Since I discovered this game, more than a year ago, I had been craving for some good play. It wasn't until about a month ago I managed to introduce the game to my gaming group. The situation was the usual for this things: one of them was unable to attend to our gaming session, and I convinced my just-introduced-to-gaming girlfriend to join us. So a casual, one-shot game was ideal. I was really excited about trying this baby out.
We were four players:
Violet, my gf, who is a newcomer to roleplaying games (her only previous experience was with Emily Care's Breaking the Ice). A very creative girl, with some minor acting training.
Oscar and Fabi, a young married couple, just introduced to indie gaming. They had played pretty much only trad games up until a few months ago. Oscar had GM'ed many games before, and Fabi had just been a player.
And me, who discovered the indie stuff about two years ago, but have only been able to play with them a little. Just for the record, I have been studying game design theory and stuff since I came upon the Story-Games forums, and also had some years of minor acting training (and consider myself a Method actor).
We decided to go with a gorey vampires story, playing it more for the laughs. The setting was a snow covered ghost city in Russia, and we were playing an American soldiers-and-scientists team sent to patch things up. (We are Mexicans, so you can guess our takes on both foreign cultures.) To sum it all up in a few words, the game was a thematic failure (we played with 4 PCs, all of which survived at the end), but it was a blast. We had a great time.
It took us a while getting used to the rules. The married couple had to adapt to the "change of gears", relating player authorship, scene framing and stuff. At first they were sort of hesitant to introduce stuff to the plot, and I had to "push" them a little for they to exploit the fiction, instead of merely exploring the scenario. My gf was very interested in the content generation; so much that at first she barely allowed us to roleplay our own characters while she was the Director.
I was the only one that had read the rules before, and as such I was struggling to teach them to the group. At some moments I got a little stressed about making them "play by the rules", specially regarding the authority distribution, scene framing and stuff. And I was pretty much the only one drawing the map. -_-
The game (which took us about 4 hours) was full of (fun) chaos. At times I felt that those things that we failed at were mainly because of some of the ambiguous aspect in the text.
They were very protective of their characters, and they did not felt very competitive among each other. At times they were more interested in framing scenes that advanced their personal sub-plots, instead of hurting the other players with the menace. At one time my character was left all alone in a snow field near the airport, and I was the one that had to frame a scene so the menace would attack me!
In the end, so we could wrap up the story, they pushed for a "boss fight", so we could finish off the menace. With all 4 characters surviving and with less than 2 conditions in average, we crowded up against the vampires. Movie ends, we all survived!
We had a great time, and I think they all would be interested in playing again some time at the future.
Things I learned:
To be less concerned about "maintaining the "cinematic" pacing", and to focus a little more on "hurting" the other players. To try to use more the "acts" scheme, in order to have more plot-advancement control. That even "trad" players can get to enjoy the shared authority thing, once they overcome their shyness and reactiveness. That finding a lone severed hand in a pool of blood in the snow is a way cooler scene than facing a bunch of red-eyed vampires.