I discovered the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer through a rather unusual route. I remember watching the original two-part episode when it debuted and it just failed to grab me. For good or bad, I think I was expecting the tone to be more like the Kristy Swanson movie and somehow I felt that new series was taking itself too seriously.
Flash forward about four years and I was walking through a toy store’s game aisle when I saw the Buffy the Vampire Slayer board game. By this point, I’d seen a few more episodes, and though I’d warmed up to the series, I wouldn’t call myself a fan. Still, something about the description of the game sounded interesting, so I brought it home and we tried it out. The game offered four different starting points, with a different set of villains based loosely on the premise of each of the first four seasons.
We found the game play well thought out. It seemed heroes and villains had a roughly equal chance of winning. The game scenarios were also interesting and made me wonder about the actual stories as they were told in the series. The upshot is that I finally went out and gave the series a fresh chance and the second time around I was hooked right from the start. I watched the series from the beginning to the end practically non-stop.
Last night, we had friends over and introduced them to the game. One of them was not a Buffy fan, but I think the game play engaged her as it once did me. It’ll be interesting to see if she follows up to watch more of the series.
In addition to the game scenarios, the game allows heroes to explore different avenues to win the game. The heroes almost always need teamwork to win. That said, heroes can attempt to win through fighting, magic, or just outsmarting the vampires. Different strategies are useful each session.
When I write, I often feel like I’m in the middle of the best movie in the world. The movie’s playing all around me and I can turn my head and see all the sights my characters are seeing. I can hear what they hear and I can smell what they smell. Sometimes my subconscious surprises me and things happen in the story I didn’t expect. A good game is like that, except instead of your subconscious, it’s the dice roll that creates surprises. Also, if you’re with friends, the team can be more or less effective depending on how well they work with or against each other.
After we finished the Buffy game, we moved on to another horror-themed game. This one was Unspeakable Words which effectively is a mix of Scrabble and the Cthulhu Mythos. I’m not sure those two concepts are all that far separated at the best of times!
So, are there some horror or vampire-themed games you like? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. If it’s one I haven’t tried, I may unleash it on my friends to see what the group thinks!
Finally, I’d like to remind you that I’ll be signing my Scarlet Order novels at Boutique du Vampyre in New Orleans, Louisiana this Saturday from 3 to 6pm. Be there if you can. It is an awesome store full of amazing vampire-themed merchandise, including a few games. If you can’t make the signing, please tell any friends who might be interested. Like a good gaming night, I see a book signing as a chance both to make new friends and to get to know old friends even better.