Last week we played a game that I was really looking forward to for this semester that was Ladies and Gentleman. At first glance, this game might seem like its based in sexism, but when one further understands gameplay, its easy to see the satirical nature. The game is based in a victorian era, where the normal stereotypes are being portrayed. That of a working husband who has the single goal of gaining money in order to pay for his wife’s shopping habits. The wife’s goal is to pick out items at boutiques that her husband will pay for. The gameplay ends up being very fun because interaction can only come between a husband and wife if they are talking as if they were in the victorian era. For the essential gameplay there teams of 2 people (gentleman and lady) and there are 3 phases per turn, the morning, afternoon, and night, which I’ll discuss only briefly so this part doesn’t go on forever. To first discuss the gentleman’s phases, the morning starts at the stock market, which are tiles flipped over. One gentleman says go and then with one hand, players begin to flip over tiles that reveal whatever resource they are. These resources all have a monetary sale value or you can accumulate resources to buy contracts. There are also numbered tokens of the same number of players to choose the order in which gentleman purchase contracts in the afternoon phase. So a player may take up to 3 resource tokens and 1 number token, but as soon as they take a number token, they can no longer take resource tokens. In the afternoon phase, gentleman can either sell resources or use them to buy contracts to gain money. And finally the night phase is where the gentleman can buy clothing for their wives. Now I’ll go over the lady’s rolls. In the morning phase, the woman picks an artisan card that allows her to put a certain number of clothing, accessories, jewelry, or servants in her store (there is 1 store per player). She then chooses 1 item to put in the storefront window to give people an idea of what they can buy there. Then the afternoon phase comes, and each lady reveals in which store she would like to shop in. Ladies then pick up the items from the store they want to shop in and pick out what they would like. The night phase comes and the ladies hand these items to the gentleman who can choose to purchase the items or not. The ultimate goal of each team is to maximize the amount of elegance points based on items the team purchases for the lady. There are 6 days (turns) until the ball, so the lady must get the essential items to look beautiful at the ball! There are many more intricacies the the gameplay that I won’t explain, but for that you can buy the game and play yourself!
During this game, I played the role of the gentleman, which was remarkably simple. All I had to do was turn over tiles. The ladies had to strategize what to put in their store, where to shop, what items they’d need and when, etc. So this is part of the satire, because the very macho stock market is portrayed as flipping tiles over and ladies shopping is very complex and strategic. The part I found most difficult to balance was choosing the resources I wanted while also trying to find the first number token. Being first has a lot of advantages because if you complete a contract first you end up getting a bonus. So there were a few times where I got too greedy looking for specific resources and I ended up getting the third token and not gaining as much money as I could have.
As far as leadership goes, I think its important to understand that information cannot be directly conveyed in this game. A gentleman cannot say directly, ”I have $500,” because then that would change how the lady played. A gentleman can only say, “Money is a bit tight right now,” or, “I had a bad day at the market.” So I think a key leadership skill in this game is effective communication. Obviously many people can communicate, but this is about being helpful with your communication. A gentleman needs to be creative with what they say in order to help their teammate. That’s the biggest thing I saw in this game, and I think I struggled with it a little bit, but would be better for the next game.
I think that I’d really like to play this game with Pete and my close friends in general next time. There is an aspect of this game called rumor cards in which a player needs to insult their opponent and hand them a rumor card. This is an optional aspect of the game that is best played with people who are close and comfortable with each other. I think that adding this aspect into gameplay would make the victorian era roleplaying a lot easier and more enjoyable! I think Pete would agree with me on all of this too.