Splitting Eights

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Game Night 9/9/11

Nathaniel Todd
United States
Canton
New York
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[This entry was originally published in my offsite blog on September 10, 2011]

This week's game night was our largest yet, with 14 attendees total. Half of us played a quick game of Say Anything while waiting for the other half to show. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, though the game is very light. I sell Say Anything as a more creative & interesting version of Apples to Apples, which I feel is a fair comparison.

Once the majority of players had arrived we jumped into Werewolf, since the game plays so well with large groups we felt that we should be sure to get a game or two in. In retrospect, I really wish we had been able to play some actual strategy games, but since the Werewolf games went very long, we didn't have the time for anything else. Next time we'll either have to start with strategy games or just make sure our sessions of Werewolf are much more concise! Giving this situation some further thought, I feel that there were two primary factors contributing to our overly lengthy and occasionally frustrating Werewolf games.

1 Though Werewolf is increasingly interesting with higher player counts generally, once you get up to 10-12 people in the same room playing the same game the general vibe becomes increasingly chaotic and it is quite difficult to keep players on topic. Looking at the Ultimate Werewolf instruction manual, it is suggested that the moderator choose a length of time for the first day of of play (perhaps 10 minutes), and if that time is exhausted without the villagers agreeing to lynch someone night immediately falls with no one dying. The warnings of time running out should be enough to get players to make some decisions, and even if the standstill continues and night falls, the game is still progressed by the wolves (quickly!) killing a villager. This day length could easily be extended to every day if necessary, and I think it is an excellent idea.

2 The other big delays with our Werewolf plays last night were due to uncertainty as to which scenarios to use with the number of people playing the game. At one point we had a scenario picked out and explained and then we realized that our player count was wrong and we needed to start over. The rulebook has several suggested scenarios, but very few for our typical group sizes. Before our next game night I'll need to put together several scenarios for each group size through a reasonable number (perhaps 14 or 15). This way we can just count players, pick one of the preselected sets of roles and play.

Though my impressions of Werewolf have been gradually getting more positive over the last few months, and the sessions last night were pretty interesting and enjoyable, the game is certainly not firing on all cylinders yet. The above fixes will hopefully get the game to the point where we can concentrate more on the actual strategy and interactions of the game itself and not be distracted by confusion and chaos. I'm already ready for another go, although I really want to play Ghost Stories, Le Havre, Stone Age, and Battlestar Galactica too! Too many great games, too little time...
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