Archive for Joel
I've always been fascinated by the concept of the "meta game", the game within a game. Bluffing in poker is not explicitly stated in the rules, but doing so is essential to success. Deception lies at the heart of bluffing, in poker you deceive your opponents in subtle ways: the amount you bet, your facial expression, body language and vocal intonations. But what if a game demanded that your deceptions be more overt, more aggressive and more direct?
Here was a game that I had accidentally stumbled upon while bouncing around the internet. A few months ago all my friends happened to be together, in the same place, at the same time, something that does not happen that often. We arrived at that inevitable moment of restless boredom that tends to strike when people gather.
I could sense that the host of this little get together was leaning towards pulling out the old staples: Apples to Apples and Scattergories, as I started to panic a spark went off in a long dormant area of my memory, and I ran to a nearby computer in search of this...Mafia verses Werewolves thing I read about so long ago. After quickly reading the rules and making some impromptu cards out of a piece of loose leaf paper; I sat everyone down and proceeded to explain the game. Several games later we walked away with a night to remember.
There are people in the world who can lie with the greatest of ease, they can look at you in the eyes and tell you whatever you want to hear. Such deceptions are not so easy for the rest of us, and Werewolf is a game that is completely built around this concept. It was amazing to see which of my friends could perform under pressure, who was capable of lying the best, and who would do whatever it would take to win.
I was chosen to be the werewolf only once out of all the games we played and from the very moment the game began my heart was racing, it was beating so loud that it took a considerable amount of concentration to relax. In the game we played there was only one werewolf among the villagers, it was me against the world. I pulled out all the stops and tapped into every ounce of my acting abilities.
I would feign surprise when the murders were revealed, I would persuade others that I was harmless and draw their attentions towards anyone who questioned my motives. It was exhilarating, and when it came down to the wire, there were only three players left, and I did everything in my power to sway the king maker towards my point of view.
I had won not because the hand of fate had dealt me the right cards or rolled the dice in my favor. I had won because I had outwitted all the other players, I had out smarted them, the odds were not in my favor but I still managed to persevere.
This was an amazing feeling and it was not one that I generally feel when playing games. Only sociopaths derive pleasure from deceiving those around them, but these are the skills required to be successful at werewolf, and at the end of the day, it's just a game, right?
A few months later I was blindly stumbling through the internet and I came to learn about The Resistance.
The Resistance has a lot of in common with Werewolf, but with some differences: no player elimination, no moderator and it is considerably faster. I played a few games with my friends, first the basic game, then with the plot thickens cards.
There is a lot I like about this game, particularly it's quick pace, but the few games I played did leave a few things to be desired. The Resistance lacks the immense pressure of Werewolf, at no point were people dramatically pleading for their lives and I never felt that heart pounding stress when I was a spy.
One of my friends wished that the game was longer than 5 rounds, at first I disagreed but by the last game I was beginning to agree. I started the last game as a spy, and my strategy was to perform a long con on The Resistance and betray them later. I attempted to do this by voting success in every mission and outing one of my fellow spies as a way to gain the other's trust. I am convinced that this would have worked if we didn't run out of time so quickly.
I need to play this again, but I must admit that I am not really rushing to play it any time soon. At the moment I actually have my eyes on Ultimate Werewolf: Ultimate Edition, I'm intrigued by all the roles in this game, and the addition of the artifacts in the expansion.
I do owe a lot to The Resistance though, because it is the game that lead me to this site and made me want to play more games.
Now I ask you, dear reader, what are some other games I can play that have bluffing, deception, persuasion and negotiation as game play elements? I've always wanted to play Diplomacy but I am afraid of the long play time.
In my next post I will officially begin writing about playing games with my girlfriend.
Like many others here I have been bitten by the board game bug, and like many others here I am in search of games to play with my girlfriend. This blog will serve as a record of my experiences playing games with her.
I don't have as rich a history with board games as most people here, as a kid I had the 1993 version of Risk which was a miserable experience and was only played once, we also had the mid 90's version of Electronic Battleship which was only played a few times, and I'll never forget the absolutely abysmal game of Monopoly: Star Wars I played in highschool that left me with a lasting hatred of the game.
Throughout the years I've played various party games with my friends, such as Apples to Apples, Scattergories, Taboo and Wits & Wagers. These games were great at the time, but my friends never wanted to play anything else. Over time I grew tired of playing the same games over and over again, and the arbitrary/pointless/random elements of a lot of these games left me very dissatisfied.
The first designer board game I ever played (before I even knew such a thing existed) was Arkham Horror. I first encountered Arkham Horror back in 2008, this game was pretty important in my nascent board gaming career because it showed me exactly what I don't want in a game. I am a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft and was immediately drawn into the theme of the game. I had a blast reading all the info on the cards and looking at the illustrations, being able to pick out the different Lovecraft references really made this game a lot of fun to look at, but playing it was another matter.
It took over an hour to set up, there were over a billion pieces to the game, at times there were so many things going on at once that we would forget to apply different area effects or modifiers, the game was extremely fiddly and involved way too much number crunching for my tastes, it took us two days to finish it, the ending was anticlimactic and I got the sense that the game was playing itself.
All in all not a very entertaining experience, this game would've been better served in video game form than as an actual physical game, at least then the computer could do all the math for you and set up the monsters automatically.
So looking back upon my brief history with board games I've come up with a list of stuff that I am looking for in a potential game, but I am willing to be flexable:
- Doesn't take forever to set up
- Doesn't take forever to play
- Doesn't have ten trillion pieces
- Isn't entirely random or arbitrary
- Can work with only 2 people
It may sound like I've got nothing but abstracts in my future, but I won't be confining myself to just that genre. In my next post I'll discuss which game initially gave me board game fever and sent me on this quest, and it might surprise you to hear that it isn't Catan.