Posted Friday, 10-Apr-2015
Contributed by Andrew Knighton
The recent release of Clockwork Kingdom is part of one of the biggest and most surprising trends of the past decade – the coming to prominence of steampunk. Why is this style, full of impossible engines and adventurers in top hats, becoming so popular in board games?
Steampunk’s mixture of Victorian and science fiction technology, while strange, is undoubtedly part of the appeal.
Part of the pleasure it provides comes from seeing a different sort of fantasy setting. Gears and gadgets replace swords and magic, creating a different atmosphere. It can appeal even to those disinterested in knights and wizards.
But part of it too is the absurdity that those combinations bring, and the potential they show for the world to be more wonderful. Look at a game like Mission: Red Planet, in which players represent Victorian companies mining on Mars. Even now we haven’t gotten people to the red planet, but this game lets us imagine how impressive it would be to have got there over a century ago.
The focus on construction at the heart of many European style games fits well with steampunk. After all, this is a genre set in the age of industry, in which inventors and industrialists are heroes. Games like City of Iron capture that spirit of an era of expansion and growth.
More than anything else, the appeal is surely sheer style. The Warmachine universe, in which Warmachine: High Command is set, is one of towering robots, flamboyant leaders and spectacular displays of ingenuity. Its machines might not be practical in our reality, but they look like machines did in our childhood imaginations, full of awe, power and magnificence.
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