Tuesday, June 15

Not for 2 Players: Nuns on the Run

Third in my little series of games that say they play with two but really don’t is Nuns on the Run. It’s a chase game, somewhat akin to Scotland Yard, but in reverse: most of the players are moving secretly about the board, racing to pick up objects and return to their cell, while one player, controlling the Abbess and Prioress pawns, tries to catch enough of them to win.

Given that we’re fans of Scotland Yard, the mechanics of this game are very appealing to us. They could even be said to improve on Scotland Yard as they allow several players the thrill of trying to evade capture at the same time. Unfortunately, what would likely be a lot of fun when several novices are running about in the abbey is fairly lifeless when there’s just one.

Since the novices are typically hidden (players mark their location on secret notepads), the Abbess/Prioress player’s only hope is getting one of his characters near enough to a novice to overhear her or, even better (but less likely), see her. While there’s some strategy to getting the Abbess and Prioress into likely positions, there’s a lot of luck, too, especially since they have to follow paths visible to the novice player.

At higher numbers of players, the novices’ advantages are balanced out by there being more of them to stumble upon. A single novice is very much a needle in a haystack. While in our games she ended up being spotted once or twice, in the end it was too easy for her to slip away without getting caught.

I’m very eager to try this with enough players, since the core of the game is pretty solid and enjoyable. We likely won’t give it a go with two again, though, at least not with one of the proposed variants that gives the Prioress some freedom of movement. Otherwise, it’s far too unbalanced.