How has a game surprised you?
I played my first game of The Quiet Year and really enjoyed it, but there was one thing which didn’t sit right. Contempt.
The Quiet Year is a game I’ve spoken about before. You tell the story of a post-apocalyptic community through the medium of a map you all draw together. Each turn you draw a card, read it out, make a decision and draw something on the map in relation to it. You take another action and most of the time draw on the map or place a die there to set up a project. Other players can’t really talk through this and they can’t say ‘no’ to any of your ideas.
Contempt is the mechanic which interacts with this. When players don’t like something another player does, they take Contempt. They don’t say anything, they just silently take a Contempt point and put it in front of them. In our first game we didn’t really engage with it and it felt like the odd mechanic out as it didn’t interact with anything in game.
Then I realised something part way through my second game. It was affecting us. If someone made as, a project to build a child army and some of the group took Contempt then that reflected how the people in and out of the fiction reacted. Other players might use their decisions to undermine or change that plan, or if no Contempt was taken then maybe they were going to be fine with it. The mechanic was quietly directing play without any of us talking to each other or doing more than angrily miming taking a token and loudly placing it in front of us, or putting it back when someone does something good for thee community.
It took a couple of attempts as the game to realise the mechanics which were going on and understand why they were happening, even though they weren’t on paper. This is yet another reason why Avery Alder is fantastic.