My group this week decided to play Mental Blocks. The game is a group puzzle where each player sees the shape from one perspective. We had to construct the shape out of blocks within the time limit while also following other restrictions such as only touching one color. Overall we struggled much more than I expected, possibly because we had five players instead of eight like the last time I played. The first shape was easy enough, but that gave us some false confidence leading to a much too difficult second shape. Going back down in difficulty we found some success, but it was still a challenge.
One challenge we had as a group was only viewing the puzzle from our own perspective. We often had disagreements about the overall shape of the blocks that might have been easier to solve if we figured out which side each of us had first. Another problem I faced which likely wasn’t intended was interpreting the shape of the 3d cards. At one point after we ran out of time I showed the card to everyone at the table and we all agreed that the card showed the shape as being three blocks tall even though the solution clearly only had two. While I understand showing a 3d object on a 2d card is difficult this problem occurred several times and with only five players we didn’t have any other 3d cards.
Having a good leader greatly helps overcoming the challenges of Mental Blocks. Getting the players to work together instead of independently is the best chance for success. This requires someone to think beyond their personal goal on their card and to instead coordinate placement between players. While each player has their own goal their trying to accomplish the point of the game is to find how to combine them all to win. As a leader in this game or in real life you must find how to compromise people’s desires in order to effectively work together.
The second week of Fiasco began with determining the tilt. The result was adding a new character investigating a stolen lemonade cart, and one of the the criminals regretting their actions. The two rival lemonade stands now have to deal with legal issues of determining whose cart was stolen. Meanwhile my cousin’s revenge escalated to the point of planning to murder me. However, because of the tilt her plans and accomplices fell apart. The conclusion was interesting as we had to stop some scenes midway and wait for the dice rolls to determine our characters fates. I ironically got the second highest roll despite just having been stabbed, so I recovered fully while my cousin ended up in jail.
A challenge I faced playing Fiasco was that my character mostly existed to assist the story of others. This is entirely my fault as I didn’t establish a motivation for him at the start of the game and just reacted to the other players scenes instead of creating my own plot thread. I did eventually attempt to start one during act two with my character losing a living will. In the end though I felt it wasn’t much more than filler as I was unable to tie it together with the other events of the games. With just a little more planning I feel like I could’ve rounded out the story arc better.
Similar to the first half of the game leadership played an important role when we determined the tilt. Two players were randomly picked to decide what two tilts to use. The potential problem with this is the tilt can affect any or all of the players. One of our two players picking a tilt really wanted the one for someone to have second thoughts. Since this would mostly impact someone else’s character we decided to have a discussion on if they were ok with the change in motivation. As a backup we could have just changed which character had the change but I feel the time we took to discuss the option helped everyone be the happiest from the choice.
Fiasco is a game of collaborative story telling. Compared to other roleplaying games like D&D it is much lighter on rules. To me it feels more like a collection of improv skits that put together tell an intriguing story. For me this style of improv is one of the biggest challenges of the game. When I play D&D I typically have spent a lot of time creating the character before ever playing them. For Fiasco we only had a short amount of time to create a character and then roleplay as them immediately after.
Leadership is very important to the storytelling of Fiasco. As you create characters you first establish the relationship between you and the players next to you. Its important to pick a choice that both players will be happy with for the rest of the game. During a player’s turn you have the option to act as the ‘director’ and create whatever scene you prefer. Alternatively you can decide the outcome and rely of the rest of the group to figure out the details. Either way everyone playing has to keep in mind the goals of each character to stay consistent. It would be rude to force someone to act out of character just to better the situation for your own character.
While playing we first had to pick a setting. For our group we went with the suburbs. As we used the dice to create our characters I ended up with a cousin trying to get revenge on me and a best friend who runs a lemonade stand. The others at the table were a criminal rival lemonade saleswoman and her accomplice who my cousin was blackmailing. The rival lemonade stands formed the core plot of the game and most of the scenes felt tied to that. My cousin wanting revenge meanwhile was a slower second plot thread as she gathered information and allies. We ended at the end of act one having established all the plot points while still saving major events for act two.
While I was one of the people in the class who had played Mysterium before it was my first time playing as the ghost. As the ghost I had a significant leadership role at the table. As the only player who knew what cards belonged to each player I had to give hints to them all to help them find their match. The other players could assist each other as much as they wanted to interpret my clues as a team. My role was more solitary, occasionally I would overhear a discussion that would inspire a latter clue. For the most part though I was alone in predicting how players would view my vague hints and trying to avoid leading them all astray.
The main draw of the game is also its biggest challenge, communication. I was unable to speak throughout the game and only could give hints through cards with abstract artwork. Sometimes there would be details on the cards to directly relate to the card a player needs. At other times a combination of cards could help point out minor details that might otherwise go unnoticed with only a single card. Despite my best efforts though at times the cards I had available didn’t have good connections to what I needed. I did what I could for some sort of relationship but these were the most common situations where players were unable to decipher what my hints meant.
In the game for my table the first round went perfectly. All six mediums were able to correctly guess their person thanks to some very helpful cards I drew. Our luck didn’t last though as even after using a raven very few of my cards were helpful for the locations. Only two players managed to get their location correct on their first guess, and both proceeded to get their weapon correct on the first choice. Two more players had some difficulty but managed to finish not far behind. Unfortunately the last two players had similar weapons and I couldn’t figure out how to use my cards to help them. Even with using the second raven we failed to make it to the final round. I did like playing as a ghost as much if not more than a medium so I definitely would be willing to try again for a win.
For the first week of class we all played Ultimate Werewolf in which I was only a villager. This complicated the game for me since I was one of the few players without any special abilities to use. On top of that I was targeted by Virginia Woolf meaning I would die if they were voted out. Due to these limitations I decided to play riskier and take a more active role in the discussion. I made a point to explain details and strategies that could be hard for new players such as always checking who is silenced to know if the spellcaster has died. I didn’t have any in-game ability worth trying to stay hidden so I figured that would be the most beneficial thing I could do for my team.
The session was an interesting game as one of the werewolves’ allies the minion was voted out first, but the seer was also the first to be killed. The sorceress tricked the villagers into voting out the apprentice seer but we quickly got them and one of the wolves out. There were also several rounds with no deaths which likely helped the village a ton. With no reliable information left to find werewolves the group mostly voted out whoever was silenced including myself. This is usually a bad strategy but unfortunately it is somewhat common. Since the spellcaster was in love with one of the werewolves everyone was reluctant to vote them out, but the hunter risked shooting them after dying which won us the game.
Ultimate Werewolf is a very popular game that I have played many times. SGC usually runs the game at all the League of Geek events and it always draws in a lot of players. Social deduction games are great both because of the puzzle of trying to figure out other players roles and because you get to lie. Lying and tricking other people in a safe environment just for fun can be a lot of fun. There is obviously the downside of dying early and having to sit out for the entire rest of the game. Even then though Werewolf can be exciting just watching it play out and seeing everything at night happen. I look forward to most likely playing this game again at Recon later this semester.