[Citywide] Anyone playing? Confusing parts?

edited July 2012 in Make Stuff!
So, I recently started playing Matteo Rinci's new(ish) game, Citywide. It's me and two other people, which is admittedly on the low side for playing (I don't have the book with me at the moment, but I'm pretty sure Matteo says that 4-6 is the sweet spot, right?).

Is anyone else playing?
If so, what's awesome about the game?
While we're on the topic, what's confusing about it?

I'm playing a guy named Django, who's got some strong activist/anarchist leanings. I chose the Sympathy | Judgment dichotomy for him, and it's my goal to max out both of them. I know we're not really supposed to pre-play those dichotomies, but I see him as someone who feels the suffering of his friends really deeply, and offers no forgiveness in seeking justice on their behalf. Batman meets protest kid.

We're confused about how to start the game without "contra-intentions" but still have them emerge during play. Is it a slow-burn thing, or do we look to find them as soon as scene one starts? Contra-intentions are the most confusing part of the game for me, partially because what they are is never really explained.

Tell me about your experiences!

Comments

  • Sure, contra-intentions can be confusing, but if you're really playing it right, they flow naturally from play. If you're playing in the GM-less mode, think of contra-intentions as the antithesis in a collaborative thesis/antithesis/synthesis dialectic triangle.

    OTOH, if you're playing it wrong, you're kinda screwed. It's really all in the text.

    What's been bugging my group in particular is the whole acrostic thing.

  • I played in a session of this at Kubla Con over Memorial Day weekend, and we had a group of four. We used the coastal city options and came up with a mid-sized metropolis with a heavy emphasis on shipping and fishing.

    I was playing as an artist-type named Marla, with the Leader | Detachment dichotomy. She wound up the head of a new artist collective, but had a difficult time resolving any Relationship Ties. I did really enjoy playing out the struggle against her isolationist tendencies, and the one Tie I did resolve came about in a particularly excellent scene with another player character, Sheena (Nurture | Obsession). I also felt like the work done through the collective made a tangible, positive impact on the city's cultural side.

    The most confusing thing for me was how to use the city's characteristics in between scenes. I get that it's meant to give the environment some life and create some extra narrative material, but on my turns to do something with the city, I felt like my choices didn't end up making a difference. Anyone have advice on making more effective decisions?

    With regard to contra-intentions, Paul has it right. These came up in play for us kind of at their own pace. We didn't make a concerted effort or anything initially, not wanting it to feel forced. For my part, I waited until it was obvious and used it in the next available scene to create friction. That's how I interpreted them to work; other folks may have taken a different approach, though.

    @WPTunes - See, I really liked the acrostic. I thought it went a long way to create a good sense of the initial relationships between the characters and the city without needing to resort to a lengthy background creation process.
  • WPTunes,

    Can you talk more about your dislike of the Acrostic? I agree with dylanix, in that it formed a simple web of connections and situations, without having to spend forty minutes doing setup.

    Of course, some acrostics are better than others. HELION and RUNIC both seem fuzzy and maybe untested to me. I'm currently playing with a Bustling city and the COSTLY acrostic.

    Sidenote: Has anyone written their own acrostics for Citywide? It seems like a lot of work.
  • So, the acrostic thing - it doesn't feel a little railroady to you? I understand that it certainly speeds up development of a "web of connections" but it feels more than a bit limiting to me (and to my group). I admit we did have some good results with the Rust Belt mode and DECAY, but that seems pretty obvious.

    I am *loving* my character, though. Her name, coincidentally enough, is also Marla. She's a guerilla gardener with the Nature | Rationalism dichotomy, and it makes for a great set of internal choices that have mechanical implications that reflect in the fiction. (Insert something about clouds and arrows here... I don't really get that stuff.)

    Relationship Ties are actually pretty easy if you don't put too much worry into resolving them. Despite the fact that your character starts off with at least a few Ties, it's far more satisfying if you let them ride for a while, *feel* the constraints they place on the character's choices grow in urgency, and then resolve them when they're fully ripened.
  • Relationship Ties are actually pretty easy if you don't put too much worry into resolving them. Despite the fact that your character starts off with at least a few Ties, it's far more satisfying if you let them ride for a while, *feel* the constraints they place on the character's choices grow in urgency, and then resolve them when they're fully ripened.
    That actually reminds me - are characters supposed to resolve all of their Ties by the time the city returns to stability? Or is it equally awesome to have Ties left in the lurch? (I personally favor the latter, but the designer's intent is a touch murky here.)
  • Relationship Ties are actually pretty easy if you don't put too much worry into resolving them. Despite the fact that your character starts off with at least a few Ties, it's far more satisfying if you let them ride for a while, *feel* the constraints they place on the character's choices grow in urgency, and then resolve them when they're fully ripened.
    I guess I kinda got carried away by the fact that half of the group resolved a number of their Ties fairly quickly and were able to use the awarded Community points to further their Cause. That rewards cycle is pretty enticing, but I can definitely see how letting them progress on their own can make for a good situation, too.
    That actually reminds me - are characters supposed to resolve all of their Ties by the time the city returns to stability? Or is it equally awesome to have Ties left in the lurch? (I personally favor the latter, but the designer's intent is a touch murky here.)
    Well, mine certainly weren't all resolved, and as a result I didn't advance my Cause as far down the track as I would have otherwise. I'm with you, though; this is definitely not a bad thing.

  • edited July 2012
    Joe,

    I wonder how much was lost in translation with this game text. Contra-intentions came natural enough to my own playtest group, for example, based just on the (Italian language) draft text we were given (I've never played this with Matteo personally). But I confess I haven't seen the final, English language manual at all, thus I know neither how much the text was revised nor how well it was translated.
  • I played this last week with a few friends and it was a really touching experience. They aren't normally into the "thinky feely" sort of games but gave it an honest try and loved it. Although, they were understandably confused by the story-beat economy thing, at least at first. I played Uriah, an decade-too-late hippie with the Forgiveness/Retribution dichotomy. There was a really powerful scene where he finally confronted his alcoholic father on his deathbed and one-by-one listed every way his life went wrong because of him, then proceeded to thank him for it and wait silently for the flatline.

    I'm currently working on a Metropolis-inspired cybernoir hack called Dystopiawide. Should be a hoot!
  • @Rafu, I'd be very interested in trying to make my way through the Italian, but haven't been able to contact Matteo directly. I feel like the intention is clear enough, but it's possible that some of the procedural specifics have lost something in translation.

    @Jon_Shepherd - sounds like you really hit the sweet spot! That's an amazing scene.
  • edited July 2012
    BTW, I tried to make a custom Acrostic (SHAKY: Statutes, Hair-trigger, Alimony, Killings, You Never Know...) but never ended up finishing all the crosspoint cards. It's really difficult to come up with ones that will jive well with the character tags.
  • Jon_Shepherd,

    Are you planning to do your own city-types and acrostics for Dystopiawide, or just repurpose the ones that fit your theme? (At a glance, I'd say that HELION, COSTLY, and RADAR all fit the Metropolis vibe - though HELION seems kind of obtuse in its construction).

    Agree on it being tricky to line up Acrostics with character tags. The fact that you've got so many elements that are constructed in isolation and then thrown into the same mix is sometimes tricky to juggle (City types! Acrostics! Dichotomies! Tags! Oh my!).
  • edited July 2012
    @Mcdaldno I'm planning on doing all new city-types and acrostics, masochistic as it may seem. The main reason is that I'm planning on re-doing character tags and relationship ties to better reflect that "no-one is truly clean, trust only yourself" noirish vibe. Mostly it's just re-coloring, but it still throws off the whole tag<->acrostic<->type structure.
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