Thursday, January 22, 2004

Similar Games

While to some extent this is an old practice, increasingly there are many games being republished in slightly variant forms of previous versions. In some cases, the change is only thematic. In other cases, there are minor changes, and yet others that are dramatically different. How could these similar games be generally described? Here are some of my thoughts, and I'd welcome comments below.
What I really want is a nice easily understood set of terminology to describe these kinds of relationships. So, just as we compactly say "Kingdoms is a rethemed version of Auf Heller und Pfennig" or "Democrazy was inspired by 'Das Reglen Wir Schon?'", I want a way to say "Battle Line ________________ Schotten Totten" to someone who is unfamiliar with one or the other and be understood. "Expands upon" or the like doesn't seem to quite cut it. Similarly, fill in the blank "Ghost Chase ___________ Scotland Yard". One could use "was developed from", but that also feels awkward.


This is the most trivial and obvious relationship two "similar" games can have. Many would (reasonably) argue that they are in fact the same game. I'm only including games here where the mechanics are identical and the components are identical in the context of gameplay.

  • Feuerschlecker, Flea Circus

  • Drahtseilakt, Relationship Tightrope

  • Auf Heller und Pfennig, Kingdoms

  • Bonobo Beach, Cronberg
    and many many more

    "Different components, same game"

    This category needs a name. Games where the game has changed because of distribution of cards, layout of the board or other parameters, but the rules are almost untouched.

  • 10 Days in Africa, 10 Days in the USA
    These two have almost identical gameplay (Alaska and Hawaii having slightly special rules in the latter), but the map on which they're played is different.

  • Great Dalmuti, Corporate Shuffle
    With the exception of a couple of additional cards, Corporate Shuffle is exactly Dalmuti with a slightly changed card distribution. The extra cards don't quite qualify it for the "Plus" category below, but it could be described both ways.

    "Different components, similar games"

    This category needs a name. Games where the game has changed the distribution, layout or other parameters and has changed the rules as well, but they remain substantially the same.

  • 10 Days in Africa, Europa Tour

  • Risk, Risk 2210, LOTR Risk


    Thie category needs a name. Games where the rules are essentially a strict superset of those in another game. Frequently, this manifests itself as a game where certain cards have special powers or the like. Minor rule changes are sometimes needed to accomodate these additions.

  • Attacke, Ivanhoe

  • Schotten Totten, Battle Line

  • Flinke Pinke, Thor


    This caegory needs a name. This includes games that went through more development or were otherwise reworked. Mayb this should be more than one category.

  • Lowenherz, Domaine

  • Carcassone, Carcassone: Hunters & Gatherers

  • Muscat, Message to the Czars

  • Pacal, Pyramiden der Jaguar


    This category needs a name. Maybe this should be in the same category as Inspired, below.

  • What's That On My Head?, Code 777

  • Speed, Top Speed


    Often games inspire other games. Sometimes this inspiration leads to specific rules or components to be carried over, but more often it is simply the general idea or "feel" of the game.

  • Das Reglen Wir Schon?, Democrazy

  • Carcassone, Carcassone: The Castle

    Uncategorized "similar" games

  • Flinke Pinke, Quandary, Thor, Loco

  • Europa Tour, 10 Days in Africa, 10 Days in the USA

  • Scotland Yard, New York Chase, Ghost Chase

  • Grand National Derby, Titan: The Arena, Galaxy: the Dark Ages

  • Zirkus Flohcati, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones Card Game

  • Isi, Morisi

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