Tiago Perretto
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Thinking about my next move.
So, if my only options are these, then I shall...

About Shadows over Camelot: The Card Game:

1) What is it?
Shadows over Camelot: The Card Game is a cooperative game focused in the memory mechanic. Players are knights hearing rumors of problems around Camelot - the usual sort: Picts, Saxons, tales about the Graal and Excalibur, and the threat of a Dragon. To make matters worst, Mordred and, specially, Morgan, keep feeding misinformation and/or helping the threat become an actual menace. Merlin usually tries to be of use, and most of the time, it succeeds, only that, sometimes, he is more of use to the other side.

Still, in spite of all that beautiful names of legends, Shadows over Camelot: The Card Game is, mostly, an abstract game. There is no real difference between the Dragon and Excalibur, nor between the Picts and the Saxons, or even the Graal - the difference among them is the number of white swords and black swords gained when the mission is accomplished or when it results in failure, respectivelly.

To add more flavor to the mix, and make Shadows over Camelot: The Card Game be a little more than just a direct memory game, it is included, just like in the board game version, a Traitor mechanism. This adds uncertainty and keeps players on their toes.

First going to the game, I thought it would be more on the easy side, and while it truly isn't hard, getting the proper numbers, with all the changes made my Merlin, Morgan and Mordred, is harder than I anticipated - maybe this is because we aren't good in remember and adding, but I will put this on the game and sleep well at night without harming my math skills and memory strength.

In the end, Shadows over Camelot: The Card Game is a good option for a quick and fast moving cooperative game, with some spice throw in due to the Traitor.

2) How do you play?
Every turn the player has three options:
- Reveal a Rumor card;
- Go in a Quest;
- Accuse a Knight.

Accuse a Knight can only be done once per player per game, and it results in a white sword, if the Traitor is revealed and in a black sword if the Knight is loyal.

Reveal a Rumor is simply to take a card from the draw pile and put it face up on the quest deck. Crds will either be regular (Picts, Saxons, Dragon, Graal, Excalibur), containing a number from 1 to 5 or a ? (these are worth equal to the number of then once the quests are resolved); or they will be a special card (Vivien, Merlin, Mordred or Morgan), and these are usually resolved once someone goes Quest - except that Morgan blocks communication between players until a Merlin card shows up or until someone goes Quest.

Go in a Quest depends on the top card of the quest deck, as a player can only go in a quest allowed by the last revealed card (for instance, if the last rumor card revealed is a Dragon, the player can only resolve the Dragon quest). The goal of the Knights is go into a Quest once the total number for it is from 11 to 13. If is 10 or less, the rumor is baseless and the Knights embarrassed themselves - 1 black sword is added; if is 14 or above, the Knights didn't dealt with it soon enough and lost the opportunity, and it is a failure. If the Quest failed, a number of black swords (depending on the type of quest) are added. If the Quest succeeded, a number of white swords (depending on the type of quest) are added. Regardless of the success or failure of the main quest, all the other rumors are resolved - for each whose number is 14 or higher, a number of black swords (depending on the type of quest) are added; if the number is 13 or less, nothing happens.

If the game didn't end after resolving the quest/rumors, all the current rumor cards (including special cards) are discarded. A new round begins, with new rumors being drawn.

The game ends as soon as there are 7 white or 7 black swords on the table. If there is a unrevealed Traitor among the Knights, one white sword turns black. After this, if the number of white swords is higher than the black, the Loyal Knights win! If the number of black swords is higher, the Traitor (if there is any), wins!

3) Which are the decisions made during play?
Mostly two: draw a rumor card or quest. Adding things up on the head isn't a decision, but which type of rumor each player will handle is a decision the group can (and should) make, and is done every round, even if, usually, it didn't work as planned.

The group also must decide which rumor should be affected by some of the special cards, as several of them call for this in the moment they are revealed.

The decisions in the game aren't hard, but the one to Quest can, sometimes, be tough to make, as mistakes have dire consequences.

4) What are the good things in the game?
- Small box and properly fit for what it contains;
- Good artwork and graphic design;
- Very hard to have an alpha player, as rarely someone will be able to mantain count of more than 2 type of cards, so even if a person wants to "lead", she will simply have to trust the others and let they do what they want. Also, the Morgan card simply blocks communication between players;
- Simple to teach and to play;
- Can be a great teaching tool, both to work additions and subtractions, and, of course, to work out the memory muscles;
- Plays fast, with little downtime, and finishes in less than 30 minutes.

5) Which are the bad news?
- The Traitor can be too strong with less than 4 players, and weak with 5 or 6;
- With 5 or 6 the game becomes much easier to beat, as the Traitor role is weaker and divide the type of rumors between players, much easier (with 7, and possible 2 Traitor, the balance may be better);
- Memory games are shun by many;
- No real theme present.

6) How do you feel while playing?
You look surprised to a person you know you know, and, yet, can remember when, why or who she is.
"Ah, ahem, hey!"
"Hy, Your Name, what are you up to? How that situation In Your Precise Work turned out?"
(This might become ugly real soon, but now you are committed.)
"Ah, I'm fine, and that resolved itself - no worries."
"Nice, nice."
(Awkward silence as you can really ask now who she is, and can't ask something meaningful about a person you don't recall informations. Maybe the was in that place...)
"And how are you doing?"
"Well enough. Things are looking better now."
(Oh, oh. There is something, probably important, that was worst back who knows when. Must change course."
"Good, I knew it would."
(Second silence - international standard for finishing a conversation that isn't going forward. But you're feeling guilt, so you must try.)
"Did you see that gam-"
"I must go now. Nice to see you again, Your Name."
(She didn't have to use Your Name another time, you think it was on purpose. A test. One you will fail.)
"Indeed! We must do this again soon..."
(You can't remember if you alredy have her contact. She isn't pleased.)
"Yes. Bye now." She leaves, rather fast, a little rude. Society demands suck. Oh, well, not the first peripheral people you met that you turn away. You look at the grocery store entrance. What is that you came to buy? Rice. Milk... probably. Do I still have bread? I really should have made a list.

It is simple: most of us can't remember things. Technology made this even worst, as it usually takes care of it, and much better. But there are moments that we must depend on our brain, and in the moments it isn't craving for more sex, fat and sugar, it is failing constantly. At least it does a good part of the job involuntarily, otherwise we would probably be extinct.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprise by Shadows over Camelot: The Card Game, as the things I read about it made it sound like a dull, uninteresting and, overall, a weak game. Yet, once I played, I don't get these feelings at all. It was good, entertaining, with more tension, interaction and harder than I was expecting, by far. We kept lost counting and, immediately, pressure built up, as now we needed to remember what had passed, and either venture a guess or wait, for something more solid - but, then, it could be too late. It was a very good time around an easy to play game, that demands little - only turning cards and adding and subtracting things up - and delivers a fun time, in a very short time frame, as plays tend to last around 20 to 25 minutes. Shadows over Camelot: The Card Game goes well recommend.


Image credit: W Eric Martin

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