Author Archives: Hayden Carlton

Satire on Australian Television

Transcript:

After 2001 and the attacks on 911 Americans began to lose trust in both their government and the media.

According to a 2002 Pew Research Center study, American audiences of television news fell by almost half between 1993 and 2002. The data also reveal a generation gap across the ages. Among 18–29-year-olds, only 40% reported watching television news at all in the previous day, a number that climbs to only 52% among 30–49-year-olds.

Along with Pew Center’s 2004 study on election coverage, that showed 18–29-year-olds increasingly turned away from mainstream sources of broadcast news, only 23% saying they “regularly learn something”. It is plain to see American audiences lost the faith they had in the traditional sources of mainstream news.

During this time though, American audiences turned to a different form of news and campaign information, late-night television and comedy shows. The 2004 Pew survey found that 21% of people ages 18–29 say they regularly learn about news and politics from comedy shows. With one program rising above the rest, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. With the post–September 11 passing of ABC’s Politically Incorrect, The Daily Show has risen to the cutting edge of the genre. Its unique blending of comedy, late-night entertainment, news, and public affairs discussion has resonated with a substantial audience.

It’s not just the younger audience either; research shows that the show also attracts an older audience, with 27% above the age of 44.

With American audiences turning to satirical comedy shows to catch up on news and politics, I was curious if we’d done the same thing in Australia.

The short answer to this is no, but why?

Australians are definitely unhappy with the Government, an Australian Nat­ional University survey conducted last year shows 40 per cent of Australians are not satisfied with democracy, 26 per cent believing government can be trusted, with 74 percent believing the government makes “little difference” to household finances, and 69 per cent thinking government policies have little impact on the country’s fin­ancial position.

Australians also have a low opinion of the media with only 39 per cent of Australians saying they “think they can trust most of the news most of the time”.

There are two reasons though why Australians haven’t turned to satirical comedy shows like American audiences have, the first being that though Australian audiences have a distrust of news media in general, if you change the previous question so it only focuses on the news they watch the number jumps to 53%. Australians it would seem have found themselves in a bit of an echo chamber, choosing their couple of news sources and sticking with them.

The second reason Australians haven’t turned to programs like the Daily Show, is that we simply don’t have any. Australia has a long history of satirical programs, but none have been able to do the same job as The Daily show has in America, and I’ll be discussing why this is in my next video.

 

Transcript:

Senator Nick Xenophon and journalist Peter Green have lamented the lack of anything like The Daily Show or The Colbert Report in Australia. For Green, this is a field in which we cannot let the Americans win because: “We are a nation known the world over for an inability or at least reluctance to take ourselves seriously”.

On the contrary, I believe this is exactly why we can’t produce shows like The Daily Show.

Because we take ourselves so un-seriously in Australia, I mean honestly this is our police service; we have a completely different way of doing satire.

In Australia what passes for political satire is ridicule. The audience has to have someone to look at as the butt of the joke and laugh because it feels superior to that person.

Australian comedy then, tends to attack the messenger not the message.

A great example of this can be seen in Norman Gunston. When Norman conducts an interview were not only laughing at him but more so, his ability to take the absolute micky out of famous, talented people. To bring them down a couple of pegs.

Australia has suffered a bit from this long poppy syndrome for a long time, and it is deeply rooted in our culture, so much so that it spills into more than comedy.  Donald Horne presents this well in his book, the lucky country when he writes,

“Much energy is wasted on pretending to be stupid. To appear ordinary, just like everybody else, is sometimes a necessary condition for success in Australia.”

When Australia does satire the message we convey is, “Look what these wankers did, what idiots.” The kind of satire that The Daily show presents sends an entirely different message. More like “Why is this happening? Is this really the best we can do?”

The closest thing, at least recently that Australia has come to emulating the Daily show, is probably The Weekly with Charlie Pickering. The Weekly focuses more on social justice issues, rather than just taking swipes at politicians, but still falls in to the trap of focusing on the messenger and not the message. It has also been criticised for being unoriginal, copying too much of the American style seen in The Daily show and Last week tonight.

So it seems Australian satirical programs are in a bit of weird place, being asked to be like that in America, but remain completely original.

Along with this, a lot of people in the industry have put running a satirical show in the too-hard basket. Partly because television comedy as a whole is a struggling market here. When the obvious career path for local comedians is to head overseas, why build up a bunch of jokes based on politicians and references no-one overseas will get?

Along with this to air a show on the ABC you have to adhere to their editorial guidelines that mandate “balance” in political coverage, making satire harder to pull off, especially when only one party is in power.

Australia has a long history of great satirical comedy shows, and it’s disheartening to look at how far we’ve come. Satire used to be something we praised, in 1966, Australia aired its first satirical program, The Mavis Bramston Show and it won three Logies.

The closest thing a program that was even mildly satirical has come to winning lately was in 2006 when The Glass House was nominated in the category of “Most Popular Light Entertainment or Comedy Program”.

It was beaten by Dancing with the Stars.

 

References:

https://dailyreview.com.au/why-australia-doesnt-get-political-satire/1944/

http://www.sbs.com.au/guide/article/2016/05/12/how-tv-satire-died-australia

https://theconversation.com/now-youre-laughing-the-unhappy-state-of-australias-political-satire-61742

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10584600591006492?scroll=top&needAccess=true

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/distrustful-nation-australians-lose-faith-in-politics-media-and-business-20170118-gttmpd.html

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-16/australians-digital-news-trust/6548232

https://academiccommons.columbia.edu/catalog/ac:132290

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/democracy-on-the-nose-as-distrust-of-politicians-hits-a-high/news-story/653d7d97d153a9081313a53524d2fc30

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Tuning In

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What makes a good job? Is it having flexible work hours? Being able to do work your interested in? Having job security? Well  professors David Hesmondhalgh and Sarah Baker suggest that there’s actually seven features that make a good job.  In their book Creative Labour they write that the ‘Features of a good job’ are split into seven different traits: Autonomy, Interest/involvement, Self-realisation, Sociality, Self-esteem, Work/ life balance, and Security.

After reading about these seven features, I started thinking about the jobs that I wanted to go into. How would I know if they were ‘good jobs’. I have always had an interest in radio journalism, so to find out if radio journalism was a good job I went straight to the source and talked to some radio journalists.

 

Siobhan McHugh is an award-winning writer, podcaster and documentary-maker. With over 40 years experience in radio. Siobhan was very gracious and allowed me to conduct an interview with her looking her long history in the industry.

 

Elizabeth Jackson has worked for ABC radio for many years, and has a great insight into the ever-changing industry. Elizabeth also runs a class at the University of Wollongong that focuses purely on radio journalism.

 

 

 

 

Beards and Battle-axes: Play through

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It was a cold winter’s night and two shadowy figures were waiting outside the empty house. One of the figures paced back and forth obviously growing impatient.

“He probably just forgot, you know how his memory is.”

“Probably, but it’s not like him to have his phone off…

…I hope he’s alright”

This was the situation I found myself in on the night of play testing my semi-developed board game I have been working on. I had organised with a mate of mine to come over to his palace at 6 with another mate so I could playtest my game with them. This did not end up going according to plan. My friend and I turned up at my other mate’s house at 6, and after 45 minutes of waiting my mate finally turned up. He had forgotten, got caught up at work, and his phone had died. So, we had 15 minutes before everyone else arrived for D&d and I had to teach my mates how to play my game, play through a game, and then leave time for them to give feedback.

So with all of that in mind here is how my play through went.

The concept of the game didn’t take long to explain, they had both talked about it with me beforehand about it, and as you’d expect from people about to play a game of D&d they both easily coped with the level of abstraction in my game.

In terms of material my game was far from complete. My floor tiles were made from printed out copies of a floor plan that was no longer under copyright, cut into tiles with markings I made with a whiteout pen to show what happened on each tile. I used the life, mana, gold, and strength counters from Talisman, as well as any encounter/equipment card I thought would work in my game. The only real material aspect of my game that was close to the finished product where the character/boss cards I had made. So with this dog’s breakfast of things, we played (quickly) a very crude version of the game I have in mind for the final product.

Play was quick, both of my mates picked up the game mechanics pretty well. We revealed tiles, killed some monsters, got some loot, killed the boss, no worries. It is good to keep in mind that both my mates are pretty seasoned gamers though and I’m sure it wouldn’t have run as smooth with less experienced gamers.

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So, what went well?

The combat in terms of encounters went well, using the tried and tested method of rolling off using one stat. I will need to include some stronger monsters though.

The player cards where easy to understand, players all used their ability’s at least once. Thankfully I don’t think any one character ended up being over powered either.

What needs to change?

One of the comments my mates gave me was that too much was happening, pretty much every tile had an encounter of some kind, and they said they just needed some time to think and take stock of what they had and what they wanted to do. So I’ll have more tiles with nothing.

Something I noticed was that in making the movement only one tile a round made the game monotonous. I think adding a counter showing how many spaces you can move, like in Betrayal at House on the Hill, would add another element of play, deciding what would be the best use of your turn for that round.

The other major thing was the Boss. Having the boss appear after a certain number of rounds, with the players then being forced back to the centre to battle it did not make for fun combat, or an exciting ending. I think letting the players know what they’re up against, will add a level of strategy, rather than just hoping for the best. I think having the Boss spawn after a certain amount of rounds still works, but I want to give players the option of when to attack and if they want to attack all together or go one on one. Obviously I’ll have to add a consequence for if the players take too long to defeat the monster, a buff to the boss, environmental impact, instant death, something.

 

So definitely some things to change and tweak, but I think with the feedback from playtesting and just thinking through the mechanics some more I’ll be able to make some big improvements.

Special thanks to Laurent and Will for being my guineapigs.

Pitch: Beards and Battle-axes: A Dwarfs Quest

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Something or someone has slaughtered everyone in the dwarven stronghold under the Black Mountain. Hordes of monsters have taken over, the once glorious mine, and it’s up to you and your fellow dwarf kin, to find what has caused this, remove it and return the stronghold to its former glory.

Search- Kill- Loot- Repeat

This is the situation you and your friends find yourselves in when you play Beards and Battle-axes: A Dwarfs Quest.

Beards and Battle-axes: A Dwarfs Quest is a dungeon crawler based game for 2-6 players.

The game begins with each player choosing a character/class to play as. At the moment there are four classes, Wizard, Fighter, Berserker, and Engineer, and each class has different abilities and stats. There are 3 stats that make up each class, Strength, Magic, and Life, much like in the game Talisman. I’m also toying with the idea of everyone wearing knitted beards while they play, not only because I think it would just be funny, but because one of the things about dwarves is that you can’t really tell if someone’s male or female because they all have beards.Long_viking_beard_hat_1024x1024

After everyone has chosen there class, players pick up 2 treasure cards, placing them face up if using it at the time, otherwise placing them face down in front of them. Players then place their character piece at the entrance to the mine and play begins. The mine splits off into tunnels in all different directions.

Players each individually pick a tunnel to venture down at the start of the game.

The tunnel system will be randomly generated as players flip tiles that show what’s in the room. Kind of like Betrayal at House on the Hill if any of you have played that.

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The symbol shown on the tile will tell the player to encounter a card from either the treasure deck or the event deck. The treasure deck is pretty self-explanatory it is made up of weapons, potions, equipment, etc, the event deck on the other hand will be more random, including curses, enemies, strangers, pets, other stuff. There will also be a few tiles that have specific things that only happen there, like a pit fall, or a treasure room.

The combat system will be much the same as in Talisman, with if the player has to use magic or strength to beat it written on the card. The player then rolls a dice along with the monster (played by one of the other players) and adds their number for that stat to it, the player/monster with the most points wins. If a player loses they must take off a life point (obviously if a player gets to zero life they die). A player may choose though to not fight the enemy at all and can choose to run away, on a four, five, or six the player succeeds, if they fail the enemy catches them and they lose a life.

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Back to the objective of the game, players are trying to get themselves ready for defeating the boss (which I’ll talk about soon), to do this players are trying to level up. To level up players need to defeat monsters, for every monster a player kills, the player will go up a level. W   hen a player goes up a level they choose one of their stats to increase by one. There will also be random encounters that will give players the possibility of gaining levels by other means.

The Boss

The final boss will arrive after a certain amount of turns, and will draw all of the players back to the entrance of the mine for the final battle. Now is when all players really are working as a team, as you combine all of your power to try and defeat the boss.

There are different bosses that players can fight against for different difficulties, this will be evident by the colour of the boss card when its face down. Green=Beginners, Yellow=Skilled, Red= Expert. The amount of rounds it takes for the boss to appear will be shown on the back of the card, with a different amount of rounds for the number of players.

The bosses will all have different special ability’s that will be written on the cards, this might be special attacks or maybe a resistance to a type of attack.

The combat system will be much the same as in Talisman, with if the player has to use magic or strength to beat it written on the card.

To defeat the boss it will be pretty much the same as a normal monster but it will have stats for both Strength and Magic, with players having to best it in both.

That’s what I’ve got so far, I hope it makes sense.

Thanks

Hayden

Anthropomorphism

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In 1828 Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard Grandville published a collection of lithographs like the above, entitled Les Métamorphoses du jour, a series of seventy scenes in which individuals with the bodies of men and faces of animals are made to play a human comedy. Humans have been seeing themselves in animals for a long time as I think can be seen in Grandvilles work.

Anthropomorphism is defined as, “ascribing human form or attributes to a being or thing not human.” The human race does this to everything, even to the most mundane nonhuman like things. Like for instance, I personally have a name for my computer, (its frank btw) and will often yell at it when it’s not working properly. This kind of thing is harmless if you know that it’s absurd, I know my computer has no emotion or personality. The problem comes about when we project human emotions on other animals.

Now there has been plenty of research into the emotional range of different animals, and it’s clear that some have a huge range that one could argue is not unlike a human. The problem is that we commonly misread these animal’s emotions. An example of this I’m sure some of you would be familiar with is reading a dogs face as guilty, when actually it’s frightened.

I think this projecting can be harmless at times, and I’m sure there’s plenty who won’t agree, but I find it hard to say that when my Dad and I used to give voices to the different animals in nature documentaries,(because I’m cool), we were causing any harm. The harm it can cause though is when we are presenting our projections as fact, and this is said much more eloquently in Clive Wynne’s paper, What are Animals? Why Anthropomorphism is Still Not a Scientific Approach to Behaviour. He writes,

The kind of anthropomorphism that must be avoided by serious students of animal behaviour is unwitting “naïve anthropomorphism.” This is when someone allows their natural tendency to see living things as having a human-like mentality to operate in an “unacknowledged, unrecognized [form], or used as the basis for accepting conclusions by circumventing the need to actually test them”

This is where we find, I think the main issue with the documentary, Black Fish.

Blackfish

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the film, Blackfish is a 2013 American documentary film directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. It concerns Tilikum, an orca held by SeaWorld and the controversy over captive killer whales.

The biggest problem I had with this film was not necessarily the huge focus it put on talking about the psychology and emotional state of Tilikum, but that the comments made and the way of filming showed what the people in the movie were saying was fact, where as in actual fact what they were saying is still pure speculation.

There has and is still research being done that specifically focuses on the brains of killer whales, and it has been able to show a lot about how their brains are made up and how they work. Even experts in this field though can at best take an educated guess at how they think, how they communicate, how they interact with one another.

One of the main reasons it’s hard to do anything past speculation at this point, is that killer whales brains are significantly different to ours. Not that we don’t have the same parts of the brain, it’s just that killer whales have parts of their brains much more developed than our own. Specifically when looking at emotion it’s important to look at part of the brain called the limbic system. In humans this system is associated with emotional life and behaviour as well as the formation of memories. The key difference between humans and killer whales in this respect is that when compared to human’s killer whales cingulate gyrus, or limbic lobe is much larger in proportion and is also made up of three different lobes. When looking at this way that the killer whales brain is made up scientists are able to hypothesise to the extent of their aptitude for emotional expression, but no more than that.

I think what we have to think about when looking at Black Fish, and certainly my take away from it, is that even if there is no definite proof that being kept in captivity has significant impact on the emotional state of killer whales, the fact is that killer whales are highly intelligent, complex, and social animals and shouldn’t be spending there life doing tricks for our amusement.

Thanks for reading.

Hayden

Poverty Porn

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I’ve heard the phrase ‘poverty porn’ being used quite a bit, in the news, in videos, by friends, and a bunch of other places, and if I’m honest I didn’t really understand it, I didn’t know why it was an issue, until I did my own research.

So for those of you, who like me had heard of poverty porn but didn’t understand exactly what it meant, I hope I can present what poverty porn is and why it’s an issue.

So the definition you’ll find on Wikipedia reads like this, Poverty porn, also known as development porn, famine porn, or stereotype porn, has been defined as “any type of media, be it written, photographed or filmed, which exploits the poor’s condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers or increasing charitable donations or support for a given cause”.

And that definition works, but I think we can unpack that a bit.

 

Firstly why is it called poverty ‘porn’ why are the images, videos, and stories of poverty likened to that of the pornographic industry?  Well to paraphrase Jamie Folsom, a lecturer at Colorado State, like porn they’re a great way to get our attention. They have the power to not only draw us in, but also the power to repel us. They can make us feel a little guilty, and like porn they make a lot of people uncomfortable.

Secondly why is poverty porn a bad thing? What’s the issue?

Well there are two things I really want to touch on. First is that society has a habit of removing itself from other groups. Let me explain what I mean, when we see these stories of poverty we tend to separate ourselves from the people that the stories about, and the people in the story become ‘them’, not one of us. The issue there, is that these people that we’ve removed ourselves from, are like us, are connected to us, and they can see what where saying about them.

This brings us to the second problem. Poverty porn tells one repeating story. It may have different faces, starving children in Africa, desperate asylum seekers, teens from the lower socioeconomic group, but the story is always the same. The poor, helpless people needed help and one of ‘us’, the hero of the story has stepped in and saved the day, and nothing was going to get better without ‘the hero’.

We can see now where the two problems intercede. If where telling the same story of desperate people who need help and can’t do  anything to help themselves, and then those same people  see those stories again, and again, and again, and again, those people start to believe that what’s being said about them is true. The truth is that is a lot of those communities poverty may exist, but not everyone in that community lives in poverty, and there are people in that community helping those that are in poverty. That doesn’t matter though if we only tell the story, all that does is tell us that they’re helpless and it makes them believe that they are.

 

So now hopefully we can see why poverty porn is harmful, but if we know that it’s harmful why haven’t we stopped? Well there’s a reason it’s still such a popular depiction of poverty, and this especially applies to humanitarian organizations, and it is that when it comes to getting donations, poverty porn works. It gets the profits to do what it wants.  Tom Murphy, a journalist who focuses on the humanitarian/aid/development industry, states that non-governmental organizations marketing and communications teams are creating these messages because they have been proven effective through rigorous testing. The fact is that audiences are more likely to make a financial donation when an ad shows a child that is suffering, rather than happy and healthy. At the end of the day, poverty porn is the result of well-meaning organizations attempting to raise money for their programs, and it works.

The question we have to ask is, does the work that these organisations are able to do with this money out way the harm it causes by perpetuating the same false story of hopelessness? I don’t think so. According to Strivastava, if we want to truly transform the communities in these stories we have to create avenues for their voices to be heard. We cannot impose our ideas on them, because they know there community 100 times better than we ever could.

Hope this can get you thinking

Thanks for reading

Hayden

Shadows Over Camelot

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Enemies approach from all sides, and all hope seems lost for Camelot. You and your fellow knights of the round table are the last hope for your kingdom to overcome the encroaching evil. Collect the ancient artefacts, slay formidable foes and hold off the invading armies and you’ll likely succeed, but be on the lookout, there may be a traitor amongst your ranks.

This is the situation you find yourself in when playing Shadow over Camelot. Sound challenging? It is, but don’t think it’s unbeatable.

 

Introducing the game

Shadows over Camelot is a cooperative hand-management and deduction-based board game for 3–7 players. Each player represents a knight of the Round Table and they must collaborate to overcome a number of quests, ranging from defeating the Black Knight to the search for the Holy Grail. Completed quests place white swords on the Round Table; failed quests add black swords and/or siege engines around Camelot. The knights are trying to build a majority of white swords on the Table before Camelot falls.

On each knight’s turn, the knight takes a “heroic action”, such as moving to a new quest, building his hand, or playing cards to advance the forces of good. However, he must also choose one of three evil actions, each of which will bring Camelot closer to defeat.

Moreover, one of the knights may be a traitor, pretending to be a loyal member of the party but secretly hindering his fellow knights in subtle ways, biding his time, waiting to strike at the worst possible moment.

 

The Stats

Designers- Bruno Cathala & Serge Laget

Illustrators- Julien Delval, Cyrille Daujean

Publisher- Days of Wonder

Publication date- 2005

Languages-English, French, German

Price- $80aus

Players- 3–7

Age range 10 +

Playing time 60-90 minutes

 

Materials

You get a fair amount of loot, when you buy Shadows over Camelot. All up it includes a 20 page Rule Booklet, a 16 page Book of Quests, 1 Main Camelot/Round Table gameboard, 3 additional double-sided Quests (The Holy Grail, Excalibur, and Lancelot/The Dragon), 7 Coat of Arms, 7 standard dice and a special 8-sided die for the Siege Engines, 30 Miniatures, 16 black/white Swords of the Round Table, and a whopping 168 cards.

Like other games that I’ve played by Days of wonder all of the different components, are beautifully made. The board is colourful and has a lot of nice detail, the designs and art compliment the theme, and the miniatures are wonderfully detailed, with the added option for the owner to paint the miniatures if they want (which I think is really cool).  The cards are illustrated but all the important information is easy to find, and are made of good cardstock.  The board does take up a lot of space, but the pieces don’t go together in any particular order so you can make it work even with a relatively small amount of table space.

 

Playing the game

Like many large board games, setting up Shadows over Camelot is half the fun….. well it certainly can take up half the time. Once you’re done with set up, the first part is getting your character. We did this at random, but I guess you could choose who you all wanted to be, all the characters have different ability’s, but it won’t really change much if your play with cards that you choose yourself or picking randomly. During this time you also figure out if you’re a traitor or not. I wasn’t so in my naivety thought all might be well among the group. Maybe we were lucky and missed out on picking up the traitor?

After this the real game begins, and it can seem really daunting, especially for first time players. So much is happening at once and you have to choose what to do. Do you try and solo the Black Knight and get all the glory (and hit points) to yourself, join your comrades in the search for the Holy Grail, or maybe join your battle brother in pushing back the wave on Picts invading from across the sea.  I had no idea what to do at this point, and the choice that you have conveys really well the situation that Camelot is in. I was the one who decided to solo the Black Knight by the way. I was unsuccessful.

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Playing Shadows over Camelot, I found you really have to be smart with how you take your turn, and I think it’s because you have to keep so much in mind. Yes, you want to get white swords on the table, but you also have to think about everything happening around the board, how many siege engines are up? Are you running out of cards? Should you move to a new quest?  This is all going through your head when you make your heroic action. When you move on to your evil actions it can be even worse, especially near the end.

We lost by the tiniest of margins when we played, so we were feeling alright about ourselves as we talked about little things we could have done to win, that was until we found out that one of us was a traitor and we would have lost even if we did a couple things different near the end.

CURSE YOU JADE!!!!

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Final thoughts

Even though we lost, Shadows over Camelot was really fun to play, and it was different to any other co-op game I’ve played. I think there’s the perfect level of difficulty, as even seasoned players will struggle at times if the cards are not playing nice. I would definitely play Shadows over Camelot again, but I’m not sure if I’d buy it. It’s just too expensive for me at $80, especially when I know I could spend my money on getting two games.

 

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadows_Over_Camelot

https://www.daysofwonder.com/shadowsovercamelot/en/