Reformation - The Wide Game
A wide camp simulation game for large groups
How To Play Reformation - The Wide Game
This is a wide game that we played on our last youth camp. It should run for a couple of hours. As with most wide games, you'll want to customise it to your group. I've written down what we did, but for the best result, I'd take this idea and change it to fit your group. We played with about 30 kids and 10 leaders, but it should work for larger groups.
There is a lot of text below, because I've tried to explain it in some detail. Hopefully there will be a few useful ideas in there.
This is a role-playing wide game. The leaders play various characters, who inhabit the campsite. Each leader will have several challenges. Kids perform these challenges in exchange for resources - in this case, playing cards. They collect and trade these cards to complete their assigned mission. Every completed mission is a point for their team. After they finish their mission, they are assigned a new, harder one, and go back to competing in challenges to get more cards. The game continues until an endpoint is reached (when time runs out, or when it stops being fun).
The flavour in this game comes from the characters and challenges. I've listed some ideas below, but you should make them your own.
The following sections describe various parts of the game in more detail.
This section outlines the raw mechanics of the game- how players score points.
Players approach the leaders (or characters) who are spread around the playing area. These will present some challenge to be completed. The players do not need to move between challenges in any particular order, and may decide to avoid ones that they don't like.
On completing one of these challenge (more on them in another section), players will receive a number of playing cards as their reward. They will attempt to use these cards to fulfil their current mission.
A mission is a group of cards that must be collected. They are formed of sets and runs. If you've played various card games before, you'll be familiar with these terms. In short, a set is a group of cards with the same face value [for example: four 4s, three Kings, seven Aces]. The suit (Hearts, Diamonds, Spades, Clubs) does not matter. A run is a group of cards with consecutive numbers AND the same suit [for example: 2 3 4 5 of Clubs, K Q A of Spades, A 2 3 4 5 6 of Diamonds].
So, a mission might be "Collect one Set of Four". To complete this mission, a player would need to find four cards with the same face value [e.g. four 10s, four 7s, etc]. Another mission could be "Collect one Run of Seven". This would require seven consecutive cards of the same suit [e.g. 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 of Spades]. A third example could be "Collect two Sets of Three". This could be finished with three 6s and three Aces. Finally, you can combine sets and runs: "Collect one Set of Four and one Run of Five" [e.g. four Jacks and 8 9 J K Q of Spades].
When players get cards from challenges, they will rarely be the ones that they need. Instead, they will have to trade with other players and characters to get the cards that they need. They may also give cards away (for example, to a team member who needs that particular card).
If you have Jokers in your card decks, they act as wildcards, and may stand in for any other card.
I found that most of our kids figured out how to complete a mission after an example or two.
Once a player has the cards that they need, they return them to the leader who is in charge of the game. They will score one point for their team, and will then be given a new mission. Once this is complete, they score another point, get another mission, and the game continues.
Once the game finishes, the team who completed the most missions will have the most points, and will be the winner.
I used the following missions, in order of difficulty:
Two Sets of Three
One Run of Four
One Set of Three and One Run of Three
One Run of Six
Two Sets of Four
One Set of Five and One Run of Three
One Run of Eight
You can adjust this as required. Sets are probably marginally easier to get than runs. No single player completed more than seven levels within the 1.5 hour play time
Because the missions get steadily harder, there is a lot of incentive for the better players to help out the others on their team who are stuck on the lower levels. Remember that and the end of the day, every mission is worth just one point. So it's a better use of resources to help team mates complete their easier missions before you keep tackling harder ones. Our group took a little while to work that out.
The resources in the game are standard playing cards. You will need quite a few. I went to the local cheap shop and bought 20 decks for about $30. In hindsight, we could have got away with less (maybe 15).
You will need to make identity cards for each player. This is not complex- they just need to know what team they are on. For our Reformation theme, our teams were Clergy, Nobles, Merchants and Peasants. In addition, they also had a country (England, Austria, Germany and Italy). For the history nerds out there, I'm aware that some of those countries didn't exist during the Reformation, but I settled for the easy option. In summary, every player got a piece of paper identifying their team and country. You might decide to use team sashes or some other method.
You will also need to help the players remember their current mission. I did this by printing a number of proforma mission cards, with blank boxes for the number and size of the sets and runs required for that mission. When a new mission was required, I wrote the numbers into the corresponding boxes, and gave the new piece of paper to the player.
Finally, you'll also need a variety of sport equipment, paper, and other stuff as required for the challenges that you decide to use.
Most of the actual game comes from the characters that the leaders play, and the challenges that are presented. Our Reformation theme gave us a lot of scope, particularly if you have a couple of history nerds in your leadership team. Pick a theme that will work well for you, and go from there.
Some of the challenges were very simple, and as a result only gave one or two cards as a reward. Others required more time, and had bigger rewards. Some were single-player, some required competing individuals or competing teams. Variety is important. You can use a lot of simple youth group games as challenges, and theme them to fit.
Ideas we used:
* Catapult accuracy training: throwing balls at targets (cricket stumps)
* Wandering Bard: Requested that players tell a story or sing a song
* Jester: juggling, other simple challenges
* Bible Translation: Players had to copy Greek/Hebrew, and offer a translation. Cards awarded based on accuracy of the copy, and inventiveness of the translation...
* Dueling Dukes: Several leaders played a pair of unfriendly German Dukes, who would organise various team games against each other. For example, one Duke assembled a team of Peasants to escape the evil clutches of his Nemesis (the other Duke). Which was basically a game of Red Rover in disguise. Many other very simple games were used, with a bit of inventive theming. After a round or two, the Dukes would switch to a different game, and continue recruiting new teams.
* The Black Plague: Basically the game Captain's Coming, with England on one side, France on the other, and a pile of silly actions regarding rats, boats, and plague doctors
* Army training: Competitive obstacle course
* Luther: At one stage, someone stirred up a lynch mob to attempt to capture Luther (a leader), who had been stirring up trouble denouncing the Pope (yet another leader)
* Leading Chants: Various monastic processions occured at times, using such choice chants as "The Pope would walk five hundred miles, and the Pope would walk five hundred more...". Definitely added to the atmosphere.
* Countless other ideas: relays, water bucket races, rap battles, the (unexpected) Spanish Inquisition, dodgeball, riddles...
There were a lot more that I can't remember. Games can be organised on the fly, and characters can switch between games as required. As you can probably tell, our group appreciates the sillier side of games. Your mileage may vary.
If your leaders are good actors, you can have a lot of fun playing the various characters. Fake accents always work well, as do imaginary rivalries between different characters. Our Luther and Pope had a lot of fun denouncing each other at one stage during the night. I think Isabella of Spain somehow got involved as well. Don't ask.
Costumes are also highly recommended. Particularly if they're made from old boxes, sheets, playing cones and pool cues.
As our theme was the Reformation, we actually had a Reformation half way though, and reorganised the teams based on their countries, rather than their occupation. Switching teams half way through definitely added to the chaos, so it's highly recommended.
To wrap it all up, the core of this game idea is the playing cards and missions. You could take this idea, and use any set of challenges, theme and characters, and make something work. This game is a little more complicated than a traditional capture-the-flag style wide game, but it worked well for us.
on 19 March 2016