September 10, 2006
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Hamlet: A Game In Five Acts

Last weekend, we found ourselves in the proverbial country house on the proverbial rainy day. Before we began prepping the home-made pizzas (carmelized onion, sweet potato, goat cheese, mozarella), we played a round of Hamlet: A Game In Five Acts by Mike Young.

It's a sculptural hypertext, rather like Card Shark. Each player has a separate goal -- mine was to wind up with Polonius on the throne and Laertes as prince of Denmark -- and each player chooses actions from a global pool in order to move closer to their desired outcome.

Sometimes, this worked. In our game, nobody seemed to have any long-term plans for Ophelia, but gradually everyone figured out, in order to get other characters to budge, they needed to drive Ophelia nuts. So, everybody was working at cross purposes on everything except tormenting poor Ophelia. That's an odd way to look at things, but it's worth the candle.

Overall, the mechanics got in the way: too much poring over lists of preconditions, too little poring over something rotten in the state-vector of Denmark.

We also played several rounds of Bone Wars: The Game of Ruthless Paleontology, by James Cambias and Diane Kelley, which I bought at Readercon from Kelley Link's Small Beer Press. They're working on a new game, Parasites Unleashed. Sign me up! (But they can't, because there's no way to sign up on their web site.)