20th October 2019
Sunday lunchtime is here and we're at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking. There's no 50 Fathoms this week, so that means board games.
We began with 'Avalon' an 'Arthurian' themed game.
It seems that a reoccurring element in Arthurian themed games is 'betrayal' (Or is it confirmation bias on my part?). Is Avalon any different? Does it buck the trend? In a word; no! Because Avalon is a hidden role game that's all about betrayal.
What's in a game?
Avalon has very few components, but they are of a good quality.
How's it play?
Because Avalon is a 'hidden role' game it requires quite a bit of setup first. For the games of Avalon we played was 5-player and we used the following 'good' characters: Merlin, Percival, and a loyal servant of Arthur. And the following 'evil characters Morgana, and the assassin.
The objective in Avalon is to go on 5 quests, the 'good' characters want at least 3 of these quests to succeed. Meanwhile the 'evil' characters want at least 3 quests to fail and are looking to sabotage the quests.
Each round is divided into 3 phases, team selection, voting, questing.
Once the leader has finished nominating players for the quest, everyone will then vote on their team selection.
Now that the team selection has been approved, the game moves on to questing.
Play continues until:
If the 'good' players have successfully completed 3 quests; the assassin player can 'kill' a character. If the assassin kills the Merlin character, then evil wins!
Additionally, as mentioned above, 'evil' can also win during the team selection voting.
I'm going to start by mentioning that I'm not a particular fan of hidden role games. I think it's because I'm not entirely comfortable with my friends flat out lying to my face!
But I have to say that Avalon is a good hidden role game.
I think that the reason it works so well is because there are 2 'tiers' of play going on at once.
Most hidden role games I've seen have players making deductions based on the results of how things play out. Which for Avalon is the quest outcome
But Avalon has something different, something extra. It also has the 'team selection voting phase', which has open voting for everyone to see. This gives players plenty of opportunity to try and glean each other's motives.
'Good' players will want to try and vote down teams that they suspect contains 'evil' characters. It's hard for a quest to be sabotaged if it contains no evil characters. Conversely 'evil' characters may want to vote down a team that does not contain evil characters.
Finally, the assassin introduces a sting in the tail. The Merlin player will know exactly who the villains are. But they must be careful when selecting or voting for teams. If they're too obvious, then the assassin player may manage to deduce who the Merlin player is, then 'evil' will win.
It's an intriguing idea and a real balancing act for the Merlin player.
So, if you like social deduction, bluffing and hidden role games, Avalon is definitely worth a try.
I play, I paint.