A Dark and Stormy Afternoon: Wrapup

So was it for our first session of A Dark and Stormy Night. For fun, and because the check hadn’t arrived yet, we played another round. This time, instead of taking books out of the box each time we got an answer right, we put them back–the first team to reshelve all its books won the game. The Winners, true to their namesake, won again. (“It’s even harder to shelve books, apparently,” said Daniel.) Next time we’ll have to trade team names and see how it works out.

A few random notes from the rematch:

  • Responding to a suggestion that the game was too easy, Ilene said, “Well, their entire audience isn’t Booklist staff.” (Meaning, people who read for a living.) Then, pausing exactly the right length of time before delivering the kicker, she added, “Or perhaps it is.”
  • I guessed Bret Easton Ellis when the answer was, in fact, Jay McInerney.
  • Ilene’s guess of “F. Scott Fitzgerald” paid off when, in fact, the answer was F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Final Thoughts

All in all, we had a good time, and we all agreed that we’d play it again, although we did wonder if, after playing the the game three times, we’d know all the answers too well to play it a fourth time. (The creators could always release another box of questions, I suppose: A Dark and Stormy Night: Master Class.) We wondered, too, whether the questions were arranged to start easy and get harder or if that only appeared to be the case.

I polled the other three for final thoughts and they had this to say.

Ilene: “Like Trivial Pursuit, Dark and Stormy Night is fun and frustrating. You find out that you know both more and less than you thought.”

Daniel: “My first date with this game was all over the place. It made me feel smart, then it made me feel dumb, and at times it made me lose control. It’s no looker, that’s for sure, but I appreciate that it kept the conversation going. Overall, I found it kind of ‘easy,’ if you know what I mean. (Though, strangely, it did deny me a good-night kiss.) So, yes, I would go out on a second date with this game.

Ian: “This game provides a rare opportunity to combine being a book nerd with being really proud about being a book nerd with feeling really good about yourself for being such a good book nerd with feeling superior to other really good book nerds who weren’t quite as good book nerds on that particular afternoon of book nerdiness.”

Grades

Because we don’t rate books with numbers or grades in Booklist reviews–they’re either starred (sometimes) or not starred (usually), I jump at the chance to give letter grades to anything. Here’s the report card:

Concept: B+
Game packaging: A
Game board: C-
Questions: B (the genre questions seemed to need the most work; some of the authors quoted aren’t widely read anymore)

All in all, a solid B. And, best of all, the rules are simple, so players can start playing right away. Recommended!

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Posted in: Likely Stories
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About the Author:

Keir Graff is the editor of Booklist Online and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix.

4 Comments on "A Dark and Stormy Afternoon: Wrapup"

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  1. addison.d.braendel@bakernet.com' Addison says:

    1. Thanks a lot for reviewing the game. I really enjoyed the blow by blow account.

    2. I’d be interested in alternative game board design ideas you might have. I had originally started with a library floor plan set out like Clue, but had problems making it come together in a way that didn’t make the play cumbersome. Should it be linear (start to finish) or free form like Clue? It never came together right, so we went with super simple.

    3. Reading through your play-by-play, it struck me that the “Losers” should have had a final shot at matching the “Winners” in Round 12. First team to have the most books after completion of an entire round would win.

    Thanks again!

  2. Keir says:

    1. You’re welcome.

    2. Hmm . . . will have to put our heads together. I think that linear is still probably your best bet. I like the library floor plan idea–and so, I suspect, would librarians. It could look like an old-fashioned library where the roof has been lifted off, and the rooms have irregular shapes, and the pieces march along a path that goes in and out of the rooms. If you had enough rooms, each one could correspond to a subject, so if you’re in the “poetry room,” you have to guess poetry.

    There are problems with that (you need multiple instances of each category as the pieces progress around the board), but I’m guessing that nostalgic, book-loving players like myself would love the “make believe” aspect of a more realistic looking game board. You could also do the library thing, I suppose, but ignore the theme rooms, or have the pieces travel over subject-labeled bookshelves . . . I guess the main thing is, even though the progression of the game doesn’t parallel something like Clue, it would be nice to have a board game that’s as fun to look at as Clue’s is.

    3. Shhhh . . .

  3. Daniel says:

    With the current design, you just make laps around a very tight circle. The board feels redundant because you could produce the same effect by rolling a die (1 = short stories, 2 = kids’ lit, etc). That’s why I think a free-form design is a good idea. Or at least paths with options. Or at the very least a longer, squigglier path. Even if the moving around is ultimately pointless, it gives players a sense of purpose. And isn’t that all any of us want?

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