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What I Played

Posted: June 30th, 2013, 10:12 pm
by DanB
Overall this was a really good GoPlay! I had a lot of fun.

FRI01 Microscope: we played a post apocalyptic scenario which mostly involved being attacked by mutant corn. I liked how that evolved: one player wrote a card that said "retreat blocked by creeping corn" without much more explanation. I made an event describing the "cornboys" who herded the corn, and the renegade cornboy Gregor Monsanto who turned the corn to evil. Someone else narrated the corn villain Cornelius, and then somehow a good chunk of the third and fourth focus turned into description of the cornboys' ongoing retreat from Gregor and Cornelius.

This was distinct from many Microscope games I've played in that close to half the events were played in time-order. Sometimes someone would drop an event in the future, and we'd take that as something our story had to get to; sometimes we'd go back and fill in an event in the past. But we came pretty close to having a linear narrative. I think what happened is that we were watching a single small community, rather than an empire, so there wasn't as much room for someone to say, "oh, and while that story's going on, over here a completely different thing is happening..."

Anyway, this was a really good game.

SAT01 The Quiet Year: This was my first time playing the game. I think the plot here was mostly about our small mountain community's determination to adhere to vegetarianism. Unfortunately I was a bit slow on some cards, especially early on; I think this annoyed the GM, who tried several times to get me to go faster. (I asked him about it afterwards and he said he was worried we wouldn't finish in the three hours allotted. Personally I would have preferred to not have the time pressure and just not worry about whether we'd finish -- it's not like the final card produces much closure anyway.) Still a fun game, and in fact it inspired me to buy a copy.

SAT02 Dungeon Crawl Classics: This did not work for me. It was my first exposure to the system with its horrifying drawbacks to using magic and its profusion of lookup tables. We were doing the thing where we walk into a room and the DM reads us a paragraph describing what we see; I recognize this is very oldschool but it also made it hard to follow what was going on. We also took the module at 3x normal speed which did not improve it: we had one combat in the middle which was quite easy, another at the end which was impossibly difficult, and the rest was spent wandering a strangely empty dungeon wondering what the plot was about. (The DM later confided he had omitted all the random encounters to save time.) The game did have one cute moment when a polymorph ray, reflected into a swarm, resulted in a herd of a hundred ponies in a very small space who sadly abruptly fell to their doom. And there was a particularly memorable trap which we had a lot of fun interacting with. But overall I'm probably not going to try this system again -- I'll stick to 3.5e.

SAT03 In the Hands of an Angry God (playtest): This can best be described as The Quiet Year with a strong PvP element. We took turns narrating how we were growing our small newly-founded community, and the GM tried very hard to get us to turn against each other and gang up to backstab the leader (me) in a quest for personal power. I actually find that sort of thing very stressful, and in fact when I know that a game has a ganging-up-on-me component I will refuse to play it. So I played a very open and friendly band of sort-of-cultists, and neither of the other players backstabbed me despite the GM repeatedly egging them on.

I also felt like the game had rules in the wrong places. For example we spent a long time building a list of things our colonists believed, but it turned out the list was only used for smearing each other in PvP combat which we didn't really do. On the other hand the list of challenges to be overcome (and the difficulty of those challenges) was hard to get a grasp on.

Overall this was a great experience, I had a lot of fun, and I will never go near this game again because I have an aversion to people-ganging-up-on-me mechanics.

SUN02 Superhero Apocalypse World Style: Our team of superheroes got captured, and mine actually got killed. Fortunately he was a robot ("Captain Flash, aka Five") and I got to bring in his replacement ("Six"). I felt like we got some good roleplaying in there.

I did like this game, but we always nitpick the ones we love. :) In terms of game mechanics, I'm beginning to feel like the "Apocalypse World System" is accumulating too much cruft. I love the basic mechanic where you roll 2d6+(power mod), 10 is a success, 7 is a partial success, and that's how the game is played. All this other stuff -- "hold" and "ongoing" and "harm" and spending power tokens to get bonuses -- it feels unnecessary, it feels like it's not a simple system any more. But maybe that's just me. :)

SUN03 Ninja Panda Taco: Quick light improv game. You're given an object and you narrate how you're using it to take over the world. I had a lot of fun with this.

One thing I would like to try in a future game would be to cut out the "declaring a winner at the end" mechanic, and just have people vote for whichever mad scientist gives the best description. Winning-and-losing mechanics tend to shift my mindset from "vote for whoever's funniest" to "vote in a way that will make me more likely to win". But it's a good game either way. :)

Re: What I Played

Posted: July 1st, 2013, 5:53 pm
by Ego
Hey Dan, it's Max, the facilitator of the Quiet Year game. Just wanted to iterate again that I'm seriously sorry for rushing you - with some reflecting time, there were some definite cues that you were uncomfortable with me being a bit pushy, and I just sorta glazed over them, which was entirely my fault. In my defense, that was the first con game I've ever run - I wasn't fully sure about etiquette of how to keep things moving. But I'm glad you still were able to enjoy it, and have fun with your copy! If you're ever down in Tacoma or Olympia hit me up, I'd be down for a more relaxed Round 2.
Oh, and just for reference's sake - I know you said you didn't have room for the actual map to take home, but here's a photo of it! ... f28469.png

About "In The Hands of an Angry God": As a big fan of both Quiet Year and PvP games this interests me. Do you recall who the designer was?

Re: What I Played

Posted: July 2nd, 2013, 10:54 am
by DanB
Hey Max! It really was a good game, thanks again for running it. In the Hands of an Angry God was run by Wilson Zorn.

Re: What I Played

Posted: August 14th, 2014, 9:54 pm
by zornwil
DanB wrote: (EXTRACTED for explanation below)
For example we spent a long time building a list of things our colonists believed, but it turned out the list was only used for smearing each other in PvP combat which we didn't really do.
Thanks for your kind words ("great experience," "fun" - I certainly understand something being not one's cup of tea, so great to hear you be so kind) and fair evaluation. One thing I do want to say re the quoted portion above. I frankly had a pretty bad GMing night, for reasons not worth going into now - it happens. :shrug: Anyway, I want to point out that while that is "a" use, it is not "the" use. A critical thing I did poorly, largely through rushing and lack of focus, was not properly frame issues more along the lines of testing commitment, and testing how individual "families" might interpret differently, as well as the most important thing, introducing dynamic tension between the Principles (things believed). Sorry, I just blew that, rushing and not paying attention to my own advice on running the game. :( Oh, well! Anyway, I just wanted to clear that point up.