I Was On A Boat!

Greetings NERDprov.com readers! “Geek of all Trades” Michael Robles here, and I want to share with you some experiences I had while playing different games on my vacation.

Last week, I was very fortunate enough to be a part of “Magic Cruise 4” (or MC4 for short). About 150 people from all walks of life got together on a Royal Caribbean boat for one week to celebrate one thing, Magic: The Gathering. I was asked to go on the MC4 by Tifa Meyen; the creator of The Lady Planeswalkers Society, Assistant Brand Manager for Magic: The Gathering, and my girlfriend 🙂 . We weren’t there on any sort of official capacity, we were just there to play Magic, and be on a cruise. Let me tell you, it was nothing short of awesome.

While I won’t bore you with all the details of the cruise, I will tell you that I played a lot of Magic, as well as a lot of other games. It’s these other games that I want to talk to you about and how, as an improviser, I was able to appreciate these games on a much higher level.

Small World

Box Cover

Small World is a game about conquering regions, like Risk, but without the use of die rolls to determine pass or fail. You choose a race, and a special power and begin conquering. Imagine Commando Dwarves, or Flying Sorcerers(There’s a lot more involved and I don’t want to spend all post getting into rules about every game.) What I thought was interesting about this game was the mixing and matching of races and powers. I found myself speaking in character as I took on different races and began to develop stories. I was a Diplomatic Elf who just wanted “to get along with everyone.” When I would get conquered, I would make a joke about the elves never meaning any harm. When I would eliminate a member of a Lost Tribe I would apologize (in my spectacular Elf voice) for wiping them out of existence. It was the first time many of us had played the game and Tifa was the ring leader who kept us on track, when I wasn’t making her laugh with my different accents for the different races. I found that adding this little bit of storytelling to this game of strategy made the game much more enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, the game is amazing even without the goofing around, I just like trying to add a story where I can.

Cards Against Humanity

A Party Game For Horrible People

Dubbed “A party game for horrible people” Cards Against Humanity (site might be NSFW) doesn’t disappoint. You can get anywhere from 7-20+ people playing, and even then you still having people asking if they can join in. For me, the best (and worst) part of this game is some of the imagery that comes from the cards. What would it look like if the TSA prohibited RoboCop on airplanes? Why is there a ton of Ryan Gosling riding on a white horse in Heaven? The other appeal comes from the players that try and argue for their choices, or the choices they favor by adding things as back stories and explanations as to why certain cards are paired up. People will create the most outlandish stories to try and convince the judge to pick the card they wanted. If that wasn’t enough, there’s a card that says “A home video of Oprah sobbing into a Lean Cuisine” and the image I get in my head every time that card is played makes me laugh every time.


The worse you are in life, the better your afterlife will be. That is the “long story short” breakdown of what Gloom is. At its core, Gloom is a storytelling game. You take control of a family and try to make horrible things happen to them to lower their self worth… then, you kill them. One of the stops on the cruise was in Victoria, B.C. and we met up with our friends at Loading Ready Run for a meetup/gaming session. When Jer brought out the games he brought with him, I saw Gloom and remembered playing it a few years ago. I talked about how awesome it was and he quickly gave us a run down and asked us if we wanted to play. As I mentioned before, this game is all about storytelling. Sure, you can be like, “Here’s my family,” but Jer had us do it differently. Once we all chose our family members he had us introduce each member of the family and give a little back story. Before the first turn, we all had connections to our family and it made me super interested in what was going to happen to everyone’s families. We were taking turns playing cards on our own family members as well as the family members of other players, and we’d bring up bits of information that we gathered from the introductions. Eventually, all of our families had some connection to each other and I honestly believe that it was thanks to Jer pushing us to give introductions and back stories.

This was just a small sample of games I played on my cruise that improv helped make a much better experience. There are plenty of other games (mostly RPGS) that rely heavily on improve and I’ll be sure to talk about those at another time. Have you played any games that improv has helped make better? Are there games that just naturally rely on improv? Let me know in the comments below what some of your favorite games are, or if there are any other board/card games that utilize improv. See you next time!