Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Bad Game / A Good Story


Being a huge fan of dice games, I'm largely aware of the amount of luck that can occur in each game. Whatever your best laid plans are, the additional random variable of dice always gives that uncertain factor in each turn. But have you ever had a game where the dice became ruthless? I'm not talking about "low chance of success in Death Angel die," but a complete shutout, like in baseball. Pull up a chair, and let me tell you about a game two nights ago...

First Call


Hostage Negotiator is a game that revolves around hand management, but the majority of their use is dependent on the dice rolls. Basically, any time you roll a badge (a 5 or 6), you earn a success. Any other values (including opting out of changing the 4 value) will give you a failure.

I haven't tried the bus takeover scenario, (Abductor Pack #4) and the abductor, Gonzalo, started at threat level 3 (max 6). So, I gushed over the Location cards, the bus card, and the additional rule changes that I'd have to tackle in the game. After setup, I sat myself down, holding the starting hand of 6 cards. "I need to find out his demands," I think to myself, and picked up the phone.

Me: "Hello Gonzalo. What are your demands?" A firm dice roll returned nothing but blanks.

Gonzalo: "Demands? Why should I tell you? You won't listen to me anyways."

I press again for his demands.

"You don't know that. Now, what are your demands?" One blank, one 4. I sack 2 cards to change it to a badge.

G: "Get me to the border."

With 2 cards left, I hung up. I draw a Terror Card. A hostage is killed, and the threat level increases. 

Second Call


I call him again, this time trying to calm down the situation.

"Listen, Gonzalo...no one else needs to die today." Blanks.

G: "You're starting to annoy me..." [Threat level increases.]

"Let me start over. How are you feeling?" Blanks.

G: "Fine." *Click* [Conversation ends.]

I earned no conversation points. It wouldn't matter anyways, since the Location condition prevents me from spending any. I draw the next Terror Card. Another hostage dies, and the thread level increases. Gonzalo is reaching his breaking point, and I call him again, unaware it will be the last time.

Last Call


"Gonzalo, why are you doing this?" Blanks.

G: "You'll never understand..."

"What don't I understand? What do you want?" Blanks.

G: "For you to LEAVE ME ALONE!"

"Okay, calm down..." Blanks.

G: "I AM CALM!" [Shoots another hostage]

"What did you do? What's going on?" Blanks.

G: *Click* [Conversation ends.]

Everything went wrong. It wasn't suppose to turn out this way. Still in disbelief, I flip the next Terror Card. Terror level goes up two, another two hostages lose their lives.

It's all over.

It...he...was out of control. All I wanted was to hear Gonzalo's demands, but he was too stubborn to let me in. Within 3 calls, 5/9 innocent victims paid the ultimate price, and I could do nothing. Slumped over, it takes me a while to let the entire game process before I packed it up in a fit. This was the first time the game completely shut me out. Bad roll after bad roll, I was less of a hostage negotiator and more of an unwilling witness to the tragedy that unfolded before my eyes. 

The Worst/Best Game


As a player, I was furious; most of my HN games had some forgiving yield of hope, but this was all pure bad luck. It left such a terrible taste in my mouth last night that I woke up with the full intent on slamming just how terrible my dice rolls were. But then something unexpected happened. 

I started wondering what was going on in my head, how I would communicate with Gonzalo. I started writing dialogue. Gonzalo started talking back. My dice rolls transformed into unfortunate outcomes as each broke down the situation to its bleak conclusion. Suddenly, my worst Hostage Negotiator game became it's own "bus," driving a tragic story of a hostage situation gone remarkably wrong.

It still was a bad game, though.




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