The Botch – Extra Ink
The Botch is one of my favourite games we’ve made, and I love to play it because it’s a game that includes the ability to design a game in it. When you sit down with your friends to play The Botch, one of the things you do is choose the cards that go into each game – and they’re all designed to, good or bad, mess with the way the game was played the last time. I’m going to do a super quick run-down of some effects you can get out of adding some of the Botch’s cards to your play session, and hopefully, you’ll see the fun little meta-game that comes in tinkering with the clockwork of this game.
Anyone who’s played the basic game will see that The Boss has a lot of clout. When coupled with The Courier, in particular, The Boss probably has the easiest time to win the game. Thanks to the way the bank works for her, she can call bluffs more readily, and doesn’t even mind being caught out in a lie occasionally. When players have a handle on how the Boss controls the game, the next step is to start arming people for ways to best the Boss.
The first options for busting the Boss are the Rival and the Detective. Both of these characters are very targeted, and as hidden roles, they start to add a bit of ambiguity to the game. If your group is up to handling Hidden Roles, though, these two roles can really scare the Boss. If your local Boss is inclined to hang onto the Evidence and spend her time scaring diamonds out of people, the Detective has a small game of finding one item, then challenging the Boss. The Rival is a more oblative tool for the Boss in general – him and his steely gaze are the sort o f thing that should scare the Boss constantly, because all she has to do is slip up, while the Rival may be somewhere on the field. People want to play wtih the Boss? Well, heavy is the head that wears the crown. And that’s just the roles!
Then we have the cards that attack the Bank. The Books are a lot like The Evidence, and you want to keep them away from The Cop and The Detective, but as long as you have them in the pool, the bank becomes a space you can nibble away at. If it turns out the Books aren’t enough, you can bring in The IOU. The problem with the IOU is that it’s really desireable – you probably won’t be able to sit there, munching diamonds out of the Bank, because in addition to it giving you two diamonds a turn in a mid-sized game, it’s also something players want to steal away from you!
There are some cards that are designed to keep the game from just taking too long. You know the problem – two or three players get into a very safe, cautious play style, they don’t want to risk anything, so turns are peeking at their cards, then cautiously doing one thing, minimising impact with one another. Then someone does a swap and everyone spends their time looking at cards again and gosh isn’t there a way to speed things up?
That’s where these time-savers come in! Because while The Goon and The Mask are both cards with a lot of risk associated with them, when you get sick of waiting, you can just start punching people. Sure, the Mask may limit your actions, but don’t make a mistake: When the Goon starts punching people, her ability to do something other than punching people is distinctly curtailed. The Goon may not always win the game, but she sure speeds it up.
If your players get a bit too Goon-happy, a bit murder prone, or like to throw around bluffs without much thought for the results, maybe you can put some cards in the game that hurt their ability to get reckless:
The Fakes are, like with the Books above, a card that has some general use, but you don’t want to be caught with. Sure, use them a little, but lying about having them can get you caught with a face-up fake that makes winning the game really hard. You can still sit there, accumulating diamonds and making deals, but everyone knows you’re hobbled. And then there’s its bigger, worse sibling, The Shame. Let’s make it clear: The Shame is super dang bad. You don’t want The Shame. You don’t want your allies to have The Shame. You don’t want your friend to have The Shame, just because it’s embarassing. The Shame is a card you want to try and foist on someone – and when it’s in the pool, smart players are always checking their cards.
And of course, if people are a little too prone to punching… meet the Imposter. They’re not like all the others in the crew, in no small part because they don’t really get any cool special ability. You have to be careful playing them, too – because if you’re too obvious, players will just avoid killing you and find alternative routes. But if players are a bit too murder-happy, a bit too prone to Go Goon or put on the Helmet – well, the Imposter in the pool can calm them down. A little. Of course, they could always pay the diamond it takes to find out who you are…