Multiple Versions of the Same Board Game

A few days ago I was asked if it bothered me that the new board game, Gaia Project, is so similar to its mechanical predecessor, Terra Mystica. This question sparked a somewhat lengthy answer to which I will summarize for you, the reader, but before I give that answer I feel I need to discuss how the board game industry has many games that have been re-released, have multiple editions or print runs, and/or have been re-themed.

For instance, Twilight Imperium, the epic space saga, has 4 editions.  Gloomhaven, the dungeon crawl game (ranked #1 on the boardgamegeek.com top games list), has just released its 2nd print run which included some component changes. Tikal, the “classic” action point, jungle exploration game, was just reprinted.  These are just a few examples, but the list goes on.

So where does the problem lay, one might ask. That all depends on the situation. With new editions, people who purchased an earlier edition may feel slighted if there were upgrades in components or gameplay. With re-released games the same problem could be posed.  With re-theming a game it could be interpreted as companies simply doing a cash grab which could foster ill will.

The counters to those views could be that lessons were learned and mistakes rectified in the changing of components for new editions or print-runs.  Also, rules may have been streamlined to make gameplay smoother.  As far as the cash grab argument…well, let’s not kid ourselves.  These are companies that are trying to make money.  If they own the rights to publish a game and believe that slapping a new theme on a game will make them a profit then they have every right to do so.

So what is my humble opinion?  And what was my answer to the aforementioned query?  I’ll simply say that each case is unique and while some instances bother me, others do not.  Like with every subject in life there is an enormous amount of gray area.  I found that Gaia Project (watch our play through here) has enough updated mechanics that improve upon the original game.  Couple that with the fact that Terra Mystica was released in 2012 and Gaia Project was released at the end of 2017.  There has been enough time between the two games that it doesn’t FEEL dirty.  I know that is a very vague and subjective way to explain my stance, and that it seems like I didn’t really fall on either side of the argument.  Well…opinions are like buttholes, people!  Cheers!

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