Strategically Thematic: Arkwright

March 9, 2017

Strategically Thematic is a segment featured on The Dice Tower's bi-weekly Throat Punch Lunch videos about games where the theme and mechanics go together really well.

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Hi, this is Ambie from Board Game Blitz, and this is Strategically Thematic, a segment where I talk about theme in different strategic games. This time, I’m talking about Arkwright.

Arkwright is a game where you’re building and running factories during the Industrial Revolution in England. The game is named after Richard Arkwright, an inventor during the Industrial Revolution who created the modern factory system. Some people wouldn’t think that a game like this is very thematic, but I think Arkwright is actually extremely thematic - just a different theme than your usual thematic game. The mechanics actually make a lot of sense when you think about the theme of the game.

For example, in order to run your factories, you need workers. You hire your workers and fill up the production rows in your factories, and the number of production rows you have determines how many goods you can produce. But the total number of workers hired throughout the game also determines the demand for the goods, since now that these people have jobs, they’ll be able to buy the things that you’re making. Also, the more workers that are in the job market, the more their salaries are, so it’ll cost you more to run your factories. You can also replace workers with machines, which are a lot cheaper, but then you’ll have to fire your workers, and that will reduce demand for the goods.

There are quite a few different actions you can take in Arkwright, but they make sense for what you want to do. Most of the actions revolve around making your factory better - hiring workers, getting machinery, building and upgrading your factories, and improving the quality and distribution of your goods. Another really neat thing about Arkwright is that you can adjust the prices of the goods that you’re selling. The specific demand for your good depends on its overall quality minus the price you set it at, so if you price it cheaper than all the other players, your goods will sell first! This is a super important part of the game, since demand is often not enough for all the players who want to sell their goods.

Your company also has a stock price that goes up and down. When you produce and sell goods, your stock price goes up, and your stock price goes up more if your quality of goods is better than everyone else’s. You can also ship goods overseas through contracts, which gets you a lot of money, but makes your stock price decrease because of the risk. You want your company’s stock to be valuable, but the most valuable company doesn’t necessarily win the game. You also own a certain number of shares in your company, and you can buy and sell them during the game. At the end of the game, the player with the most valuable total shares wins, so you could win if you have more shares than other players, even if your company isn’t worth as much.

I really like how all of the actions you can do make sense and make you feel like you’re working towards your end goal. There are a lot of ways to have successful factories - you can have 4 different factories with a lot of production, or focus on a couple factories with high quality, you can sell goods in the home market, or ship them overseas. And a lot of what you do depends on what other people do. Since demand is limited and spread among all the players, you’ll need to adjust your prices to be competitive with the market!

The whole game of Arkwright comes together so well and really makes you feel like you’re an entrepreneur running a bunch of factories. Thanks for watching Strategically Thematic! What are some games you’ve played with mechanics that mesh well with the theme? Let me know in the comments!
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