Rules, System, and Fun

In the game Avalon, there are good guys (Loyal Servants of Arthur) as well as bad guys (Minions of Mordred), and the mechanics of the game are as follows: all individuals know their role but they do not know the roles of everyone else, initially. However, all of the Minions of Mordred know who each other are (and hence know who all the good guys, or servants of Arthur, are). But one servant of Arthur (Merlin), knows the roles of all of the bad guys and good guys. There is also another servant of Arthur (Percival), who knows who sees two individuals, a Minion of Mordred named Morgana and Merlin, but does not know which one is which.

Now, the goal of the game is for each player to take turns selecting other individuals (which could include themselves) to participate in “missions” in which each individual on the mission must discreetly either pass or fail. In order for a mission to succeed, all members must choose pass. Between each mission there is ample discussion among all members in which they assess all other players’ believability and likelihood of either being a loyal servant or minion of Mordred. The goal for the minions of Mordred is to fail at least 3/5 missions, and the goal of the loyal servants is to pass 3/5. Therefore, loyal servants would like to have missions consist of all loyal servants, where as minions of Mordred would like to have missions consist of at least 1 minion of Mordred.

One twist is that if the loyal servants succeed in passing 3 missions, if the minions of Mordred can guess who Merlin is, they win the game.

These rules create an interesting dynamic in which you have the minions of Mordred trying to manipulate the loyal servants on who is good and who is bad. At the same time, Merlin must guide all of the loyal servants without trying to give away his or her identity. Percival also has a pivotal role because he knows which two players are Merlin and Morgana, but must figure out who is who (wrongly assuming Morgana to be Merlin or vice versa could be severely detrimental), and so Percival must try to 1) figure out who Merlin is and 2) try and get hints from Merlin on who is good and who is bad and then try to guide other loyal servants towards the truth. This creates the aesthetics of trust and mistrust, uncertainty, and confusion, as well as lots of targeted claims towards the genuine or insincere nature of certain individuals’ play. Together, this combined dynamic generates a lot of social strategy as well as thrill in trying to figure out who is who.

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