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Talk about Eurogames here.

TOPIC: Pax Emancipation

Pax Emancipation 17 Aug 2018 18:11 #280012

I don't agree with the idea that you can get

I maen, it's true that the Pax games are "jumped up tableau builders with more direct interaction than usual". But that's

Michael Barnes wrote:
Like Dave says, ultimately in terms of gameplay there isn’t anything here you can’t enjoy elsewhere- and in games where the design and production are not practically defying you to have fun.
I see what you mean, but I don't agree.

There really aren't many games like Eklund's. Heavy, highly thematic strategy games are rare and the vast majority of them cover military themes, not science or nature. Sure, you can get half a dozen euros with dinosaurs on them, but none of them really use their themes beyond window-dressing. There's real appeal in this and nobody else is covering this niche.

And it's not just a thematic niche, many of his games are multiplayer conflict games which are also rare nowadays. It is true that the Pax games are tableau builders with more interaction than usual, but that's interesting on their own and it's not like we are drowning in interactive tableau builder. In fact, I can't think of any other tableau builders that are deeply interactive . Like highly thematic strategy games, multiplayer conflict is a rarity and I would be hardpressed to find many alternatives (If you know of them, please let me know, for real)

I think his games are a bit like Silverton. Silverton is not the best train game. It cannot compete with the 18XX series, nor with the Winsome titles of today. But it doesn't need to, because it's nothing like them. It's the Ameritrash equivalent, a different kind of design. And it's a good game! The fact that you have a good game that simulates railroading down to building each stretch of track and loading your trains with good is great.

It is undeniable that his games tend to include a fair amount of crap, mostly unecessary "expansions" and "modules" that only tie up time. I feel this very strong need to redesign aspects of his games or call a developer to cut out unecessary stuff or keep a focus on strategy. But it's also true that he has improved notably in this regard, I was actually surprised at how simple High Frontier was and how well it worked. I would happily play any of his modern games, while I would run from Lords of Sierra Madre as fast as I could.

Kickstarter and involvement from other designers, developers and fans has also helped in this regard. Bios Megafauna looked like crap, but Bios Megafauna Second Edition is actually a very pretty game that looks great on the table:



I seriously think the political rules of High Frontier would be better off not existing and he needs to keep working with a developer, but the results are more than ok. I mean, I played like 3 different point salad euros with "first gets +6vp, last loses 4 VPs" kind of mechanics this week, followed by a couple "flavour text means Ameritrash" kind of games, so credit where it's due.
Gary Sax wrote:
I will say that Eklund (and now Wehrle) are better at something than most other designers, such that I do get something relatively unique from them. I think the Pax games (and now John Company to a lesser extent) are some of the best designs at getting that X number of players competing against each other not by attacking each other, but by manipulating the game state and table itself in a very aggressive, non-bland euro way. I love that mechanic. It's like a vastly shorter, more political, less economic version of what people love 18XX games for, IMHO.
This is part of the appeal for me. I think this kind of games are very difficult to make and very niche in their appeal so they are very scarce. Personally, I want more games like these.
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