Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mechanics vs. Thematics

We throw around a lot of terminology here on the blog like “Power Creep”, Splash Damage”, and “Mechanics”. I know that not everyone, especially newer gamers may not always know what these terms mean. So, today we’re going to take two of the broadest and most common terms “Mechanics” and “Thematics” (which is not really a word by the way).

First Mechanics…

Mechanics is collectively all the rules of a game, for instance in Tannhauser you roll d10s for combat based on Weapon Traits, this is a Mechanic, specifically a “Dice Rolling Mechanic.” All the different rules put together form the game’s Mechanics, which can be good way to differentiate different types of games in to Mechanic based genera. Starcraft the Board Game for example uses a Card Combat Mechanic which would place it in a different genera then Tannhauser.

Thematics on the other hand…

Thematics are simply elements of the game that give it a theme, this can be a simple as the game art, or the fluff text for items. Thematics are entirely independent of Mechanics. Tannhauser Field Ops is a good example here, because it shares nearly all of its Thematic elements with Tannhauser, but has none of the Mechanics. Another good example is Dust Tactics vs. Dust Warfare, which not only share a theme, but also share some Mechanics, but not enough to be considered the same game or even the same genera.

So there you have it a basic intro to jargon, now you won’t feel so lost when I start to discuss Thematics and Mechanics.

In the next article on a similar subject we’re going to look at Power Creep in Tannhauser. Till then…

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