When gandalf said the words “I have no memory of this” he may well have been referring to the rules for a game he’s not played in over a year
Thus we found ourselves stirring the cold treacle of rules for a Study in Emerald. One I’ve spoke about before. After the requisite amount of “oh yeahs” and “I remember now’s” we were underway and I found myself playing a good and not yet insane loyalist (all hail the overlords) hoping to snatch victory from the rebel scum.
In the game we played (four players), it become clear mid game that two others in the group were also loyalists leaving a solitary restorationist to fend for themselves and here’s where I realised just one of the reasons this game is so damn good. It’s not enough for your team to win, you really want to be the one in the lead. It’s also not going to be a win if any of your team come last (the team of the lowest scoring player is removed from the game at final scoring, no ifs buts or ah come ons). So the game becomes a case of helping your allies but not helping them Too much. I love this mechanic. It’s to the forefront in A Distant Plain and Fire in the Lake. It’s there too if you look really hard in Castle Panic. If you play with the right group (evil) it becomes a fantastic tension ratchet, more so when players threaten to take out the whole team rather than let someone else win. Couple this with the possibility of jumping teams if the right permanent effect comes up (it had) we had one hell of a game.
I’ve played a study in emerald a dozen times now. I was lucky enough to snatch a copy of it on release, it’s never been the same game twice. There are several different mechanics working at once in this game and unlike say Warrior knights or Android all of them are integral and none of them feel bolted on.
When this game comes back for re-release in the next few months I’m going to be eyeing it up closely. A combination of Martin Wallace and Neil Gaimen has made someone sublime and one of my favorite games to date. I’m going to be running games of this at Knavecon IV and I urge you to give it a go. It’s unique, it’s fresh and it’s never the same game twice. More of this sort of thing