#FamilyGameNight – Further Thoughts on #Scythe (and #AutismSpectrum)

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Courtesy Stonemaier Games

Scythe (Stonemaier Games, 2016) has quickly become the game-of-choice for Little RMN. We have played it three of the last six Saturday Family Game Nights. This weekend we added in the Invaders from Afar expansion. We played another 3-player game where I won using Rusviet/Agricultural with 91 points against Nordic/Mechanical (71 pts) and Togawa/Mechanical (26 pts.)

Some reviewers and critics accuse Scythe of starting out as a series of solo games, or of feeling to “samey” ever time. After the second game I was starting to feel the same way. However, when I got the Invaders from Afar expansion, it reminded me to look at each factions special abilities. These asymmetric abilities are what sets each faction apart and to win one must take advantage of these differences.

Most importantly, each faction has a different movement advantage. In our game, the Rusviet can go from any Village to/from the Factory. The Nordic workers can swim across rivers, and the Togawa can jump to Traps. In our early games we didn’t pay too much attention to the special movement and thus our first mechs invariably were for Riverwalk.

Secondly, each faction has a special ability or characteristic. For Rusviet it is “Relentless” which allows the player to pick the same area of the production mat each turn. For Togawa it is placing/arming Traps. These asymmetric (overused word) abilities again distinguish each faction. Proper use can assist in the run to victory.

Recognition of these differences, and how to use them, is key to the game. Unfortunately, in last night games the Middle RMN Boy drew Togawa. You have to understand that the Middle RMN Boy is on the Autism Spectrum and his ability to rapidly process information is challenged. Drawing Togawa from our newly purchased expansion he had no real time to study his faction and figure out how to take advantage of his faction’s abilities; especially the new Trap rule which is a key special ability. More than anything else I feel this contributed to his low scoring.

All of which serves as a reminder that games are for fun. I am going to sit down with him (not his brothers – help him feel important) and we will discuss each faction. I think if we do this, it will help him “see” what makes Scythe an impressive game. In the end, I hope it will keep the game “fun” for him instead of making him feel left behind. After all, we are a family and need to remember that gaming together is more important than just winning.

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RPG Thursday – Edge of the Empire Reconsidered

Courtesy podbay.fm

I am a latecomer much of the new media. In particular, I find many podcasts are too long and on subjects that only marginally interest me. With Fantasy Flight Games taking on the Star Wars gaming license, I revisited an older podcast, Order 66, to see what the gamer community had to say. I’m glad I did because Order 66 has forced me to reconsider my opinion of Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG.

Order 66 started out as support for the d20 version of the Star Wars RPG, specifically the Star Wars: Saga Edition. I was first surprised to find that Order 66 has reinvented itself in support of the new FFG version of the game. This made me suspicious; are they nothing more than company hacks or do they really like the new system? What I quickly found out is that GM Mike and GM Dave are alot like me; eager to learn the new system but hesitant to jump in fully.

What finally convinced me that Edge of the Empire (EotE) has more going for it than I gave it credit for was Episode 2 – Beginner Box, Veteran Style. With this podcast I finally really understand the power of the EotE core mechanic – all those colorful dice and numerous symbols. What really grabbed me was the advantage-threat and triumph-despair conditions. I like how the rules actually assign narrative control. For instance, the player character (PC) rolls to throw a rope across a ravine. The roll is success with advantages. The player then narrates the success (subject to GM approval). In this case it might me “the grapnel holds, and wraps around twice making a very strong anchor.” On the other hand, if the roll was a success, but with threats, the GM could explain “the grapnel holds, but it looks a bit precarious as only one hook is actually caught.”

The podcast also made it clear that the core mechanic supports a highly cinematic version of the Star Wars Universe. The descriptions of game events shows that the combination of skills and fluid initiative makes for fast, pulp-like science fiction action. Sure, blasters are deadly but those minion troopers can’t shoot straight anyway (just like the source material)! This means the game should be FUN for those playing it. A major consideration as I give thought to using this game for a campaign with my kids.

The thought of a shared narrative between the GM and players is also highly appealing to me, especially as I consider using EotE as a game for my kids. The shared narrative mechanic could be a great mechanism for drawing out my son with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as it could draw him out and get him to participate more and exercise his imagination.

Hell Week

This has been a horrible week.

T is getting ready for First Communion, but needs to memorize prayers. This is near impossible for him. Working three or more HOURS every night and he barely remembers a 4-line prayer. Mom is at her wits ends, I am explosive, and all the other kids are running for cover.

First, he has no comprehension of what the words are, much less what they mean when put together. Second, he can’t even pronounce several of the words even after being drilled 100 times (I know because I was so mad we said it together 100 times in a row).

To top it off he has not brought homework home for three days. Claims he had none, but checking Parent Connection shows two outstanding assignments.

When confronted Wednesday night, he couldn’t explain to Mom and me what a lie was, or even what the truth is. What followed was a painful one hour trying to teach him (again) what he should already know. Then again tonight, when confronted (again) with his missing homework he couldn’t explain what happened to the assignments. I then blew up at him because his prayer sheet was folded many times (to the point of being near-unreadable). When asked who folded it, he said “I don’t know.” I asked him (again) what a lie is and (again) he could not tell me.

Autism is too stressful.