Murderland Reviews: Pie 20

July 29, 2009

20. Mark Villianatos – Carrion

Premise: An educational game that can best be described as “musical chairs + smallpox,” set during the smallpox epidemics of post-contact North America.

Thoughts: I really like that Mark wrote a “serious game” for a design contest, something that we unfortunately don’t really see very much. I would have to see the game played to know if there are any issues with the mechanics or whether everyone would die in two rounds (maybe that’s the point?). My chief concern is how complex and confusing the mechanics are for determining who contracts smallpox. You count how many smallpox tokens you have, then add one if you are near an infected person, subtract one if you are alone, and then add one for a number of different circumstances… all in your head, without talking about the calculation and with, hopefully, no cheating (which might make it harder to play this game with youth). It seems like, with that mechanic, Mark might be trying to model a few too many things all at once — basically, all the different ways you might be more susceptible to smallpox infection. I would suggest, maybe, making a little printed card for playing the game, which people pick up and then use to secretly tally their infectedness each round. With that small addition, I think the game would flow really well and you could even use it to jot down a bit of info about the Fur and Crow tokens.

Conclusion: Browned, but just needs a little tally card to be baked.

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