Monthly Archives: February 2018

Week 3: Free for All at House on the Hill

This week, I got to try something completely different from games that I’ve played before. Betrayal at house on the hill starts out almost like a semi-cooperative game, everyone trying to explore and build the house, while also trying to build up their own stats for four different qualities. The house grows, events occur, omens appear, and items get accumulated by players.  People gain and lose stats as they go, putting them in a better or worse position for later. Then, the haunt begins. Each time an omen was collected, there was an opportunity for the haunt to start, with that player rolling six dice, with a number less than the number of omen cards revealed meaning that the haunt has begun. Based on the location of the player and the omen that started the haunt, a specific scenario was chosen, resulting in a player being named the traitor, and them then working against the rest of the players to win the game.

For me, the hardest part about this game was not having the background knowledge that comes from playing the game before. I really wasn’t able to use logic or strategy to figure out to move and act during the game. I was relying mostly on the goodwill of the other players to help me to understand the nuances of the rules as well as just the basic principles. Especially at the beginning, where the point is just exploration really, I felt uncertain, like I was really missing something. Then during our haunt, I had to continually ask “So i can do this, right?” or “So this is how you do this, right?”, and to me, it was really different to give up that independence. However in that same way, I really saw leadership from the other people who I was playing the game with. They really helped me to learn the rules and how gameplay works, even when it benefited me more than them, as in during our specific haunt, where it turned into a free for all. They were able to from the start work together to help the table to follow one common strategy and to work together from the start. Then, during our second game, we all had to really work together towards the common goal of reaching another haunt. Even though we failed at that goal, we were all able to work together using the strategy of move quickly and make decisions fast.

I would love to play this game with my friend Lucia, I feel like she would particularly enjoy the sheer amount of surprise elements in the game, especially the whole aspect of a practically randomized traitor each game. She would also love how it ties into all of the supernatural, creepy elements of the game. We’ve enjoyed playing board games together before, and I think it would be really great to get her playing this one.

Week 2: I’ve Been Shot! (and other exciting things from playing Secret Hitler)

For the second week in the row, I had the opportunity to play a secret role game. The name of the game is Secret Hitler, and similarly to lasts weeks game, Avalon, it involves good vs evil, or more specifically, Liberals vs. Fascists. At the beginning of the game, everyone is assigned a role and a team, with the only real role of significance being that of the fascist who is named secret Hitler, and they have special rules to go with the character. The game works by passing around the role of president, with that person then assigning someone else as chancellor. Everyone then votes on whether or not they trust the pair, and if it passes, the president and chancellor can pass a legislation. The president draws three legislation tiles, a mix of fascist and liberal policies, chooses two, and then hands them to the chancellor, who chooses which one goes into law. The liberals win by passing so many liberal policies. For the fascist, it is the same with one exception, an automatic win if Hitler is elected chancellor after three fascist policies have been passed. Additional special factors come into play as well, like the president getting to shoot someone.

The hardest part of this game for me was the challenge of deception. Unlike the luxury that was last week, I was placed on the fascist team multiple times, placing me in the position of having to attempt to deceive the rest of the players, something that comes as a challenge to me, a horrible liar. Additionally, I was challenged throughout the game to figure out how to work things towards my favor, and to try to improve my strategy skills, not just go along with everyone else. After being shot twice when I was innocent, I was able to play it up later so that when I was guilty, I wasn’t accused, or was given a break because I had already been shot. I really saw leadership in this game when people were able to step up amidst the arguing and chaos and get everyone to think logically and to have a more civil discourse, which made for a more interesting game. Being on the fascist team, I was also challenged to employ more leadership skills working to take the blame away from Hitler and to successfully win the game. I think it would be fun to play this game with my friends from home who I was on the swim team with. Many of them would love the political aspect as well as the amount of logic going into the game, but could also turn it into one of those rounds that devolve into fun chaos with no logic whatsoever.

Week 2: Hanabi

This week I played a game called Hanabi. It’s a cooperative card game where there are 6 colors of cards, with each card having a value between 1-5 that represent fireworks. There are three 1’s of each color, two 2-4’s of each color, and one 5 of each color. The goal of the game is to built your firework sequence by placing the card’s of each color in order of 1-5. A twist to the game is that each player cannot see the cards that they have, they must hold them facing away from themselves. On each turn a player has 3 things they can do. First they have the opportunity to play a card from their hand. The other thing they can do is give a hint to one of the other players about their hand, citing that “these two cards have a value of 3” or “these three cards are blue.” When giving a hint, you must take a blue hint chip from the middle and turn it over. Once all these chips are turned over, you cannot give any more hints. Third, a player can discard a card from their hand, which allows them to take a hint chip and put it back on the blue side.

Within this game, the most difficult part is very obvious, and it’s that you cannot see what cards you have in your hand. This is a unique twist that I’ve never before seen in a card or tabletop game. Along with this, it is very important to give solid and complete clues to your teammates, so that they know what cards are in their hand and what they should be doing. My group played this game twice, and I think the hardest part the first time was understanding why other players were giving certain clues. There is supposed to be zero table talk and help beyond the clues, so when someone says, “these two cards have a value of 2,” you need to decide how you want to interpret that information. Are all of the 2’s already played so I should discard or is there something else? I think we struggled with that a few times the first game, which was understandable.

As for leadership within this game, it’s really important to have a group leadership, because one person cannot lead everyone in a game like this. This game relies a lot on trusting your teammates and making sure that they give you clues and that you understand their reasoning for the clues. It’s very important for a leader to be trusted by their group, because if you don’t trust what they say, the entire group can fail. After my group’s first game, I made sure to talk before starting our next game and went through some reasons why people might give the hints they do. I think this gave people a better mindset going into the game, which was really beneficial to our group. We improved our score 4 points between the two rounds.

I think that my sister would be really good at a game like Hanabi. She’s an intelligent person who has a strong ability to understand other people. I think that’s important, because she would be able to comprehend her teammates clues and why they were giving them. This is a game I would really love to play with her.

Leadership in Hanabi

The game I played was Hanabi. This is a cooperative card game. The objective is to build a perfect, exciting fireworks display by placing the cards in order by different color. The cards range from 1 to 5 and must be placed in ascending order. Each player holds the cards away from himself or herself, so everyone but the person holding the cards knows what cards are in play.
The hardest part of playing Hanabi was to look at the clues that you gave from our players’ perspectives. In order to achieve the correct sequence of cards, you must provide helpful hints to the other players. There were several times after a hint was given, I could see the next person thinking very hard about the best move they could make. After one round, we seemed to learn each other’s communication style. After this, the next player was often able to finish the hint given by the previous player. We were also able to complete sequences faster and with fewer hints after playing several games.
The leadership themes that we discussed in class included communication and taking charge. Having only one leader in Hanabi would have been extremely difficult because of the nature of the game. I think communication applied a great deal to this style of game. As a leader you must adapt your communication style to what is best for your team. This lesson was seen almost immediately in Hanabi. We had to figure out what hints worked best for each player. We also had to work as a group despite our different communication styles, and I think this is also an important part of leading a team or group.
I think that my mom would enjoy playing this game because of the cooperation and communication it takes. We enjoy playing games like Heads Up around the holidays, which involves teamwork. My family has great memories of working together in games like this, and I know she would like to add this game to the ones we have. I also think that it would appeal to her because it is low conflict and low stress, so we can all relax and enjoy ourselves while we play.

Who’s the teacher?

“Wait, so the first 70 minutes of class they just play games? Do you even teach?”

Yep- students have the first 70 minutes of our weekly meeting to play through the various games of that particular week. Why do JS and I show up? Besides to join in the fun? Well, “you” asked, so let’s do this…

I’ve gone back and forth on best ways to write this, and I think the easiest is to give a sample of how we could have written the course in a way that reflected each of the following styles followed by an explanation as to why we chose the style we did. There is a ton of research available on different teaching styles, but I will only focus on a few here to keep you from having to read a dissertation-length entry!

Lecture Based/Authoritative Classroom
Many times in higher education, we are stuck on lecture and note based courses. We, as the teacher of the course, have all the information, and they only way students can have that information is if we talk at you. Is there a time and place for this type of learning? Certainly. Some learn best this way, some teach best this way.
Example: Having students copy copious amounts of notes on the history of boardgames from powerpoint slides and telling stories about why we, as the instructors, believe leadership is found in certain games.
Why Not Chosen: JS and I both learn very differently than what is offered through this style. We also believe that we can teach the course topic more effectively through another means. We do use some direct instruction when we briefly review a reading we offer to students, but this always takes less than 10 minutes of the class.

Flipped Classroom
I have seen this style of classroom learning become more and more popular in the last few years with peers and other instructors. This style occurs when the learning is placed completely in the students hands to decide what they want to learn about and how deeply. The instructor here is more of a guide person to help find answers as needed.
Example: Letting students decide what leadership topics they want to learn about and choose what games they would like to try to make it happen.
Why Not Chosen: Well, as much as we would like to let students develop with means they choose, the reality is that we were awarded so much money and bought a limited amount of games. Also, most schools require your courses have an intended outcome, so…. Although, we do use aspects of this method in our debriefs of the games by having pre-determined questions we want to touch on, but allow students to develop other points of discussion as it progresses.

Co-constructed Classroom
This style of classroom is somewhat of a hybrid of the flipped classroom. It recognizes that students have great information to share with the class, and so do the instructors. It allows instructors to create a general map of learning outcomes, while giving students options to choose how they will arrive at those locations. This style encourages both students and instructors to bring their past knowledge to the table and build off of one another to create something new, together.
Example: Dedicating a class that students can pick from 5-6 different games to play and discuss a specific leadership topic and how it relates to something they’ve experienced in their own life. Additionally, allowing students to restructure or modify the games to see if it changes how they see leadership play out in the game.
Why Chosen: If you look way back in our posts, you’ll find a little diddy about Bloom’s Taxonomy and how creation is at the top. This style can be really scary both for the instructors and the students because there is a lot of unknown involved. However, this can also be the most empowering, because in the end, everyone is discovering and creating something new, together.


So do JS and I do nothing while the students are playing the first part of class? NO!! Our job is to still be present and teach. We are also learning and actively participating. Yay for multitasking!

Student playing Hanabi.

  1. We make sure games are running smoothly and serve as a rule touchpoint. Students are asked to come prepared knowing the games, however, we all know there are some super wickedly confusing rules in games. We also make sure the groups are largely following the rules at the beginning. Sometimes we miss things. Usually it is no problem, but sometimes it changes the outcome of the game- and even might ruin the learning outcome we want you to reach.

Group of students playing The Resistance: Avalon

2. We are constantly observing. We are making sure everyone is playing and learning who skimmed the rules the night before. We are making mental notes as to which groups are playing the game for different outcomes. We are seeing who to press deeper in the group debrief about their experience. These observations help to guide our debrief section to be an even deeper and greater learning experience for all involved. (AND, this part helps us learn what to modify in the future renditions of the class, too!)

Group of students playing Secret Hitler

3. Most importantly, we are interacting with the students in the moment. Laugh with them. Learn with them when the game goes a-wire. Help set the mood at the beginning of a round. Add storyline into the game to give context. This is a part of the co-creation (outside of the debriefs). “Oh, you were killed the past 3 times this game? Why? Teammates, why do you not trust this character? Have you tried _____?” “You’ve used all of your fireworks. Must be a bright sky! Congratulations!”

The fact of matter is this: just because instructors are not standing at the front of the classroom and pouring information into the students does not mean the students are not learning and the instructors are not teaching. Learning and teaching can happen in many different ways. What is important, is to find the ways that work best for you- and do it!

Game of the Week Blog #2

In class yesterday, we got to play two different games. One was called, Secret Hitler, and the other was called, Hanabi. Secret Hitler was another hidden-role game that had two teams pitted against each other. The point of Secret Hitler was if you were a Liberal, you were attempting to figure out who the other Liberals are and who is Hitler. If Liberals can get five Liberal policies passed, they win the game. The Liberal side can also win if they kill a player and they happen to be Hitler. The Fascist side has to try and get ~five Fascist policies passed or successfully elect Hitler as the chancellor, (only after three Fascist policies are passed).

The other game, Hanabi, played much differently than Secret Hitler. Hanabi is a cooperative game where the goal of the game is to have all the player work together and build a firework show. Players are given random cards that they hold up so everyone can see them, but themselves. Thinking out tactics and giving other players hints is the key to this game.

Both games definitely had elements to them that would give them a challenging trait. From the couple of times I’ve played Secret Hitler, the hardest thing about the game that I noticed would be that sometimes having information on the other players can be difficult to acquire, since some games do not provide much talking or information about the game in progress. For the other game, I find the entire game to be created against the players. When you play the game, you have to decide what your best option is, because one wrong move can make a huge impact on how many points you and your other teammates can score.

Although having some hard elements within the games, both provide good leadership opportunities. Secret Hitler is very similar to Avalon, as players need to make choices of who to follow and trust and who should be the leader. As for Hanabi, everyone has to step up and give it their all if they want to be successful in this game. Unlike some games, you are constantly at the forefront and making moves to help lead everyone to an ultimate score.

These games are definitely parts of different gaming genres, so I selected two different people that would also enjoy playing these games. For Secret Hitler, I feel that my brother, Jesse, would love this style of game, as he likes to be aggressive and deceitful in games. For Hanabi, I believe my mother may enjoy this game. My mom absolutely does not like games where you can target people and hinder their progress. Since Hanabi encourages the activity of working together, I feel this would be a good fit.

The Resistance: Avalon – Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Last week in class we played Avalon, and I really enjoyed it.  My favorite thing about it was how easy it was to pick up and learn, and also how quickly you can play it all the way through.  I also really like how many people can play!  I was the generic blue/good character both times we played, so I’d really like to play again sometime and either be blue and have a special power, or try out being red.  I think the hardest thing about playing the game for me was that I never got to know anyone else’s identities going into the game like everyone else, so I was always just having to guess if people were good or evil based on their votes, which didn’t always work because a lot of times the evil characters were tricky.  I also had relatively little information to go off of when trying to choose who to take on quests with me.  Another aspect of the game I particularly appreciated was how you could vote on whether or not to let a quest occur, because that keeps the game from being broken in the evil characters’ favor.  For my specific case, this game taught me more about following than leading, because I did have a lot less knowledge than other people on who was good and who could potentially be evil.  I just had to learn to trust others based on their votes, and then trust that the people they chose to quest with were probably also good.  I usually just operated on a basis of trusting people until they proved me otherwise.  I did accuse one other player of potentially being evil in the first game and she ended up being good, and that taught me a lesson in making assumptions and jumping to conclusions when I didn’t have the proper information to do so.  One of my best friends would love this game because she loves games of secret identity.  From experience playing Werewolf with her, I know that she is so good at hiding when she is evil, so I would definitely want to be on the same side as her if we played this together.  I actually ordered a copy of this game online for myself after playing it in class because I enjoyed it so much and it was so reasonably priced.

Avalon: A Game of Good vs Evil

For the first week we played Avalon, a hidden role game.  In this game there are two teams, the forces of good and evil with each side having a few powerful people.  For the forces of good, the strongest role has to be Merlin who gets to see who is part of the forces of evil.  As for the forces of evil, I think the strongest role is the assassin who can single-handedly turn a loss into a win.

Coming in familiar with other hidden role games gave me a leg up but the hardest part of the game for me was figuring out how to best utilize everyone’s unique ability as best as possible.  For example, being Merlin and know who is evil sounds straight forward but if you reveal too much then the forces of evil can assume who you are and kill you to win.  Oberon is the complete opposite, making you figure out who is good or evil on your own.  All of the different abilities keep the game fresh with each play through as everyone plays the same role in their own way.

Communication is a huge aspect of this game and of leadership.  The forces of good cannot win if they stay silent as they need to group together in order to pass quests.  This also applies to leadership.  While working towards a goal, if all of the steps to accomplish that goal are laid out and the work is distributed you can still fail if there is no further communication or collaboration.

My friend Josh would enjoy this game based off of the enjoyment he gets from playing One Night a Werewolf and Secret Hitler.  Games where he can shout to get his point across or accuse people seem to me to be the games he likes the most.

Hanabi- 2nd game of the semester

This week’s game was Hanabi. This is a cooperative game in which you have to “build” fireworks on the table. The hard part about this game is that you cannot see your cards and your teammates give you clues as you play. In addition, you only get three strikes (or you blow up) and your team only has so many clues. I love playing this game with my family because we have certain strategies and we know how each member of our family plays.

The hardest part for me is trying to think like other people. When giving a clue, you have to give a clue that makes sense to the person that is receiving that clue. Like during class, I had to give clues to people that didn’t do what I thought they would do. Learning to adjust to the players that are playing as well as adjusting based on what cards are dealt is very important. Learning that you must be patient and learn to work together takes some getting used to.

As far as leadership skills, this game has plenty of good examples for that. It takes advantage of group leadership, where there is no clear leader. Everyone has to pull their own weight and everyone is responsible to communicate and work as a singular unit. In addition, it thrives when people take on separate roles throughout the game. Learning to fit into a role is important in a group setting as well as in Hanabi. For example, I knew at one point I had terrible cards, so I had to start discarding cards on my turn in order to help the team. It is important to be good at your role in order to be successful as a team.

I think someone that would enjoy this game is my friend Cory. My favorite part of this game is giving clues that are challenging to understand and almost count as multiple clues given the circumstances like what cards are present and what cards other people far. I think Cory would be really good at that. In addition, his mind and approach to games like this are very similar to mine which would make playing this game with him very fun.

Avalon: 1st game of the semester

This week in class, we played the card game Avalon. It is a game where everyone is given a hidden identity at the beginning of the game. Set in a medieval or fantasy setting, players can get characters like Merlin, Percival, or the Assassin to name a few. The goal of the game is for you “team” to win the majority of quests that occur throughout the game. This is all happening in real time where communication, memory, and negotiation is key. I love this game and have played it many times before coming to class. I love trying to solve the mystery of what character everyone is and getting more information periodically throughout the game.

For me, the hardest part of this game is always being a “bad guy”. I can’t lie very well and I don’t like to do it either. My strategy for being a bad guy is to try and create chaos which works about half the time. I was the assassin for the first game and we lost, but I was to guess who Merlin was correctly and win. The real fun for me is being a good guy and using communication to try and figure out who is on your team. Picking quests becomes harder rather than just picking randomly if you’re a bad guy.

This game is excellent for leadership because it forces people to use communication as well as individual goals to be successful. At the start of the game, everyone has a mission and it is up to you to communicate and get your teammates to be on your side. The end goal is for the team to achieve a common goal without entirely knowing who is on your team . In addition, it is important in this game to be able to take risks and to not be stubborn.  I think those are two skills that are important for a leader to have.

I think someone that would really enjoy this game is my friend, Noah. He would love the “puzzle” that is trying to figure everyone out. I think he would also be intrigued with all the special characters and their abilities.