Archive for August 29th, 2009

Murderland: Pies 31-32

2009 Aug 29

31. Mo Turkington – Crow

Premise: The two players take on the roles of God and Crow emulate the poetical interactions of those two figures in Ted Hughes Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow.

Thoughts: A neat concept, very clearly written, and probably the prettiest-looking document in the whole contest. I’m not familiar with Hughes’ crow poems, but the ones included are fantastic and, honestly, remind me a bit of Vincent for some reason, something about their theological perspective, I think. I can definitely see why Mo was drawn to them. Mechanically, the only suggestion I have is trying to come up with a less intrusive mechanic for Mechanism #2, which allows one player to request taking over for another. While the repetition idea is cool, my dissatisfaction with the “stealing narration” mechanic in Once Upon a Time (where you play a card that matches something the other player said) makes me want something that doesn’t interrupt the ongoing flow. Maybe a hand gesture (or poke) that shows you want to take over. Also, I imagine that, as short as these poems are, taking over for the other player may not even be necessary, assuming your fellow player isn’t a narcissist, rambling on forever. I also imagine this game would play much better if both players had read Hughes’ Crow relatively recently, since I was hoping for more concrete suggestions on how to approach playing God or Crow. On the whole, though, a nice addition to the growing number of two-player structured narration games.

Conclusion: Baked.

32. Nathan Paoletta – Witness the Murder of Your Father and Be Ashamed, Young Prince

Premise: The players play a group of princes gathering to determine how their father was murdered and who the next heir will be. By drawing tiles out of a bag, resources are allocated according to seniority. These resources are then spent to negotiate and support or dispute other brothers’ accounts of the murder. In the end, if consensus cannot be made about the murder and the heir, an endgame begins that can result in a split, a victory, or the destruction of the kingdom. Additionally, one of the princes has been secretly consecrated to Crow, the god of trickery, and if he’s named heir the rest of the princes lose, as if no heir was named.

Thoughts: The premise reminds me of the beginning of Gaiman’s Stardust — itself a reflection of Nine Princes in Amber — mixed with Shadows Over Camelot (“Mordred!”), while the mechanics are a bit like Shreyas’ Mist-Robed Gate. While I’m a little intimidated by reading through the list of tile mechanics, since there are quite a number of different things you can do with them, I have no doubt that their uses would be much clearer in play, once they start moving around and you see what the emergent strategies are. I also very much like that there isn’t a sole winner in the game. If the brother you want to be king wins, you win too, basically, unless he happens to be secretly consecrated to Crow. That makes for a much more interesting and cooperative set of tactics than simply trying to win yourself. Also, it allows the traitor prince to “bide his time” by joining the winning side, not having to reveal himself but probably dooming the kingdom in the long run. Of all the various endgame mechanics I’ve seen in the contest then, this is probably my favorite, just because of the diversity of interesting outcomes and how none of them necessarily railroad the narrative (aside from the doom one, I guess), but allow the players to negotiate it a bit after the final result is reached.

Conclusion: Baked.