Friday 7 April 2017

teaching friends to Escape

By now I have taught three different batches of colleagues to play Escape: The Curse of the Temple. The first time was at home, when I invited them over for an afternoon of boardgaming. They didn't manage to beat the game after three attempts. I joined them on the third attempt. We were close, but still couldn't escape the temple in time. That was last year. Recently I taught two different groups to play at the office. Escape is a game which easily catches the attention of non gamers and casual gamers. It is addictive. Since one game only lasts 10 minutes, when you fail your first attempt, you are eager to go again, because you feel you can surely do better, and hey, it's just 10 minutes. The game being a real-time game makes it exciting for new players.

Zhi Nin, Zharif, Zee Zun, CK and Eva.

I didn't join them to play this time. I just played referee and teacher. I helped remind them of the mid-point earthquakes, when they needed to return to the starting chamber (or lose a die). Amidst the chaos, it is easy for new players to miss the change in music. I also watched out for illegal moves. Quite often when one of them tried to help another unlock frozen dice, I had to remind them that they were in different rooms, so they could not help each other.

Eva's group did not manage to beat the game. The funniest thing in the games they played was how in one of the games the group abandoned Zharif. At the time the countdown for a mid-point earthquake had started, and most of them prepared to head back to the start chamber. Zharif was still doing exploration, and discovered a lucrative room where they could place up to 3 gems. Unfortunately the rest were all running off, so Zharif could not do much all by himself. After that earthquake, the group decided not to bother with the room Zharif found, because it was very away. They headed off in the opposite direction. Zharif had no choice but to run as fast as he could to rejoin the group. Later in the game, they found that they still had too many gems in the storage, which made exiting the temple very difficult. If they had placed 3 gems in the room Zharif found, it would have made a big difference. So coordinating moves and deciding when and where to discover rooms are crucial and can make or break a game. They had a 5-player group, which meant many gems to get rid of. Almost every room with gem spaces needed to be fully utilised.

At first I expected them to play just one quick game, because Zhi Nin and Zee Zun had a online game event to run soon. However it was Zhi Nin who suggested to go again. She said it wasn't necessary for her to be online throughout the duration of the event. No one objected. And after they played the second game, they went for a third! This is how addictive Escape can be.

The third group, Benz's group, fared better and managed to beat the game. They often work closely in their day-to-day work, so they already have good teamwork. They are close friends. When they lost the first game, they started discussing what to do in the second. Whether they won the second game is a point of contention. When the music approached the third and last countdown, I made a mistake and announced the game end to them before the actual end time. They were very close to winning when they stopped. Then in the next few seconds I realised my mistake, and quickly exclaimed, "Go!" They were quick to respond and immediately resumed. By the time the last of them exited the temple, the music had stopped. However if taking into account the short delay caused by my mistake, they might have made it before time ran out.

They won the third game quite comfortably, at around the 8 minute mark. They had a good grasp of the tactics by then. The third game went very smoothly for them too - rolling what they wanted, drawing the right tiles at the right time, etc. They managed to remove every single gem from the gem storage. When they found the exit, it was a piece of cake to go outside.

They never bothered with the earthquakes. Not that they didn't care. Sometimes they were too far away. Sometimes they were too disorganised. Sometimes they were too busy trying to move gems to a room. So they always lost dice at the earthquakes. However ignoring earthquakes didn't seem to be too disastrous. They did save time, and they did manage to win.

Ruby, Benz, Edwin and Xiao Zhu.

The next step for them will be the expansion modules in the base game, followed by the modules in the two expansions. Now I've brought both Expansions 1 & 2 to the office.


David chris said...

Well got to look for the cards to give it a try.

Jerodev said...

Tried this game last week. Can be very stressfull when the time is running out, but so much fun! :D