Thursday, January 28, 2010

Only a master of evil, Palamedes

I finally had a chance to play Shadows Over Camelot for the first time last night.

The rules were explained, and then the Role and Loyalty cards were dealt out.

Aha! I am Sir Palamedes... the traitor.

Wonderful, how am I going to pull this off having never played before?

I decided to play completely straight, sacrificing cards and life points several times in order to help the cause. The only slightly shady thing I did was place siege engines whenever possible. Our first few turns resulted in an extremely poor position on the Excalibur board, so not wanting to play a black card didn't look too suspicious.

I was lucky enough have a hand completely full of Fight cards, which I showed off with an almost solo victory over the Saxons. We finished off the Grail quest, and things were looking good for the heroes. I volunteered to start destroying siege engines while the other players attempted to complete more quests.

Suddenly, we had a string of misfortune, and we found ourselves at ten siege engines (twelve is an immediate loss for the good guys) as the player before me started his turn.

Knowing that many of the black cards could result in more siege engines, he considered paying one of his two remaining life points to avoid the risk. He asked if I could get an automatic win against a siege engine during my turn.

Yes! They trusted me!

"I can handle it," I answered enthusiastically.

A Grail card came up, adding an eleventh siege engine to the board. The other player used his turn discarding to try to save the Lancelot's Armor quest, which was starting to look bleak.

Barely able to contain my evil grin, I placed the twelfth siege engine on the board, ending the game. There were several seconds of stunned silence before I turned over my Loyalty card. Nobody had ever suspected me!

My first foray into Shadows Over Camelot was an absolute blast, and I'd definitely play again.

I've heard that the game can easily turn into a micromanagement nightmare, where one or two players give extremely specific orders, and anyone who doesn't follow them to the letter is obviously the traitor. I hope it never comes to this -- I like the idea of coordinating strategy a bit, but it should probably be limited to vague suggestions ("Camelot is in trouble, but we're also at risk of losing the Grail").


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