23 February 2007

Actual Play Report: The Committee For The Exploration Of Mysteries #2

After a couple of game cancellations we finally got to play the second session of The Committee for the Exploration of Mysteries.

We had one player swap (one person who missed the first session, coupled with another who can't attend for a while), but that didn't seem to be an issue in any way.

We also had a new revision of the rules, which notably streamlined a few of the rules and led to a more fast-paced game. There are still a few areas to be addressed, but nothing as notable as in the previous version.

As is typical for us, things were still pretty silly, but the group found a good vibe very quickly and the game seemed to help keep everyone's jokes and crazy hazards in the same place.

The group escaped from Berlin by pitting the death cultists against the German army and making a run for it in the confusion (or something like that). We then took the prototype schwimwagen across the Atlantic and began our trek up the Amazon. Hazards along the river included:
  • Piranhas and anacondas
  • Nazi spies and death cultists found to be working together while we rested in a city.
  • A Nazi attack on a cup of tea (and, of course, the rest of the expedition).
  • A lost temple in the jungle, filled with death cultists, snakes and ancient traps.
  • A village of friendly natives, who were inadvertently insulted.
  • For the cliffhanger, the slalom of death - a dangerous gorge we had to drive the schwimwagen down while being assailed by death cultists and other difficulties.
This session we made more of an effort to add a reflective narration after each hazard. This was a good idea, and added a lot to the game. I can't recall if these are mandatory, but if not they should be. Even a quick witticism before the transition to the next hazard adds a nice closing element to the scene.

We still messed up a few rules (pointed out to me by the author via email afterwards), but none of them were serious.

We thought that hazards seemed a little easy. Even when you end up facing a moderate hazard with a weaker attribute, it's usually possible to work in some descriptors and give yourself a good chance of beating the opposition's roll. I'm not sure if this is just luck - we did have some failures and people running out of time this session - but it might be a problem.

Overall: Once Boyd has finished polishing this game, it's going to be a keeper.


Anonymous said...

It seemed fun. As usual I got confused over the rules, in particular the rewardey thingy on the piece of paper. I'm not sure how much that added to the game. As Mike mentioned there didn't seem much chance of us getting maimed/killed or losing battles and stuff. Even using the 4 or 5 option didnt seem that hard. Perhaps using the rewardy thingies to bump up the nastiness of events? Gameplay seemed good tho' and I'm pleased to have gotten rid of the poodle boots.
Oh one other thing: in one session we are using 1-2 of the combat things, so have 5 there which get refreshed each time - perhaps drop down to 3, but make them harder, say 3,5 and 7 dice?

vaguely hoping my thingy references made sense, B.

MadMacca said...

It was fun, but like B, I found the character/resource management too intensive. The reward via the slip of paper seemed a bit intrusive. But then rules of any kind have never been my strong point.

Also like B said, it was hard to fail. So even given my appalling dice luck, I only failed once and the other failure in the party was due to slow narration. From memory he easily had the dice pool to beat the hazard.

Jason Pollock said...

The backstabbing serves no purpose. While it might be nice to have it to increase the idea of conflict between players (and the eventual winner), there is no benefit to be had by making something more difficult. If the player fails in their task, it results in everyone losing!

Also, the betting for points is also broken. Once they are sufficiently ahead on points, they can ensure they are never challenged again.

Tonnes of fun though. :)