Celebrating Terry Pratchett

March 12, 2015 - 9:39pm
Terry Pratchett signing books at Powell's - Robin Zebrowski CC-A

A true literary visionary, Sir Terry Pratchett, passed away yesterday. He wrote 40 novels set in his imaginative world of fantasy meets science-fiction meets mythology. Discworld was, and remains, a triumph of world-building and imagination. Pratchett’s writing reflected an artist who appreciated sharp humor and wonderful whimsy, and never took himself too seriously. As much as we might want to mourn Mr. Pratchett, we’ll instead celebrate him as any self-respecting gamer would: with his games. Well not his games really, but board games inspired by his works of fiction. Let take a look at this odd-but-wonderful collection of titles. Ankh-Morpork Ankh-Morpork was designed by Martin Wallace and was published in 2011. Probably the best known of the Pratchett-based board game lot, Ankh-Morpork has players vying for control in Discworld’s vast city-state of the same name. It’s a card-driven area control game with hidden goals representing many familiar locations and personalities from the Discworld universe.  The art, especially on the cards, is a delightful combination of surreal beauty, fantasy tropes, and humor. What could be more fitting?

Guards! Guards! Guards! Guards! was designed by Leonard Boyd and David Branshaw. Like Ankh-Morporrk, it was released in 2011, also takes place in Pratchett’s famed fictional city-state, and also involves area control. It’s déjà fu! In this case, however, players take on the role of city guards racing to collect the Eight Great Spells. Through alliances, influence, item acquisition, challenges, and volunteer recruitment, these hidden spells are revealed. It’s utter whimsy and completely evocative of the off-kilter fiction of the Discworld series. Guards! Guards! is the kind of game you play in costume and that’s truly wonderful. The Witches Martin Wallace followed up his 2011 game, Ankh-Morpork, with another Discworld gem: The Witches. Players take on the role of, well, witches making their way through the magical lands of Lancre developing their unique skills and taking on increasingly difficult (and ridiculous) challenges. It a breezy family game that can be played cooperatively, competitively, or both. Like many of the other entries on this list, familiar faces from throughout Pratchett’s novels make their appearance in The Witches cementing the players firmly in the wackiness that is Discworld. Watch Out Now for something a little different. Watch Out, published in 2004, is an abstract strategy game designed by Trevor Truran that has players trying to move their pieces off the opposite side of the board. It sounds simple, but the board is comprised of tiles of varying types and colors representing different locations and obstacles. Legend has it that Mr. Truran actually consulted with Pratchett on the development of this little-known game. Cool! Thud Before Watch Out, Trevor Truran published Thud in 2002. Thud is another abstract strategy game which actually comes directly from the novels. It simulates the Battle of Koom Valley, an epic struggle between trolls and dwarfs, and is played like asymmetrical Chess. Any game where flinging dwarves is a viable strategy is aces in my book. I wanted to give some honorable mentions to a handful of smaller games and variants that add just as much to the Discworld games oeuvre as the rest of the list: Cripple Mr. Onion, Clacks, and Die Siedler von Catan: Rincewind und der Tourist / Die Gilden von Ankh-Morpork. Check out BoardGameGeek for more on these. It’s worth the read. These games are a worthy legacy for one of the most influential writers in fantasy fiction. I hope that more games are developed exploring Discworld. I say we celebrate this great man’s passing by immersing ourselves in his fascinating world, be it his novels, interviews, video games, or his board games. Thank you, Sir Terry Pratchett, for enriching our lives with your enduring creativity. We’ll miss you on this flat circle of land riding upon a giant space turtle.
Courtesy Fashionably Geek