Week 6- Ladies and Gentlemen

This past week’s game, Ladies and Gentlemen was…interesting to say the least. First and foremost, this game is purposefully controversial for how it treats the two different roles, the Ladies and the Gentlemen. Throughout the entire game, the Ladies have to choose what items their Gentlemen should buy them, so at the end of the game they can accumulate enough to be the “best dressed” and win the game. There are a lot of stats for each item, as well as needing to buy different pieces to complete a set. The Gentlemen are left mostly unaware of this info, or how one item is better than the other. The only thing they know is how expensive the item is, and how badly their Lady wants it. Communication between a team of a Lady and Gentleman is supposed to be very vague, without direct explanation of details on money/items.

The Gentlemen, on the other hand, have a completely different job than the Ladies. They have to collect certain tokens in direct competition of the other Gentlemen to earn more money and complete contracts. The Ladies have no idea how much money they’ve earned, what the contracts are, etc. There can also be a lone person known as a Courtesan, who can cause people to win or lose depending on whether the Gentlemen agree to buy that person items. This throws off standard play by having the Gentlemen split their priorities, and is honestly my favorite part about the game.

Of course, this game is a satirical take on Victorian values and lifestyles, with women unable to do anything relating to resource gathering or money handling. The hardest part about this game, in my opinion, is keeping the conversation between Lady and Gentleman vague without directly telling each other what the other needs to win the game. It honestly frustrated me on how I could not control every aspect of the game (I still won though).

I don’t believe anyone I know would enjoy this game, but honestly I would highly enjoy showing this game to my mother to see what she thinks about it. I’m sure her words would be very interesting to say the least, but in the end she would get a good laugh out of it, which is what was intended in the first place.

Week 5- Two Rooms and a Boom

A couple of weeks ago in class, there was a game that was more unique than the rest, Two Rooms and a Boom. I was not initially too excited for this game, until I heard that the whole class was going to be playing the game together, and people were going to have roles. Although not my favorite kind of game, the idea of that style of play interested me a ton, so I came in ready. Two Rooms and a Boom is essentially a hide your identity sort of game, with two teams (blue and red). Two groups randomly form at the start of the game, regardless of what color or role they have. The red team is trying to place one of their members, who has the role of “Bomber” in the same group as the blue “President”, whose team is trying to prevent this.

The game consists of asking players to show either their color, or both role and color. Players can refuse to give information, or just a little bit of it. Roles also affect gameplay, with some people only able to tell the truth, while others may seem like red team members, but are actually a blue spy. There are even independent teams, designated gray, who are trying to complete their own objectives to win. For example, two people have the Romeo and Juliet role, and are trying to be in the same group their partner is in along with the “Bomber” by the end of the game.

Each round of the game has each group choose a leader, regardless of role, who decides a certain number of “hostages” to transfer to the other group. This plays into certain objectives, since not everyone has the same goal. The game ends after a certain number of rounds, and sometimes the “hostage” count changes between these rounds, increasing the risk to send away the wrong people.

I feel like the hardest part of this game was getting people to trust you enough to tell you what role they were. It was easiest when your role was gray, since they knew that you were less likely to interfere with their objective. It was really difficult to gain info as the “Ambassador” role, in my opinion, because people think that you either already had a ton of info, so the risk that you could influence the leader and team objectives were higher.

I believe that my cousins back home would love this game, since they already like large group games during family reunions and such. This concept would greatly appeal to them, and probably become a regular game we play together in the future if I introduce it.

Week 4- Mysterium

For this past week in class, the next game we played was actually a choice between two: Mysterium or Corrupted Kingdom(s). Personally, I gravitated towards Mysterium, because it seemed more conceptual and intriguing, plus I’m a sucker for gothic themes. Mysterium actually has many similarities to the classic game Clue, since the goal is to find a murderer, what room the murder was committed in, and the murder weapon. However, in order to find this information, players would need to interpret “dreams” presented by a player separate from everyone else. This detached player, or the “ghost” would hand players cards with stunning artwork on them, so that they could possibly translate the imagery into clues associated with the info needed.

As the game continues, players could also try to predict whether certain guesses were right or wrong, increasing their abilities and gaining advantages in the endgame. Players guessed after the “ghost” gave info, first guessing the person, then the area, then the weapon. With seven rounds to find information, and other players except the ghost being able to help translate images from other players’ dreams, this game was extremely cooperative. It really represented leadership on the ghost’s part, since he or she had to give images that they felt would help the most, and trying to know the players well enough to predict how they would interpret the “dreams” was probably no easy task, definitely the hardest part of the game in my opinion.

Even though I did not have the opportunity to play as the ghost during the time provided, I still enjoyed being among the regular players. There was a certain thrill I got from being able to correctly interpret the messages the ghost player was giving me, especially when the imagery was extremely subtle. For instance, one of our players got a card that had a chessboard and several mice on it. One of the suspected murderers was a chef, so we as a group determined that the ghost was making a Ratatouille reference, and the player who received that clue guessed that suspect correctly. Those kind of successes really helped make the game enjoyable.

I bet that my cousin Max would like this game, because he is a very conceptual thinker, and having to translate images like in Mysterium would be something that he might enjoy. He would most likely play the ghost though, honestly, since he likes being in positions where he has some degree of control over the game anyway.

Week 4 – Mysterium Reflection

Last week we played what is now one of my new favorite games, Mysterium. Mysterium is essentially like clue with weird Freudian dream analysis. One person plays the ghost of a murdered person who leaves vague dreams to this team of investigators trying to solve the crime. Each person has to identify their own suspect and then if all suspects are identified, at the end of the game the team works together to find the true culprit. The hardest part about this game is trying to interpret the dreams delivered by the ghost. One person’s way of thinking about the dreams could be completely different from someone else’s. This game ties into leadership through the ghost trying to lead the team to the correct answer but isn’t able to use words. Leadership in the team itself also emerges as people argue and try to defend their interpretations to lead the team to the correct conclusion. My entire family would love this game because we are avid clue players and this game is a cool twist on a classic family game. We like the challenge of solving mysteries but each of us like to win. WIth this game, it is possible for everyone to win which satisfies us and doesn’t leave anyone as a sore loser. Unless of course, everyone loses.

Week 3- Betrayal at House on the Hill

This previous week in class we played a game that again, I had some familiarity with: Betrayal at House on the Hill. One of my favorite games from recent years, this game revolves around choosing a character at the start with certain stats, then exploring a spooky house with others, activating events, omens, and sometimes collecting useful items for later. This continues with some events causing people to take damage, or gain buffs in their existing stats. However, omens are where the real fun is, in my opinion. Every time an omen is activated, a “haunt” dice roll (of 6 dice) in thrown, and if the number rolled is less than the amount of omens, a haunt begins.

The haunts were so unique and varied in this game, with the scenario in which it was activated determining which haunt was present in the game. Most involve on of the people in the party becoming a traitor/monster and the goal is kill or be killed. At least, that is how it went with my group, where one of our members became the Tentacled Horror. I feel the hardest part was planning a strategy for defeating the monster, since all of us weren’t near each other in the house and improvisation seemed very likely.

I feel like this game promotes leadership with the traitor, since that one person is suddenly all alone, and forced to make decisions without much help. This kind of self-leadership is contrasted with the cooperation needed out of the other players to fight the evil together, where sometimes a leader helps guide the other players or everyone kind of takes a role. I think my friend from high school would love this game, he enjoys games that are unpredictable, and the random monster scenarios would be a big selling point for him.

Week 2- Hanabi

This week for class, we played the cooperative card game Hanabi. One of the most captivating parts about this game was how none of the people playing knew which cards were in their hand. In a solitaire like fashion, the goal was to play cards of a certain suit (in this case color) in order, from the lowest to highest number listed on the card. During the game, players could spend one of 8 hints to tell another player what kind of card they have. Unfortunately, this only extended to phrases like, “You have 3 blue cards.”, or “These two cards are 1’s.”. There was no “table talk” beyond this allowed. If a card that didn’t follow the proper order was played 4 times, everybody lost the game. People thankfully could choose to discard a card to regain a hint, but if it was a card that needed to be played, that trade may not be so wise.

I personally really enjoyed this game, but maybe not for the reasons other people did. I really made my fellow players frustrated because I gave them very little indication of what I was going to do, causing a hilarious amount of stress. Since it was a lot of peoples’ first time playing the game, they wanted to use a lot of table-talk, so I did the opposite. This dynamic caused some shouting, but more importantly, laughing.

I think the hardest part of this game was trying to inform people what kind of card they had, and make sure they remember that info. As far as leadership goes, I think this teaches being able to give proper advice to the people you lead, while also having trust in them to retain what you tell them. I think the person I know who would enjoy this game the most would be my parents, they would have definitely showed it to my family as kids had they known it existed.

Week 1- The Resistance Avalon

Much to my delight, the first class of the semester started off strong with playing The Resistance Avalon, a game which I had played once or twice before, but enjoyed greatly. The first game that my group had started with the most basic setting – most players were designated as standard servants of King Arthur (i.e the “good guys”), while the rest became villains of Mordred (the “bad guys”). For the second game, the good and bad guys were assigned more distinct roles that made them stand out a bit more during the game. I absolutely love games that have this level of cunning in them, the “trust no one” aspect is very appealing to me. Unsurprisingly enough, the hardest part was to get people to trust me at all during both games!

In regards to leadership, I think this game does a good job in letting leaders drive the conversation on who is evil or not, even if the others don’t believe what he or she is saying. Also, there is usually one or two people who call for votes to keep the game going, which is another small example of leadership being present in the game.

My brothers back home would adore this game, because not only does it give individuals a more important sense in the game itself (when more specific roles are added), but also gives way to more discussion and trickery, which I know they would love.

Week 1 – Avalon Reflection

For our very first class this semester we played Avalon! This secret identity game was played both in a vanilla version where there were simply the good guys (AKA Merlin’s and King Arthur’s homies) vs the bad guys (aka the minions of Mordred), as well as a more complex version with roles within the teams. The hardest part for me about this game was having to lie to the other players. I am absolutely awful at lying so that makes me really quite bad at these sorts of games. However I still had a fun time playing, especially the version with roles.

This game ties to leadership because depending on your role, you may have to lead your team in a certain direction even if you don’t know exactly who is on your team. Leadership is also seen through the movement of the game. Someone has to step up to call when the votes will take place and when the next person should start their turn.

My brother Bob would absolutely love this game because he likes messing with people’s heads. He likes having opportunities to confuse people’s thought processes and insert doubt into decisions. This is crucial for Avalon because the game revolves around being able to convince the rest of the players that you are good even if you are not.

Origins Game Fair 2018 and Roll Player

As I mentioned in our last blog I recently attended Origins 2018. I attended this with the mindset less about me personally this year but much more about how I could use this opportunity both for the EDL 290T class as well as for the various student organizations I work with. We have made several connections that will be beneficial for one or the other (or, in the case of a couple I’ll be blogging about soon beneficial for both.)

Today, however, I wanted to continue blogging with a second game I found that could be an awesome addition to the class. While walking around talking to different companies about the class I got almost fully positive reactions. (There was really only one negative reaction my whole time.) One of the best was from Keith Matejka from Thunderworks Games.  Keith is the designer of Roll Player.

Roll Player

Roll Player

Roll Player is a dice rollin game for 2-4 players where you create a character for a Role Playing Game. I’ve played some RPGs were that is the most fun part, so I was intrigued by this game. In Roll Player you choose (in player order) your race and are randomly dealt your class, alignment, etc. However, Tom Vasel can do a much better job explaining the game in the following video than I could.


Back to Origins. I told Keith about my class and he told me “you should consider Roll Player for your class about “building your character.” In that class we talk about the basic building blocks of what makes you who you are-setting up the following two classes on values and identity. Keith offered a copy of the game to try to see what I thought about using it as an addition for the class.

I think Roll Player could very well be an excellent addition to the class. Students have to make very strategic choices based on several aspects of the game. They want to get their values aligned. They have a class with requirements they want to match and a character history to match. These basically show the goals, values and the aspects of personality they need to have. What is important to you and what do you need to let go to accomplish a more pressing goal you may have? What is important to you and what do you need to do to accomplish that goal. The use of the cards in the card drafting portion of the game again exemplifies these. This is an excellent way to look at “what are the building blocks of your character” and transition into the much more in depth look at values and identity over the coming weeks.

In short-I think Roll Player may be an addition that we may be making if things work out for the future in EDL 290T.

Origins Game Fair 2018 and The Mind

I have been attending Origins Game Fair this year with several students-three of which have taken the class (one of those, John, is teaching with me this spring) and one who taught the class with Aidyn this spring. While we are primarily attending simply because we love games, as I mentioned in an earlier post it is impossible for me not to make connections and ties and such while doing things. Because of that, while at Origins we have been looking for ideas and consider things in the lens of the class as well.

Origins Game Fair

Origins Game Fair

Origins is a game convention in Columbus, OH. This is my second time attending and it is fantastic to get to come to a fair that is actually so much about the games and keeps the focus exactly there-the games. We got to playtest a large number of games over the weekend and discuss with creators and others the games while we were here.

I want to briefly discuss one of those now. The first is a game we played (and John is one of the few who got to buy because it was just on pre-release) and that we are considering adding in to the class in week two when students currently play Hanabi (as a second option, not a replacement). That game is The Mind.

The Mind

The Mind was one of, if not the, hottest games at Origins 2018.

The Mind is a cooperative hand management game by Wolfgang Warsch and published by Pandasaurus Games for 2-4 players.  It is a card game where the primary component is a deck of 100 cards numbered 1-100.  The Mind takes place over a series of rounds or levels, depending on the number of players. The number of the level corresponds to how many cards the players get. The goal each level is to play all of the cards in your hand in ascending order. So say a person has card number one and another card number 2-the person with number one would have to play before the person with number 2. (This is a rare case, as the deck is shuffled so it is more likely someone has number 3 and another number 11.) The challenge here is that the players cannot talk, hint, or in anyway indicate what numbers they have in most ways through the course of playing the cards.  This particularly gets hard at higher levels when, for example, in a four player game on level 4 you have 16 cards you are trying to play. This is a very simple explanation, and I believe people want to watch more than listen-so here is a video from our friends at The Dice Tower that explains more on how it works and gives you their opinions on the game:

This game has many similarities to Hanabi in the discussions we could have, but adds new and different layers to things. If we end up adding this to the class we would ideally have everyone play both games (which would be a rarity but they are both shorter games) and then discuss the concepts of the day. This day we are talking about how teams and groups work and the challenges of leading in teams and groups. The Mind would be an excellent addition to that and I believe will help students see how some of the concepts that week come to life. One of the two supplemental readings that week is Kouzes and Posner’s Student Leadership Challenge and this game will really help bring to life some of the five practices and ten commitments of exemplary student leadership. As an example the third practice is Challenge the Process and the two related commitments are “search for opportunities by seeking innovative ways to change, grow and improve” and “experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from mistakes.” This game exemplifies those statements and really will help students discussions go far in those areas.

I look forward to bringing you more of these snippets and short reviews of how I see leadership lessons learned through the class.