Talk:Surpass the Parcel
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I've run Surpass the Parcel several times over the last couple of weeks, at three events with ~50-100 people at each, and without fully explaining the rules of the game to everyone (relying instead on an instruction sheet taped to the package, now uploaded and attached to the wiki entry). In general, the game worked well, however, I ran into the following issues:
Players were pretty impatient with having to read any amount of text on the package, leading to a hard time understanding that the must pass the parcel first, before signing. Virtually everyone signed the package the moment they received it, leading to some scorekeeping issues when the package was unwrapped (players would write their name twice, once on both layers). I attempted to solve this by creating a more graphic instructions sheet, which improved, but didn't resolve, the situation. Furthermore, because of this, players could game the rules and simply hold on to the package until the horn was honked, then write their names twice. Though this can be resolved by the scorekeeper (e.g. by only awarding one point) it can break the game because players stop passing the package.
The package did not often get passed to the same person more than once, which created some stress about who the final winner would be. Is there an optimal number to play with? Should there be two simultaneous packages if the number of players exceeds the optimal?
It's very tempting for players to unwrap the package once they receive it. At least one player simply tore the next layer off of the package, once they got the package. Forbidding a player to unwrap a gift they've just been given goes against the players instincts.
Given these challenges, an alternate version might run something like this:
Each layer of the package has is worth a different value (you could wrap the package in several different colors of wrapping, with each color being worth something different, or write a point value on the underside of the wrapping.
Player A has to pass the parcel to another player, but instead of signing, they have the Player B unwrap one layer, which Player A returns to the game master. At that point, Player A receives the prize correlated to the layer they just returned.
The game mechanics can be largely the same, though perhaps more challenging, with fewer possible matches (e.g. "find someone who has visited Ghana or Samoa," "find someone with the same birthday as you," "find someone who speaks three languages" etc.). Each player must work harder, but is rewarded more directly once they pass the parcel.
The big catch is that each successive layer gets a slightly bigger prize, with the last layer being the "grand prize." This mechanic rewards players for their generosity, in that they know that giving the package away will (usually) entitle the next player to an even bigger prize. However, players don't know how many layers the package is wrapped in, so each successive layer might be the last, grand prize layer, won by last person to pass the package. The final person to get the package simply wins the package (a box of chocolates, etc).
So, a three-layer game would work as follows: Player A gets the package from the GM and passes it to Player B. Player B unwraps one layer and Player A takes that wrapping back to the GM, who awards him a small prize. Player B passes the package to player C. Player C unwraps the next layer and Player B takes the wrapping to the GM, and receives a bigger prize. Player C passes to player D. Player D unwraps the last layer and keeps the contents of the package. Player C takes the wrapping back to the GM and receives a very big prize.
I think this version more directly rewards generosity amongst of the players, though it requires more prizes. I'd love to hear what you think. Thanks again for the game!