Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Spies at the Jet Garage

A busy week this week ! In the apparent subjective random chaos of the universe the pub was this week quite full for no good reason whatsoever, making our 32 attendees seem that much more as we struggled to obtain tables for our cardboard shuffling.

We managed to squeeze everyone in however with the threat of punishments for those daring to play less than 5 player games ( as it turned out we had two tables do this ) and the very real possibility of otherwise having to enact the Beta Site Protocol.

Lords of Vegas. Sam practices his nazi salute.
Everyone else awkwardly pretends it didn't happen.
Downstairs Cyclades ( I think or possibly Kemet ) made a return to table after some time away, and on the next table over a rather surprising game of Tzolk'in kicked off with 5 newbies. If you'd asked me to guess what game would be played without at least someone at the table having played it before, Tzolk'in would probably have been one of the last games I would have picked, as being a crunchy euro it's not exactly the sort of game you can just fall into in 5 minutes. Nevertheless after a rules explanation from Pete the 5 got on with it and they all seemed to enjoy it. I didn't manage to get an idea of who was doing what. Without a monster action efficiency vet at the table I daresay the game was... quite enjoyable. And not the soul crushingly inevitable cog grinding madness that it can be. *cough*.

Over from them Martin got one of his favourites to table again with Room 25, and then followed one of the Werewolf variants, Andrew having brought three different Werewolf variants to the pub. It seems you can never have enough werewolves. I caught them in a game that was winding down, much argument about who the werewolf was, with some dubious statements as to eye witnesses and swapped roles. Looked good fun.

Pete and Joe enjoying the latest crossroads card - Dead of Winter
Upstairs Dead of Winter made a return, half newbies, half experienced, and despite a bucketload of paranoia filling the table and a call for exile being ignored by a whisker, there ended up being no betrayers at the table. Collecting samples was the name of the game, with 15 samples to collect, or after dice probabilities, 30 zombies to kill.

Pete on his first ever game of this focused heavily on getting everyone to kill zombies in good order, and the first turn passed in something of a breeze.

Although it must be said a rather unwelcome change came over Pete almost the instant he sat down to play. He questioned why we need to support helpless survivors. Weren't they indeed a burden. Couldn't we just kill them ? Eat them ? Push them out into the cold ? No. We're civilised. Besides. You lose 1 morale for everyone lost. Usually. Ah he said. Incentive.

The morale of the story being don't be in a zombie apocalypse with Pete. He will be eyeing you up thinking of how well you'd go glazed in honey with some accompanying roast potatoes.

Despite our great start, if you've ever played Dead of Winter however, you'll know that things can go tits up very quickly, and you can be up to your armpits in helpless survivors and difficult crises before you can say BRAAINNNSSSS.

Which quickly started to be the case as no less than three survivors ended up being bit and dying, and a suddenly burgeoning population saw food requirements double overnight.

As morale dipped towards one, the samples were on the cusp of being completed and as we staggered towards the finish line - worrying that a betrayer could tank the colony at any moment - we managed to obtain the last sample and in a bit of collective support everyone fulfilled their objectives. The impossible had happened. Everyone at the table had won.

Pete declared the game to be easy and stated it was his lack of presence in previous games that had made them fail.

Uh huh.

Kingsburg - Davey in the corner had strong infrastructure built
Elsewhere Kingsburg rode into town, and when I looked Davey seemed to have developed a nice board with a full track of military and a nearly full track of something else - although crucially at that point he had no pure victory point buildings. I'm not sure his score tally was enough to take it, despite him having a good infrastructure. Over development of useful buildings perhaps ?

On the other side of the pub, Sam having purloined pub tables to get his group going brought Lords of Vegas out, which seemed to be developing nicely when I looked - there seemed to be quite a number of monster casinos out in play.

The peace of Porfirio Diaz - Pax Porfiriana
And lastly Pax Porfiriana made another return to the Ribs, this somewhat obscure title surprisingly having made half a dozen appearances at the pub in the last year or so. Apparently we love us some revolutionary mexican shenanigans at NoBoG.

Pax and Dead of Winter ended up finishing at the same time, leaving us with the tantalising possibility of giving the yet to be properly published game Spyfall a whirl.

Having printed the print and play version of this out earlier the only problem was that all the printouts were not yet sleeved - not a huge problem, and everyone agreed they could just sleeve what was needed, or as I suggested, just not even worry about it. Play with how it was.


Tip a bunch of unsleeved cards on a table. Add a pile of as of yet unused sleeves. Then tell a bunch of OCD gamers there is no need to sleeve. Wait. Watch the beads of sweat form on foreheads as OCD tendencies are repressed. The eye twitches. The hands that creep towards the sleeves.

Predictably perhaps after a minute of discussion there then followed ten minutes of frantic sleeving by a NoBoG flashmob sweatshop.

I ended up just managing from on high - I did no work myself, I let the NoBoG sweatshop collective get on with it. When asked who was the winner of this sleeving game, Hal retorted that I was the winner - presumably having just got all my cards sleeved by a willing work force. This turned out so well in fact that I am sure there is a business opportunity in there to do with stimulating the OCD tendencies of NoBoGians, sleeving up cards, and offering services on ebay or somesuch. If you could introduce a betrayal mechanism into the sleeving process it would probably become the hit NoBoG activity of 2015. In any event I am considering bringing other unsleeved games to the pub in future, with a just so happened to have handy pile of sleeves and more reverse psychology comments that guys, there really is no need to sleeve these cards.

As for Spyfall itself, this played out really fun. As Punk Rich noted it had that fresh, buzzy, fun feel of Resistance in the early days when it was all new and shiny and people were getting to grips with how to lie convincingly to their fellow human beings. Although Pete was less charmed with it. Fun. But not deep enough. I think however it's as deep as your questions / players. It's like an unstructured Resistance session.

So what is spyfall ?

Spyfall is an easy filler werewolf type game with up to 8 players taking part in a bit of a Question and Answers deduction session. One player at the table will be a spy - and not know which location everyone is currently at - whilst all the other players are given the same location plus a role they fill at that location. So for instance, everyone might find themselves on an aeroplane, with one player as the captain, another as a stewardess and so on. But the spy knows nothing. The art of the game is in wheedling out the spy - or not. As the spy you either want to remain hidden, or for extra bonus points, remain hidden until you can figure out the location and declare it. As non spies you are trying to find out which one of you is clueless as to the location - without giving away the location to the spy - with a bonus point for the player successfully calling out a vote. Players are given eight minutes to ask questions - one player asking one other player a question, then that player asking someone else a question and so on.

So for instance. An utterly horrible question might be - Pete, are we at the Submarine ? Answer - Yes. Good job. You've just handed the spy the win.

Four rounds were played in total, with Graham calling Richard IV out as a spy with his dubious answers, Punk Rich panicking to a quick minute and a half spy guess as to the location ( wrong ), and then finally a couple of spy wins, the first being Punk Rich sailing to a spy victory as the wrong person was lynched, and lastly Bondy narrowly avoiding a spy vote to then call out the location was the "dodgy Jet Service Garage", earning himself a game winning 4 points in the process.

There were some great moments in the game, with Punk Rich as a spy completely nailing an answer on the location with a broadening your horizons statement ( for the school - he had guessed it was either the University or school ) and thus utterly avoiding any suspicion, and Pete launching into an impromptu political statement when asked something along the lines of whether everyone should attend this place ( school ). Graham also called out Owein for not laughing when everyone else did - this can be a giveaway in spyfall - but he wasn't actually a spy and not enough people around the table were convinced either.

A lot of frantic thinking was going on at the table for this game. The most popular word was Um. Um. Um. Um. Uh. Stalling sorry. Um. Uhhh.

After the final round Graham had managed to come up with a great universal question to weed out spies - What are the toilets like at this location ? Depending on your answer you can figure out if they know what they are talking about. One shot only of course. For use on suspected spies.

Funny werewolf filler variant. I expect to see more of it in the coming weeks.

If you'd like to try out Spyfall yourself ( and as it's not yet available ), there are a number of print and play versions available in the files section on the geek , but be warned the full game is some 208 cards.

Alternatively, if you'd like to play with the extra special Norwich NoBoG spyfall variant, you can print out the sheets that you can find here, including such places as the Norwich Cathedral, UEA, Norwich and Norfolk Hospital and of course the world famous Norwich Space Station. Uhh. Yes !

One cool thing about the game is that in theory, just one copy can play multiple tables simultaneously. With 25 odd locations to use, and only one ever being in use at one time, you could quite easily run three or four tables from one set. Although if you are truly wily you could possibly listen to other tables to help you figure out which location is *not* currently on this table. Filthy cheating.

A great evening of gaming, awesome fun. Roll on next week !

Boardgame Geek Print File for Spyfall
NoBoG Spyfall A4 Card Sheets


Peter Chinkin said...

The question I wish I had asked is: "what would you do if you saw a duck outside the window?"

Minitrue said...

Lolwut. Good question. Although combined with toilet question a clever spy might be halfway close to nailing down a location...