Monday, October 1

Chara Games - Unauthorized {Review}

This review was originally published September 2017 on our Gypsy Road site.

Chara GamesIn 2014, Patrick and Katherine Lysaght founded Chara Games.  Their goal was to design and develop games with Christian themes.  So far, they have three games : Commissioned, 3 Seeds, and Unauthorized.  Each of the games approaches a serious topic from a faith-based point of view.   In Unauthorized, the game is about the underground church.  It is a game of Church versus State, and anyone can win!

Unauthorized is a card game for 6-12 players, aged twelve and older.  It can be played in about half an hour, and there are numerous outcomes, so it can be played several times without boring the players.  Each player is assigned a role, either as a Pastor, Police, or general townsperson.  The idea is to influence the loyalty of each player to either the church or the state – and player loyalties change turn on a dime!  The loyalties are determined by ‘experience cards’ that bias the character toward one side or the other. 

There are four rounds of play, and it’s anyone’s game!  The church wants to get the majority loyalty, but keep their supporters out of jail.  The state wants to crush the church.  If nothing else, this game is a good conversation starter about the church versus state issue, underground churches, and what it would be like to live in an oppressive society.  The game includes twelve role cards, ninety-seven experience cards, thirty-seven reference cards, and a full color, twelve-page rule book.
I have to admit that this game was a little complicated for us.  For starters, you need a minimum of six people to play.  Since we were only able to scrounge up four people, and one was a ten year old child, it led to some confusion.  The child struggled to follow the game.  The adults struggled to keep their multiple characters straight.  Each of us was one of the main players (Pastor or Police) plus an additional townsperson.  It was an interesting game – and we did more talking about the themes than actual game-playing – but it was really difficult with so few players.

To help learn to play, we watched the video that the company created.  I would recommend it to any first-time players.  It walks you through the rules, explains the rationale and end goals, and explains the characters and experiences.  It’s fairly cut and dry to determine a winner.  In order for the church to win, they must have the majority of loyalties AND have one person that isn’t in prison.  And if the church doesn’t win, then the state does. 

It’s interesting, on a social psychology level, to see how the loyalties play out.  During each round, the players have a chance to make a decision to stick with their loyalties or change them.  To truly play the game well, you need to focus on long-term strategies for your ‘team,’ but also stay aware of the undercurrents of each round.  It’s not unlike the real world, where trust and truth are easily mistaken.  I would recommend this game for high schoolers, college students, and adults.

See what others are saying about Chara Games at the Homeschool Review Crew.

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Unauthorized {Chara Games Reviews}

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