Author Archives: herbstja

Game of the Week: Mental Blocks

To begin, I absolutely loved mental blocks. The team work aspect and the challenges that came from styles of communication were a perfect combination for creating a game in which leadership could blossom.

Mental Blocks is, as a said above, a team game. In this game the teams are given blocks of various shapes, sizes, and colors that must be used to solve a visual puzzle. Each person receives a clue as to what the solution is. Sometimes that is an angled view of what the shape looks like, other times it is a flat view of how the colors look and a vague shape. Group members can not share their image with the others but they can do their best to communicate what they are seeing using words and the blocks. This activity does have a time limit so it can be really stressful and without a leader, the group can quickly fall apart. There are also multiple levels of difficulty that can be played, easy or hard, and with or without limitations.

The most challenging thing that I experienced in this game was that I was in a group with far too many leaders. We talked over one another frequently and it was difficult to agree on a possible solution without fully hearing each other. The struggle we experienced in communication did get better as we played a couple more times but learning how to do this was hard, especially since this was only our second class meeting.

As I kind of mentioned earlier, the difficult thing was deciding who was the leader of our group, we needed someone who could listen to each perspective and find ways for us to work together effectively. We also needed a leader who was willing and able to let other people take charge as necessary. This game covers multiple aspects of small group leadership.

FInally, I would like to end this post with a gamer recommendation. I would love to see my brother-in-law and husband play this, I believe that they both have the design concepts and communication skills needed to play but it would be interesting to see who the leader is in a group that includes the both of them.

Game of the Week: Ultimate Werewolf

Okay, I know I’m a bit late to the posting party, but I’m finally sitting down to give my reviews to the games we have each week.
On the first week of class we played Ultimate Werewolf. I was familiar with this game and some of it’s variations before we played in class; however, the experience of playing it in this type of setting was different than any other time I’d played it before.
In ultimate werewolf, you are given a role to play that functions as different characters in a village. We played with two types of teams: the villager team, and the werewolf team. Each team has it’s own goal (i.e. the werewolves want to eliminate the villagers and the villagers want to stop the werewolfs). This game is simple enough to play, you get your roles and then you enter the night phase. One person is a narrator, and they go through and identify who everyone is and call different roles to wake up and perform a task. At the end of the night phase each character who has a task will have completed this task and then the day phase begins. the day phase is when it gets a bit tricky. The werewolfs will have potentially killed someone or that person may have been spared, either way we see the people of village coming together to bring someone to trial as a werewolf and then put them to death. The game continues like this until either there are more werewolves than villagers or all of the werewolves have been found. Any time someone is killed, either by the werewolves, or by the lynch mob, they reveal what role they held in the town which is how it is determined who wins in the end.
Playing this game in class was, like I said, was a very different experience for me. I had played in large groups before; however, those groups were made of people I at least somewhat knew. We had not met as a class before this night so no one quite knew what made everyone else tick and if anyone had any sort of tells as to what character they may be acting as. This made it difficult to determine who was lying and who was telling the truth. While this was tricky, it wasn’t the hardest aspect of the game. The most difficult thing about playing this game was getting people to talk. We weren’t comfortable with each other yet, we didn’t know each others names, how were we going to make accusations with no knowledge of who anyone is. This leads in to the leadership aspect of the game.
In Ultimate werewolf it is important that you are able to make accusations and get a following in order to lynch someone from the village. Natural born leaders can take up the mantel to start the discussion and make an accusation . THis is what shows who the leaders in a group are. Of course a leader is nothing without a first follower, because once one person joins in, we see a snowball effect of people joining in the discussion and the accusations.
Finally, I want to talk about someone who I would like to recommend this game to. I think that my brother, Elijah, would really enjoy this game. He loves games involving deception and role play and has always been a fantasy nerd like myself. This game combines those two aspects of things he enjoys, so it would be perfect for him to play.