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Play Folk 12: Pub Games at Angel City

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Play Folk 12: Pub Games at Angel City

Myles Nye

Play Folk 11 was physical and on the west side. For Play Folk 12, rounding out our first year, the non-baker's dozen of play dates, we picked something social and went to Angel City. I always get that place confused with Golden Road, which is where we played Nomic. Angel City is altogether different. Maclen, Willa, and I went to a multi-sensory walk-through installation there called Afterlife. Here are the pictures of the snow at the climax:

Here is us on the night we played pub games at this bar, sans snowdrift:

In the interest of transparency, many of the people in this picture did not play any of the games, but they did show up to the event and they were social with those of us who were playing the games, and that is quite in keeping of the spirit of Play Folk. Wait, actually, no, that's bullshit, you're supposed to play the games but thank you for coming anyhow, come again and play games next time weirdos.

We had decided on a location and a genre of game but needed to ask some experts for ideas about what games to play. Here are the suggestions we got:

Bernie DeKoven (@berniedekovn) suggested Found Object Scrabble or Coaster Games. Sample coaster game: "The drink coaster is used as a tray. On it you must carry peas from point A to point B. The amount of time and the number of peas that can be carried within a certain time matters." Love this guy's rules author voice.

Jeff Watson (@remotedevice) suggested Haggle (found in The Games Bible) or The No Game, which we will almost certainly play at a future Play Folk. From Jeff:

everyone who shows up gets a ribbon and must pin it to their shirt as they arrive; from then on, they can’t say “no” in the course of conversation; if you do say “no,” and the person you say it to is still in the game, that person takes your ribbon (and any other ribbons you have) and pins it to their shirt (along with any other ribbons they have) and you are out; the game continues until only one person is left.

Albert Kong (@lethalbeef) suggested Stranger Danger and we played it! He also suggested Tiny Games and we played that too!

Pete Vigeant (@greenghoulie) suggested Heads Up and we played it!

Gabe Smedresman (@gabesmed) suggested Caught in the Act and we played it!

Thanks to our brain trust.

I drove to the train station before I realized I had left Stranger Danger at home, so I turned around to get it and was late. We started playing Tiny Games first thing when I got there. The game would list a shape and the players had to race to touch that shape. There was one shape that was controversial... it was like "ring" or something, and we asked if that was the same as circle. This game is a slightly inferior version of the game we call Two-Tone Touch, which I love. Two players name a color and random and you have to race to touch some place in the environment where those two colors are adjacent or touching.

After a few rounds of this game we picked up Stranger Danger. This game was successfully Kickstarted by its designers, John Teasdale, the most epically prodigious game runner in The Go Game history, and Albert Kong, who has recently relocated to NYC where he is the king of Big SCRAPple room escape games. These two game celebrities made a game that is always thrilling to play.

The last time I played this game, in December, I approached a stranger on the Berkeley campus who was experimenting with a remote control helicopter he'd built, whereupon I accurately guessed the last time he had pooped.

This time, we were talking to strangers in a bar and the game lived up to its name: it's a bit scary, like a roller coaster is scary. It all started innocuously enough: a stranger wrote Willa a haiku, and though it was not the stranger who matched Willa's card (she scored no points), she was quite happy with her haiku which was written on the subject of her beloved bunny rabbit. The poem hinted at the rabbit's mortality, and Willa delighted in telling everyone that the stranger didn't even know her rabbit has cancer.

But when Lizy D., at her first Play Folk, had to get someone with dredlocks to do a handstand, it got a bit crunchy, in the best way - in the way that the game is intended to do. Lizy made an appealing pitch to the man, and demonstrated a possible technique. The man had been drinking, and the wisdom of his doing this stunt seemed questionable. Lizy's feet, up over her head during the demonstration, came close to the wall, and a guy who worked at the bar came over to tell us not to put feet on the wall or they would scuff it.

The dreds guy put his drink down and, with his hands, prepared to do a handstand. I turned and looked at the guy from the bar, who gave us a terribly dirty look like: "You aren't actually about to do the very thing I told you not to do less than one minute ago, are you?" It was all pretty crunchy, cause I think Lizy wanted the point, even though she actually was supposed to find someone with wavy hair, not dredlocks at all. We all said thanks and parted ways.

I won the game when I found someone alone with messy hair and got him to text me the last selfie on his phone. Here it is:

 Jackie was scorekeeper in my book.

Jackie was scorekeeper in my book.

After this, we played Caught in the Act, which Willa and I played at Come Out and Play SF. This is a first-rate bar game and I recommend it highly. I'd like to give it another spin because I don't think it got the best limelight to show on this bar night due to a small glitch.

Jackie and Willa were the inspectors; Doug, John Greg, and I were the agents. As soon as the timer started, I took of running to shake the inspectors. I found a group of people sitting in a totally different part of the bar who had been interested in helping with Stranger Danger earlier. I got them to write and give me a note, and I was so pleased with myself. I couldn't understand why Willa was looking so pleased with herself as well. Turns out she had followed me, and viewed my actions from the upstairs. Dastardly! Diabolical!

Doug did a good job faking out Jackie by writing in my notebook as a red herring:

The boys' team succeeded at getting a note from a stranger; eating a bite of food; and flying a paper airplane in the bar. However, due to an inability to tell a lower case L from an upper case I, the girls didn't get the correct list of missions to guess from. We got it sorted out, and they still guessed incorrectly and won the game for the boys, but it somewhat tarnished the big reveal of the game. We'll give it another go, and you should too.

Then a group got a game of Heads Up going, and I have to confess that I felt a bit snobbish, like, "This club is for RARE games, not POPULAR games" but that game is perfect and I'm glad we played it for a bit at the club. And I'm also glad we remembered to get a group photo.

This games night was in February and I'm blogging about it in April. That's right: sometimes "blog" isn't short for "web log," but rather for "backlog." It's a stroke of good luck that, the day after the game, Willa and I recorded the What's Wrong podcast quiz: it's helped keep the memories fresh.

Should we do more nights of pub games like this one? What bars should we use? what games should we play next time?