Thursday, June 5, 2014

An Evolution and Mutation for Worker Placement

I am extremely interested in the evolution of methods and designs...

Some time ago we purchased a game titled "Keyflower." Most of my game acquisitions are inspired by a mechanic or something unique about the game. And indeed Keyflower has some very unique mechanics — at least two of them are strange and delicious twists on worker placement. Many of my favorite games have some form of worker placement mechanic. So, due in some large part to it's interesting use of that mechanic, Keyflower has held it's place amongst my favorite games.

On the side of it's box are large fields of small text in which the co-author of Keyflower, Sebastian Beasdale, waxes long about the history of the "Key-series" of games. In this text Beasdale credits the game "Keydom" as the first in the worker placement genre of games. Having heard many people site William Attia's "Caylus" as the first worker placement game I found Beasdales claim to be very interesting. Luck for me, Beasdale sites several sources for this claim. Most of those source have been difficult for me to track down but one was easy.

On there is a geeklist titled "The Agricola Advent Calendar" in which we can read short entries by Uwe Rosenberg about some of 2007's games. The entry of interest is number 7. Here, not only does Rosenberg point to Keydom as a primary source for the idea of worker placement but he identifies several branches in the evolution — "Caylus," "The Pillars of the Earth," "Kingsburg," "Tribune," and of course his own "Agricola." Even more interesting to me is that he identifies for Agricola a loose lineage of the mechanic and very briefly describes how he mutated the mechanic for Agricola.

It seems that from entry #7 we can assume a line of evolution from Keydom to Caylus to Agricola. And perhaps even more interesting is Rosenberg's all too brief description of how he adapted the mechanic in Agricola. Good stuff.

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