Metagaming the Chaos Games: We Didn’t Playtest This At All with a 4-year-old

Full disclosure: Of the chaos games, I like Fluxx better, and within Fluxx, you really want one of the themed ones to keep my attention. (I do really want the Monty Python one. It’s been on my wishlist, languishing, for ages.) I’ve always thought We Didn’t Playtest This At All was a rather pale imitation.

Now, we all know these chaos games work on a sort of chaos principle, where everyone just lets down their hair and gives themselves room to be as silly as they need to be, because, well, that’s what the rules demand! And that’s fun, sometimes more than others, because every table is going to be a little different. Sunday night, I sat down to a very different table indeed and experienced the most chaotic game of We Didn’t Playtest This At All of my life, and I will never be able to see the game the same way again.

Key components:
d10-1 Busy hipster coffee and chocolate bar
d10-2 cups of thick “sipping chocolate” (thicker than regular hot chocolate)
d10-3 an excited and tired 4-year-old
d10-4 a mommy who is paying attention to said 4-year-old’s baby brother
d10-5 one set of childless aunt (yours truly) and uncle who aren’t always sure how to feel about the whole thing

Now, we may be childless, but we’re not those uptight sort of people who are afraid to touch children, or anything like that. So, since it wasn’t our copy of the game, it didn’t bother me a bit when her dad dealt her in with 2 cards, which she promptly picked up with still-chocolatey hands and moved to put in her mouth. I was mildly taken aback when I realized she was actually going to be expected to play, though. I mean, the kid’s not dumb, by any stretch, but she’s not a prodigy. She played, though, and she had very strong views about what cards she wanted to play, and at least as much strategy as the rest of us, certainly. Her mom would read her the cards and suggest one, and Evie would invariably pick one of the others.

The hour grew later, which I have learned it can do very quickly when young children are involved, and she was getting crankier, and so, of course, louder, and a few of the tattooed Macbook users were starting to have a harder time with their deliberate insouciance, when her card declaring herself the winner if she was the shortest person still in the game got us to our agreed-upon win condition (5 games). [Note: I must say, at a towering 4’10” tall, I have never yet lost this game when that card was played. Very odd feeling.] Children were bejammied on the spot (seems parents know what happens to kids on car rides at the hour), and we left.

It wasn’t until we got to the peace of the car ride back to their house (separate cars, because of car seats), that it occurred to me that this was meta-gaming on an epic scale, injecting a level of chaos that the game designers may not have foreseen. Sure, drunkenness you expect, and even hope for, but cranky chocolate-covered 4-year-old with jealousy issues as ideal game participant? I’ll bet they didn’t see that coming.


About Suzanna

Suzanna's passions are gaming, dogs, and writing. She also loves reading, travel, and cranberry juice. Above all else, she would have it be said that she is compassionate, funny, and too clever by half.
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