XP: Spione

27 May

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Having read nothing more than the woefully inadequate blub by the designer on the game’s website, I really had no idea what to expect from Spione.

I get the sense that the game text supplies a lot of context and background information that I, personally, would have been glad to have. I haven’t played in many spy fiction games, and part of the reason for that is that I struggle with the genre. I just don’t know what to say or how to say it sometimes. I would be happy to play Spione again, and probably in more than one session, but I’d like to read that book first and soak up as much detail as possible.

One of the neatest features of the game is the way scenes are handled. Players may chose to continue and old scene or begin a new one for their principal character (if they have one) or for another player’s principal. This cycle is interrupted by Flashpoint, which is essentially the conflict resolution system for when interests conflict.

This paces out the story in a very organic manner. You cut back and forth with the interests of the group and bring all stories to a boil at the same time. It’s very cinematic and its super easy to follow.

Flashpoint uses a deck of cards to determine who gets to say what when and how far they can go with it when there are competing elements in the story. Just like the scene cycle, this is a very transparent way of doing business.

The strengths of this game are in being simple, clean and flexible. The weaknesses in this game are when the game is not those things.

When developing the principal characters, who are spies, a player must sort through what felt like dozens of sheets of identities and organizations, and then whip up a connecting tissue of background data.

Those sheets were extremely hard to follow. I never did get how to read the organization sheet (a flowchart of concentric boxes with no instructions on how to read the diagram), and the identity sheets were very poorly laid out for such simple information. I felt like I needed to do something with all of that information, but had no idea what it meant, nor any inkling of how or even why I should use it. Starting the game was very disorienting and I think this could have been avoided if this information was presented in a readable and non-overwhelming way. It would be an easy fix.

Worth a look see!

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