One of the more common ways the hobby tends to perform cultural appropriation is Asian-themed board games (usually ancient, feudal, or imperial Japan/China) where no one involved with the actual production is Asian – unlike the three games I’m spotlighting today!
Three Kingdoms Redux
Designers Christina Ng Zhen Wei and Yeo Keng Leong. Artist Ray Toh.
The heaviest of the bunch, 3KR is a worker placement game set during the decades-long conflict between the Three Kingdoms of Wei, Wu, and Shu.
Featuring constantly-fracturing alliances, economic management, and political maneuvering, the game’s greatest conceit is the workers themselves; dozens of historical figures from scribes to kings, great generals and logisticians.
Each of the game’s three factions has dozens of these characters, which you gain over the course of the game and deploy to upgrade technology, grow rice, and wage war – and each has unique stats, special abilities, combat prowesses…
Wielding your workers properly is the heart of 3KR, which is also one of the most gorgeous and thinky eurogames I’ve ever played. If you’re looking for something deep, historically and thematically rich, Three Kingdoms Redux is a masterpiece of asymmetrical design.
The Legend of Korra: Pro Bending Arena
Designers Sen-Foong Lim, Jessey Wright
Earth. Fire. Air. Water. These words either stir a great poetry deep in your heart, or you haven’t watched the show.
TLoK: PBA is a two player head-to-head board game based on Pro-Bending: a three on three team sport where an earth, fire, and water bender use their powers to manipulate the elements and try to knock the opposing team out of the arena.
Featuring iconic characters from the series and intense, fast cardplay, TLoK:P- Korra will have you thinking about positioning, defense, and trying to figure out your deck construction as you try to outwit and outmaneuver your opponent.
Korra brings kick-butt action in an accessible package – once you’ve figured out some rules quibbles, the gameplay is more than deep enough to keep you going for a long, long time.
Designers Chih-Fan Chen, Chi Wei Lin. Artist Meng-Jung Yang
Releasing this Essen, Paleolithic is a family weight worker placement game set in pre-historic Taiwan and it looks LIKE THIS
Move your tribes people and animal companions around, gather resources, and earn artifacts to score points. Colorful, delightful, and fast, Paleolithic is a fantastic introduction to the worker placement genre with such amazing production values.
For additional complexity, the Seafarers and Dawn of Humanity expansions add more decisions (AND ANIMALS. YOU CAN GET A MAMMOTH) but not so much so that younger players won’t be able to keep up.
Thank you for reading! Thanks also to Ann and Eilidh for inviting me to do a guest post – and I hope you have a great time at your next gaming session no matter what you play.