Mechanics + Theme = Hook
Updated: Feb 21, 2020
Before I decided to walk the self-publishing path for Medic!, I spent time looking at game publisher idea submission guidelines. This has had the residual benefit of helping me understand, at least on a surface level, what it is that makes a board game good from the perspective of a publisher. Publishers are publishers because they've, well, published. That means they've had some level of success. If they have something to say about what they want and don't want in a board game, I think it's worth listening.
TMG is one of the publisher's I investigated and on their submissions page, toward the bottom, they list the key points to cover in an idea submission, including this:
Mechanical and/or thematic “hook”: what makes your game stand out.
This caught my attention not because it's a revolutionary idea - of course you need a way to differentiate your game - but because it highlights game mechanics and theme as the key ingredients. If there's a novel game mechanic and it also ties in well with the theme, now maybe you're on to something.
With Medic! the theme is one of combat medics transporting wounded people off the battlefield on their shoulders. Thematically this makes sense and hearkens back to many a war film. And by using meeple stacking, which is what the game does to signify when a wounded person is in transport, now you have an interesting mechanic that also fits perfectly with the theme. I'm under no delusion Medic! is the first game to stack pieces - I know that's not the case - but I am excited about how well this core mechanic compliments the theme.