I remember, back in the 80s when I was still a kid, our board games were simple. They relied the throw of the dice and some strategy on our part. It was relatively simple — a game of chance with a little bit of brains involved. Monopoly, snakes and ladders, and at the time, a game as simple as checkers or chess. It was still a board game, to us.
Then, sometime later, it got to be a little more complicated. They had interesting games with a higher level of strategy and a little bit of luck and “assholery,” like Survive. That was a fun game. I wasn’t very good at it but I loved playing it. And then, of course, there were games like Pictionary or Win, Lose, or Draw. Game that’s required skill and good teamwork.
Then I graduated from college and I discovered games like Balderdash. I was kind of good at it and I learned playing with copy writers in the advertising industry, so that was crazy and fun.
Then about seven years ago, I discovered Cranium. I was shocked. It had all the skill sets that was required and it still had that neutralising factor that was the random outcome of a dice roll. It levelled the playing field. It was amazing. The board games had become more challenging as I got older and it was interesting to be growing at the same time as the difficulty levels of these games.
And then last year, I discovered Avalon.
I was invited by a friend, JR, to play board game night at his place. I knew him and a common friend, Sev, but everyone else he had invited I didn’t know very well, or it was my first time to meet them. I was shocked by the amount of games JR had and the different skill sets needed to play each one. We were about nine people, and lucky for me another friend I kinda knew, Jen, arrived. But I didn’t know Jen that well and Avalon is the kind of game where you kinda need to know the people you are playing with because it will help.
Avalon requires lying. Lying to your friends, playing a strange strategy game that involves other people but you can’t talk to them directly otherwise, your team could lose. And you probably don’t even know who’s really in your team. It’s complicated but it’s a whole lot of fun.
I played several rounds with JR and Sev and Jen and their friends. There were five brand new people I’ve never really met and three two people — JR and Jen — whom I knew casually but not really know them. And then, of course, Sev, who has a magnificent poker face.
And as a person who can’t lie, I was having such a hard time trying to make through a round without losing my shit. I am so transparent that I had to find different ways to get around being caught lying. The advantage of not knowing most of the people in the room was that they probably didn’t know me that well, either.
I got to play again just a few weeks ago with the No Filter people, friends who are family, and people I know pretty well, I think. So that was a lot of fun too.
As the game progresses, you kinda get a chance to see how people play and, sometimes, you get to see how they lie. And it’s kind of scary when you notice someone do it so well. I know it’s all fun and games and everything but you can see people’s head at work. And it’s a strange thing to see.
There’s a card in Avalon — the Merlin card — that allows you to see people who are the opposite team but they don’t see you. So when the game starts, you know who are the bad guys in secret. And I usually end up picking the Merlin card, for some reason, and as the game plays out, I’m sitting there watching my friends lie. And some are good at it. Some are not. And some, I figure out their tells.
I’m a people person and this is a game that I can make great use of my skills as an empath. Now, if only I had a real poker face, I’d be a killer in this game.
I love Avalon. I loved it when I was playing with strangers and I loved when I was playing with friends.
I hope I get to play it again soon. It would be awesome to play it again with more of the No Filter people or my other friends. Or even with JR and Sev’s group again, because they were such cool people.
It’s fun, not being in control, trying to hide my feelings, which is something I’m not good at. It’s nice to see my empathy at work. It’s nice being able to interact with my friends in such a way. I really, really miss playing Avalon.