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Post-Mortem: Asylum

On Saturday, August 20th, about a dozen espionage enthusiasts turned out to play a game of Asylum, where two teams of covert operatives compete to whisk a defector out from under each other's noses. We tried a version of the game where everything from team assignments to extraction planning happened on-site with zero prep. It wasn't exactly a success, but good lessons were learned. 

What Worked...

Shadowing people is still fun. A lot of fun. (We might want to run a game without extraction teams, where a single "fugitive" tries to escape from a surveillance team any way they can. Anyone know a good traceur?) 

The extraction team's first checkpoint was pitch perfect. The Defector got on a city bus, where an extraction was waiting for them. They made the pass and the agent got off the bus at the very same stop. Quick, hard to photograph, very nice.


The surveillance team did a great job swarming the Defector. They maintained a 1-2 block dragnet around her at pretty much all times, and she took them on a merry chase! The couple of times when she almost lost us, and we had to scramble via text message to pick up her trail, where some of my favorite moments.


What Went Wrong...

The game flew off the rails after that excellent bus maneuver. The Defector couldn't find the next checkpoint, so she lead the surveillance team on a wild goose chase for about twenty minutes. That, plus longer-than-expected planning sessions, pretty much ate up all our time for the second round.

This exposed a need for better error-recovery mechanisms in the game. At the very least, we need set start/stop times for each round, so everyone knows when to pack it in and head back to the starting location. Even if the Defector had made it through all five checkpoints, the extraction team had no way to signal victory; set end times would solve that problem, too.

Players expressed some dissatisfaction with the planning-on-site approach, as they felt it would've been better to scout the location and make their plans ahead of time. I couldn't agree more. It might be wise to switch back to a more Tradecrafty model where team leads recruit their agents ahead of the game and get them more involved in the planning. Fly-by-night players could still show up on the day of the event and get assigned to teams as additional manpower and/or to even out the numbers.


That's all she wrote. Thanks again to everyone who came out and we hope you had a great time. Our next event is Journey to the End of the Night (Sat, 9/17). If you'd like to be a chaser, or help run the event, there's still plenty of time to volunteer!

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