Library Games Night Reflection

I went to Library Games Night at the Arts and Architecture Library in Alumni Hall on October 7. Several of my friends from Meeples were there, but Library Games Night is very different from a Meeples meeting. The group of people is generally much smaller, which makes it better suited for playing strategy board games as opposed to our normal habit of playing Blood on the Clocktower for hours on end. However, the library has a smaller games library than Meeples does, and when I’m not in the mood to learn a new game, it can be fairly difficult to find something I want to play there. Also, the smaller groups make player counts somewhat awkward, because a group of 8 can easily split into two different games, but a group of 5 almost always needs to find something they can all play together, and that is fairly restrictive on game options.
I arrived with Evan and Mack, and we met Em and Nick, who were setting up a game of Wizard Kittens. I’m pretty sure we were still able to join, but I was not interested in learning a new game, which came up again when Mack went to grab Planet. Library Games Night is definitely a time that I should be stepping more out of my comfort zone, since the library collection doesn’t feature very many games that I’ve played. I did this at the September games night, when Luke taught Camp Grizzly, which was a lot of fun, but this time around I didn’t want to learn anything new. One game that the library does have that I know is Splendor, which is a game that I really enjoy but haven’t played in quite a while. However, Mack seemed disinterested in the game, so we grabbed Coup instead.
While we were playing Coup, Em and Nick finished their game of Wizard Kittens, which they apparently enjoyed but found the setup to be too much work, and they joined us for Coup. Luke and Elizabeth also arrived during this time to play a couple rounds with us. Coup was a great game for this window of time, because people were doing different things and arriving at different times, and this allowed people to hop in and out quickly and participate in the group even though we didn’t all arrive together.
After we played Coup, Luke grabbed The Mind and Elizabeth grabbed Fluxx from the library collection, and for the second time that night our group had two different games happening at our table. I do not enjoy Fluxx, and I think Luke and Em at least share that opinion. Elizabeth taught Mack and the two of them played together, while the rest of the group played The Mind. Everyone in our group of four had played before except for Em, so at first they were pretty out of sync with the rest of us. In addition to having played The Mind before, we’d all played with each other, so we have some general sense of how long to wait before playing cards, while Em knew nothing about when they should be playing. We played round 1 a few times (as Luke is of the opinion that you just restart if you lose a life on the first level) before moving on. When we got past round 1, we tended to be pretty successful, getting to level 5 or 6. There were several times where we played a bunch of cards that were close together in the correct order, which was always very empowering. There were also a few instances where multiple people would have neighboring numbers, which resulted in pretty much random errors, since the difference between when you should play 41 vs 42 is often negligible. Every time we restarted, we had to play level 1 at least three times, but as Luke pointed out, level 1 is particularly challenging. It seems like it should be easy, since you don’t have to play very many cards, but the variability in the gaps is increased dramatically at that small number of cards, so often you’re almost guessing whether you should play your card. Playing several rounds in a row did result in us getting a better feeling for that group, and led to us having our very successful rounds. Once Em got the hang of the game, they really enjoyed it, so I’m glad we were able to add that to the collection of games they know. I had a blast with The Mind, and it was probably the highlight of my night.
After dividing for The Mind and Fluxx, Luke had to do homework, reducing our group to 5, which is also the max player count for Horrified. I own Horrified, and really enjoy it, but the library also has Horrified: American Monsters, so I often play that Library Games Night for the different challenges compared to my Universal Studios version. Em and Mack wanted to play with only 3 monsters, while I would normally play with 4 (and lose), so we were facing the Banshee of the Boardwalk, the Mothman, and Chupacabra, all monsters which I’ve played against before (I’ve yet to play against Bigfoot or the Ozark Howler, who will probably be a part of my next play of the game). The game went badly from the start, and we quickly found ourselves at 6 terror with all three monsters still alive (you lose the game upon reaching 7 terror). We did then focus on staying alive, and had much more success than we’d had earlier in the game, and also started knocking out objectives, defeating Mothman and the Banshee, but the deck ran out with us having very little progress to Chupacabra. Mack mentioned after the game that she “likes it less everytime she plays it.” The game does often feature gaining terror due mostly to bad luck, and if this happens several times, it can be frustrating, but I enjoy that the game is challenging even with fairly optimal play.
The last game we played that night was Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, still with 5 players since Luke was still working. For 3 rounds in a row, Elizabeth was the murderer. She had never played before, and in the first round Forensic Scientist Em gave really good clues, so people mostly had it figured out from the start. In the second round, she did better but lost again. The third time around, she finally won, which was exciting. Elizabeth tends to struggle playing as evil in social deduction games, but she was pretty good at lying in Depection. Even in the two rounds she lost, we solved it based on the clues, not based on her appearing evil at all.