Saturday, January 21, 2012

Any Suggestions on How to Improve This Game?

What makes one game great and another game flop? I am continually searching for new games to try at youth group. Large group in the dark games are the best. In December we tested "Murder in the Dark" which I found on the Egad! game site.

It was good and people had fun but it wasn't great. We tried it again Thursday night. Again, it was fun but not great. I think the flaw is in questioning phase; it's just awkward. Both times the detective has struggled to ask yes/no questions. People not being asked questions get board and the detective has not been able to even narrow down the murder as a suspect. I would like to play the game again but without some improvements I don't think it will work with my group.

I am looking for any suggestions on how to tweak the game. These are the rules, with a few adjustments to the Egad submission:

Murder In The Dark

Purpose: discover who the murderer is.

Preparation: Prepare enough slips of paper for each person playing. On one of the slips you write murderer or simply put an X (I write M). On another slip you write the word detective (I write D). All other slips are blank.

After you hand them out, everyone gives them back to you or drops them in a bowl after looking at them. Whoever the detective is must make himself known. This is important because the detective cannot be murdered. There are three rounds altogether. Each round has two phases. The "dark phase" which ends when someone discovers a body and the "questioning phase" which ends when the detective makes an accusation.

Dark Phase: the lights are turned off. Everyone walks around in the dark (not in groups) until a dead body is found. The murderer walks around waiting for an opportune time to say "you're dead" to someone. When some is told that, they wait 5 seconds and then fall to the floor. The round continues until someone discovers the body and yells out "dead body." At this time everyone gathers around the body and the detective attempts to discover the murderer.

Questioning Phase: The detective can ask only yes or no questions from any one except the "dead body" (dead men tell no tales). Everyone has to tell the truth except for the murderer. The murderer can lie on any question except, "Are you the murderer?" When the detective makes an accusation, the round ends and the next round begins (unless of course the detective was right).

Exceptions: During dark phase of round 3 the murderer can kill as many people as he/she wants. After the questioning phase of round 3 the murderer must reveal their identity if the detective doesn't guess right.
The other youth leader and I are considering discussed these twists as possible improvements:
  • Adding a second detective or a Watson
  • Remove the detective's yes/no question limitation
  • Allow anyone to make an accusation and maybe even allow the accused defend themselves
  • Allow anyone to ask a question but only the detective to make an accusation

What do you think? Is this game redeemable? Would one of these changes improve the game? Would something else make the play better for everyone? It is hard to say if implementing a change will make the game better or worst. Do you any have any suggestions on how to tweak this game? Or maybe you know a game that is similar that I could try to compare the rules to this one. If so, please leave a comment.


Dusty! said...

Have you ever played the card game Mafia or warewolf? It is similar but a card game and there are multiple murders and no detective- everyone is the detective. Any 3 people make accusations (including the murders if they want) and then those accused (usually only 3 people) have to defend themselves and then a vote is taken.

I love that game and it could've adapted here. said...

I was just going to ask if you've ever played Mafia. Ken has had raving success with the game, even with middle schoolers. The rules are all over the internet, including Wikipedia.

Elizabeth said...

I haven't played Mafia in years. We had to stop playing with this group because there were two youth that would yell out who people were every time. But they have both graduated...might be time to try the game again.

Nata said...

It might be an "early Sunday Morning" thing, but I'm not sure I understand this game. What kind of questions does the detective ask? Can they only ask ONE person if they are the killer each round?

It sounds like the game you WANT to play is GROG. I like Mafia too, but it's hard to play with teens because they still want the made-up stories and to give a cheezy "alibi", which most fail drastically at making interesting or funny. Grog has no talking, only killing.

Elizabeth said...

The Detective can ask anyone as many questions as they would like and can ask different people the same question. Our detectives so far have liked "were you near the murder?" "were you near people?" "did you see the murder?" "were you standing close to Liz (or another suspect)?" Last game the detective pointed to every spot in the room until they figured out were I had been standing. They thought for sure it was wasn't.

We have mixed reviews about GROG. The boys love it. The girls like it less.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, and the answer to your second question is yes, the detective can only ask one person if they are the murderer with current rules. After the accused responds the round ends.

Amai said...

I think that watching Sherlock might give you idea on how to improve the detective game. :D