Monthly Archives: February 2020

Gaming, Raccoons, and Tarot Cards

On February 11th, I went to one of the biweekly meetings of Miami’s Strategy Gaming Club (SGC). Although I have goe to SGC meetings since August, this particular Tuesday meeting was…interesting, to say the least. At a typical SGC meeting, there are over 20 games set out on the table for people to choose from, and there’s even an office room with two closets filled to the brim with all different types of games. With RECON, Miami University’s own small gaming convention, coming up, most of the games brought down to play were “play and wins” being given away at the convention. With games ranging from Adapt (which I only played to hopefully win the dice from) and Root (the cutest area control game you will ever see) I found it nearly impossible to walk into the room and find a person not enjoying any of the offered games.
In a previous paper, I mentioned that normally games function as a stress releivant, so I tend to stray from strategy heavy games. Typically, this leads me towards Azul, Shadowhunters or, a new find, Detective Club. This Yuesday had been particularly light and I was ready to test out something new. The past Sunday, I had ventured to play Too Many Bones (an amazing game even though the tutorial boss is impossible to beat) and had found enough confidence, as well as some new friends, to try another slightly more strategy based game. I know, playing a strategy game at the strategy gaming club is way out there. So, feeling adventurous, four others and I reached for Root.
Root is, in the least descriptive way possible, a freaking amazing game. Depending on who you are as a person, can be as stupid or as serious as you want it to be. Nearly all of the parties you choose to play as function as an area control game. A player has to take soldiers to different parts of the forest in order to craft certain items or do certain tasks in order to gain victory points. You can choose if you’d like to start as a big faction, a merchant faction, a combat based faction, or, hold your horses, quite literally an RPG character. Any of these choices leave the player with cute figurines and a good starting point for gaining victory points. Because I am terrible at strategizing in area control games, I decided to have a bit more fun and chose to play as the Vagabond.
Unlike all other parties, the Vagabond is a single character and single figurine. The Vagabond does not control any areas of the forest, but instead gains points by trading cards for items and forming alliances with the other factions. The Vagabond also has three quests available to them at any time for them to travel around the forest and complete for victory points. If Root was meant to be a story of fuzzy woodland creatures at war, the vagabond would be the main character. Although this comes as a surprise to nobody, I did not win the game. However, I played the Vagabond more mischievous than a devote player would. I went after quests and completed the ones I could, but for the most part I just went around to other players trading cards and taking items. The Vagabond can also attack players with a crossbow without rolling any attack die, and this made a great threatening tool. I could go around to the warring factions and simply say “it’s okay if you don’t craft an item for me, but I will shoot you,” and I soon had a full satchel of items. Yes, I played Root to be a murder hobo.
Root gave me the regular, enjoyable experience I have at SGC. What happened after Root was…still enjoyable, yet strange. Were Words is a game that combines 20 questions and werewolf. It’s fun and it’s a good filler game (it’s also great if you’re feeling too tired to function, but still want to play a game). If you go to SGC, there is a 98% chance that you will find somebody who has played over 30 games of werewords in the SGC membership lifetime. The students know the rules and roles in and out, and have even created their own fun, personal lists of words to choose from. Tuesday was the first time I met Dan. Dan played Were words and did his homework at the same time, which isn’t uncommon of any college student. Dan also had a deck of tarot cards on him. The nine of us playing were words then came to the conclusion that the best way to play were words would be with this deck of tarot cards. Confused? Yes, that was the general feeling at the time, but we were all too excited and brain dead to even care. The rules were simple: look at your tarot card and interpret it as the role you feel best explains it. This also became the way we chose who the mayor was and, twice, we had over three mayors in a single game. This mixture of craziness had riled up all of us and we soon had an even better idea: draw cards and determine who Jesus and Judas were. We then recreated The Last Supper and then immediately dispersed after. I proceeded to go home and study until 3am (as any good college student does).
SGC provides a warm and welcoming atmosphere to any student that wishes to join. It’s easy to make new friends and find new games you enjoy, and you might even find yourself wrapped up in what appears to be some kind of cultist rituals. If you like gaming and a little spark of crazy every now and then, I would strongly encourage you to come down to the student center any given Tuesday or Sunday night.

Game of the Week Blog Reflection

For my first class, I got to play a game that I am quite familiar with. Betrayal at House on the Hill has been a staple in my family game nights since we first picked it up in 2014. It definitely isn’t my favorite game, but it is the one that got me excited in board games as a hobby.

Playing Betrayal requires many of the qualities a good leader also needs: rational thinking in the face of adversity, keeping track of the team’s skills, and pre-planning. My favorite leadership topic that comes out of this game, however, is knowing when to pass the work off to someone else or let someone else have the glory. Everyone wants to be the hero, but each character has specific disadvantages that may make them not the ideal choice for each task. Players must realize when another player may be better for the job and willingly hand off the responsibility so that they can defeat the traitor. Similarly, a good leader knows the strengths of each of their group members and can delegate tasks for the advantage of the team.

The most difficult part of this game is the imbalance within the haunts. It can make the game tedious for the players who don’t seem to have any way to win. In our game, the traitor was defeated after just a few turns and never seemed to get closer to her objective. The game was still enjoyable, but the rest of us felt bad for succeeding when it seemed as though she had no chance. I am excited to try Betrayal Legacy, which is supposed to be a much more balanced experience.

I think my friend Nathan would enjoy this game, as it has a good story behind it but still requires some good strategy.

Top 100 Games of All Time (60-51) (Plus a bonus: Games I’ve played for the first time since the list started!)

Time for my next chunk of favorite games of all time! Next is 60-51.

60. Carcassonne: South Seas
Z-Man Games
Designer: Klaus-Jürgen Wrede
Owned: NO

Why it is on the list: Bethany’s (my course co-creator) favorite game is Carcassonne. She gets a ton of the versions to play. This one I think is the best of the group I’ve played so far. I really enjoyed South Seas. I clearly like tile laying and building games from this list so far.

Who may like it:  Fans of Carcassonne naturally, but also people who enjoy a slightly different/possibly more strategic twist.

A game of Carcassonne: South Seas in progress from

59. Shadows Over Camelot
Days of Wonder
Designer: Bruno Cathala, Serge Laget
Owned: NO

Why it is on the list: I enjoy the theme. I enjoy the mechanics. I love the traitor. It would be MUCH higher on my list…except no game can do all of those things better than my number 1 game on my list. I really enjoy that there are a ton of different options you have for what you do next and people can be out on different missions. I love the traitor. I love the sword system for measuring success or failure. I would LOVE to play this more…if it wasn’t for I would rather play what I have at #1 and would play that 10/10 times if given the option between these two games.

Who may like it:  Fans of variable player powers, traitors, King Arthur, or games where A LOT is going on but it is so simple everyone can understand.

58. Vast: The Crystal Caverns
Leder Games
Designer: Patrick Leder, David Somerville
Owned: Yes

Why it is on the list: Quite different than Shadows Over Camelot….there is a lot going on and it is easy to get lost and not understand what is happening at all in this game. The beauty of this game is also the problem with this game for many people. If you are playing a 4 player game of Vast, you are technically playing four different games all at once. Picture a band where one player is playing guitar, another is banging on a trash can, one has a kazoo and the other is reading a book and you will get a general idea of the chaos and disjointed nature of Vast. I like to play the cave. I only want to be the cave. This takes asynchronous game play and moves it to the maximum level. Every person is playing a different game with different mechanics and different win conditions. That is a lot for some people. I just enjoy being the cave.

Who may like it:  Fans of total chaos and understanding 7 different things at once. Big multitasks.

57. Terra Mystica
Z-Man Games
Designer: Jens Drögemüller, Helge Ostertag
Owned: NO

Why it is on the list: This was, for a long time, at the top of the BGG list of top games. It is still, at this time 14th….and that drop is largely because of Gaia Project. Variable player powers (I clearly like that.) Tile laying/building. Lots of things I like about games in this. I think if I got to play more this would be much higher on my list. I’ve played 5 times and the most recent was in 2016. I’ve never really come close to winning. But I have really enjoyed every time I’ve played.

Who may like it:  Fans of Fantasy, DEEP strategic board games and planning ahead. In other words…this is a John game.

A game of Terra Mystica in progress from

56. Keyforge
Fantasy Flight Games
Designer: Richard Garfield
Owned: Yes

Why it is on the list: I don’t know.

Ok…seriously…when Keyforge came out I played it 31 times from November 2018 to May 2019. That is a decent amount. Since May 2019 I haven’t played at all. I really like the game. But it was like a 6 month furry of playing and then…nothing. I have a few untouched decks. I think part of it was the constant rules changes and such…but I haven’t even taken my Keyforge stuff to a game night. Maybe I will play again soon. Or maybe Keyforge will drop out of my thoughts forever and leave the list. This one was hard….I know I like the game. Or liked. Who knows. I guess we will see when and if I ever play again…

Who may like it:  First…in my mind this game is over the top. It ISN’T as serious as some people make it. With the no customizing decks this is GREAT for someone who wants to play a card game against others but DOESN’T like deck building. This game is actually the opposite of a deck builder…they were created for people who love building decks for CCG…this is for people who like PLAYING them but hate building the deck.

I really need to play again to see if I want to play again. I like it enough for it to be this high or higher…but it was the most difficult game to place….I considered everything from in the 10-20 range to not being on the list.

55. Takenoko
Bombyx / Matagot
Designer: Antoine Bauza
Owned: Yes

Why it is on the list: Cute pandas. Fun mechanics. Great strategy. Cute pandas. Fun expansion. Great theme. Cute Pandas.

For real the main thing is I really do like the mechanics of the game. The action selections and die to roll for abilities leads to a lot of fun.

Who may like it:  Fans of cute themed properties. Honestly a ton of anime fans.

54. Sagrada
Floodgate Games
Designer: Adrian Adamescu, Daryl Andrews
Owned: NO

Why it is on the list: I saw the game and thought “oh, Jennifer will love this game” (which she did) but what i didn’t know immediately was that it would be one of the best brain teaser games I’d played. So strategic, big puzzle to get what you need-this is a great game.

Who may like it:  Fans of BEAUTIFUL games, stained glass windows…but more so of a good, AP inducing puzzle.

A board from Sagrada taken from

53. World’s Fair 1893
Foxtrot Games
Designer: J. Alex Kevern
Owned: Yes

Why it is on the list: This is an area control/set collection game basically…with a theme on it that it is the World’s Fair. The game is super simple to teach (drop a cube, play famous people and do their action, take cards, refill cards. It is that simple. However the strategy to win and counter the moves of your opponents is great. Also, as someone who loves longer games (I almost always pick a 3-5 hour epic game over a 30 minute party game) this is a great good filler between bigger games.

Who may like it:  Fans of a game with good strategy but virtually no stress. This game isn’t one that is going to cause many hard feelings or you to be stressed-you’ll have fun win or lose.

52. Caverna: The Cave Farmers
Mayfair Games
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Owned: NO

Why it is on the list: This is easily the highest game I’ve only played once on the list…it is just that good and I remember loving it and wanting to play more. I really enjoy worker placement games and I didn’t want this one to end. I would love to play more. Maybe even this weekend…but I know this was a worker placement I really liked.

Who may like it:  Fans of good looking worker placement games with a lot going on if I remember. I don’t know why this game sticks in my head as hard as it does but I really liked it.

51. Burger Up!
Greenbrier Games
Designer: Matthew Parkes
Owned: Yes

Why it is on the list: Tom Vasel frequently says the most underdone theme in games is food. I tell Jennifer all the time “I’m big on hamburgers” and she points at my stomach and says “yes…I know.” This is a game where you are filling gourmet hamburger orders to have the best burger restaurant. It is as simple as that and I love it.

Who may like it:  The Hamburgler. Or people who like the app based games where you are filling customer’s orders to have the best restaurant.

I wouldn’t eat it but here is a burger from Burger Up’s expansion. Cut the onions and Sauerkraut and I’m in. Image from

Finally, as we are not to the top 50, I want to add a brief interlude. Here are a few games I’ve played for the first time recently (after I created the list.) Who knows-if I do this again they could appear on the list:

Harry Potter Death Eaters Rising – I’ve added this on the list tied with Thanos Rising…you will see it very soon…not sure which I like better but mechanically there are just slight differences. More on this next time…

Resident Evil 2: The Board Game – I love Resident Evil and this year have played Resident Evil Zero Remake, Resident Evil Remake and am now on the Remake of RE2 to prepare for RE3 this spring. I really enjoy the board game and hope to get all the expansions and play through it all eventually.

Uno: Teen Titans – Uno with a slight twist (new Robin rule). Very colorful.

Point Salad – Just the name itself makes me smile but the game was surprisingly solid and I rather enjoyed it. Good filler game…that we played 3 times to lead off a game night because people kept wanting to play it.

One person’s salads/tableau from a game of Point Salad on

Liguria – Good pick-up-and-deliver game. Not the best but it was good.

Captain Marvel: Secret Skrulls – Reskinned Bang: The Card Game with a few twists. Expect that you are playing Bang. Don’t expect to see Bang on my list, so…

Museum – I REALLY liked this game. Although…the game itself lasted 90 minutes and then the PRE-Scoring rearranging took another 30 minutes. I do like the game and want to play a lot more.

Welcome To… – As I believe I’ve mentioned we’ve been playing a lot of roll/draw and write games and as this is considered a top one now I had to give it a try. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to playing more to form a solid opinion.

Aeroplanes: Aviation Ascendant – Despite some rules confusions and mistakes we really enjoyed this Martin Wallace game (hint…you will see one of his games in the top 20) and am excited to play it more since I messed up and did HORRIBLY my first game.

Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game – This game was designed by a trio of siblings to explain the problems of Gerrymandering…and they did a tremendous job at doing so. We ended up playing 4 games (in a very short time) and John (who has co-taught the class) was SO MAD and loved the game so much. It was a great game. John’s political pet peeve is gerrymandering and this game demonstrates it amazingly well. John lost the first game and then said “Oh yeah….I need to be unethical and mean…” and went on to beat me the next three. “This game is so great….I hate this…it makes me SO ANGRY.” Great job to the designers.

A game of Mapmaker from

GOTW – Ultimate Werewolf – Belkowitz

Hello! In the first week of EDL 290T, the class played Ultimate Werewolf. In this game, people are assigned roles. During night phases, players are called upon, one role at a time. The player of each role is able to make a decision that influences the game. As the game progresses, those that are werewolves remove players from the game while those who are not werewolves, try to discover who the werewolves are.

This is a game that I was already familiar with, but only had experience playing in a small group of no more than six people. I really enjoyed playing this game with over 20 people. Having a large group of people made it more challenging. One of the most interesting aspects of our group’s game of Ultimate Werewolf was that, for the most part, none of us knew each other! This was the first class meeting. Ultimate Werewolf is a very social game where people need to attempt to read into other peoples’ minds. This was especially tricky by not knowing the other players. People not knowing other people also made individuals uncomfortable and hesitant to actively participate, which made the game even more challenging.

This game provides people with many leadership opportunities, regardless of their role. During the day phases, the villagers try to hunt down the werewolves while the werewolves attempt to blend in. In our game, from the beginning, a few people were very vocal. These people tried to use their roles and their knowledge of other peoples’ roles to help guide others into making decisions that best helped the group. Even if people playing this game know each other, people may be intimidated to speak up due to a fear of becoming a target. Those who spoke up early on acted as leaders by helping others progress in the game and by making others more comfortable to speak up.

I believe this is a great family game, but more than a family game, I think this would be great for coworkers to play. This game would change the roles that people may have in their job hierarchy and would allow people to see from different perspectives. Within work environments, it is important that people are able to understand other peoples’ opinions and collaborate. Ultimate Werewolf is definitely a game that gets people to think critically and work with others. This is a great game which I would recommend to any group of people!

GOTW – Hanabi – Belkowitz

Hi! This past week in EDL 290T, we played two games: Hanabi and Mental Blocks. I am choosing to write about Hanabi. I really enjoyed Hanabi. Hanabi is a card game. Similar to Uno cards, the cards in Hanabi have a color and a number. And similar to Solitaire, the goal of Hanabi is for the players to work together to play the cards of each color in order of lowest to highest. Unlike any other game I know, Hanabi has a specific twist; players cannot see their own cards. In Hanabi, players hold their cards facing away from themselves. Players have to rely on hints from the other players to know which cards they should play.

Being unable to see your own cards is possibly the greatest challenge in Hanabi. Players do not know what cards they have. By using tokens, players can give other players clues that can describe the color or number of specific cards. Only one hint can be given for token, and after use, a token is no longer usable. Players quickly run out of tokens, making it more difficult to know which cards you may be holding. Tokens may be regained if a player discards a card. What is difficult about that is that you may not know which card you are discarding, and it may be a card that you need to use for the game. Not being able to see your own cards is a great challenge that certainly makes Hanabi stand out among other games.

With Hanabi, I feel that leadership is spread among the group. Players have to collaborate and work together to find the best ways to tell others which cards they should play. Individual leadership can become present in this game. Players are able to help others figure out if they should use hint tokens or discard. When someone plays a card that cannot be played, the players lose one of what could be thought of as their four collective lives. If the group makes four mistakes, the game is over. As the game progresses and more mistakes occur, it is important that players activate leadership responsibilities by better guiding others.

I would recommend this game for a group of friends. I could see this game being played at small get-togethers and parties. I think this could be a fun game where friends have to better communicate with each other. Friends could also add restrictions to this game, such as one player being unable to talk, which would make the game more challenging and more fun. I recommend this game for groups of friends, and I hope to play it with my friends.

Game of the Week: Mental Blocks

This week, we played both Hanabi and Mental Blocks in class. Both were interesting games that required everyone’s cooperation to complete and win. As someone with little to no board game experience, this was my first time playing cooperative games since I was a young child. These two were a great introduction to the topic and were more fun to play than I expected. For the purpose of this post, I will discuss my experiences with Mental Blocks.

Mental Blocks was challenging, although my group excelled at the game and finished every shape well before time was up. The hardest part of Mental Blocks was the restriction. On the first round, we were able to touch all shapes and colors and arrange them to show our team what the card looked like from individual perspectives. After the restriction, we had to get creative and ask someone on our team to touch a certain block for us, or even better, use two blocks that we could touch to pick up the third. In general, the “leader” of each round was the person who had the card that identified the shape of the structure. For our group, Nico got that card two out of three times and became our designated “leader.”

This game was a great introduction to cooperative games, and the fact that it required thought and cooperation made it that much better. I will have to refer this game to my boyfriend, Camron, as he enjoys mental games and would have really enjoyed playing this game in class.

-Alexandra Bartkoske

Game of the Week Reflection 1- Ultimate Werewolf

In week one of EDL 290, we played Ultimate Werewolf. I’ve played Ultimate Werewolf before, as well as many games like it. It’s a Mafia-style Hidden Role Game, where players try to remove all hidden bad guys (in this case werewolves) from their ranks. Each night, the werewolves pick off village team players, with the ultimate goal of outnumbering them. This format puts a pretty high amount of pressure on the players. If the good team does nothing, they will lose, and if they do the wrong thing, they will lose faster. This makes the village team desperate for any information it can get about what the right players to vote away are. So naturally, one of the common strategies of werewolves is to use this desperation against them so that they vote themselves away instead of finding anyone from the other team. People that like bluffing, acting, and high stakes situations tend to like this game- My brother falls into this category. People who don’t mind these things and like strategy and deduction may also like it- This is sometimes me, when playing with people I know well.

The most challenging part of the game for me personally is the pressure, and the reliance on social skills and bluffing. While I love the strategy (I know many of the strategies that can be used by different roles or permutations of them across different versions of the game), I find myself in trouble when I don’t have the time or information to execute one effectively. This becomes more difficult as my role becomes less useful. In fact, I find normal Villager the most difficult role in the game. You have no information of your own to collect, and no role claim to save you if you get called out. You also don’t have the safety of a few other teammates who know who you are and will try to vouch for you. Mechanics-wise, you are truly alone and in the dark. You could sit with the knowledge that your hands are tied and do nothing. But… It’s boring to do nothing, and you came here to play a game. Plus, in a group that doesn’t know you well, you’ll generally be called on this anyways (I hate the people who call on ‘the quiet person’ as someone to be suspicious of! Mostly because I am always that person, even when I’m a village aligned role!). So, you want to try and offer the group something, even if it’s just guesses based on what you think could be tells or strategies in action. It’s a delicate balance, and one that’s easy to mess up. It’s hard not to go overboard and call for votes you don’t know will pan out, especially when you feel there is no other information on the board and the game is being lost. When I called for votes that ended up removing normal villagers from the game, I had no defense for why I had done that other than ‘I thought they seemed suspicious’. Ironically, that made me seem suspicious, just as their random votes had made them appear to be in my eyes. I had fallen into the exact same trap as they had and all I could do was watch the rest of the group vote me out the next day.

As well as being extremely involved and strategic, Ultimate Werewolf is a game that has excellent lessons about leadership within it. First, the voting process highlights the difference between leader and individual. One person’s skill or knowledge means nothing if they cannot convince anyone else to vote with them. But the crowd is often fickle, especially in a group of strangers desperately looking for each other’s tells. Added on to this is the nature of game itself, which discourages them from sharing what they know openly and honestly, lest they be targeted by evil roles or even good roles who have chosen not to trust them for whatever reason. Speaking to offer knowledge, leadership, or even a hunch immediately singles you out from the crowd, and that takes bravery. But bravery can only get you so far, if your goal is to win the game. It also takes a certain amount of intelligence to know just when to reveal your thoughts to the other players. Sometimes the Seer is better off speaking as soon as they have a hint, and sometimes they are better off trying to find more than one wolf before they reveal their role. And sometimes a villager is best of not trying to take charge of a vote when they know they have little to contribute other than blind guesses. Overall, I think if you can learn when and how to step up in a game like Werewolf, you can learn when and how to step up in a myriad of other situations. There’s likely to be a lot less pressure to speak up, after all, knowing that there probably aren’t werewolves or paranoid villagers hanging on your every word.

-Sam Hartzell

Reflection: Werewolf

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe may be an interesting play, but it’s also one of many secret roles in the game Ultimate Werewolf. In this game, each player is assigned a hidden role from a select list of cards. These roles may very based on player count and interest in certain aspects of the game (ex. a role called Cupid, who makes two players fall in love and die together, may be added into the game, but is not required for gameplay).

The story of Werewolf is that all players live in what is seemingly a quiet and peaceful village. One morning, all villagers awaken and go to the town square at the same time (as villagers typically do), and discover a body that has been mauled to pieces by werewolves. Immediately, everyone in the village begins pointing fingers and trying to figure out who among them is a werewolf.

Werewolf is a game that consists of 2 teams: The Werewolves and The Village. In order to win, the Werewolves must control a majority of the town (done by killing village members and remaining unsuspicious) and the village must lynch every werewolf, ensuring the safety of the village. Although roles may vary from game to game, every game must have at least 2 werewolves, a seer, and a variety of villagers. Other roles may be added in to make the game more challenging for either team, or for just pure fun. Take Virginia Woolfe, for example: Viriginia herself functions as a normal villager, and doesn’t necessarily directly affect gameplay. However, Virginia is special in that she chooses somebody that is afraid of her; so afraid of her that if Virginia dies (either via werewolf or a town lynch), that person becomes so mortified by the fact that Virginia’s ghoul is now chasing them around and also dies. Although you may think this is a good tactic to use to kill a werewolf by killing Virginia, Virginia must pick her target before the game has started, and has no idea what that person’s role may be. If Virginia dies, there is a possibilty that the Seer may also die.

The most challenging part of this came is, funnily enough, also the most boring part of the game: being a regular Villager. Unlike the rest of the roles, regular Villagers have no special abilities. Unfortunately for villagers, claiming Villager as a Werewolf is the safest bet, and villagers claims are often hung by town. Villagers have two options in this game: they can claim a unique villager role and hope that nobody counterclaims them (which they will) or fight their hardest to convince the town they are who they say they are (which never works). As a villager, you have to be willing to accept that you will die, either via town lynch or werewolf, and you also have to hope that your friends will be up to play another round of Werewolf so you can get a fun role.

Leadership is a key quality for both teams in a game of Werewolf. You have to be able to speak up for yourself and for your known team members or you will get hung. Masons are a good demonstration of this skill. Masons also function as regular villagers, but they know who the other Mason is. When the game begins, if anyone mentions the word Mason or hints at the Masons, they die. In our game, we ended up lynching a Mason because he could not claim his role without dying. His other Mason, who was silenced at the time, should have defended him, but could not.

I think that my friend Alec would like to play this game because he enjoys hidden role games in which he can create chaos. I could see him liking any of the roles this game has to offer (yes, even villager) and really just giving it his all. Overall, I think that this is a great game to start any class with because it gives people a chance to know each other and feel a little more comfortable before diving into the material.

Game of the Week: Ultimate Werewolf

For the first week of EDL290, we played Ultimate Werewolf. I loved a variation of this game as a child (Mafia, for those familiar), so seeing a more complex version available for adults was incredible and greatly nostalgic. The game had several roles, from Cupid selecting lovers to the two Masons whose names we could not say in fear of sudden death. My favorite was actually the one I played: the Spellcaster, who had the ability to silence someone for each round of the game.

Usually, I have experienced this game with people that I know and have some degree of friendship with. For the first time, I walked into the room and played this game with a group of 30 people that I had never met. This part was difficult because when you play with friends, you know their “tells.” We had no way of gauging who was being honest and who was lying. We had to trust our instincts and our past experiences with human interaction to determine who was lying about their role and who was being honest with the class.

I tried to lead the group in the first round by breaking the ice and asking everyone how their day was. However, the true leadership was shown when one person suggested we should kill someone off. Eventually, someone lead the followers and brought them to the initial leader by agreeing with killing off that person. Seeing how a group of strangers interacted with each other and how leadership in each turn was determined was an interesting perspective. I enjoyed interacting with the people around me, especially after I died and the Seer came forward with his knowledge. I think it was smart that the Seer kept his identity a secret until he figured out who was a wolf.

Overall, this game was a blast and was a phenomenal introduction to this course. I plan to figure out how to play this with a normal deck of cards and invite my friends over to play it. I’m sure they would love to fight over who the “bad guy” is.

-Alexandra Bartkoske

GOTW: Ultimate Werewolf Reflection

The first game that we played in our EDL 290 Class was called Ultimate Werewolf. A game similar to “Mafia” which involves making deductions using social clues, given by the other players, in an effort to win the game. As this was my first time playing such a game, it was confusing at first, but also interesting in watching how social dynamic took root quickly in the game. In my opinion, in terms of winning the game, this was the hardest aspect. As this was the first game that we played this semester, we were not familiar with the other players. As such, we were unaware of the personalities, behaviors, or “tells.” In a game of social deductions, this handicap contributed to mob mentality atmosphere very early in the game. As we had no idea who the enemy was, and no idea who each other were, the players’ paranoia was quickly heightened, and the decisions that were being made among the group become less and less rational as the game continued. It was this paranoia, and the uncertainty of who one can trust, that led to individuals choosing one of two actions. Either to take initiative and place distrust on another individual, or rather, contribute minimally and follow the mob. In our game, I took the latter approach and chose to bury my “enemy” status within the crowd. In doing so, it allowed me to survive till the end. Though at the cost, of being unable to support my team against the other players.

Ultimate Werewolf conveys many aspects of leadership. For example, as stated before, there were two roles a player could have taken: either to take initiative or follow the mob. Leadership is not about a title, but about one’s impact on a community. In this regard, either roles can have a significant impact on the community as proven by the second and third follower from the “Leadership from a Dancing Guy” video. Another aspect of leadership that can be found by playing Ultimate Werewolf comes from the notion of individuals speaking in order to persuade the minds of other players. In order to successfully place distrust on another player, or displace the distrust on you, one must be able to speak to other hearts and convey their reasoning so that others follow behind.

This is a game that I would take back to my residence hall and use as a corridor event for my residents.