Frank McGirk
United States
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The Rambly Intro

When deciding whether to pull the trigger on playing one of these boxes, I considered a few pieces of evidence.

There's been a bunch of 'em printed. 17 different versions are represented on the geek.

They have pretty good ratings (except for the All My Children version) at least in the average rating section, their geek rating are generally below 6, though for having few votes, that's not uncommon.

I see these in Thrift Shops all the time (which is a good thing, so their was little investment)...usually untouched (which while nice for me picking it up, it could mean that it's just one of those gifts that people "like the idea of" but never use).

I had mine on my shelf for over a year, before I finally decided it was time.

And I'm glad I did.

The Initial Worries
Preparations A-G: The biggest worry I had about the game, is that after reading the rules, I had NO IDEA how this was going to work. Not just, how it was going to work in practice given that a lot of the weight of the game rests on the players shoulders, but because there was little in the way of examples, I had to hope things would become clear as we were playing.

R My Friends Lame? Actually, if you have to ask yourself this question, I might encourage you to pass on these games. While I was surprised at how much some of the folks got into this, a whiner or two would have really put a damper on the evening.

How the Game Works
The game is played in four rounds in which each character--immediately prior to the round--reads a page of info. Some is info about yourself that you're not supposed to share, but the core of the game are the details that you MUST share during that round.

This works pretty well. It might be awkward at first, but someone starts out gossiping about, say Silky, and not only can she react, but often other people have similar information, which lets them jump into the conversation organically. Or Silky naturally shifts the attention by leveling her info at another player. Occasionally, we had the books in our hand to make sure we were being accurate (or referred back to them) but it didn't really slow things down.

There are also additional documents and newspaper clippings that become available for all to peruse as the game moves on.

VERY ODD POINTSOne of the strangest things about the game, is that all the information is true (though much of it are red herrings) and you often learn what your character did through other people's gossip. I can see this bothering some non-flexible players, and it was a little weird for the first round, but it still worked for us. Similarly, you don't know until the last round whether your character is innocent or not This is the info I wished I knew prior to starting. (EDIT: Not all the scenarios do Roman Ruins, I had to guess myself as the murderer).

At the end of round four, the players are to state not only who they think "dun it," but also how it was accomplished, then players turn to their final page and (in the indicated order) read aloud how they fit into the story.

Why It Worked For Us
Overall, this game will test whether you are fun people. MY FRIENDS:

Dressed Up: Everyone made at least a nod to their character. One lady googled 1920's make-up. Another guy googled 1920's golfers to pick out how to shave his full beard into an appropriate mustache.

Enjoy Corny Humor:The game's and their own. The game is definitely light-hearted, (though it can also be grimmer and more explicit than I would have thought) and if you can't grin at some of the goofiness, you're missing out on a lot. The best lines of the night, however, were all impromptu.

Cook Well: I doled out appetizer, salad, soup, and dessert duties to other folks and made my own buns for the Chicago Dogs I provided. I also did the comically involved soaking and twice frying method of making homemade fries, but they did turn out well as did all the other contributions. Basically, an evening with good food and drink is hard to spoil.

Are Smart but not Anal This is not an easy game. There are lots of red herrings, and 8 main characters plus a half dozen of non-playing characters can be a bit to keep track of, especially while drinking and eating. I can imagine some people getting overwhelmed and shutting down, or being a little too OCD and wanting to take notes on everything. And hey, maybe that would work for a different group, but the casual approach worked for us.

Appreciative of Little Details: They made me feel good about being a host...enjoying my attempts at creating a speak-easy atmosphere, by having Fats Waller on the record player and saw dust covering the linoleum. And hey, with my serving drinks and food and having a mountain of dishes to do...I deserved an "atta boy."

Got into It: We broke in and out of character all night long, some people just dabbling the slightest bit with a bit of an accent or character-inspired comment, but everyone got into "the mood" of a little pretend-time.

With four courses and coffee, this ran 4.5 hours. I imagine just sitting around a table trying to solve the mystery, you could do it in an hour and a half. And while that could be fun too...I recommend the full dinner, even if that does make it harder to follow the details.

Final Words
None of the other three couples knew each other, and yet, this worked very well and everyone had a great time. Oddly, the final accusation round was a bit anti-climactic, with only one person really having a very detailed account of what he thought had happened (and he was largely right), but that's not really a criticism. It was a fun ride, albeit a little strangely unstructured at first, and while I'm not certain that the plot of the game would definitely hold up to extreme scrutiny, it was clever and even had some "ahh...I shoulda figured that" moments during the reveal. Overall, I will continue to pick these up at thrift stores, and I hope to play the other versions I've got in the closet before too much more time passes.

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Donal O Suilleabhain
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I agree. Having people who have never met before meeting for the first time behaving as different characters actually adds alot to the evening. Also people prepared to do over the top accents also helps.

We hugely enjoyed our night and will do another.
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