A little on the late side since October has passed but I like the topic so in this episode of The Most Dangerous Games I talk to Chris Kirkman, dicehateme himself. I thought Chris would be a great person to discuss horror themes in gaming. We talk about what makes a game scary, how do to get tension in a game, and mention some games that fit into this category. It was fun and I hope you enjoy it.
WOW! 10 gamers! 13 straight hours of gaming! It all happened this past Saturday, February 5 at my house.
The festivities started about 11am when Chris Norwood (GamerChris) arrived with games in tow. While I tended to getting the chili started, he set up a game of Catacombs for Barry and Z. I joined in as the wizard when I could. That game ended rather quickly when a crypt spider stunned the party. As no one else had arrived yet, they started another game of Catacombs.
Kenny showed up soon after with lots of games and jumped in. Not much later Chris Kirkman (dicehateme) and Cherilyn were at the door with arms full of games. Jeff was right behind them. So that left Chris, Cherilyn, Jeff, and me open for a game. Chris had mentioned wanting to try some Tasty Minstrel goodness so we broke out Homesteaders. Everyone else was new to the game so I taught them pretty quick and off we went. It was a close game. I managed to eek out a questionable win by one point while Jeff and Cherilyn tied for second and Chris in a very close last. I think Cherilyn actually won but I didn’t explain scoring well enough and her score got muddled in that. Homesteaders was a real hit. It continues to surprise me at how much is there in such a quick game.
Terry had arrived by now. He, Barry, Chris N., and Kenny started a Masons game a little while before the Homesteaders game ended. It was going well and I needed to step out for pizza. When I got back, Z was teaching Forbidden Island to Jeff, Cherilyn, and Chris K. I’m pretty sure Chris and Cherilyn had played before but they were going along with Z. He was doing a good job. After Memoir ’44, Forbidden Island is his favorite. Their game ended with a close win for the explorers. The Masons game ended about the same time. So it was lunch time. After pizza it was RPG time. I had prepped two Dread scenarios and Chris N. was ready with Gamma World. Kenny, Terry, and Z opted for Gamma World while Chris K., Cherilyn, Barry, and Jeff joined me for Dread. Cherilyn was an rpg virgin and Jeff and Chris K. had not played Dread before. The group chose the ‘Breakfast Club’ scenario. They were playing high school students in detention on Saturday. When one of the NPC students disappeared, the game really kicked in. The teacher went to look for him and ended up getting eaten by the janitor. Unfortunately for the kids they happened to see the event and the chase was on. From room to room, from the roof to the basement, Ivan the janitor chased the kids. By the end, the freak had beat up the jock, the good girl had confessed her love for the geek girl, and the bad boy had slit the jock’s throat. In a surprise turn, the bad boy sacrificed himself to blow Ivan the creature up.
There were lots of scary pulls. But the tower didn’t fall. There were some close calls. Chris dropped a block twice. But instead of his character dying I decided to give him some consequences. This worked out well and added some tension at the end. Chris had a countdown timer on his iPhone that we used for the last five minutes as the boiler built up pressure toward an explosive end. That worked really well. Everyone had a blast. We all agreed that Dread is a great rpg and the Jenga tower personifies tension. Cherilyn did a fantastic job as Lucy The Geek Girl. She kind of took the leadership of the group and had excellent ideas. I think she’s hooked. Jeff enjoyed the game a lot too. He always makes his characters real and fun. Barry’s Talon the Freak (with the freaky girlfriend) was a hoot and added a good dose of cynicism. I’ve been criticized for not making the players pull more often. This is probably true. And in retrospect I should have made Ivan more menacing. But I decided to go with the ‘unknown terror’ idea. I think it worked well. Dread is such a well designed game. It will be a regular fixture at game day.
The Gamma World game ended with a TPK. But all said they it was fun. It was Z’s first rpg and he had a super blast. It is one of the two things he has talked about since. The other is a set of mini’s Kenny brought him. He’s worked on assembling them since Sunday. I’m so proud. What a good geek dad I am. And Kenny, thanks again for the minis and starting Z down that road.
By this time we were hungry again so Z and I dropped out of the gaming to make some cornbread. The gang broke out 7 Wonders. I believe it went well. It seemed that everyone had fun. Several people had not played it before and Chris N. did his usual excellent job of teaching it.
After chili, the games started up again with Jeff, Cherilyn, Kenny, and myself breaking out Pandemic. Alien Frontiers hit the table for Chris N., Terry, Barry, and Chris K.. Jeff was new to Pandemic so Kenny and Cherilyn explained the game to him. The game was tight at first but we got three of the five diseases cured and were going after black and were two turns away from the win when red had a double out break and we ran out of red cubes. Oddly enough, though we were playing with the mutation expansion, no mutation cards came up. Pandemic is such a blast. It’s my number 2 game and we found out that it is Cherilyn’s number 1 game. And she’s really good at it. I was very appreciative to her and Kenny teaching the game to Jeff and reacquainting me.
Kenny had to take off and Alien Frontiers was still going so Jeff, Cherilyn, K (who had just gotten home from work), and me decided to play Settlers of Catan. This was one we all knew so it went well with K taking the game. The other game had not finished yet so we started another Settlers game. Once again K took the win. She is really turning into a good gamer. By now the Alien Frontiers game was over. Jeff needed to leave so we bid him goodbye.
The next game on the docket was Dixit. We were two people too many so Chris N. volunteered to sit out and Cherilyn decided to play on Chris K.’s team. Chris K. taught us all the game quickly and off we went. Barry pulled out the win. Dixit is a fun game, a very good family or ‘party’ game. Beautiful if quirky art and simple rules make it a must buy for me.
Dixit closed out the night. It was about 12am by then and though we could have probably played a couple more we decided to call it.
What a blast of a day! It was a big thing for me. Potentially 15 people, some of whom had not met. I wasn’t worried about a fight breaking out or anything. But I wanted everyone to have a ton of fun. And I think we did. We had a ton of games. Several people learned new games that they asked more about later. New friendships were forged. I think this was the start of something good. I announced the theme for the third Gameathonapocaloozafestacon – Big Ole Games – those 3 -4 hour games that you never have time to play. So bring on Descent, Arkham Horror, and Twilight Imperium. We’ll have the time.
There will not be many pictures. My camera failed me. But GamerChris has a bunch on his post of the event.
It was such an awesome day. Good friends and good games. I can’t wait for the next.