Played the first scenario last night against three players, allegedly the “training scenario.”
It’s a really interesting game but holy crap is it hard to teach, learn and play well. I’m no stranger to games that you need to train on — Vlaada Chvaitl does it a lot, too — but this one feels qualitatively different.
The big hiccup on the Mastermind side is that you need to be really fluent in what is going on on your side so that you can smoothly bluff. This means understanding the various economies (there are three!), understanding that you have lots of ways to make the loopers lose, and understanding the timing and interactions of the various secret roles the characters have. I felt a lot of nervousness because one screw-up can ruin the game, as can one poorly timed reveal or bluff (which I did).
On the player side, the immediate problem is that they can’t hook into the scenario right away. They need to let the first loop basically play out just to get their feet on the ground. And that’s frustrating because they want to do things and they can’t do things without information. My wife was ready to give up on the first loop because she didn’t care about anything, and didn’t know what she was supposed to care about.
I beat the loopers but it felt unrewarding: there were four ways to kill the Key Person, and they’d figured out two of them (two roles in play) but hadn’t seen an Incident play out, and that’s what closed the loop the final time. So now they’ve seen how the game works but they’re hesitant to play again because the first time through was so vexing.
The game is also wide open to field commanders running the game, particularly when everyone is learning and table talk is allowed. There’s also a handling time issue where the players really should not discuss playing in front of me because I can adapt my plays to their planning, so they learned to be quiet while I worked out my game.
So, a mixed event. I want to play it again but I also don’t want to burn out my players.