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Subject: How to approach the game (decision making) when playing with non-gamer? rss

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Tim Tix
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I know there are a couple of similar threads so sorry for that. But I didn't quite get the answer I'm looking for.

My question (recommendation request) is:
What should I tell my non-gamer girlfriend how to take decisions?


That's where this question is coming from:
It was mentioned in other threads that you can play somewhere between pure role-playing and pure Euro-style deduction. (Play a Partner Chooses early to get a hint, etc.) It is also commonly agreed that you shouldn't play this game strictly as a strategic points'n'tokens game.

To learn the game, I played the tutorial with a(nother) friend and told him not to worry about all the icons and tokens but to enjoy the unfolding story. Halfway through the tutorial we realized we were far from our Trait goals and destinies. It was a bit disappointing.

I see that this could be played strategic. Then you don't pick the breakfast you think your character would like best. But the icon needed. So to some degree more strategic play will tell the story. ("Oh, I wouldn't have guessed, Jim likes Bacon, but apparently he does.")

Now, as many of you, I picked this game to play with my SO - and she's the abolsute non-gamer casual game player. She's fine with UNO. So, initially I thought, awesome: We can play this just to enjoy the story.

Now I wonder if that is satisfying. If we do that, we can leave out the destiny cards in the first place.
I know that my GF will never gain any interest in figuring out my traits or what destiny I'm trying to fulfil.

My own answer to my question above would be:
"Play how you like. If in doubt or if there's no answer you like, look at your traits and destinies and choose accordingly."

What do you think?
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Huang Shao-Dong
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You are playing the characters, so you are trying to pretend the character.
The traits tell you how the character really want in his/her deep mind, and you could make decision with the deep desired.(That's how I understand the "traits", but maybe I am wrong.)

In some case, both choose card give you hint how to make decision, like "player choose what he/she wants, partner guess what the player want."
In this case, player makes choose by his/her own needed, and the partner should try to guess what the player want.

sometimes like what flower you like, you may just answer it by yourself, but I think it's fine.
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Mr Osterman
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I'd sell it as a role playing game.

It's all about the two of you telling the story of "Jack and Diane" (or Johannes and Deirdre). When there's a choice you ask here "What do you think Diane wants?" Make her name her character at the beginning as advised in the rules and always refer to her by name. Help her weave the story of these two and what works for them. Don't approach it as points on the board, play to your traits, etc. Just let the traits be guides as things go.

If you play the intro scenarios (Sunday morning date/ HS sweethearts) you find that the destinies are at most suggestions and not really a big part of the game. I'd keep them for the flavor. Once your GF gets over the hump into the story telling, the "winning" may follow. And if it doesn't, just enjoy the story.
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Tim Tix
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Thank you (both).

That's kind of what I tried last Sunday. And it didn't really work. I guess my GF rather wants to watch a RomCom instead of playing one. She was really not excited about the game, so I didn't make a fuzz about it and packed it away for now.

My friend who volunteered for the tutorial is willing to try again and maybe we can wrap our heads around it this time.

Another friend of mine, an experienced board game and RPG player, backed this game as well and tried it with his SO. He also finds the game tricky so far because it is just not intuitive what to focus on.

I was aware that we're no big role players by any means but thought we could enjoy an unfolding story. I was aware that this is not supposed to be a cube pusher - which is neither what I'm looking for let alone my GF.

But if you ask me right now, I think I could only enjoy this as a sort of resource management game (collect icons/tokens, speculate on destinies, find a way out if plan A doesn't work) with a deduction element (what does your partner want, how does that affect you?) and an emphasis on the resulting storyline (obviously stronger than in most games).

I'll come back and add my expriences. You're welcome to do so, too.
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Mr Osterman
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TimTix wrote:

But if you ask me right now, I think I could only enjoy this as a sort of resource management game (collect icons/tokens, speculate on destinies, find a way out if plan A doesn't work) with a deduction element (what does your partner want, how does that affect you?) and an emphasis on the resulting storyline (obviously stronger than in most games).



In my experience with the game so far, which is not exhaustive, even if you successfully do the resource management and deduction, you might not win still because the cards don't let you play to the destinies you had planned to. It helps to fill your traits but you still need to get the right cards to come up to let you do that.

Best of luck and hopefully the GF gives it another go. It might be a fun game to play with another couple, each pair "controlling" one character in the story seeing how things unfold.
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Tim Tix
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That's a neat idea.

And I didn't mean to treat the game really as a Euro. I don't mind not winning.

It's just that when focussing on the role-play (or in our case rather: storytelling) often did contradict the Trait Goals - or at least it did confuse us.

If I think more about it... guessing the partner's choices on the basis of rudimental role-play alone left us often stranded and our characters unhappy. That's only fun for so long.

Well, let's see.
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Mr Osterman
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TimTix wrote:


If I think more about it... guessing the partner's choices on the basis of rudimental role-play alone left us often stranded and our characters unhappy. That's only fun for so long.


I'm noticing that's a bit of a theme about the game though.

You can only try to predict the other and make choices around that so far and sometimes it just doesn't work. In other words, not all pairs of two people are meant to be together. Often a combination of traits requires on person to prioritize themselves (or sacrifice themselves) to make things work on some level. Even if you manage to deduce where the other is going your own traits might be enough of a conflict to make winning hard.

In other words: Love's hard.

It's a very curious game that way....
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Tim Tix
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Sure, I get that.

But right now it feels like: Love's random - because you don't know if to follow your heart or your brain.

I happily lose and suffer if it happens despite me giving my best. That's tragic. So far I "lost" because whatever. And that was kinda boring.
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Chris J Davis
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I honestly find it a bit bizarre when people suggest that you prioritise the role-playing in this game. I've found that the beauty of the game is that if you play it strategically to win, then not only is it a great game but a natural narrative and role-playing experience emerges without the players trying to force it.
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Cameron McKenzie
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I have to agree. The best stories emerge when you play to your traits. If I’m cocky, then my trait goal is to have negative gentleness balance.

Strategically, I am incentivized to choose options with negative gentleness.
Thematically, I am also incentivized to do so (it is in character for someone who is cocky)

If I make those choices routinely, my partner may notice. This is also functions both strategically (my partner will start to anticipate my actions) and thematically (my partner’s character is getting to know my character and avoid or seek out certain interactions as a result).

If you tell people to ignore their traits and destinies, then it becomes harder to stay “in character” because people are less incentivized to choose the option that fits their character and may just act erratically or just do things that don’t fit.

Incidentally, there’s already a destiny (Unconditional Love) that suits you if you want to disregard your own traits and focus on making your partner happy, so you don’t HAVE to align your choices to your traits all the time.

And there’s a number of destinies that are easily winnable even if you fail st some of your traits, if certain other conditions are met. Sometimes, putting your own desires aside is better for you in the long run...

If you play to “win” then most of your actions actually will make sense in the context of your traits and your ultimate destiny. That’s what makes it a good game. (If a game forces you to choose between having a good time or trying to win, it’s poorly designed. Pursuing victory should be fun, or it’s not much of a game.)
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Tim Tix
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Thank you, too.

I think what you describe is exactly what my gutt tells me, too.
Will try again and see!
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Alex Martinez
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At its heart, Fog of Love is a deduction game.

Each player has secret goals they are trying to achieve while trying to understand their partner's secret objectives.

You could actually remove all text from the cards and still have a pretty solid game. The theme helps but it isn't strictly necessary for the game's framework.

That said, it's a pretty good Gamification of what it's like to be in a relationship. You don't know a lot about a person until you actually spend time with them. You discover surprises and you figure them out. And hopefully they do the same with you.

I've played the game several times, and my basic strategy at first is to just learn about the other player and deduce their goals. Once you have a sense of what they want (and you've hopefully given them enough hints about what you want), it's about maximizing your plays via choices that work for both of you.

Granted, that isn't always possible. Sometimes, you have to play sub-optimally. Sometimes, just like in real life, circumstances force you to play something that has no good outcome. But that's just part of managing the "relationship", i.e. the game.

There's a lot of great mechanisms at work here. In one game, my partner and I had a contradictory emotional goal and were working against one another. My partner played a card that forced me to change a goal, and suddenly, we were in sync. By deducing my goal via gameplay, a bad situation suddenly became winnable.

Ultimately, it's all about the trait tokens, the effect of card choices, and your ultimate destiny selection. While the game has some light role-playing ideas (I usually do end up thinking about my character and my partner's character by the end) it is a deduction game above all.

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Nicolau Tudela
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IMO, one thing that throws people off is the tutorial, more specifically the timing of the destiny card. I think that the tutorial is genious for the most part, but I think that it should have started with the destiny cards at hand so that the players understand the end goal and what to do to achieve it. As it is, the first few turns feel somewhat like a “blind date” where each player doesn't know what to expect or do.


Side note: Come to think of it, if this was deliberated, than this game is more genious than I thought xD. I mean, isn't that what most feel in their first ever ‘blind date’?
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Tim Tix
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So I can't say which "side" is right. The folks who think this is a RP first game or a deduction first game. (Even if I tend to agree with the latter.)

But what puzzles me is how this is supposed to work for the mainstream market. I mean, the fact that Walmart picked it up suggests, it is.
(Only available through their online store, I know, but still.)

Other threads have suggested, the tutorial is especially valuable for non-gamers - which might be correct.
But thinking of my GF I wouldn't know how non-gamers should enjoy this - knowing nothing about what's going on.
Gamers struggle to get this game (as a couple of threads suggest). How are non-gamers supposed to get it?
Or are they supposed to only enjoy the story? (Which would probably be selling this game short?)

If this game is really about "Try to fulfil your destiny - and enjoy the unfolding story", that would be an easy and compelling enough proposition.
But it doesn't say that clear and simple anywhere, does it?

However, excited to try it again.
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Mr Osterman
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bleached_lizard wrote:
I honestly find it a bit bizarre when people suggest that you prioritise the role-playing in this game.


Well for me, I prefer RPG's anyway so I tend to look through that prism.

Plus when you add in the topic heading: Encouraging a non-gamer to play with suggestions of what to focus on.

If you come to the table with someone who isn't into board games, I think FoL is much easier to "sell" as a "let's tell a story about Brenda and Eddie and see if they make it work" than it is "okay you need to figure out what traits I have based on where I'm putting my little cubes while you do the same thing trying to full fill one of these destiny cards that you're going to be discarding and limiting your own options for getting to a win state".

I mean, yes, the second one is accurate and kinda fun for someone into deduction games, and analysis (which I do think includes me much of the time) but I find the first to be a generally softer touch for the non-gamer.
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Nicolau Tudela
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MrOsterman wrote:
bleached_lizard wrote:
I honestly find it a bit bizarre when people suggest that you prioritise the role-playing in this game.


Well for me, I prefer RPG's anyway so I tend to look through that prism.

Plus when you add in the topic heading: Encouraging a non-gamer to play with suggestions of what to focus on.

If you come to the table with someone who isn't into board games, I think FoL is much easier to "sell" as a "let's tell a story about Brenda and Eddie and see if they make it work" than it is "okay you need to figure out what traits I have based on where I'm putting my little cubes while you do the same thing trying to full fill one of these destiny cards that you're going to be discarding and limiting your own options for getting to a win state".

I mean, yes, the second one is accurate and kinda fun for someone into deduction games, and analysis (which I do think includes me much of the time) but I find the first to be a generally softer touch for the non-gamer.


Yeah, it's a question of knowing the people you'll be playing with and yourself.
But I reaffirm that IMHO the grievances with FoL comes partly with the Tutorial not giving the destiny cards from the start.
I have the game and played the tutorial with a "non-gamer". We both got a little bit confused about it, and I got a little bit annoyed when the destiny cards came up because then the strategies (RP or not) could have been very different. We knew then that we have options to get 'Domination' or 'Unconditional Love', etc, but was somewhat too late to strive for that goal.
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Tim Tix
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MrOsterman wrote:
Plus when you add in the topic heading: Encouraging a non-gamer to play with suggestions of what to focus on.

If you come to the table with someone who isn't into board games, I think FoL is much easier to "sell" as a "let's tell a story about Brenda and Eddie and see if they make it work" than it is "okay you need to figure out what traits I have based on where I'm putting my little cubes while you do the same thing trying to full fill one of these destiny cards that you're going to be discarding and limiting your own options for getting to a win state".

I mean, yes, the second one is accurate and kinda fun for someone into deduction games, and analysis (which I do think includes me much of the time) but I find the first to be a generally softer touch for the non-gamer.


I understand what you're saying and am thankful for your answers.

But I guess especially a non-gamer wants a simple goal. Something like: "Follow your trait goals and eye one destiny or two that work with your traits." Understanding that basic goal is not too hard and it will lead the player through the game.

Without that the game fell really flat (sorry for repeating myself, to me this helps in wrapping my mind around it), and the story wasn't cool enough and the outcome not rewarding.
But maybe we just aren't RPG people.
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Alex Martinez
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TimTix wrote:
MrOsterman wrote:
Plus when you add in the topic heading: Encouraging a non-gamer to play with suggestions of what to focus on.

If you come to the table with someone who isn't into board games, I think FoL is much easier to "sell" as a "let's tell a story about Brenda and Eddie and see if they make it work" than it is "okay you need to figure out what traits I have based on where I'm putting my little cubes while you do the same thing trying to full fill one of these destiny cards that you're going to be discarding and limiting your own options for getting to a win state".

I mean, yes, the second one is accurate and kinda fun for someone into deduction games, and analysis (which I do think includes me much of the time) but I find the first to be a generally softer touch for the non-gamer.


I understand what you're saying and am thankful for your answers.

But I guess especially a non-gamer wants a simple goal. Something like: "Follow your trait goals and eye one destiny or two that work with your traits." Understanding that basic goal is not too hard and it will lead the player through the game.

Without that the game fell really flat (sorry for repeating myself, to me this helps in wrapping my mind around it), and the story wasn't cool enough and the outcome not rewarding.
But maybe we just aren't RPG people.


I feel like it's less of a RPG thing and more of a how much you enjoy the experience of learning a game. I've noticed some of my favorite games are difficult to understand at first but become more involving the more I play them.

A good example is Alien Artifacts, which I like a lot. But your first game, you are not really clear on how best to win and what you're trying to do. You will make a ton of mistakes, and if that bothers you, then you aren't going to enjoy the game.

A friend equated this with old school video games where the basic instructions were easy, but the mechanisms of the game require playing and making mistakes. In fact, the only way to learn the game is to make mistakes.

Another couple of great games I love, Battlecon and Millennium Blades, are similar. The basic gameplay is straightforward but experience is required to understand the game.

Fog of Love is like that. It's simple, but you can feel adrift when first playing it. If that bothers you, you probably won't stick with it. But if it doesn't, then you'll probably find a very rich and rewarding experience.

There's no right or wrong to the preference. Just an observation I've made, teaching various people various games. Although I've noticed a lot of players dislike making mistakes so many of the games I love tend to have trouble finding players. Though when I find players for them, we tend to love them.
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Tim Tix
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Thanks for your comments.

I don't mind making mistakes and appreciate when there's something to discover. So I'm confident I'll play this game a couple more times.

Those last comments were about my GF who doesn't like that so much. She wants an easy goal or lets rather say orientation. That she lacked when I told her not to worry about traits and such.
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Alex Martinez
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TimTix wrote:
Thanks for your comments.

I don't mind making mistakes and appreciate when there's something to discover. So I'm confident I'll play this game a couple more times.

Those last comments were about my GF who doesn't like that so much. She wants an easy goal or lets rather say orientation. That she lacked when I told her not to worry about traits and such.


Sounds like she's not that excited about deduction games. Everyone's different, of course, but I do hope you find the game worth your time. It's one of the most unique and rewarding games in my collection.
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Tim Tix
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So I played this again with my buddy, and we decided to play this "as a Euro" in order to see how that would work out.

Short story: We "won" with both choosing Equal Partners - the only possible option - in the end. But we weren't excited, didn't care about the story anymore but were just looking for coloured arrows and heart effects.

Both of us were very disappointed and not interested in playing it any more. I didn't even feel the wish to try it again with my girlfriend.
That said, I still feel that there might be lots of stories, fun and satisfaction to discover in this game. It just feels like the game needs a lot of good will to like it, too. (If you don't happen to like it in the first place.)

Two "disclaimers":

1) I'm fully aware that the game doesn't shine when you leave the roleplaying (aka active storytelling) out completely. We chose to play like we did for the sake of the argument and out of the wish to grok its mechanisms.

2) I completely buy in on what a couple of commentators said in this very thread: Play the game to win - and the game will tell a story. This just makes a lot of sense.

I guess, my girlfriend, my buddy and me belong to the people this game isn't made for. I hesitate to trade it right away or try it again.


However, I have a couple of issues that are maybe less subjective:

In our game, the storyline often just didn't make any sense - which is why we started not reading the flavour text at all.
We played High School Sweethearts where one of the chapters asked if there was any time we weren't together since high school. We chose accordingly to our trait goals and ended up with the answers "always together" and "we were separated for five years". Well... did my partner forget about this time? Or did I dream our separation? I mean, this early in the game, there isn't really a chance to guess what your (playing) partner is after. Any however, how is this a "both choose"? It got more ridiculous when my partner told me "she" had a child and I told "her" I was still married with someone else. I guess one could possibly find that a hilariously dramatic story, but to us it was rather nonsensical. At least then I knew we definitely were separated for some years after high school. (Or should we have bended the story so my partner traumatically forgot about these years? She abandoned her child after all?)

(Ok, there's a chance that these later drama cards were not supposed wo be used in this story. But I can't think of any set-up rule saying so.)

The other thing is that some cards are really hard to understand. And we haven't opened the more complex stories yet.
Often the partner/player and chooser/other thing makes it complicated - and I'm not even sure they got that right on each card. Situation cards often really seem difficult. When I played with my girlfriend, I kept a couple of cards in my hand (limiting my options) because I knew the effect would take her remaining enthusiasm.

Last, during the third chapter we were annoyed by a hand of 5 out of 5 cards that we did not like to play. I assume that's part of the idea with drama cards - to create some drama and an exciting finish. But we just were frustratedly bored and tried to survive the last chapter. Concentrating on coloured arrows we both had our traits easily fulfilled and just played cards that wouldn't threaten that.

Early on we had busted on "both choose" cards and earned below 10 hearts. After the trait goals became obvious, we got to above 10 - and the 15 points for three fulfilled traits brought us above 20 - fulfilling the destiny of Equal Partners. All other destinies were pretty much out of reach. Both of us laughed at the thought of getting 40 happiness or combined 60...

I guess you can reach that when you play several games with the same partner, get into a Hanabi-esque understanding of how to play cards and choose answers. But again: If you don't enjoy the game from the beginning, that's a lot to ask for.


PS: I belong to those who doubt that the tutorial does the game a favour.
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TimTix wrote:

Early on we had busted on "both choose" cards and earned below 10 hearts. After the trait goals became obvious, we got to above 10 - and the 15 points for three fulfilled traits brought us above 20 - fulfilling the destiny of Equal Partners. All other destinies were pretty much out of reach. Both of us laughed at the thought of getting 40 happiness or combined 60...


Mechanically speaking, the tutorial and High School Sweethearts are actually pretty bad scenarios. They're fun in the sense of "let's tell a story" and "maybe we can make it work" but they're so short that it ~is~ hard to get your numbers up enough for the other destinies to make sense/ work. If you strip out the RP and you make it strictly a numbers game, those two are indeed bad.

As for the other concerns, yeah, I'll agree with you and I will still claim to really ~like~ the game. The twists and turns don't always make sense but that's part of the charm.

Now on the "both choose" that opening is rough because it does thrust you into a 'which is it'? to kick off the story and really only one can be true. The good news is that nearly all the other "both choose" cards are built on the "A does it/ what does B hope A does?" combo. I pick the flowers I bring, you pick the flowers you hope I brought. That does sort out later.

And your summary of chapter 3 as a 'survive' is spot on the way the game is supposed to played. The third chapter is intended in most scenarios to be one dramatic "crap this could ruin it all" turn after the other. Upside is that by then you should have a pretty good feel as to how the other person is playing it (are they doing their thing or focusing on yours?) and can marginally plan around them.
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OPs experience woth his GF snd his buddy was interesting.

I played the tutorial and then Sunday Morning Date again wothout the tutorial yesterday with my fwb and we found tge tutorial great to learn the game, but the story was metely ok. We dnjoyed it enough to want to play agsin, and the second time absolutely shined when we roleplayed to our traits. Neither of us fulfilled our destinies, but the story was a hilarious romcom about a macho tall stuttering royal heir snd a shy but promiscuous Tattooed RAF pilot. We found that the character creation process, if invested in with enthusiasm, produced a lovely base for some story from the start, and some of the scenes thrown up had us giggling (Argument with in-laws meant that narratively, the Queen of England had come to our flat and was giving Irene Sikorski the descendant of a Division 303 Polish fighter ace some grief whilst Prince Colin refused to get involved (“She’s the Queen! She could send me to the Tower! I’m goingbto need that crown one day!”).

I think (and it’s clear from the designer’s noted) that this game is definitely a ‘journey not destination’ thing, and I suspect that it’s also one where learning how to game it better will allow more ‘Euro success’ whilst providing possibly even more anusing story. After all, romcoms have lots of conflict built in.

I loved it, and I will be getting the expansions.

Eco

PS in the first game I was sort of playing myself, trying to be nice etc, whereas in the second I roleplayed Prince Colin - the result of choosing some kind of dick moves (because he was Macho) was often quite funny. So I think that playing to your traits is the way to go, but ofc you have to be into rp for this to work for you
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