Chaz Marler from Pair Of Dice Paradise here, and the segment I was planning --a three-minute diatribe on thrift stores that shrink wrap their used board games-- will have to wait, because I received a question! (Seriously, my local thrift store. If I’m going to shell out ninety-nine cents for the High School Musical DVD game, let me make sure it has all its pieces first!)
This question comes from Johannes S., who writes in response to my recent series on Collectible, Living and Expandable card games. He asks:
“Many card games, like Dominion or Dixit, have expansions but aren’t called a Living or Expandable card game, and I can’t figure out why. Do you know why this is? Maybe it could be a topic for Head In The Clouds?”
Well, Johannes, to answer your question: yes, it certainly could be a topic. And now, it is. Oh! Maybe your other question is actually the important one here.
Well, I think much of it depends on how a game is marketed. While a board or card game may technically straddle several genres, its marketing typically focuses on just one.
Dixit, for example, is primarily marketed as a party game. And, while several additional card sets have been released for it, those new cards don’t introduce new mechanisms or rules. Instead, they add more interesting pictures to the game in order to increase its replayability. Dixit’s cards don’t modify gameplay, instead the game’s focus is on the interaction between the players that the cards enable.
And while Dominion shares a lot more in common with Living and Expandable card games than Dixit does, there’s several important differences that delineate its distinction as a deck building game.
First off, it’s considered by many to be the first deck building game. So, even if it straddles multiple game genres, it’s first and foremost considered to be a deck builder, since it introduced the concept.
And even though, like an expandable card game, Dominion has had multiple expansions, those expansions have been staggered over the course of six years. By comparison, expansions for Living and Expandable card games typically include fewer cards and are released more frequently, such as quarterly or even monthly.
So, Johannes, hopefully this provides some insight into why certain games are called what and why. It seems to be an unscientific concoction of marketing, mechanics and semantics.
And if you have a question about a topic I’ve covered, send it my way! If I can’t trick someone else into answering it for me, it may just end up as the topic of a future Head In The Clouds segment!