Cruel 2B Kind – Jasmine Steele

Everyone showing off their end-of-game booty.

I ran a game of Cruel 2B Kind with Annie Nguyen and Charlotte Yi Feng. We played with a group of 7 people (including myself and Charlotte), many of whom did not know each other beforehand.

We wanted to mod the game to eliminate the prospect of attacking strangers while maintaining the possibility of “null attacks” (invalid attempts at attacking, as would be the mechanical result of attempting to attack someone who is not playing the game). To this end, we modified the rules as follows:

  • The game is played in a small area where everyone is aware of the other players from the start.
  • When two teams challenge each other, instead of everyone on each team attacking at once, each team appoints one Attacker to challenge the other team’s Attacker (with Attackers rotating each round).
  • At the start of the game, every player is given a random “taboo” topic (such as “shirt,” “weather,” or “Stanford”) that they keep secret. This is their shield against oncoming attacks: if an attack directed at them incorporates their taboo topic (such as “I love your shirt!” or “Happy Get-Lost-On-Stanford-Campus Day!”), the attack is void.
  • At the end of the game, each person gives their “booty” to the person they faced who delivered the most memorable attack.

I was admittedly skeptical going into the game — as someone deeply uncomfortable with the prospect of roping strangers into a game they haven’t opted into (especially one that could easily make them uncomfortable with insincere-sounding compliments and kiss-blowing), the base game sounded awkward and nervewracking and not like anything I would play by choice. However, with our mods removing this element of the game, it ended up being surprisingly fun! Despite many players meeting for the first time, none of the attacks seemed awkward, and the entire game (which was short and fast-paced due to the overall condensing of the game space) was raucous and high-energy. Creative attacks and rushed, panicked attacks alike got lots of laughs, and although there were a few points at which people became confused by the rules and needed them re-explained, it didn’t significantly slow down the momentum of the game.

One oversight on our part was the need for players to remember the available weapons and the relationships between them off the top of their heads — most players ended up referencing the rules on their phones for most of the game. If we ran the game again, I would want to provide players with rule cards to avoid this issue. I would also want to establish the rules around booty more clearly, as some players forgot to bring booty entirely, and others were confused about what to do with their booty at the end of the game.

About the author

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.