TIME Stories is a brilliant cooperative mystery roleplaying story game that brings 4 players together in a quest against time to solve a mystery. The game is built entirely so that the story is unfolded in a satisfying manner as clues are discovered and realizations are made. Without a human game master rationing out the story it seems impossible to accomplish that, however through the use of revealing cards based on conditions that the players must meet before moving forward, the game feels natural and satisfying.
The hardest part of this game, however, is also its downfall. Aside from a few leaps in logic, the most difficult part of this game is playing with people who are not invested in it. TIME Stories is a race against time (but the consequences for failing are relatively minor), a game focused on remembering details, and a game based on roleplaying. It is not competitive in anyway, and there is not a clear goal for the first several rounds of play. This can lead to players who need that motivation to find the game boring and may be less invested in it.
Leadership in this game presents itself in the form of determining what to do next. Much like operating within a DnD party, if the party is going to stick together they have to come to agreements on what to do. With a party as large as 4 individual people, a leader is necessary to keep the group’s goals in sight and reinforce how those goals can be met. Therefore, it is natural that someone will take the lead as the party leader. This is a game I would recommend to anyone that values the aforementioned qualities in a game like this, such as my friends Jae, Noah, and Cooper.
Captain Sonar is a game I hate. That is a strong word, however it is rare that any game leaves me so frustrated and stressed that I need to step away from the table and stop playing. A note of consideration is that I was not the only one to experience this at my table, but there were also players at my table who loved it and considered it the best game they had played in the class. Players separate into two teams, each with different roles in operating a submarine. The objective of the game is to sink the other teams submarine.
The difficulty of the game is that everyone has to work together in order to keep the submarine functional, and locate the the other teams submarine. Where this is complicated is that each team is acting at the same time, forcing the other team to listen in closely to what is being said both on their side, and on the other team’s side. This is the hardest part of the game as no one is liable to not break the rules, and also your communication must be clear for the other side to hear it, while also being as secretive as possible.
Leadership in this game is obvious: you must be able to work together as a team where everyone is a leader in their own right. This makes it even more crushing when you let your team down by making a mistake or not having the information they need. Part of being a leader is making sure that what you are responsible for is accomplished, and also being an example for how the rest of your team should act. It is an exercise in the delegation of roles and the trusting others to accomplish those roles. Though I wouldn’t personally recommend this game, those who enjoy dense rule systems, highly competitive play, and focus on attempting to beat the clock would enjoy this game: such as my friends Matt and Andrew.
Ultimate Werewolf is a box version of a classic camp hidden role game in which the town is trying to rid its community of the murderous werewolves. Every player is presented with a different role, each of whom have different actions that they are able to use to influence the game. These range from choosing two players to fall in love (and therefore always die together) at the beginning of the game to choosing a player to die every night. It is a very fun game, however I do have a few criticisms with it.
My major criticism of this game is that once your character dies in game, you are forced out of the circle and must remain silent until the game is complete. This is a necessity in a game structured this way, however it becomes unenjoyable if you are one of the first people out, waiting for the next round to begin in silence. The hardest part of the game in my opinion is keeping all players invested and having fun, even after they die. Another very difficult part of the game convincing the community to vote with you on who to hang each day. Nobody knows anyone else’s roles, and therefore everyone is suspicious. If you have a good lead on someone you may still be looked at with scrutiny if you are the first to come out with an accusation.
This leads to Werewolf’s contribution to discussions about leadership. In this game, as is unfortunately the case in many situations, the loudest and most insistent person is usually defaulted to as the leader. This was used to the disadvantage of the town in our playthrough of the game as one of the werewolves had convinced the mayor of her innocence, and the rest of the town blindly followed. Understanding that just because one may be the loudest does not correlate to their abilities as a leader is important in choosing who to follow, and in evaluating one’s own leadership abilities. I would recommend this game to anyone who likes hidden role games such as my friends Amanda and Ben.
Ladies and Gentlemen is a brilliant game that analyzes gender roles in Victorian England. While the men are at work on the stock market, making money and violently yelling over each other, the women go out and spend that money on clothing and accessories to wear to an upcoming ball. It is a whimsical look at identity as evidenced by the over the top gender stereotypes that are being played out here. That said, there are several key parts of the game that make it challenging to play, especially with strangers.
The most difficult aspect of the game is the fact that conversations between each husband and wife must be roleplayed. This means that mechanical aspects of the game may not be discussed at all. If a man doesn’t have enough money to pay for his wife’s dress, he can’t simply say that. He has to say something like “don’t you already have a purse that you can use?” This is difficult especially when your partner is unsure on the rules and you are unable to tell them that they need to buy a dress.
This game highlights the role of identity in group settings. Though the game satirizes the stereotypes set up by gender roles in the Victorian era (when can’t understand money) it forces each player to think about how their assigned role influences the way they are able to mechanically act within the game world. Understanding identities in the real world can help players avoid cultural insensitivity, and allow leaders to be more understanding of the backgrounds and worldviews of their followers. I would recommend this game to my friends Jae and Theo who are both immensely critical of the current gender binary and focus intensely on understanding and appreciating diverse identities.
Mysterium is a game about mystery and discovery that takes the subjective realm of dreams and applies it to a murder investigation that takes place in the Victorian times. With a mix of light-Lovecraftian Horror, mysterious images, and hilarious psycho-analysis, Mysterium is a great game for examining how we communicate without words. Players take one one of two roles, the Ghost or the Investigators. The player who takes on the role of the Ghost knows exactly what pieces of the puzzle each investigator needs to find, however is unable to communicate to those players using anything but the evocative paintings on cards that represent dreams each investigator has. The cards are vague and unconnected to most of the things the ghost is attempting to communicate, but include enough potential clues to help the investigators discover the answers for their characters.
The hardest part of this game is the limits placed on communication. As the ghost, it is nearly painful to watch players misinterpret the cards you gave them and pick the wrong answers. Being able to give no other input, the Ghost is unable to communicate their intentions and therefore is forced to just sit and hope their dreams are interpreted accurately. Though this is frustrating, this is what makes the game fun and also speaks to an important aspect of leadership. As a leader, it is sometimes impossible to communicate exactly what one is thinking so that everyone else understands it. This is rarely as obscure as interpretative dream analysis, however communication is vastly important in a leadership role, and it is sometimes very difficult to know that everyone is on the same page as you. Mysterium makes this painstakingly obvious which is helpful because it is often easy to forget that other people may have different interpretations of what you are saying.
This is a game that I would highly recommend to nearly everyone, however if you are easily frustrated by misunderstandings, or dislike being in the dark about solving mysterious this game might not be for you. My friends Sean and Noah would like this game as they both love solving mysteries as well as being able to communicate through non-conventional methods (such as the dream card mechanic).