For Tuesday night board games this week, I grabbed a hodge-podge of smaller, less frequently played games. Of them, I wound up playing Captain Park’s Imaginary Polar Expedition and Chrononauts. The latter was fun as always, particularly in contrast to last week’s Back to the Future.
Captain Park’s Imaginary Polar Expedition is one I’ve played a few times before, in a sort of perfunctory way. We play it, and people don’t actively dislike it and then someone wins. This time was kind of like that in that someone abruptly won with a whopping ninety point fabrication. But people also said they liked it, so that was good. I should probably bring the Cheapass stuff more often. I still have games from that company I’ve never played; or game, at least, by the name of Spree!
Oh, Your Munificent Horribleness
After that, Jon and Nonny wanted to try out Aye, Dark Overlord, an improvisational storytelling game. It’s been in Quarterstaff’s demo library for years now, but never actually made it to the play area of the table, down to it not being much of a mechanical game. Jon and Nonny have always been the theme-driven types, though, so I figured they were the best ones with whom to try this one out.
It was . . . confusing. Players cycle through two types of cards, cues that they draw on to weave a story of why they failed to do the dark overlord’s bidding, as well as cards used to shift the blame and duty of story-spinning over to another player. But how and when those cards are drawn, I have no clue. Nonny usually prompted me to pull some more. And that worked out pretty well.
What really confused me was how the stories we concocted frolicked all over the place. They jumped from cue to cue, frequently without weaving those cues together. I think that’s where the player in the role of the dark overlord comes in. Someone who gets the flow of the game would jump in and demand more clarification and poke holes in things more than either of our overlords did.
In short, Aye, Dark Overlord is more of an exercise in collaborative improvisational storytelling than it is a game in the hobbyist sense of the word. It’s very similar to Once Upon a Time in that regard: best played in a group of friends sitting around the living room.
It Always Was Going to Have Been This Way
While I think it plays much more smoothly than Back to the Future, Chrononauts still has its own issues. Like that mini-expansion that came out a couple years ago, The Gore Years. It doesn’t do a whole lot, because so few of the identities in the mix have anything to do with the four or five events it adds to the timeline. Having Lost Identities permanently added to the pile doesn’t help, of course, because that must have doubled the number in the pool, so those added by The Gore Years are more or less drowned out.
It’s still fun to play, though, and a mostly immaterial addition in Chrononauts takes up significantly less room than, say, a dud Arkham Horror expansion.