Treacle-flavored Cold Fun

Last Sunday, I spent a fair portion of the day playing games. Situated in the upstairs rooms of the Doffcocker Inn in Bolton, we played from noon until early evening with a group of gamers called the GNOMEs. We started with Ca$h and Gun$, a Reservoir Dogs-style stand-off over the proceeds of a bank job (in this instance, the heist worked out though, just the shares remain in question). The US map version of Ticket to Ride then followed (won by a healthy margin of about 50 points by my eldest son), and a first-time-for-almost everyone session of Agricola closed the day (where the one experienced player expected scores of 10 – 20 for everyone, and got a surprise when two scored in the twenties, while another beat him by one point with a convincing 34 points).

Between Ticket and Agricola, we played a game of PARANOIA: The Mandatory Card Game. Now, I have played this in the past, but that was during the playtest primarily, when I wanted to spend the time reading everything to check for inconsistencies and errors. Playing with a couple of newbies, and another couple of players who had played before but have incredibly poor recollection, I found the game entertaining, but slow. I never really considered it before, but the cards are too busy – and that can slow the game to a standstill. Standard PARANOIA attempts to be light, with simple, re-usable mechanics and a leaning to keep the rules right out of the way (within the purview of the GM rather than everyone). The Mandatory Card Game demands that the players take the time to familiarise themselves with a hand of 6+ cards with a lot of game text, as well as the odd pretty picture or flavour snippet. It meant that even after the sixth mission kicked in, people were having to sit and read through their hand before the game got start – and the whole pace suffered as a result. In the end, one of the players got bored and started to shoot himself, rendering him a traitor and therefore a very easy and entirely legal target.

I’m not sure what the solution is for this, but I’m sure there is one… Chances are, however, that solving the problem more than likely means replacing all the cards, which really makes it a case of reassessing the concept and starting from square one. It’ll be like going through the same year all over again, trying to iron out the problems and undo all the mistakes. Who’d want to do that?!

Addendum: On the up side, I did add Puppeteer to the deck, and it saw action twice during the course of play… handy to be able to pull out Anytime and redirect an inconvenient stack of tokens from one place to another. On the second occasion, someone played a card that placed Treason tokens on the Team Leader, he countered with a card that sent them back at the person playing the card, and a third player Puppeteered the lot back on the Team Leader. That’s solid PARANOIA team work for you!

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