst of an adventure or a mystery and I love that. I can put myself in their shoes and live out the story. Campaign games that develop my character and the game’s world are some of my favorites.

    But just as enjoyable (maybe more so) are the narratives created by the players of a game. Something like Twilight Imperium or other civilization builder becomes such an awesome story telling experience just from the interactions, battles and political happenings between everyone. Those stories are so memorable even though the game itself may not be telling the majority of the story.

    I love games with narrative in either of those types. But that’s not the only selling point for me. Art and theme are big drivers for me too. Wingspan was the perfect example. I love the art and I’m a birdwatcher as well, so the art and little facts on each card does just as much to hold my interest and draw me in.

  38. It has been a while but the plaid still remains! A game does not need a theme but at its base I would hope it helps to teach the game better. Also, I think theme helps a lot to bring more interaction into the game.

    I am in a way the historian of my groups as I take pictures of many of the games I play and write storied captions for them too based on how the game played out. Slowly, even the more Eurogamers would give themed ideas on moves they make and why, creating many in-jokes and nicknames.

    One player even went from almost a pure Eurogamer to loving Mansions of Madness and all, often sacrificing my character if it comes down to it :(. So in conclusion there is no loss to even a workable theme and oh my friend Manyata is an evil hellspawn…help…

  39. Your recollection is a walk for me down memory lane… so many years had gone by… your kids must be all grown-up. Back to the topic – it really depends on the game. Uno, Monopoly, Bang!, Dominion etc – either the story isn't there at all or unimportant. However, games like Folklore, Descent, Ghost Stories – yes, getting into the game with a story (role-playing) makes immersive and that added memorable.

    Rodney, I want to take the opportunity to thank you for the many years of fun watching your videos – thank you.

  40. I definitely don't need narrative in my board games (I mean.. I'm known for liking 18xx games), but I do like games with a good narrative. And when it does have a theme that seems like it would have a narrative, I like it more when I feel like I'm playing as a character in the theme. For example, when we played Paleo we didn't like that we were controlling multiple characters, and we were just thinking that we would prefer to play Robinson Crusoe because that gave us more of a sense of caring about each player character.

    I actually didn't like The Adventures of Robin Hood as much though… the narrative was okay but I didn't like the gameplay much. So I need to enjoy the gameplay too!

    And I totally agree with the comments on players making the story come to life more than the game many times! Even with games that you wouldn't think have narrative, like Caverna or something, we've sometimes made stories about what we're building in our houses/farms 😆

  41. Doesn't matter what you do, your game will tell you a story. It may be imbedded in the rules and narration, but even Codenames and Uno will tell a story. The story of events that happen around the table with your friends and family. The time your mum couldn't get your star wars reference to find your spy's. Or the time that you five year old lost but took it on the chin and didn't kick up tantrum.

  42. seeing mansions of madness i already love this video ❤

  43. I think I'm about half way to Matthew's side on this. Games that have long bouts of reading have trouble keeping me interested but something with shorter bits, such as Arkham Horror, work well with me. My gaming group is still haunted after nearly a decade by the story of the chair in Arkham's St Mary's Hospital that was so comfy, my friend could never leave.

    I also like it when we can find stories within a game and a big help to that is games with asymmetrical player powers. Games like Root and Star Trek Ascendancy provide a great foundation for narrating otherwise dry conquests.

  44. This is such an interesting topic that boils down to "what makes board games enjoyable for you?" I think it depends on "how your experiences on board games developed or evolved".
    I started playing hobby board games since 2012, and you guessed it, I more or less been watching your channel since then. So initially, I loved story driven games like Mice and Mystics or Lord of the rings LCG, which were uploaded on WatchItPlayed where I really had fun watching it being played. However, I eventually moved on as it was extremely hard to play these kind of games with my group as it requires continuous plays to fully enjoy the game.
    After experiencing euro games, I'm pretty much like what Naveen said, the theme is important not the narrative. I realized this with my friends the first time we played Barrage. Before, we always thought resources as something we buy and use up but Barrage lets us have the resources (the machinery) returned after being used. On top of that, the way the water moves was also something phenomenal. I love board games that have "convincing" mechanisms, mechanisms that are harmonious to the theme of the game.
    If not, I would prefer a game to have absolutely no theme at all, like the GIFF series or pretty much abstract games. However, this is also due to my experience in board games. I liked playing chess since 6 years old and to me board games were 2 player abstract games, which is probably why I still enjoy them. Santorini, War Chest, Yinsh are so much fun.
    Finally, I do love games that driven by narrative but that allows players to create them. Absolutely love Dune: Imperium because of the battles. Even though the battle is only a small part of the game (although the most important), the preparation, the battle itself, and the element that you get to start with additional power if you won the previous battle on that location, they are all very thematic and players can imagine an enormous battle field that changes almost every game.
    Basically, I think I enjoy these kind of games because they were most fun for the conditions that I was in. If I ever meet someone that can regularly play a story driven game, I'm sure that I will eventually like such games as well. Hopefully then, I will be able to play Gloomhaven haha XD

  45. Yes! I love stories with my board games! Above and Below, Near and Far, and Now or Never are some of my favorite examples of this. My family’s new obsession is Clank Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated. The way we’re all working together to unlock all the quests, cards, and board stickers is truly wonderful, and we’re all invested in the various characters and situations in the game. In-game narratives Drive player interaction, and that’s always welcome at my table!

  46. My daughter Violet likes a little bit of storytelling "as long as it's not lots of paragraphs that you have to read before continuing with the story" (like in Mice & Mystics), but when we tried playing Dungeons & Dragons for the first time, the chance to tell her own story was much more enjoyable. For me, I do like storytelling, and whenever it's presented I'll try and get into it as much as I can – adding some atmosphere and voices (Betrayal at House on the Hill, Journeys in middle Earth). But I know my family are less keen on it so it's usually short-lived. Great episode!

  47. I love a game that has some kind of lore to it and for that reason, out of the classic board games, Cluedo is my personal favorite. Discovering how each of the suspects were connected to Mr Boddy, why did Boddy invite the suspects to his mansion, and their motives for murder. One little rule that bothered me was why did Miss Scarlet always go first until I read in an older rules book that she found the body – so I then decided that whoever goes first found Mr. Boddy's body. For some silly little improv, one special house rule that I had was that if you're playing as the murderer, you have to give a confession. I have written my own lore for Cluedo too, I used to write murder mysteries on a forum for people to solve and I still keep my hand in sometimes

  48. This is an interesting thing.When it comes to solo games I love narative being in the game. When I'm a solo player in Arkham Horror LCG.I love the feeling I get, as I battle cultists and things that the human mind should never see.

    But for multiplayer games, I know most ppl dont feel the same draw to the story that I do….and for that reason I love hidden role games or just asymmetric games like Fury of Dracula. I think there is something special about the narrative when you are versing someone that is living breathing and sitting at the table.

    There is a dangerous thing about to much narrative. I was playing Battlestar Galactica with some friends and one of the players was getting way to much into it from a roleplaying perspective that he was hampering the other human players. I think thats why I think its hard to get that particular game in front of them again, even though that person doesn't even play with us any longer.

  49. I think stories in games have even more dimensions than this. One thing I expected in the video when Rodney was standing next to the Kallax with a cube of COIN games next to him was for him to take one out and talk about how games can RE-tell stories. Stories of history and people, things we know have happened. In some cases, games like these allow us to find out why or how they happened that way, when the games mechanics guide you to strategies that were historically used as well, like how Twilight Struggle paces you and pushes you to influence certain countries in a particular way.

    In other cases, games allow you to find out "what could have happened" by you taking a very different approach, or by getting completely different outcomes to the history, like a completely independent Afghanistan in Pax Pamir or a Syndicate-controlled Cuba in Cuba Libre. (Similar stories to COIN games can come out the fictional world of Root, especially given how full of personality the components in Root are!)

    Or if you're playing a game based on a fictional story, then how that story could have gone differently. Seeing War Of The Ring end up with a victory for Sauron or a game where Aragorn died, for example.

    This is the kind of storytelling–storytelling through the mechanics and possibility space of the game–that you can also find (though perhaps less explicitly as "storytelling") in some Eurogames. Tigris & Euphrates is famously dry, but also a great example of the story of the rise and fall of civilizations and kingdoms in ancient Mesopotamia.

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