Sunday, October 16, 2011

Schooner or Later

On Thursday evening there was the last Sandpit of the year. The Haberdashery (sometimes formerly known as 'Casework,' formerly known as 'Capricious,' sometimes referred to as 'La Louche'), our new game design collective, ran 'Schooner or Later' (formerly 'The East India Company Game') again and it went really well.

Next time we're hoping for fewer name changes.

Do you remember how the game works?
Let me remind you: It's a trading game based on the East India Company. Everyone has to give up their bags as collateral and in exchange are given the rental of a company boat (their hands, cupped together. We take their bags so that they don't have more carrying capacity.)

There are three countries involved in this particular trade triangle: India, China, and Great Britain.

Britain will buy most things at a very good price, but due to the trade monopoly agreement it has with the EIC, if you trade there you have to take British made goods with you- a whole heap of wool (cotton balls!). No one will buy the wool, but sometimes India and China can be persuaded to take some for a fee. Mostly it just fills up your boat.

India sells pepper (pepper corns!), and also grows opium. (balloons! hard to hide! easy to pop!)

China sells tea (tea bags) and will, angrily, accept opium. As a reward for getting the opium (un-popped balloon with your name on it) into China and helping to disrupt the economy and therefore drive down the price of tea, the EIC will give you a £200 bonus at the end of the game for each load of opium you smuggle into China.

Smugglers need to be wary of the roving coast guards, but above board traders have nothing to fear. All of this takes place in as wide and varied a playing area as we can manage to get. In this case? Most of the ground floor of the National Maritime Museum.

We had about 35 people playing and some of them made trade agreements with each other and convoys and official distraction people while others did the opium running. It was kind of great. One man in a tricornered hat (the whole evening was shipping themed) decided to collect the cotton wool balls and place them in his hat. I decided he was a floating "America" and secretly hoped he would start making crafts out of them to re-sell to England.

At one point, due to a mis-calculation by one of our port representatives, for £50 one of our players was sold *all the tea in China* 

Excellent. Also, that's a ridiculous price.

Figuring out what to use for currency in the game was a challenge since last time a limiting factor was that there simply wasn't enough money. Turns out that plastic coins were prohibitively expensive in the quantities we needed, so the cheapest option (we weren't allowed to use food, so spray painted beans were out of the question) was pennies.

Do you know how heavy 2,000 pennies are? REALLY, REALLY HEAVY.

Fortunately Josh took them home. They're no longer my problem.

(ps. Do you know how weirdly bank tellers will look at you when you ask for £20 in pennies?? £13 cleared out one bank's supply, so I actually had to go to two different banks to get it all. "Do you want some 2p coins?" Nope.)
(pps. Josh is threatening not to let me name games any more since the two the The Haberdashery put on at the NNM were named "Schooner or Later" and "Unlimited Port-ential" and that was 90% my fault.)

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