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Theme & Competitive Strategy together will bring balance to the force

As a family we love watching Star Wars. As soon as I noticed the game Risk: Star Wars Edition, I had to purchase it. It’s for 2-4 players although I believe it's best played with just 2 players. The game is based on The Return of the Jedi with 3 different and concurrent battles: the fight between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the battle of star ships trying to destroy the Death Star and the fight on Endor with the rebels trying to bring down the shield generator.

My thematic son

Playing the game for the first time with my eldest son I was the evil Empire and he was the brave Rebel alliance. We both found it thematically enjoyable and fast paced. I lost, of course, which I guess is true to the film! We decided to have another go and we discovered that in the battle on Endor it was a little too easy to bring down the shield generator, which of course made destroying the Death Star a doddle! However, I noticed my son didn't take advantage of this in order to win quickly, because he was enjoying playing the game according to the storyline - just like the movie.

Star Wars Risk

My puzzle-solving, efficient friend

I had a friend over one afternoon and as he's also a Star Wars and gaming fan, I thought I would introduce him to Risk: The Star Wars Edition. I was pretty buzzed by the game even though I could see it had balance issues; ideally we should have fixed them by adjusting the rules slightly. As it was my friend's first game I was the evil Empire once again in the hope of thwarting the Rebel Scum's plan. The game must have lasted only 15 minutes before I was defeated. Somehow it didn't feel as fun this time and quite frankly I felt a little robbed. My friend zoned in on the battle of Endor and exploited the weakness of the game. He didn't pay attention to any other actions that could be taken and beat me before I could even get my lightsaber out! In a later discussion about this “incident" he divulged that he prefers to approach games as puzzles to be solved. Winning is like solving the puzzle and theme, to him, is much less of a priority. His view is, "Why would I spend time doing other actions when I can just do this and win?" I jokingly accused him of breaking my game.

Theme & competitive strategy together will bring balance to the force

Darth Vader and me

For me personally, my main enjoyment tends to focus on the theme and the overall game experience. I have also noticed the way other gamers get more of a kick out of cracking the puzzle in the most efficient way. Both approaches are valid modes of enjoyment and a good game will have a good balance of both. Both strategy and theme are vital and combine to create an exciting story with a good pace.

I would love to hear your thoughts on:

  1. What type of game appeals to you more? (Themed or Abstract)
  2. What favourite game offers an equal measure of strategy and theme? (stretch the brain cells but still offer that story)