The Quiet year, a game by Buried Without Ceremony, written by Avery Alder, is a map-drawing game, a game that leads you to draw and modify the map of the environment in which the game will take place. But this is actually only the tip of the iceberg.
The author, Avery Alder, is already well known for titles like Monster hearts e Dream Askew, which we also played in the prima and in second edition of the Genderplay. Dream Askewin particular, it explores the vicissitudes of a community in a post-apocalyptic environment, focusing on queer issues.
The Quiet year it is meant for oneshot. A game will last about 2-4 hours, during which we will live the efforts of a community that tries to rebuild a semblance of normalcy after the collapse of civilization and societies as they were known.
The role of the players in The Quiet Year
The Quiet year it is masterless, therefore all players around the table, in turn will have the opportunity to narrate the events that will influence the community. The times and actions of the game are marked, and partly guided, by a deck of 52 cards representing the weeks that make up the year of our "The Quiet Year". There is an ad hoc deck of cards that simplifies and speeds up this phase of the turn. It is however possible to use a normal deck of French cards thanks to a tool present on this site.
Players will not have a character to narrate the deeds of, a hero ready to save the day. It's not that kind of game, we won't live the story from the eyes of a single individual: it's the story of a community. The community will have needs and requirements, but it will also have to face conflicts, be they internal or external. It is up to the players to introduce threats and problems, following the directions of the cards or taking advantage of the action available to them.
There are no cards, dice rolls, numeric values. Players will only have the map they designed with points of interest, the new projects that the community carries out to improve their living conditions and the problems discovered during the game. Yes, because whatever is said must be represented graphically on the map (you don't need to know how to draw, you just need to sketch a symbol).
The problems of a community: the real challenge of The Quiet Year
The Quiet year wants to point out how conflicts and problems arise and how they are managed in a community. They always leave a bad taste in someone's mouth, no one is ever really satisfied with the decisions taken, and this, the discussion as an end in itself, as well as the "contempt" that may emerge from the choices made during the game will play an important role in the game. development of the community and the game itself.
During a game I played, for example, the community was deeply divided by a profound religious conflict. In fact, a cult linked to nature had taken hold, leading a large part of the population to be part of it, especially the younger ones. The rest of the population, on the other hand, was skeptical and worried that this new cult would distract from the most pressing material problems.
This religious conflict was the cornerstone of our game but it has not always remained the same. On the contrary, he sought ways to grow and evolve to find his place among all, coming to radically change nature. Despite this, he never managed to get accepted by everyone to the end, coming to be banned by force.
The passage of time and the (perhaps too much) imminent end
The progress of the year, marked by the cards that each player must draw and use in their turn, sees the passing of the seasons in the 4 suits: ♥ Spring, ♦ Summer, ♣ Autumn, ♠ Winter.
We pass from a pleasant spring, to the summer which, although rather quiet, begins to show the first dangers. In the autumn the climate begins to turn against and discontent spreads, ending with the harsh and dangerous winter: the fields do not produce, resources are scarce and the end is approaching.
The end is a bit abrupt in my opinion, and leaves a lot of freedom of interpretation for the players. This is perfectly in line with the rest of The Quiet year, but perhaps a slightly too sudden conclusion can come at any time during the winter, and above all it does not take in the least consideration what has been done up to that point. It does not matter that the community is happy and united, in open warfare between them or any other scenario that may arise: when the end comes, when the card that draws it is drawn, it is the end of the game and of the community.
Final thoughts on The Quiet Year
After trying it, I have to admit that The Quiet year it is much more profound than it may appear at first reading. The events of the community take you and make you feel truly involved in its development, as well as conflicts. Especially the internal ones see the community radically divided, but at the same time aware of the fact that divided could not survive.
In conclusion, The Quiet year is a pleasant game that leads players to work together to create a community with a story that makes sense. The surprising thing is that this comes almost natural: as the game progresses you become fond of the aspects that have emerged and you feel part of this group. The map-drawing component of The Quiet year it could also allow an interesting use of what remains in your hand at the end of the game. In short, you find yourself a perfect starting point for another RPG!