We see a lot of different teams and play-styles come through our game but there seem to be a few player types that keep coming up. Some of them are less effective than others. Here’s our advice for how to identify and take advantage of these players; turning their unique, maybe unfortunate traits, into strengths!
1. The Downer
Some people just don’t get excited in Escape Games. They had a bad day, they don’t engage with the narrative and/or they don’t want to be there period, so they complain to their team members or don’t do puzzles. It’s hard to deal with people when they shut down and it can really distract players and bog down your team’s time.
What to do: Fun can be infectious so try teaming them up with one of your stronger players or an engaged group. If they’re a partner or spouse, sometimes directing them to someone they’re less close to helps. Especially if you have more than one Downer, try to split them apart as misery drags down company.
Most of these players are frustrated feeling left out or unsuccessful on puzzles so if they team with a great puzzler or just excited personality they’ll get into it after cracking a few puzzles. When you’re faced with The Downer, remember that ANY different perspective on a puzzle can be useful so do your best to take advantage of them in the space rather than give up on them completely.
2. The Dictator
Every team needs a good leader but sometimes leadership can come on a bit…strong. Whether it’s excitement or a feeling of competitiveness, sometimes we see team leaders micromanaging all aspects and ignoring the rest of their teams input. More often than not this leads to ignoring clues, making missteps and leaving a team stuck with only one person to blame.
What to do: Teams tend to work best democratically, communicating ideas and information between them so it’s best to go into games with an idea of how everyone can be heard and how all input should be weighed equally. It can be hard to bring up to a player that their vision is overbearing but if you go in with a stricter communication strategy they’ll often fall in line.
Also, keep in mind a strength of The Dictator that can always be taken advantage of : Organization. As long as everyone’s ideas are being heard and acknowledged by them, take advantage of their big presence to keep your team on track.
3. The Pharaoh
One of the stranger behaviors we see regularly is players who find objects, look at them and then put them back in their hiding place. Sometimes they even solve a puzzle without telling anyone and just hide it away, burying all their secrets with them until it’s too late!
What to do: This behavior seems bred mostly out of a lack of understanding of how these games work. Make sure everyone coming into your team has an idea that all strange, interesting and out of place objects could be useful and should be brought to as much of the team’s attention as possible.
It can be good to designate an area to place objects, even ‘used’ ones, so they can easily be consulted by other team members when you’re stuck and may need to go back to them. Also the ‘buddy system’ is always suggested when integrating new players. Team someone new with an experienced player during the first searching phase of the game, The Pharaoh often brings fresh eyes and can find lots of hidden things, so ensure they don’t accidentally waste time unnecessarily by making people find things twice.
4. The Plow
Every team wants talented, speedy players but every once and a while you get a player who is busting puzzles so fast the other players have no idea what’s going on. Sometime they even leave a trail of puzzle pieces people aren’t sure are used or still in play and people end up doing puzzles twice.
What to do: Obviously this player is very strong but making sure you keep up with them comes down to communication and The Plow’s focus on speed. Stress that understanding the connections between puzzles is sometimes more important than solving them and only takes a few seconds.
Coming up with a system that ALL players adhere to when completing a puzzle (e.g. where to put pieces you’ve used, something you say to the whole group) allows The Plow to take advantage of their speedy skills while communicating in a way that ensures everyone knows what’s going on and can keep up with their pace. If that’s not working, sometimes larger teams can allow for a different player to step back and look at the big picture, keeping up with The Plow and the rest of the team while you all focus on the finer details.
5. The Strong, Silent Type
The worst thing to hear after losing an Escape Game is ‘Oh, I thought of that but didn’t say anything’. Not all strong puzzlers are extroverted and sometimes the overwhelming nature of live gaming means other players dominate the conversation and their genius voices are never heard.
What to do: This really depends on the player. Sometimes you can just ensure a democratic process by taking time every few minutes to share ideas or constantly calling on individual players to communicate what they’re thinking.
Some people are still uncomfortable with the pressure of those situations and in that case we’d recommend pairing them with another, more outgoing player they’re comfortable talking and sharing ideas with along the way, allowing them to be the louder voice when they stumble on an idea. You’ll be amazed at how, after a few escapes, one-time silent players can suddenly become a loud voice of reason even in the toughest rooms.
It’s important to remember before you start placing blame after a failed Escape that any individual weakness, with a little tweaking and strategy, can become a Strength.