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[PNP] Hide the Havarti

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wombat929
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I spent a couple days hauling wheelbarrows full of dirt and rocks last week, so I had lots of time to think. My design group has been talking about microgames, thinking about something we could use as a 'calling card' at cons and so on -- something we could produce on the cheap and give away or sell at cost.

With that in mind, here's something I came up with and mocked into a PNP playable version. I've played with my family a few times and it's fun. I'm worried that it's a bit too random, but there are some interesting psychological elements as you force the players to move pieces around.

Quick summary:
In 2057, a lethal fungus swept the world, killing people in vast numbers seen only in the bubonic plague or the 1918 influenza epidemic. That fungus was spread throughout the world by cheese.

By 2075, the world had mourned the cheese epidemic and moved on, but cheese was now recognized as a deadly substance, a potential trojan horse that could bring ruin to families, cities, and nations. But that doesn’t mean people stopped eating it. With the worldwide ban on cheese, a lucrative black market sprung up, leading to a new age of organized crime and a worldwide network of underground cheesemongers and cheesemakers, centered in France.

Quick overview
In Hide the Havarti, players are Fromagers (French cheesemakers), working to hide their cheese from snooping Inspecteurs. Each round, the Inspecteur tries to find four pieces of cheese hidden in the house. But the Fromagers are rushing about, moving the cheese from place to place, trying to keep ahead of the Inspecteur. Each player acts as investigator twice in this fast-paced game of memory, deduction, and illicit cheese.

tuscansun
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I love how this could have

I love how this could have been any other theme, and you chose a WILD backstory for it! Do you think that you could get rid of some of the randomness by giving certain rooms effects? For example, and I'm just spitballing here, checking the kitchen doesn't count as a check for the Inspecteur, but they need to spend two moves to leave. Or cheese hidden in the living room is revealed after three turns. Or something like that. Just an idea. It looks fun!

wombat929
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reducing randomness

Thanks! So far it is pretty fun, and with a couple players as Fromagers it gets really hard to keep track of where the cheeses are.

I definitely like the idea of having the different house tiles be particular rooms with particular benefits.

I had a couple thoughts about that -- if the rooms are hidden, they'll be random too, so the Inspecteur doesn't know which benefit he's getting -- so this might make the benefits for the Fromagers better, but not for the Inspecteur.

On the other hand, perhaps the rooms become static and then I use something else, a token on top of them, to be the part that gets shifted around.

Oh well, will keep working on it. Thanks for the feedback!

Soulfinger
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For a calling card game, how

For a calling card game, how about something that you could print on one or two business cards?

It looks like a fun game, but the two things I'd note are that the artwork and theme fit better with an alternate timeline early 19th century setting. Maybe something like this cheese plague having spread in the wake of Napoleon's armies.

Secondly, I know that the game is meant to be silly, but as an avid epidemiology enthusiast, I just have to point out that the core concept of a cheese mold pandemic is unfeasible for quite a number of reasons, particularly in 2075. It's slightly less plausible than an outbreak of caterpillar pox thanks to a mutation that resulted in cross-species transmission.

For the timeline, you'd want to specify something like the Black Death of the 14th century, as there have been numerous outbreaks of plague in various parts of the world throughout the course of history. Then again, comparing it to historic examples was what blew my suspension of disbelief out of the water.

wombat929
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Points taken

Good points. The artwork is public domain stuff I pulled from Flickr, so when we got to the point of actually making it we'd update the art. But I like the idea of this being something Napoleon did -- perhaps even going to the idea of him imposing a military rationing of cheese.

But I kinda like the future-cheese fungus story.

As to the epidemiology, I suppose that's probably true. But it's still funny. I'll see how I can rework the mention of plagues. I really only wanted to communicate the scale of deaths from cheese fungus, not necessarily suggest a biological similarity.

chris_mancini
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Business card game

Piggy-backing on Soulfinger's comment of a business card game...I actually played around with that notion, and designed a simple card/game called Table Flip...the card folds into a little gaming table that you flip in different ways and score based on how it lands...kind of like a game played with a single die. I've got one on my desk and always end up fiddling with it!

I love the notion of a calling card game; just a few cards with a fun and elegant design. You've definitely got something with this one! You had me at the mere mention of cheese.

Soulfinger
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wombat929 wrote:As to the

wombat929 wrote:
As to the epidemiology, I suppose that's probably true. But it's still funny. I'll see how I can rework the mention of plagues. I really only wanted to communicate the scale of deaths from cheese fungus, not necessarily suggest a biological similarity.

I'm really terrible about this, because anytime anything remotely having to do with smallpox, bubonic plague, etc. comes up, I'll start going off for an hour on the subject, so please forgive me if this is too much of a tangent.

In general, fungus makes for a poor pandemic agent, at last among people (bats, frogs, and other animal populations can be decimated by fungal infections). Likewise, cheese isn't really the best vector for spreading such an agent. That said, historically, many things have been blamed for the spread of disease, from cats to Jews, when they were not actually vectors. A game set during the Napoleonic War makes this notion more feasible as there is the element of the "other" to associate with the disease, which is such a classic element of historic accounts and epidemiological storytelling. You thereby propagate the notion of it being spread by filthy French cheese even if the cheese is not the actual culprit, just as the 1918 H1N1 pandemic was termed the Spanish Flu even though it did not originate there. You could have a card that makes you twice as guilty if they find the cheese in the same location as a Swedish Cheese Witch, or some such.

That's not to say cheese couldn't theoretically work out as a vector. One gram of cheese contains about 10 billion microbial cells of bacteria and fungus. Personally, I'd say your best bet is to make the pathogen a mycophage, a bacteria that feeds on the fungi found in cheese. It is not part of the cheese-making process but is introduced by the environment. One possibility is that the bacteria generates a toxin that it uses to destroy the cell walls of the fungus, which happens to also be deadly to humans in sufficient quantity. The problem there though is that you've just created a new vector for food poisoning -- hardly a pandemic. It could instead be a mycovirus that thrives on some element of cheese but can also infect the candida endosymbionts that grow on the human body. The virus will shed cells that are toxic to the human host, allowing the candida to perpetuate and disrupt mucosal membranes, which eventually leads to a systemic infection and death by endocarditis. It's kind of an awesome vector, because you eat infected cheese and the viral cells are then introduced directly to the candida in your mouth and digestive tract. It poisons you to give its host a better condition to thrive in, and by time you die, your skin is covered in infected candida cells, ready to be picked up by anyone who touches you. Fun!

The future setting just doesn't work because it flies in the face of how society is structured and the advances in technology that we are seeing, which make this sort of problem even less likely to occur. Were cheese to become deadly, it would just give more power to Big Cheese, the Kraft type companies that could guarantee a safe product, muscling out the little guys through lobbying for more stringent cheese production laws. Inspectors barging into basements, that's 19th century right there.

Head back to the 19th century and people don't understand the pathology of the disease, but they do note that handling cheese can lead to infection (due to either infected fungal cells or encapsulated viral spores). You get the desired outcome, witch hunts, etc.

In summary, the best epidemiological storytelling has a scapegoat in the human population, much like how people turn against other people in zombie fiction (zombies being a sort of macro-virus). The Napoleonic setting works really well because it is right on the heels of the French Revolution and in the wake of the Enlightenment, which led to to such fervent nationalism and racism. You can mine the social satire, the prejudices of the time, Europe being in relative turmoil, and then let them eat the frosty icing of the disease shtick.

In comparing it to other plagues, perhaps something brief, accurate, but kind of funny, like:

1346, Siege of Caffa: The Tartars besieging the port of Caffa used catapults to hurl the corpses of their plague stricken comrades over the walls of the city. Sadly, the end result was not Tartar sauce, which would not be invented for another five-hundred-years. Instead, this early example of biological warfare sparked a global pandemic that would claim the lives of as many as 200 million people.

1815, Battle of Waterloo: The worst pandemic in history originated with a great commander, a crushing defeat, and a few dozen wheels of Camembert . . .

And in the spirit of a happy 4th of July, we can all thank our forefathers for engaging in biological warfare (or what we'd call terrorism today) by sending smallpox-ridden blankets into Boston to kill off the garrison there. Yay, good guys! I highly recommend reading Pox Americana for anyone interested in knowing how Smallpox shaped our nation's history.

wombat929
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Thanks for the detail

Thanks for the detailed analysis of cheese as vector. It gives us a lot of *ahem* food for thought.

I particularly liked THE GREAT INFLUENZA, about the 1918 H1N1 outbreak. One of the takeaways of that book was, however, that if we got another H1N1 outbreak with cytokene (sp) storms again, it might well be worse, because the global population moves around so fast and our supply chains are too delicate and intricate.

Soulfinger
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wombat929 wrote:Thanks for

wombat929 wrote:
Thanks for the detailed analysis of cheese as vector. It gives us a lot of *ahem* food for thought.

I particularly liked THE GREAT INFLUENZA, about the 1918 H1N1 outbreak. One of the takeaways of that book was, however, that if we got another H1N1 outbreak with cytokene (sp) storms again, it might well be worse, because the global population moves around so fast and our supply chains are too delicate and intricate.

"Great Influenza" was a good book. If you want a really fun read, I suggest Richard "The Demon in the Freezer." He's the same guy who did "Hot Zone."

wombat929
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Rules up for lookin'

Hi All,

The rules for Hide the Havarti are up on Google Docs for review. If you have any comments, I'd welcome any input.

Hide the Havarti on Google Docs

Thanks!
Brendan

andymakespasta
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Hilarious game! The mechanics

Hilarious game! The mechanics look really neat to me.

Quick question, during play testing, does having more formagers make the game significantly harder for the inspecteur?

Also, if you're unlucky, even if you have perfect memory, can the inspecteur inspect four times without finding cheese? The sniffing mouse can only be used once.
By my quick calculations, if you simply flip the cards over in order, there's about a 1/3 chance you fail 4 times before you find 4 cheeses.
I suppose it's not that big an issue for quick games where everybody gets to go a few times.

wombat929
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Thanks! 1 - It isn't harder

Thanks!

1 - It isn't harder for the inspecteur with more players, since you always have four cheeses.

2 - The inspecteur usually finds one or two cheeses, but rarely finds all four. We've had all results though. The psychology of trying to figure out whether the fromageurs are trying to get a room away from you or lure you to it is pretty fun.

3 - You said it -- there's a lot of luck in the game, but it goes quick so it has some of the same pleasure as a dice game, in that everyone enjoys the ebb and flow of luck together.

Thanks for the feedback!

Brendan

keshiekay
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<3 Google Docs

wombat929 wrote:

The rules for Hide the Havarti are up on Google Docs for review. If you have any comments, I'd welcome any input.

Hide the Havarti on Google Docs

YAY! I love when designers put 'em on Google Docs. I'll take a look after I finish proofing Second Line.

wombat929
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Thanks!

Thanks!

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