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The Plot Thickens

If you enjoy storytelling and/or improv, Bright Eye Games have three titles just for you. Designed by Mike Callahan, Tom Rochelle and Brigette Indelicato, and with art by Kwanchai Moriya, The Plot Thickens is a series of three card-driven games, all with identical mechanics but covering three distinct genres of story: Science Fiction, Detective and Romance.

Each game comprises decks of genre-specific Persons, Places and Things. The 3-4 players all start with a Person card as their main character. They draw more Person, Place and Thing cards up to five and in turn they weave a story, playing a card when they mention the plot point referenced on that card. You collect a Plot Point token (appropriately themed for each of the genres) whenever you place out a card from your hand. The next player then takes up the story using their own cards and similarly collecting tokens for each card played. This first round, when everyone has made an initial contribution to the story, constitutes the story's first chapter.

On your next turn, you draw more cards to replace any you played so you again have a hand of five, and you continue the story but this time you place out Plot Point tokens you've collected on the cards played previously by other players. It's these Plot Point tokens, on other players' cards, that count for scoring at the end of the game (ie: after a previously agreed number of chapters; the rules suggest three for a short story and six for a 'novel').

The idea is to create a coherent story, so this isn't about simply mentioning words willy nilly. To 'play' the game properly you need to embellish and use the cards as prompts or pegs for your story so that you weave the various cards into the narrative. If a player veers too much from this path, you can call them out as having 'Writer's Block' and they lose their turn.

But all this talk of turns and scoring feels off the point. Tho' the format of The Plot Thickens series is gamified, our Board's Eye View plays have, rightly, all been much more about the story than the game. As with the majority of party games, it's the experience that matters rather more than the scorekeeping. We've enjoyed all three The Plot Thickens packages for their storytelling prompts and the interactive experience rather than as board games in the more conventional sense. And, by the way, if you're not overly worried about the notional quasi-competitive element then there's actually no reason why you can't 'play' The Plot Thickens as a creative exercise for just two players, or even maybe solitaire. Who knows, you might even come up with a story that you go on to write down and publish. Performers on the comedy circuit can also use The Plot Thickens productively as a tool to hone their improv skills.

If you're a teacher, The Plot Thickens can be a great way of prompting creative writing among school pupils and students. Our guess is that the Science Fiction box will be the most popular with pupils. It's probably older players who will want to use the Detective box to unlock their inner Raymond Chandler or Agatha Christie, or to go Jane Austen or Barbara Cartland or even a racy 50 Shades with the Romance box :-) And if you're feeling really creative, there's nothing to stop you combining two or more boxes for cross-genre storytelling, and to better facilitate increasing the player count for five or six players.

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