Critical Play 1 – Avalon

David G

  • Name of game, creator, platform

Avalon, card game

  • Target audience (as best you can discover from research or the games messaging)

Group of people — can be friends, can be strangers

  • Notable elements of the game: how many players? What actions can players take? How do rounds work? Do they do anything interesting with player relationships/objectives/resources? (refer to Formal Elements for this!)

5–10 Players.

I would consider Avalon to be either multi-lateral competition or team-based competition. The rationale is as follows:

Depending on the rules of the game, there are multiple teams. Different roles, such as Merlin, as squarely in the camp of Arthur. Mordred is squarely against Arthur. Different characters may have third-party roles that are separate, as in they don’t fit clearly into any one given team. Characters are trying to achieve the same kind of objective, that is, outwit the other team and race to three successful quests or fail three quests.

Actions players take mostly consist of three distinct categories: first, pre-round gameplay, or closed gameplay (setting the stage or setting up a round). This is traditionally known as when players close their eyes and Merlin sees who the bad guys are, rituals to begin the game. Or when the assassin kills a player. Second, choosing a team for a quest; when users select three others in a turn-based successive fashion. There is much debate over who should be in the team for a quest. One subset of choosing is the discussion and accusations of whether players are good or bad, information gathering and discussion, etc. Third, voting on whether to fail a quest or not. This action closes the round but also progressively moves the game forward in a round-based fashion until the objective, when users race toward a number of successful or failed rounds.

Critical resources are time, knowledge, and players. Players especially

  • Compare the game you chose to other games in its genre. What differentiates it from the other games? Is it better/worse? How so?
  • Is this game fun? Why or Why Not?

This game is an altered version of Werewolf/Town of Salem.

This game is different because of extra roles: Merlin, who has perfect knowledge. Mordred, who has similar knowledge and can cloak as Merlin. Percival, who can protect Merlin. These characters protect each other and add new, nuanced gameplay. As opposed to simply finding information, there are more opportunities to deceive as well as new stipulations to winning and losing the game.

Also, a shared objective: to either fail or succeed a specific X number of rounds gives players a specific goal to adhere to, rather than simply not dying or eliminating the other Werewolves. This gives both sides of the teams a clear goal and abilities to fight against each other.

Because of the added gameplay mechanics – don’t kill certain characters like Merlin or lose, gain information about specific players through a variety of methods, different characters don’t kill but can give good information, and more urgency due to the turn-based style of the game, I believe makes it more enjoyable. There are many more game mechanics and therefore much more engagement from each player in the team.

Deduction of good players while protecting identity, that is both teams wanting to gain more information, not just one team, and different methods to deceive or prevent players from doing so makes this game fun. All players feel a need and urgency to engage and feel the importance of engaging.

  • Moments of particular success or epic fails (in your opinion)

Success: when players on both team engage and try to find out more information, logically deduce who each other are, deceive each other using their abilities, and make coordinated, team-based, strategic decisions against each other. Everyone is engaged and having fun!

Failure: when players are disinterested, when one team is obviously more experienced than the other, when players are checked out, when inexperienced players are put on crucial roles (like Merlin, Mordred, or Percival).

  • Things you would change to make the game better

There needs to be more exploration and fun in the game. Too much of the game is purely centered around the quests. If there could be ways to add more of a visual element to the game, such as small minigames when players reach a certain point, that would be fun. Obviously players could choose different versions of the game to play, but forcing all players to engage in a very serious game like Avalon when others are disinterested will lead to an overall worse experience.

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