Monthly Archives: December 2019

Hanabi Reflection

Hanabi is a cooperative card based game where your team of pyrotechnicians is trying to make a successful firework show! Hanabi is the word for firework in Chinese and you will be trying to make a number of these by making runs of the same colored cards. The problem is nobody can look at their hand but instead must place their cards in their hand facing them towards the other players so they can see their hand. The group will try and give specific hints to what kinds of cards you have and players will need to keep track of the information given to them to try and lay down cards in a specific order. The hardest part of the game is trying to make sure you give valuable information at all times. You definitely need to do this in a sort of informational triage. Since there is only one 5 of each of the colors if a player has a 5 they need to know immediately so they don’t accidentally discard it, otherwise you will ruin that hanabi! This can get challenging also as you start to run out of time and need to decide whether you will give a hint or discard a card for time, the problem is if nobody has been telling you what you have then you may end up discarding a card that is valuable to the group. Leadership in this game definitely comes by working as a perfect team! The team will need to minimize unhelpful hints and only give clear, concise information that will further the team to complete the firework show successfully! Beyond this group communication, the game also gives players a chance to work and develop their time management and prioritization skills. Players need to prioritize certain types of information and will be working against the “clock” to get their show up and running on time. I think my friend Christian would love this game because he really enjoys cooperative games that involve high levels of group communication!

This was my last assignment I will be submitting for the class. I submitted 6 game blog reviews and the blog review of She Kills Monsters so if you didn’t see those they are published (or should be) within the blog. Thanks for the class, it was one of my favorite classes I have ever taken! Also, I really want to publish my board game one day so if you want to give me feedback of the game or point me in the direction of next steps that would be awesome!

~ Ryan Estep

Two Rooms and a Boom Reflection

Two Rooms and a Boom is a social game where each player will secretly get a role. Then they are divided into two rooms and the terrorists are trying to get the bomber to be in the same room as the president by the end of the game. I felt like this was a very challenging game for our class because a lot of the kids in the class are international students. Since the rulebook was so sparse online and you couldn’t read about the different roles before class and all of these classes were taught out loud in English the international students struggled with learning the game at first. Also, I was often in rooms where people were speaking primarily Chinese and I couldn’t participate. Sadly, I really did not like this game because the reasons I outlined but also because I just generally don’t enjoy social deduction games. I think the only social deduction game I have enjoyed thoroughly is Avalon. Anyway, I did win a few times and once as the leprechaun (which I did have fun with). The hardest part of the game is as more and more roles are introduced players need to have most of the roles completely memorized as they play the game to understand everything that is happening. Also, as more roles are added the main goals of each team (i.e. protecting the president or getting the bomber to the president) are often masked by these gimmicky roles that you can transfer between players during the game and I feel like it distracts too many people from the heart of the game. There are a few leadership aspects to this game. The game makes players accept their role in a group and play it to the best of their ability. Not every person can be the president of the bomber and sometimes you have to have more of a supportive role in the group which is a good thing to learn how to do in life and in general. Also, players need to work with their team often with indirect communication so dropping hints as to who the bomber may be or who is on the enemy team that is in the same room as you. Communication in general is prioritized in this game so your team can deduce what actions to take during the end of the round. I think my friend Chris would like this game because he enjoys social deduction games with loose rules and a more “make your own fun” approach.

~ Ryan Estep

Survive! Escape From Atlantis

Survive Escape From Atlantis is one of my favorite games we played this semester! I didn’t think I was going to be a huge fan of the game because I generally dislike lighter family style games because they rely too much on luck and not enough on skill, but I really liked this games “take that” mechanic and found the whole game enjoyable in the end. In the game you have different meeples that all are worth different values if you rescue them. The game involves you trying to frantically rescue your meeples while avoiding sharks, sea monsters, and whales. The hardest part of the game is keeping track of the meeple values on the bottom of your meeples. Once you place your meeple you can no longer check to see its value so you have to be constantly engaged in remembering what meeples have the highest values. The leadership in this game involves interacting in a social setting and group dynamics. If your group is out for blood they can be really mean and kill almost all the meeples. You could convince another player to work together with you and transport some of your meeples with them across the sea. Or you could try and fly under the radar and not upset the wrong people in order to silently win the game. The type of strategy players employ follows their general strengths and weaknesses when communicating with other people and in groups. If a player is really good at convincing other players to work with them they will try and employ this strategy (you get the idea). I think my whole family (especially my cousin Lydia) would enjoy this game because I view it mostly as a fun light family game suitable for most ages (my cousin is around 10 years old).

~ Ryan Estep

Ultimate Werewolf Reflection

Ultimate Werewolf was the first game we played in class. It is a social deduction game where players don’t know the other players roles and the villager players need to find and kill the werewolves hidden in the village. I have played the game before and my opinion about the game did not change in the least. The biggest problem the game has is the first person to talk or the one leading the discussion early on is ALWAYS assumed to be the werewolf and is killed. This is super frustrating to me because it encourages everyone to just sit in silence and basically do a vote for who the village is going to kill based on purely random grounds. This also ties into the hardest part about the game which is the fact that you need to communicate but also not dominate the discussion. As soon as someone dominates the discussion, such as Dan did when we played in class, they are usually immediately killed. The leadership skills needed are solid group communication skills, strategy, and problem-solving skills. You will need to carefully keep track of what other players are saying and doing, including their body language, in order to try and deduce the werewolves. You need to communicate your ideas with the group effectively while not being overpowering, and you will need a strategy based on the card you got and the group of people you are playing with. I think my friend Macaila would like this game because she enjoys lighter party games such as Coup.

~ Ryan Estep

Small World Reflection

Small World was a game I brought in during the free game week. Small World is a fantasy war game where each faction has a special thing about them and these faction cards are paired at random with unique abilities or powers. This gives the game great replayibility because the factions will be different every time you play based on the ability they are paired with. The hardest part of the game is realizing when you need to set your race into decline. A race in decline still gives you points but most of your faction is wiped from the map and you select a new faction to play as. Sometimes you think that your race is awesome! It may have an overpowered ability paired with it that really complements the faction well. However, in Small World resources are limited and you will eventually need to go into decline when your resource spreads too far out and thins itself out. I think the most leadership that happens in the game is negotiating with other players. You will often need to make negotiate through wars with other players and talk your way out of sticky situations or military aggression. If a player is highly skilled at this they can convince certain players to team up with them or cause other players to attack each other over attacking them. I think my friend Brandi would really enjoy this game because she enjoys lighter war games and enjoys when games have aesthetically pleasing components. Obviously, I enjoy the game because it is in my personal collection!

~ Ryan Estep

TIME Stories Reflection

Time Stories is a game where you and a group of people go back in time and try and solve a puzzle to avoid a “temporal rift” (at least I think that was the term). I thought I was going to hate this game because I generally hate games that heavily on storytelling or immersion. I generally find it really hard to get into these kinds of board games. However, I really enjoyed this game and thought it was one of the better games we played throughout the semester. The hardest part of the game is definitely the puzzles! Everyone in your group has to really be focused while going throughout the story because each person will be interacting with different “panels” and only they are going to pick up the panel and actually look at it; they then will be summarizing the panel to the rest of the group. If there are any visual clues one person in your group may have overlooked then your group may be extremely lost and probably won’t solve the puzzle in time. Sam was the person in our group that went to the panel that had the primary clue in the first room. Thankfully, she was paying attention and wrote down the symbols on the panel, if she wouldn’t have done that our team wouldn’t have completed the mission. Leadership in this game is very group focused. You will need to effectively communicate with your team information that they can’t see which can be very challenging! Also, there is individual responsibility because all group members need to be taking extensive notes throughout the game to make sense of certain clues or solve riddles. I think my brother Justin would love this game because he generally likes games with a strong theme and puzzles.

~ Ryan Estep

She Kills Monsters Review

Me outside the box office and my ticket and program from the event.


She Kills Monsters is a play by Qui Nguyen and was directed by Bridget Leak at Miami University. The play centers on the character Agnes after her whole family dies in a terrible car accident. After the accident Agnes is plagued by her idea that she never really got to learn about her younger sister Tilly. Tilly and Agnes were polar opposites, Agnes was the girl that was into boys and music while Tilly was more into nerdy things such as robotics and the popular game Dungeons and Dragons. Agnes, distraught by the notion that she never really bonded with her sister stumbles upon one of Tilly’s Dungeon and Dragon’s campaigns and decides to seek help from Chuck, a local nerd, in order to play the campaign. Throughout the campaign she begins to learn new things about her sister and about herself. I will be focusing on leadership and gaming in Dungeons and Dragons for the remainder of my review.

            An important note is that Agnes talks to Tilly throughout the play as though she is alive so please bear with me changing my tenses while writing this review.

            Dungeons and Dragons is a game where anyone can be anything they want to be! If you want to be a badass barbarian that uses brute strength to conquer his enemies, you can make and play as that character. If you would rather use your wit and magic to aid you on your journey, there is a character for you. This means that players can explore aspects of themselves that they can only dream about and this gives players a small sliver of wish fulfillment that they cannot experience in real life. For example, Tilly is gay so in her campaign she gets the girl, Lily, that she has a crush on. Other than wish fulfillment, Dungeons and Dragons gives players a chance to develop their personal leadership skills as they will often work within a party or group to play through their campaign. They will have to utilize different leadership skills such as strong communication, democratic leadership, and affiliative leadership in order for their party to be victorious in the campaign and have fun along the way. Dungeons and Dragons is also a role-playing game and players need to be involved in the story in order for their group to get the most out of the game. This means that players need to put aside personal issues like the idea that they may feel silly role-playing in order for everyone to enjoy the game session. This is a great example of leadership as players put the needs of the group above the needs or wants of themselves.

            In the beginning of the campaign, Agnes is very sarcastic and kind of off putting to her group. She is given the name “Agnes the ass-hatted” as a result of her attitude. This destroys the game for some members of her party and quickly realizes that for her whole group to have fun in the campaign it is better if she gets more into the game rather that just judging everything in it. She makes this transition very slowly over the course of the play but by the end she is very into the concept of Dungeons and Dragons and admits to her sister that she had fun while playing. This shows her development as a leader in the fact that leaders often need to work well and consider group dynamics when working for, or in, a group setting. Sometimes you need to put aside your own personal opinions for your group to be effective. If people feel judged by another member or the leader in their group it can cause them to contribute less or feel like they can’t contribute without judgement. Agnes finally develops this leadership skill and her group bonds quickly as a result. This is an example of affiliative leadership, as she caused the group to bond as she promoted harmony within the group.

            The major part of the play that troubled Agnes was finding out that her sister was a lesbian. An exchange happened between Tilly and Agnes where Tilly says that her sister shouldn’t care if she is lesbian because she is still herself. Agnes responds by saying that this is something that she should have known about her sister. She was more shocked that she didn’t know her sister even more than she previously realized and focused more on that than being present in the moment. This caused her to upset Tilly. This happens quite a lot in the lgbtq+ community as family members often take personal responsibility, saying things such as “you’re not gay, I would know if you were gay” or “how could I not see this coming” and many other responses. This puts the person that just came out in an awkward position where they now have to try and comfort themselves, their family members, and defend the fact that they are actually gay and that it is okay, all at the same time. In situations like these it is important for people to take a step back and realize that it is not about them. Coming out to someone takes tremendous courage and is often a very challenging decision, if the interaction does not go as planned it can cause the member of the lgbtq+ community to feel like it is somehow their fault and can cause them to internalize feelings of hatred towards themselves. After this interaction Agnes meets Lily, the girl Tilly had a crush on while she was alive. After talking to Lily Agnes realizes that being lesbian does not change who Tilly was but does mean that she had to deal with a lot of challenges that Agnes didn’t previously realize. After this, Agnes apologizes to Tilly taking responsibility for the way she acted and telling her that she is sorry that she couldn’t be there for her while she was alive.

            Democratic leadership is also practiced in Dungeons and Dragons. Agnes and her party had to defeat a number of bosses by working together. Democratic leadership means that every member shares the power when making decisions. This can be shown to be important for when the group fought their first boss, a fairy in the forest. All the members of the group opted to charge the boss one-by-one and take a very individualistic approach when fighting the boss. It quickly becomes apparent that they need to work together and come up with a common plan of attack and goal in order to be successful through their campaign. As the group worked more and more as a unit Agnes’s skills in democratic leadership grew.

            Overall, I loved the play! I didn’t think I was going to like it at all because I don’t really like Dungeons and Dragons or those kinds of role-playing games. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how funny the play ended up being and caught myself laughing out loud a few times. I really like how they made some Dungeons and Dragons related jokes throughout the story and was presented in a way anyway could understand. For instance, at the end of the play Tilly tells Agnus that she isn’t actually a Paladin and that she should have known because Paladin’s can’t cast “Magic Missile” but Tilly had towards the beginning of the campaign. In the end I definitely walked away with a newfound appreciation for Dungeons and Dragons, I still don’t think it’s for me, but I better understand what draws people towards the game.

~ Ryan Estep