Successor is a loose term; it encompasses as many different “definitions” as there are different ways for a newer game to succeed an older one. One thing is for sure, there will be at least one core, easily recognizable element common to both games.
Sometimes a successor retains the same theme as the original game, but explores it using modified mechanics. It is then called a reimplementation — or a partial redesign. Washington’s War (Mark Herman, 2010) is that kind of successor to We the People (Mark Herman,1993).
Sometimes it’s the opposite: The exact same mechanisms are applied to a different theme. We then say that the original game has been rethemed, or reskinned. Die Speicherstadt (Stefan Feld, 2010), for example, moves its clever auction mechanisms from one of the largest warehouse districts in the world, in the early 20th c. Hamburg, to the English city of York while it was under Viking domination in the 10th c., to become Jórvík (Stefan Feld, 2016).
It only makes sense that a game and its successor often have the same designer.
The borrowed expression spiritual successor covers an even wider range of related games, from variants to full redesigns, to games only remotely inspired by others. Andreas Seyfarth came up with both Puerto Rico (2002) and San Juan (2004); while the two games are definitely related, they are different enough not to be redundant in a game collection.
Successor is not used to designate the various editions or reeditions of a game. Nor is it used for games that are part of a series, which are rather called sequels or volumes. Standalone expansions are not successors either.
Here are a few more examples.
- Tikal II: The Lost Temple (Michael Kiesling, Wolfgang Kramer, 2010) is often called the sequel of Tikal (Michael Kiesling, Wolfgang Kramer, 1999).
- 1989: Dawn of Freedom (Jason Matthews, Ted Torgerson, 2012) can be seen as a thematic sequel of Twilight Struggle (Ananda Gupta, Jason Matthews, 2005).
- Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar (Volko Ruhnke, Andrew Ruhnke, 2016) is a volume of GMT’s COIN series.
- Dominion: Intrigue (Donald X. Vaccarino, 2009) is a standalone expansion to Dominion (Donald X. Vaccarino, 2008).
Unlike the derivative game, the dreaded spin-off which simply aims at cashing in on the popularity of its model, the successor tries to make things better. Because it adds interest, brings an improved rule set, a new twist or a new perspective to the original game, it can also end up being more successful than its predecessor and fire it.
Or even kill it.
References and Further Browsing
- A successor, not a replacement, for Coup, on Boardgamegeek
- The true successor to Above and Below, on Boardgamegeek
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