Recap: Starting up Misspent Youth plus why Fission is the devil | Giant Fire Breathing Robot

Recap: Starting up Misspent Youth plus why Fission is the devil

This week, my gaming group got together to do something it hasn’t done in many moons. Like six or seven years. We sat down and created characters for a role-playing game. Now, I love pen-and-paper RPGs. But due to a number of factors, they just haven’t been on the docket in some time. Yet, we sat down to play some Misspent Youth and had a blast creating characters. In fact, even the least enthusiastic player got very into his character by the end.

Meanwhile, over the Easter weekend, I had a chance to spend some quality game time with the family.  I saw some Pastiche and Mystery of the Abbey. And then, I had the most painful game of Innovation ever. One player decided to turn on the Fission reactor, and it was no good for the rest of us.

Check out my full experiences after the cut.

Misspent Youth. Though it has been a while, reading through an RPG was a lot like falling off a log. You never really forget. But the make-up of my group has changed substantially from my RPG days. Before, I had a mix of about four players who were really into it, to one or two who weren’t as dedicated. Now, my group has one or two players who think starting an RPG is an awesome idea, and four who are suspicious of the undertaking.

When I gamed, there were always two things that annoyed me about RPGs: (1) how much time the GM had to put in to make a good game; and (2) the GM was always significantly more invested in the game than the players simply by virtue of the relative amount of time he or she had to put in. I was hoping Misspent Youth might soften the blow, and so far it looks like it has.

Part of what makes Misspent Youth unique is that the group collectively comes up with the setting, the villain (called the Authority), and the characters. We spent the first twenty minutes or so going over what kind of dystopian future we wanted to play in. We talked about a Soylent-Green-type world, maybe a Logan’s Run redux, but eventually decided to play in the world of Hunger Games. Then, we specified the systems of control for the Authority and really played up its villainy—departing slightly from the orthodoxy of the books.

After that, we all together brainstormed several character concepts for what would make a good story. Rather than each player merely focusing on the person they wanted to play, we approached it as though we were a team of writers. We came up with several ideas for our cast and, once we had about ten ideas down, the players each selected one to play.

By the end of the character creation session, even the least enthusiastic player was excited about it. He had a character and we all knew what his role in our story would be. He was eager to act it out and I think we’ll see that enthusiasm shift into the stories itself. So far, this is a big positive for Misspent Youth. We didn’t get a chance to actually dive into the story due to a late start, but things should play out nicely this week.

And, best of all, the Wife is very excited about the RPG. I think Operation GamerWife is going to use this as an inroad. Maybe a little gaming in the group setting will open her mind up to playing board games in that context as well.

How I Learned to Stopy Worrying and Love the Bomb

Innovation. Cruel, cruel mistress. I love her and she teases, I need her and she spurns, I show my desire and she shows me some kindness—but turns her mood suddenly. In our three-player game of innovation, I was but one achievement away from victory. The players had done a good job stopping me, but I worked it out so that on my next turn, I had just enough to get a special achievement and lock down the game. Then, someone fired up the fission reactor.

Fission says that each player has to draw a card. If it’s red, the world goes boom. All points and cards are removed. Only achievements remain. The players then have to build back up from Prehistory. The last card was red. My beautiful society, all my hard work, and I was struggling to invent the wheel. In the end, another player swooped in and got his fifth achievement. I will cherish the agony of that moment, when I saw the red card flip over.

Pastiche. Pastiche is going to get the full review treatment this week, so I don’t want to give too much away. But, it continues to impress. The tile-laying portion is a great puzzle exercise. You see what tiles you have and try to match them up in such a way that it not only gives you the colors you need, but hampers your opponents. Primary colors are difficult to come by, and it’s your job to make sure you don’t leave any easy openings for them.

Mystery of the Abbey. So, there we are, playing Mystery of the Abbey. Each time you head to mass, an event card is played that causes some disruption or unique effect to the game. What event did we come by this time? Everyone has to sing “Are you sleeping?” in a round. My family, which is highly inclined to the musical and theatric, began immediately and we were laughing and smiling the whole time. The card seemed a little out of place at first, since the game is essentially advanced Clue. But, after we sang it, I couldn’t argue with its inclusion. Mystery of the Abbey is a great family game, and I think a card like that which is somewhat divorced from the competitive forces of the game was a fantastic inclusion.

What did you get up to this weekend?

Resolution count: 5220

There are 2 comments.

  1. Robert Bohl said on April 25, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    When I gamed, there were always two things that annoyed me about RPGs: (1) how much time the GM had to put in to make a good game; and (2) the GM was always significantly more invested in the game than the players simply by virtue of the relative amount of time he or she had to put in. I was hoping Misspent Youth might soften the blow, and so far it looks like it has.

    I am on a mission to address these problems, so I’m glad it so far has worked out for you. In future games, I want to try even more to make democratic and egalitarian this power and responsibility sharing.

    By the way, I’m really happy that you don’t have a table full of hardcore gamers. I’d prefer to grow the base of interest rather than try and convert people who might only be confused by the different way I’m doing things.

    Anyway, as I said, happy you enjoyed the game and looking forward to hearing more.

  2. Robert Bohl said on April 25, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    PS: Great choice with The Hunger Games. I’ve been running a HG-like world as a con scenario for about a year or more now. (Though I designed the game before I’d heard of the books; maybe before they were even out.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *