Dying Elves, the strategic fantastical table-top probability race game that touches the role-playing genre. Now that’s a mouthful. Dying Elves fits into the strategy and race genres as the core game loop involves strategically overcoming challenges & making decisions to collect a set of cards in order to get to a certain point on the board first. The probability genre molds Dying Elves by its ongoing game mechanic of rolling a dice to see the probability of a player overcoming a challenge. This demonstrates the role-playing genre as characters are given additions/subtractions to their dice role based on the species of their character, playing true to their nature.
I chose the setting of Dying Elves to be in the far future when beings like Dwarves, Elves and Fae begin to emerge back into a broken world where technology has run down the human race. The setting can be found in game through challenge cards such as ‘Scavenging through the Tech’ – this idea inspired by Horizon Zero Dawn.
Reflecting on ‘Board Game Geek Forum’, Dying Elves is not an abstract game when considering the following, “’Abstract game’ often refers to games of perfect information with alternating turns and no randomness; usually for 2 players” (BGGF, N.d) However that is not to say it doesn’t have Abstraction to it. Abstraction in Games articulates that “Abstraction is just another method of “leaving it up to the imagination” for players. Abstraction is the mental leap that players make when connecting game mechanics and dynamics to theme and content.” (Eng, 2019). Selfishness, the game’s ideology, is itself the abstract component of this game. Contemplating what it is to be selfish and justifying one’s selfish/selfless actions through the mechanics of the game “Abstraction takes a complex concept and makes it easier for the player to grasp.” (Eng, 2019).
Dying Elves requires a grid space board that allows players cards to travel throughout the ‘fantastical lands’ along the y axis. The cards used come in three different piles being Challenges, Game cards and Resource cards. The resource cards are used to remind players that their every move counts, to be calculative and ration their resources as you would in real life; an effective game mechanic. The challenge cards create a sense of anonymity to the upcoming situation to face, much like you would realistically never know what a journey encompasses. The player makes decisions based on the options given to them on the cards and uses the dice, an unbiased material, to determine the chance of them overcoming the challenge. The dice is used to determine probability in Dying Elves in addition to communicate the swift threat of the sickness as once a player is ‘sick’ their movements are no longer determined by supplies but by the probability of their will to find more resources (metaphorically speaking!). The character cards themselves show who the player is and communicate their abilities from a single glimpse at their species, it also conveys when a player is sick through the game mechanism of turning the material over to show that they are ill. Dying Elves has a wide variety of materials necessary to communicate the complex world it resides in.
“it should be possible for a player to recover from a weaker position and still win the game. Victory should not be achievable in a single successful blow; the suspense should continue through an extended campaign. Otherwise an early disadvantage makes the remainder of the game uninteresting: the doomed player rightly guesses that the puzzle he is trying to solve has no solution and that thinking about it is futile. A game’s drama might be measured roughly by matching a strong player against a weak player, and having them switch sides after the strong player achieves an advantage. In a dramatic game the strong player will still have a chance of winning.” [Thompson 1999] (Measuring Drama in Goose-Like Games)
Eng, D. (2019, November 26). Abstraction in Games
Neto J. and Silva J. (2016) Measuring Drama in Goose-like Games. Board Game Studies Journal, Vol.10 (Issue 1), pp. 101-119
Board Game Geek Forum (n.d) Abstract Discussion
Trammel A & Sinnerich A (2019) “VISUALIZING GAME STUDIES: MATERIALITY AND SOCIALITY FROM CHESSBOARD TO CIRCUIT BOARD” Journal of Games Criticism
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