I am preparing to host my fourth Upland Community Game Night at the Upland Community Church (it will be April 28th if you are interested in attending). During these events and the Sunday at church afterwards, I have had numerous people ask me about my favorite “Christian” games. They always want to know if I enjoy Bibleopoly, a Bible themed edition of other games (like Cranium, Taboo, Scattergories), or the rare one who has heard of the Redemption CCG.
I realize not all of my readers share my Faith, but you understand the question I am being asked. People who know that I am a Christian want to know if there are “Christian” games I recommend. Even I struggle with that concept of a “Christian” game. I consider my Christian faith a belief and lifestyle, not an adjective so I am not sure a game can be “Christian.” Games are social and the theme is something that can attract or turn away potential players. So how do I respond to those questions?
I politely say those are not games I prefer to play, but there are some “Biblically Themed” games I do really enjoy and would recommend. The Bible and historical events of the early Christian church offer some amazing themes for games. Even for those that do not profess Christianity, I find these are great games mechanically with a historical theme. You don’t have to have a deep understanding of the Christian Faith, the Bible, or the historic time period to enjoy these games. Nor do you have to be a Bible trivia expert. The games themselves are good games that are fun and challenging to play on their own, and the theme just gives them some added interest.
So with this being Good Friday, the anniversary year of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, and with an upcoming game night, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite “Biblically Themed” games.
The Ark of the Covenant
Do you like the game Carcassonne? The Ark of the Covenant utilizes the same tile laying rules with the thematic addition of the Ark moving from tile to tile impacting the score and adding a strategic decision for the players. The desert aesthetic of the game, the sheep and wolf rules, and the Ark help this game stand beside Carcassonne as a unique experience. The theme here is honestly very light mechanically, but still visually creates a unique experience. I find it is my favorite variant of Carcassonne that I have played.
Commissioned follows the history of the early Christian church and how it spread from region to region. I am a huge fan of cooperative games (like Pandemic, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Legendary Encounters, etc) so this game grabbed my attention with its historical theme and cooperative gameplay. If you have read the book of Acts or studied the history of the early Church, then you know of the journeys of the apostles. The theme and mechanisms of this game merge wonderfully to tell a story. Like Pandemic, each player has unique abilities that can be tactically used with other player abilities to overcome obstacles. Like many a good co-op, we have lost this game more than we have won it so far. I need to get it to the table again soon.
Kings of Israel
Yet another cooperative game, and this one uses mechanisms similar to Pandemic, so I was instantly intrigued. Because the mechanisms and tactics are similar to Pandemic (but with some unique twists), this game was much easier to jump right into for my gaming group. Thematically, I really enjoy the timeline, which is based on the Kings in the region during that time period. If they were considered “good” or “bad” impacts the events and difficulty in the game. Hint, most were “bad” so the game challenges you from the start so you seek out those reprieves of “good” kings to catch up or get ahead in the game.
To be honest, this one is really an abstract worker placement and area control game. The theme of the events in the book of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem exists in the art and story, but not all the strongly linked with the gameplay. That said, I enjoy the game itself immensely. I am intrigued by the strategy and tactics of knowing best when to share actions with others, when to eliminate actions available to other players, and when to focus on certain elements to gain a monopoly on resources. This is a wonderful game to play that just happens to have a lightly attached Biblical and Historical theme.
Sola Fide: The Reformation
With this year being the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses, I was so excited to hear Stronghold Games would release this game. Even more excited when I was given the opportunity to work with the creative team as an editor. So, I am a bit biased regarding this game. If you have played Campaign Manager 2008, then you are familiar with the rules and the deck building and area control aspects of the game. Two players re-enact elements of the Protestant Reformation. I have found this game at minimum, to be a great conversation between myself and my Catholic friends as we discuss the impact this had on the early Church and continuing to today. This event in history is viewed from different perspectives, and I feel this game offers an opportunity to relate to both sides and open conversations.
I have not often discussed my Faith here, focusing more on my freelancing and things associated with it. But this question keeps coming up, so I thought it best that I answer it honestly and open that dialogue. If you have other “Biblically Themed” games you recommend, let me know. If you have issues with these games or others with this type of theme, I would enjoy discussing that as well. And, if you have questions about my Faith and want to discuss it with me privately, feel free to send me a note (tr “at” freelanceknight.com).