Play in Process: The Art of Betrayal in Shadows Over Camelot

Play in Process: The Art of Betrayal in Shadows Over Camelot June 9, 2011

Each week in Play in Process, Richard Clark shares what he’s been playing and why it matters.

It’s not so pleasant being accused. My face starts to feel hot, I start laughing inexplicably, I stammer and stutter over my words. Worst of all, I have to make the following case: I’m not a traitor, I’m just stupid. This is the inevitable price of making a mistake in Shadows Over Camelot.

Shadows Over Camelot is a lot like Pandemic, in that it’s a board game where the players work together to save the world. There are several threats to Camelot – a horrible dragon, the loss of relics, the Black Knights, the Pict and Saxon armies. These are the things that our group of  3-7 knights must work together to defeat. We spend much of the game jumping back and forth from one quest to another, simply trying to keep hope alive – meanwhile the game seems to be defeating us. We are dangerously close to peril.

Each game works like this – only sometimes the peril is more insidious. The most unique mechanic in this game is the fact that a traitor could be among us – one of our group could be attempting to sabotage us. It is almost always essential that we call out the traitor before the end of the game – if the victory is close enough, a traitor will flip the score just enough for us to lose.

And so, toward the end of game, the question of the traitor becomes a very serious discussion. Whomever that discussion focuses on is faced with arguing their case. In my case, during one of the most memorable games, I was being challenged to defend myself by my wife, who seemed sure I was the traitor. I made my case as best I could, that I was just making stupid moves because I am not very good at this game – sadly, this was true. I was no traitor, only an imbecile.

My wife, though? She’s good. The game ended, and we had won by a mere two swords. As we began to celebrate, my wife unveiled her loyalty card to show that she was the traitor. Two swords turned over, and Camelot was lost. My wife, the traitor, was the real winner.

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  • Haha, I’ve been wanting to try this out. It sounds awesome.

  • Yeah, it’s pretty great. You would love it.