Errata: Gaming Religiously
This week, we talk about theme. I was speaking with a friend of mine who asked about a particular theme and the apparent dearth of games in that genre.
Religiously Inquisitive asked, “Are there any good games that happen to have a religious theme? Are there any good games set in the world of the Old or New Testaments?”
Of course there are tons of religious games. A look in the religious category on BGG shows well over six hundred titles. But he was asking about good games. Many, even most, religious games are designed to teach rather than entertain, so games like Bible Trivia abound. I’m sure they are great for those who want to learn more about the material, but fun they are not.
However, games with a religious theme are not entirely absent. The Road to Canterbury has a somewhat satiric treatment of the Christian church of the fifteenth century. In De Vulgari Elogquentia, the players can enter the priesthood as they propagate the common tongue. One player might even become Pope. In Ora et Labora and Biblios, the players are monks doing monk things (brewing alcohol and writing books, respectively), though that is the limit of any religious involvement in the game.
As for games actually set in religious lands, the Settlers of Canaan (based on Settlers of Catan) and the Ark of the Covenant (based on Carcassonne) both come to mind. More recently, I’ve heard some positive things about Kingdom of Solomon.There, players attempt to build the Temple of Solomon.
As with zombies/ninjas/pirates, religious games are targeting a very specific audience and the hope is that they can catch many of their target market on theme alone. So you have to be careful if you want a legitimately good game that also happens to have a religious theme.
Because of the relative rarity of good religious games, my own repertoire is fairly limited. If anyone has a suggestion, feel free to comment.
Got questions about strategy, specific games, or the hobby in general? Post them in the comments here, email them to geekinsight at gfbrobot dot com, or send them to @GeekInsight on Twitter and check back next week for answers!