Game Report: Who Stole Ed’s Pants?

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Your Humble Blogger played a new game for the first time in a while, and found it interesting, so here we go: Who stole Ed’s Pants?

It was not a total success. I mean, I won, so there’s that. And it’s definitely an interesting game, but it wasn’t all that enjoyable. It is aiming for a mechanism that is simple but complex, but in the end I think it was more complex than simple.

I won’t go through the whole ruleset, but essentially there are three kinds of cards (facts, evidence and people) and two of those kinds (facts and evidence) come in three categories (who, where and when) and the third comes in six categories. On each turn, you can play one card—but your ability to play evidence cards (offense) and fact cards (defense) depends on the categories of your people cards. You can play people-cards to improve your ability to play fact and evidence cards (and limit the other players’ ability to do so) or to improve (or limit) the value of some categories of people-cards. For any of the people-cards in your hand, there are potentially up to ten possible places to play it, and the result of playing it in any of those places can be changed by your opponents’ plays.

On the one hand, this means that there are a lot of possible variables within a quite simple ruleset. Once we figured out what everything was, and where it should be, there were something like six rules governing what can be played where. Not a lot. That’s pretty cool.

On the other hand, in order to know what I could legally play and what I could not, I had to sort through a ton of those possible variables every single turn. And I often got it wrong, attempting to play a card and having an opponent point out that it was not a legal play. I suspect that after four or five games, I would have an easier time of it, but I think there’s still an awful lot of combinations to run through. And, of course, there’s the question of whether I will play those four or five games where I’m mostly stumbling confused through the game, unable to plan ahead because I can barely figure out what I can legally do this turn.

MFQ: I don’t know. Certainly, it’s a game only for frequent game-players, and maybe not for many of those. I wonder if it’s possible that a computer version would be superior—sometimes if a game has the ‘is it a legal play’ problem, having an interface that checks the legality of plays for you makes a big difference. Absent that, and it seems very unlikely that anyone would bother making such a version, I think this game is best for three players who are really interested in game mechanics, perhaps people who are game inventors themselves.

Have any of y’all Gentle Readers played this one? Played it more than twice? I’m curious—the mechanic seems like it ought to be really interesting to play, but the balance of interesting-to-difficult may be off. Or perhaps it actually isn’t that difficult, and we were just slow to pick it up? Anyway, if any of y’all have played it, I’d love to hear your experiences.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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