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Subject: Am I playing this right? rss

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Alishah Novin
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So I downloaded all the rules, and made little cards, and convinced a group of people to give this game a shot.

I explained the rules, dealt the cards, divided the groups, and started the timer...

...and that's where we were all stuck.

We're all big players of Resistance / Avalon, and that may have messed us up a little it, but here's what happened:

To begin with, we only had 6 people - I'm sure the game would be very different had we had more. All the same, the conversations felt a little on the forced side, and followed the following pattern:

"So ... What color are you?"
"What color are YOU?"
"Not telling."
"Are you blue?"
"Maybe - are you? You're red aren't you?"
"Let's choose a leader..."
"I think [Person A] should be leader..."
"[Person A] if you were leader, who would you send out as a hostage?"
"I don't know..."

Finally, out of almost random desperation, people will decide on a leader, the leader will randomly pick someone, or themselves, and then it will repeat for another couple of rounds.

Usually by the 3rd round (which we're limited to, being that we have 6 players) people may have a vague idea of who is on their team, but by then it's a little too late for anything to happen.

I'm sure with more players things would be more interesting, but as it was nothing revealing was happening between rounds for people to feel like they were making educated decisions.

With Resistance / Avalon, each round brings some information. It may not be entirely convincing, but you do get some idea that one player among those on the mission is evil when it fails. This felt a little more like we were just arbitrarily sending someone into another room (especially on the first round when you have little clue about people...)

This leads me to think we were playing some elements wrong. We didn't play with color reveals - though we did try it at one point.

With 6 people the following tends to occur:

1) Two people in 1 room become confident they're both on the same team...they then nominate and agree on each other being the leader, and they control what goes on in that room. While that is fine - the third person is not getting much information at all, and is left to the mercy of circumstance: They can't be a leader, and their vote is largely irrelevant, as he's fighting the majority vote.
2) Leaders tend to arbitrarily pick people. They may think they know the who is who, but it wasn't entirely clear why you would send anyone to the other room - what's the real motivation? What's gained by doing so? Why not just always send yourself? You feel generally helpless (as one person pointed out, you may as well do eenie-meenie-minie-moe in the first couple of rounds, as you're just trying to gether information...)
3) People are happy to proclaim they're blue, but are reluctant to say they are red. Maybe this is a carry-over effect from playing Resistance / Avalon so much - but people kept forgetting that it's "ok" to be red - they saying your red doesn't harm yourself, your team, or your objective. Not a big deal, really, except that it feels like it affects the game's balance to a degree.

I think #1 would be fixed simply by having more people in the mix, but I wonder if there's a way to discourage forming a room's majority. In Avalon the king is rotated, which allows for a natural change in dynamic...

For #2, it seems like some information should be gained...some knowledge to reveal itself to some of the players. What makes the Resistance so good is that you can gain information, and become convinced of facts, but cannot convince others of them. In 2R1B, that doesn't happen as often, it seems.

For #3, I'm sure that will go away with time, but I wonder if there's a way to improve the dynamic slightly - improve the motivations of each team, perhaps. The most interesting characters to play would be the president or bomber. After that, it's just regular red-team members. Least interesting, I found, was blue... Maybe it's just perception again, but it seemed less exciting as the role is described somewhat more passively than the red team's. Blue is trying to avoid a sistuation. Red is trying to create the situation...

Anyway, that's my rambling of ideas and experience. I'd be happy to get other's feedback on this - or even, if it turns out I slipped on a rule (as I am apt to do) to be corrected on this.
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Caitlin
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Who took the Bomp from the Bompalompalomp? Who took the Ram from the Ramalamading dong?
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Are you co-revealing with each other? You can also privately or publicly show your cards.
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Caitlin
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Who took the Bomp from the Bompalompalomp? Who took the Ram from the Ramalamading dong?
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It's kind of awkward as your first time playing, because you kind of get thrown into a room and it's a little free form. Just standing around, staring at each other, like, "What do I do?"

What I have found, is that there are some great rolesets for 6-10p games, but sometimes the strategy in those games doesn't click with people until they've played the bigger games first. And then once we dropped back to the smaller games after that, it's awesome.

There's just something about the bigger groups, the full rounds, the ability to color reveal, that helps you learn the game. Taking that away makes it intriguing, I think, for the experienced. (I don't know if others agree, just a stance.) Obviously not true for everyone, but yeah.
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Jarek
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I guess you should manipulate roleset to compensate Resistance habits (at least for the first couple of games). People don't want to co-reveal? Throw in Doctor/Engineer. Or Nuclear Tyrant if you feel particularly evil
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Clyde W
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I love Resistance. I love this game.

They're going to require two different mindsets, however.

Your main goal is Resistance is convincing people to trust you to fulfill your wincon.

Your main goal in 2R1B is to use teamwork and strategy to fulfill your wincon. Some roles help you do this. Some roles were designed to hinder it. Your job as a mod is provide an interesting mix of both types.

My experiences with the game and Resistance players have been mixed. If you love the lying and manipulating, then you'll like 2R less, although given the correct roleset, 2R can have that. But at 6p, you're limited in your options.
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Alan Gerding
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I really appreciate someone sharing their first time experience, especially if their first game is with nothing but other first time players. I also really appreciate experienced players responding to their posts.

The only thing I really can add to what has really been said is that the game is definitely worth playing with more people and/or with different characters. Having different characters is especially important when playing with very few players.
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Greg
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This is a great game and our group has had a lot of fun with it. We like to play with over 10 people for sure and can easily have 14+. I think our biggest game was like 22 people.

We've played with many different roles. The Ambassador is a fun way to gather information and bounce back and forth. The Spy is cool if you don't forget you're the Spy and show your entire card blush. Then there's the role I can't recall the name but it's like a counter to the Spy in that you can only reveal the color but not the role, so people won't automatically know who the spy is when they only show the color.

It's a lot of fun whether you win or lose. We usually try to play 2 or 3 games in a row.
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Sean McCoy
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I don't think this will help, but it's a fun little story, I think.

Alan and I made 2R1B a little under a year ago, the night before Protospiel 2012. We played it at our friend Jeremiah Lee's house for the first time with about 12 or so people. It's honestly the only time I can say I've ever seen Alan yell in a game - playing it for the first time, not knowing whether the rules would work, or if people would get into it, when Alan lost, he dropped to his knees and screamed NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Which was awesome, because at that point, we had a pretty good idea that the game would work.

We took it and played it at Protospiel the next night, again with twelve to twenty people. There was some confusion, but a lot of the players from the night before were there, and when split up evenly into the two rooms, were able to help guide the new players along. This is definitely a game where everyone being fresh in the room can hinder your first few plays.

Everyone liked it there, so as we were driving back to Alan's place that night, we were curious what the minimum amount it would take to play this game would be. So, we decided to test it on Alan's friend group - a six person game created deliberately to try and break it at six people.

We were playing longer six-person games back then, and we were using a different hostage mechanic as well - but we still ended up playing the six person game about eight or nine times that night. The thing we found happened in those smaller games, was that there was less trying to convince people of who you were, and more calculating how you were going to get everyone where you needed them to be. We tried versions where everyone revealed, we tried versions where no one revealed. There were a lot of conversations like "Okay, you're probably the bomber, so if I send you over there, they'll probably send you back - but if I send me over there, the person they send over here will probably help keep you over here." Again, we were using a different mechanic back then for voting.

REGARDLESS, I totally empathize with new players, and really appreciate the feedback. We definitely learned that the playstyle between big and small games is almost a different game. In huge games, you can lie more, as there are more people around and it's harder for everyone to keep track of information. There's usually more special roles in large games, so it's more about figuring out your win condition and then getting that accomplished. In medium sized games, the game plays ideally I feel. And in small games, you can't lie at all, but you have to be careful because you don't have any leeway in sending the wrong person over to the other room. At each level the game and its strategy completely changes. And also at each level, I think the way you have to learn, and the type of gamer group you need to have for the most fun changes as well.
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Alishah Novin
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Thanks for the replies everyone.

I probably should have mentioned in my original post that there was one true silver lining in a game where everyone was new: After 4 or 5 rounds, people understood what was happening, but didn't yet know what strategies to use. Everyone really wanted the game to work, and was trying hard to figure out what they were doing wrong, or what the better strategy would be.

That may not sound like a good thing, overall, but as I see it, it was. People didn't think the game was broken, or unplayable - they could see it would be an interesting game if they could just figure out what was missing. That's why we tried a couple of variants of our own: With 6 people and only 3 rounds of 1 minute things felt too frantic, especially with a team full of beginners. So we extended things to 2 rounds each, which helped things a little (it usually left about 30 seconds to spare).

Then we tried modifying a rule: There could only be 1 color-reveal (no identity reveals whatsoever). On the second round the leader of each room had to reveal to only 1 other person (of their choosing) what color they (the leader) were, but would not gain information about the person they were revealing to. This added some intrigue (the idea being that the other person could lie about the leader).

Here's my conclusion though:

I know this game can work. I think there's not often going to be a game of only beginners - having at least 2 experienced players (one per room) would really improve things as people would learn from the experienced players.

That being said, I think the training rounds need a bit of work. While we were making progress in learning the game, it took 4-5 games of failed strategies for things to progress (for example, I learned in one game that refusing to color reveal, refusing to even say what color you are can bring things to a stalemate as you are a total wild-card). I think the first game for new people needs a new dynamic - unique only to first games with beginners so they have a better understanding of what to ask, what to think, and maybe some basic strategy.

That, or the instructions set could describe an initial game using 6 people, with example questions, basic strategies, etc.

I myself am 6 games in, and I'm starting to get the idea of calculating what to do, but I still think I'm a bit unclear as to some of the strategies.

(I should note: I am a very experience Avalon player, and have successfully overtly obfuscated obfuscations in an deceptively obvious manner so as to create total chaos and bring the spies to a win - I say this so as to explain that I am not new to hidden identity games. I do think, that being said, that this is part of why I've had a hard time with this game... To use a lame-Actor's Studio-type quote: "What's my motivation here?")

Lastly: Can someone clarify the leader selection process - at least with 6 people?

What I kept experiencing was this:

3 people in a room. Person A says to Person B "Want to be the leader?" Person B says "I don't know," and Person C says "Wait, I want to be leader" and then Person A says "Alright, Person C... I'll go along with that..." and instantly, Person B, who was unsure at the get-go is pretty much negated from participating. (There is a lot of back and forth, but all the same, once a person nominates himself (or nominates another person who expressed a want to be leader) the majority is obtained and things just move on from there... I think this is the rule we played wrong... or at least, didn't ask the right questions, or strategize in the right way. Any thoughts?
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Clyde W
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Did you play with no color reveals? In 10 or fewer players, you cannot color reveal.
 
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Alishah Novin
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We didn't for the most part, but tried it a couple of times just to see and understand how it changed things.
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