This week in Tabletop Games & Leadership we played a game called Ladies & Gentlemen. This game is, in essence, two separate games that come together at various points. Usually, half of the table will play as the gentlemen and the other half will play as the ladies, except in our case we had an odd number of players, which meant that we had an extra lady in the form of the Courtesan. This game, set in the Victorian era, is meant to be a satire of the gender roles and rules of the time and shine a light on how ridiculous they were. With this theme in mind, the gentlemen had the goal of raising as much money on the stock market and fulfilling contracts and the ladies had the goals of gaining as much elegance as possible for the ball that’s fast approaching. They do this by shopping for clothes, accessories, jewels, and servants and asking their husband to pay for them. The lady with the most elegance, and her gentleman, are the winners of the game.
In this session, I played as a lady. For me, the hardest part was to try and build a strategy while being completely blind to what was happening on my partner’s side of the table. I would try to do my part and get items that would increase my elegance and when possible try to play some mental tricks on my fellow ladies, but there wasn’t much I could know about what my team could or couldn’t afford. I think this is also one of its closest ties to leadership. Sometimes in a leadership position we cannot, or at least do not, know what the rest of our team is doing but we have to do what we can to help them out.
In terms of gameplay, I liked that there were different styles of play and the strategic aspects of the ladies’ side of the board. I feel that I would have also liked the mad dash aspects of the gentlemen’s side of the game. However, I did not like that they were separated so much without communication. I have mixed feelings about the theme of the game. The game is intended to be a satire of gender roles in the Victorian Era, which I know and understand, but it still feels a little weird to me. I think my friend Ian would enjoy this game because I could see him being very comfortable with getting into character and I think he would do good with the strategic aspects of the game.
Over the course of Friday, March 3rd through Sunday, March 5th the largest annual geeky event in Oxford was held. In case you don’t know, I’m talking about RECON. RECON is a time when the League of Geeks and all of its member organizations get together (in the form of taking over the Armstrong Student Center) to host a weekend full of geeky fun. There were many things going on ranging from playthroughs of Blood on the Clocktower with Meeples to Cosplay contests and from a Phineas and Ferb marathon to many different and themed “Beat the Geek” trivia contests. Since you’re reading this review, you may be asking the ever important question of what activities I took part in? Well don’t worry, I’m going to talk all about my time at RECON.
Sadly, my time with RECON was limited by other commitments, but I made sure to make some time to visit Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. My time at RECON started just before 7 pm Saturday night, where I was able to see the Comedians Andrew Rudick and Ben Brainard. I have looked forward to seeing Ben’s performance ever since I learned of the possibility of him coming to RECON sometime last semester. I have been following his YouTube page for well over a year at this point and I have found him to be very entertaining and I appreciated his energy. After seeing him perform live, I have to say that he lived up to the hype. He was able to riff off of the audience’s energy and make consistent references to earlier jokes in ways that fit his style of comedy well. After the show, there was a meet and greet with the comedians, where I got the chance to get a picture with Ben (see below), but that was not the end of my Saturday RECON adventures.
I ended the night joining a friend in Pavilion C to play some board games and hope to win one of the many prizes that were being given away. At the Meeples hosted freeplay, there were tons and tons of games to choose from, even with countless groups already in the middle of games. My friend and I started with a simple game of Codenames with some people that he knew. This was a great start because I’m a big fan of Codenames and it is a simple enough game to play later in the night when everyone is starting to get tired. In the couple games that we played my team was able to remain undefeated. Playing a game got everyone in our group a token which we exchanged for an entry to win a prize. I later found out that the people I was playing with had also put their entries into the same set of metallic dice that I put my entry into, but none of us won them.
After the Saturday giveaway winners were announced the pavilion cleared out a bit and we were nearing the end of the day’s portion of RECON, so my friend and I picked a random game that had a relatively short estimated playtime. That game happened to be Point Salad. As we were setting up the game, we happened to recruit someone who knows how to play, which made the whole learning process at least twenty times simpler. For anyone who doesn’t know, Point Salad is an aptly named point salad style of game that involves drafting a deck of cards, sorry I mean a salad of vegetables. Each card has a vegetable on one side and an objective on the other, so each turn you can either hoard objectives or the vegetables that make your salad. By the end we all had some peculiar salads that weren’t much to boast about, but plenty of points to go around. My salad was primarily crafted with combinations of peppers, cabbages, and onions in a way that I’m sure Gordon Ramsey would scoff at. Thankfully he isn’t the judge of this game, and I was able to come out just a few points ahead of my competition.
That game of Point Salad may have been the end of my Saturday at RECON, but I was able to make it back on Sunday just long enough to play one game of Red Rising. I chose this game and found some strangers to play it with me because it was one of the many play-and-win games that Meeples was offering. Pretty much if you play the game you get a chance to win it. Red Rising, which is based on a book series of the same name, is a hand-management, combo-building game. There were a lot of moving parts to the game that I could not find a way to optimize in my favor. Although I thought I was doing a good job, I came in a very distant second place in a group of three. All-in-all the game was very enjoyable to play and I would definitely consider playing it again. This loss did mark the end of my RECON experience, but in total my experience at RECON was more than enjoyable.
I had been looking forward to this RECON for a while and it did not disappoint. This is the most time I spent at a RECON event in my nearly complete time at Miami and I regret that I was not able to be there for more of it. I got to see a comedian that I have liked for a while and I got to play a couple of games with some people that I know and some that I didn’t know beforehand, but I missed out on a bunch of things at the event that I wish I was able to go to, such as a couple of “Beat the Geek” trivia contests that I probably would have done well in, a game show, and the Miami Mouse Club’s presentation of “Disney Songs That Go Way Harder Than They Should.” I feel like these activities could have only added to the fun that I had at RECON. I’m grateful for the League of Geeks for putting on such a great event, and especially for Meeples for having a great and open free play.
This week in Tabletop Games and Leadership, we played Ultimate Werewolf. If you don’t already know this is a classic example of a social deduction game. We were assigned roles, either on the villagers’ side or the werewolves’ side, with many players having some form of special ability. The werewolves are hungry and each night the werewolves choose someone to eat, eliminating them from play for the rest of the game. The villagers are tasked with choosing someone to execute at the end of each day, hoping that they can find the werewolves before it’s too late. Some key roles that we used in our playthrough were the seer who could check if one player is a werewolf each night.
In this game there is a certain level of mandated risk, because everybody votes on somebody to execute each day and in doing so the villagers risk executing teammates. Werewolves also risk eating teammates during the nighttime, but this risk is lower than for the villagers. To minimize these risks players employed various strategies in an attempt to win the game. Some people, such as myself, decided to just be open about our role in an attempt to gain trust, others shared a fabricated role to portray innocence, and the rest refused to share in an attempt to keep their important role hidden. All of these choices employed different styles and amounts of risk. Being open puts a player in danger of being an open target for the opponent, lying leaves you vulnerable to people finding out the truth, and silence garners suspicion.
The hardest part of the game for me was determining how to balance risk and reward when creating a personal gameplan. Because the only way for anyone to truly verify your role you would have to be voted off. There were, obviously, ways that you could be checked that would make your role more trusted, but not truly guaranteed. Every decision you make changes the risk landscape of the game. It changes what’s risky about you and your gameplay as well as affects the rest of your team, especially when there were things like the lovers and Virginia Woolf, which both involved a second death when certain people died. An example would be that I revealed that I was the PI, which comes with the ability to check if a player or either of their neighbors are a werewolf one time. Although I was trying to establish trust, doing this let the werewolves know that I was against them and is likely the reason I was eaten that night.
While playing this game, there were a couple examples of leadership and of my classmates being leaders. Like in the dancing guy video, at the very beginning of the first day there was a split second of silence before anybody spoke, then someone said the first thing, something about how do we want to approach this first day, then someone else said that we could go around saying our roles to try and figure out something suspicious. Followed by me speaking out with my role and a continued cascade of people speaking up, until just about everyone was speaking or at least had spoken. The first person to speak set off this chain reaction that essentially began the game. A similar thing happened for the first vote, people started voting pretty quickly after the first vote went out. Another instance of leadership that occurred was when the seer, which is a very important role for the villagers came out and admitted their role to say who they have cleared. This allowed them to guide the conversation in a way that they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise and lead the villagers to finding the werewolves sooner. In general, this game’s biggest tie to leadership is in the decision-making process, because it allows players to make decisions openly and be affected by the decisions of others. This relates to its next biggest tie to leadership as well. This second tie would be the team strategization aspect, in which members of each team have to try to strategize without knowing each other’s true role or intentions.
The deductive reasoning required for this game is one of my favorite parts. I love to try and untangle the web of truths, lies, and partial truths that the other players are spinning. I also like to try to spin my own little web, but I am not always good at lying and am very risk averse, so I am never sure what lies to go with and when. Although I didn’t get a chance to contribute much to the dialogue, it was still interesting to see how everyone else was slowly unfolding the nightly happenings. Something that I wasn’t a fan of was the night stage. It makes sense for the game, but it feels long and drawn out while you as a player are not doing much, even if you have a role with an ability. However, this is a relatively small drawback that shouldn’t deter new players. This game is one that I think could fit very well with general audiences, because the rules are relatively simple and it’s about interacting with others. It also could do well with people who like to solve puzzles and use reasoning to solve problems. Because of this, I think my roommate Blake would really enjoy this game.