Monthly Archives: September 2017

How “Two Rooms and a Boom” Creates Obvious Leaders and Followers

This week in class, we played an awesome hidden role game called Two Rooms and a Boom, where there are two teams (red and blue) with two different objectives. There are also “gray” players who have individual objectives to win the game, regardless of the outcome of the red/blue battle. People are split into different rooms, and then given a random card designating their team and special role, if any. On the red team there is a bomber, and on the blue team there is a president. A leader is chosen in each room, who decides which hostages to trade with the other room’s leader every round. At the end of the game, the red team wants the bomber to be in the same room as the president, and the blue team does not want this to happen.

Right off the bat, we are naming people “leader” and giving them ultimate control of the current state of the game. It was interesting to see which people jumped to the front and requested to be leader, and how others wanted to stay in the back. Someone with a dominant role like President or Bomber may want to be in control because they are important pieces to the team’s objective. However, some roles (particularly gray players) require you to be a little more relaxed and not running too much of the game. For example, I was a gray Romeo character, where at the end of the game I want to be in the same room as Juliet and the bomber. I honestly didn’t care how the red vs blue war turned out, so I offered to be more of a supporter for whatever team tried to help me. The game is interesting from that perspective, because you are not an active decision maker. I was much more of a follower, while the leader of the room was directly trying to influence the game to meet his/her objective.

The hardest part of Two Rooms and a Boom was completing your task without making it obvious as to which role you were playing. If the leader was on the red team, he clearly wants the bomber to find the president, but can’t make that super obvious or the blue players in the room will elect a new leader. Hidden role games are extremely difficult in this regard, and require extra strategy and communication skills between players. While this is difficult, it is also one of my favorite parts of this genre of game because of the creativity involved in achieving your objective.

My friend Ryan would absolutely love this game. He’s huge into hidden role games, and this one adds just an extra element of immersion by physically being in different rooms and swapping hostages. If possible, I really want to find out a way to play this with a group of friends in my apartment sometime, because it’s so much fun. Definitely my favorite game we’ve played so far.

Day One Leadership, Drew Dudley, and the Framework of the Class

As I’ve mentioned in many contexts-I coordinate the EDL 290 family of classes and teach some of the sections. My direct responsibility is for 290E (Emerging Leaders), 290S (Student Organization Leaders), 290O (Open section about individual leadership for anyone interested), and of course 290T (Tabletop Games and Leadership.) The concepts of the Emerging Leaders class started back in the late 90s while I was still in college as an undergrad at a different institution and has evolved through the years. As Bethany said to me recently “The point of education is that it is constantly evolving-if you weren’t changing things I’d be worried.” As part of that I am consistently looking for new things to add to the class to make it the best possible experience for the students.

A few years ago in my searches I found something that literally changed my perspective on things and changed the way I taught leadership, or at least gave me a better tool to do so. It was a short YouTube video.

Listening to Drew Dudley talk about leadership in this way that I knew and believed myself changed how I taught the class. It is hard to describe, because I had concepts like this that I taught-but it gave me the language and the means to get students to think beyond the normal perspectives they had of leadership in a relatable, touching manner. It let me give students a new way to look at leadership: as Lollipop Moments. It quickly became one of the three frameworks I use in my class for what leadership is. (The others are Heifetz & Linsky’s Leading with an Open Heart and Kouzes and Posner’s Five Practices of Exemplary Student Leadership.)

Really…the Everyday Leadership video I thought would be all I needed. And  I watched it again…and again…showing it to literally hundreds of people (who spread it more themselves) and wanted to see what else Drew had to say on the topic of leadership. And it was so much more.

The video The Leadership Game had me reconsidering things in class and help discuss integrity and values in new ways. The Game Has No Winners and The List are excellent ways of getting students to consider the goals and vision for what is important in their life. Those were wonderful additions. The fact that I agree and believe Drew’s philosophies and statements helped. What he gave me was the resources and the words from an expert to let them see what I wanted them to hear.

Best of all though was The Power of Disconnection. Where Drew shares a believe that has shaped the rest of his career (and without knowing it has always been a major part of mine): every day being a Day One.

When I walk into class every day…it is Day One. All I have in mind is the 20+ students in my class They are all that matter to me. I know many people dread going to work…I have been employed at Miami University for over twelve years and I don’t think I’ve come to work a single day in my life. Every day I want to be here and help and serve the students. If I was independently wealthy I would do this job for free. Every day, in the words of Drew Dudley (and the guide through the desert-we can’t forget the impact Mustafa has), is a Day One.

To my great pleasure as part of another aspect of my job (University Lecture Series) last year we got the pleasure of bringing Drew to campus. I got to spend about a half day with him. It was amazing. Drew is such a fantastic person who has touched so many people he will never get to meet. It was awesome getting to let students interact with a man who has inspired and shaped their beliefs. He was blown away by how much our students know about his work. He would mention one of his videos and everyone around knew and had watched it.

JS, Drew Dudley, and Jennifer Bragg

Drew is an amazing individual. He has done so much to touch so many lives and I am so glad I was able to bring him into my life and help spread his message to so many people through EDL 290.

As one last piece of advice from Drew to all students:

Secrets Hitler: “But we have a thing!”

We recently played the board game Secret Hitler which was both entertaining and extremely reliant on communication and logic. In the game, there are two factions who are either trying to elect “Hitler” as chancellor or to get him assassinated. The only players that know who anyone else is are the ones on the fascist side. This lack of knowledge forces everyone else to communicate logically to determine who is good and who is evil – using critical thinking and logical deduction of other players’ words and actions. Some instances of trust are garnered through illogical means such as two players claiming that they “have a thing!” and that they trust each other on that basis. This, while not always the best strategy to win, definitely makes this game thought provoking and fun to play with friends and strangers alike.

First day of class!

This week was the first day of class! The day Bethany and I worked so hard to accomplish was finally here! So of course, I decided to just cancel class!

Of course…that is far from what I did!

What Dane and I did was talk about the first class a few times over the course of the week. The only thing left was to teach the class.

This week was really an introduction to the class and how it will work. We spent some serious time on how the quests (assignments) will work and answered all questions. We then passed out our pre-tests and weekly note cards. The question for this week’s note cards (where we ask a brief reflection question) was what worried them the most about the class. The two biggest responses is people worrying about fitting in, language barrier (for several international students), the complexity of the games and about the freedom of dates and assignments. That gives Dane and I good feedback for what to work on and look at.

After that, it was time for one of the key parts of our class: Tabletop Games!

This week the class was playing Avalon. Avalon is a hidden role game designed by Don Eskridge and published by Indie Boards and Cards for 5-10 players. With class we have three groups of eight players, so we had Merlin, Percival, Morgana, the Assassin and Mordred as special roles. This was the one game we taught in class; future games everyone has to come to class with an idea of how to play. We are offering three opportunities for them to learn them; we have uploaded the rules, we have shared rules videos from YouTube or they can attend the Strategy Gaming Club on Tuesday in the same room and time from the class where we will teach the game from that week’s class.

After the first game of Avalon, we discussed just in general what the experience of the class was while playing the game. The students did an excellent job of discussing the various things they noticed. Topics included the difficulties of being Merlin when the first three people randomly were evil, the role trust and distrust plays and more. After that, we reset and played one more game.


Each of the three groups playing Avalon

Over the two games each group had similar things happen that are common to games of Avalon, especially with new players. Two evil people failing the same mission. Evil people being too cautious and despite having two on the mission not failing. A good person who is learning the game accidentally failing, which corrupts the game. However, after their reflections on ways they saw leadership in the game was also excellent.

After the discussion we wrapped up with sharing the article The Types of Board Games Everyone Should Know About to help people understand initial basics of tabletop games to help build their gaming knowledge.

Overall, it was a wonderful first week of this new and exciting class!