This week, we finished up our playthroughs of Fiasco! Picking up right where we left off after the Tilt, players ran through Act 2 and the Aftermath of their games. In the case of my group, we finally reached that climactic bank heist that had been built up all of Act 1 and concluded with a gun fight in the wild west, many dead, and everybody suffering just a little. It was a great time. Somehow, my character had the happiest ending because he took a bullet to the gut early on and managed to avoid the deadly final shootout that left all but one other player dead. Unfortunately, that other player was the infamous bounty hunter my character swore revenge on many years prior, so it wasn’t a “happy” ending.
The hardest part of Act 2 for me was accepting failure. The goal of the game is, of course, to come up with schemes that fail spectacularly. However, in the moment while playing the game, everyone is trying to achieve some degree of success and can bring the game slightly to a halt. A few examples from my game come to mind, but I’ll only talk about one. One player, whose character was in the spotlight, was trying to convinced another player’s character to come outside and follow him to the bank. He’d received a white die, signaling a positive outcome, but the scene ended with the second character fleeing out the back window and getting away. It stuck out to me as a case of going against the outcome die for the first player because the second player did not want to fail. Improvising involves a rule-of-thumb dubbed “yes, and…”, where people accept what is being done and continue with what has been set up. Playing Fiasco, it was really hard to say, “Yes, I will fail, and this is how it happens.”
One tie to leadership that Fiasco demonstrates well is encouraging healthy competition. Fiasco involves so much betrayal and player-against-player storytelling, but at the end of the day, it is a roleplaying game and everyone is there to have fun. I think it does really well encouraging people to go ahead with their plans, not take what others do too personally, and having an overall fun time regardless of what happens. Applying this to the real world, minor competition within a group can be beneficial because it pushes everyone involved to do better in their endeavors. As a leader, it is important to make sure, despite any rivalries, that everyone on all sides knows it is in good fun.
Having played through the second half of Fiasco, I would like to slightly adjust that kinds of people I previously said would enjoy the game. People who are comfortable improvising or don’t mind giving improv a try would enjoy playing the game. In addition to that, anybody who plays games to win and takes experiences that happen in games personally should steer away from Fiasco. Furthermore, anybody who would *make* a playthrough of Fiasco personal for other players should stay away. For those reasons, I can see Fiasco being enjoyed by groups of friends who are fine with giving each other grief and don’t mind being ridiculous with each other.