Recently, my friends and I shot a video of us playing Eden. It was a ton of fun (and a ton of work) to edit it down to a reasonable length, and unfortunately, compressing a three-hour game into 11 minutes means a lot gets left out. So I thought I’d take a moment to fill in some gaps and talk about my favorite parts of that game.
“There’s bears peeking around every rock!”
The starting point for every game of Eden is the map, and ours was rad. We had a river, a swamp, some mountains, and a jungle. I mean, look at that frog on a lily pad. That’s a sweet lily pad.
“The fire ants say you’re a dirty thief.”
A key part of setup is the animal gossip (which you see a clip of in the video), and in this game, the animals had a lot to say. Animal gossip was what got my character angry at Feiya’s character in the first place (the first scene you see in the video).
Each character in the story had their own arc, more or less. Fu Hao, played by Feiya, was best friends with the lone raccoon in Eden, who followed them everywhere. Feiya tried to mostly keep Fu Hao out of trouble, but trouble kept finding Fu Hao anyway! The grumbly yet playful raccoon taught Fu Hao to steal, which didn’t help their reputation around the Garden—but all Raccoon wanted was to have beautiful things! The only person Fu Hao really got along with was Pat’s character, Lamech, who spent most of his time with the single catfish who lived down in the marsh. Catfish was an easygoing bottom-feeder, and had taught Lamech to eat just about anything, so Lamech routinely snacked on butterflies in the meadow as well.
Butterfly 1: “Do you ever think that there’s something more than just pollen and nectar?”
Butterfly 2: “… No.”
Meanwhile, Ben’s character Amina and her friends—the cute and lazy bears—were plotting to catch and eat catfish. Ben pushed this hard, recognizing quickly that the capture of catfish was not the exciting part of the story, but the lead-up and aftermath. Because the marsh where catfish lived was too hard to navigate, Amina and the bears planned to dam the river that fed it, slowly reducing the water level until the catfish had nowhere else to run. Ben knew it would be more fun to bring more people into the bears’ scheme, so he enlisted the help of another human in the Garden… my character Mahlon. Mahlon and her fire ants, obsessed with organization and perfection, were busy building a dome around their ant mounds when Amina managed to convince Mahlon to come work on the dam instead. So Mahlon did, and slowly but surely, the water drained away.
“This isn’t just any fish! Would you please introduce yourself?”
My absolute favorite part of the game came next. Lamech, desperate to stop the ecological destruction of his friend’s home, tried to convince the clueless bears that fish were sentient and therefore should not be eaten. Feiya’s portrayal of the trout was priceless—their anxiety about being eaten, coupled with the bears inability to conceive of trout having feelings, led to disaster, which Pat (as Lamech) and Ben and I (as bears) milked for all it was worth. Lamech knew the only way out was to try to carry catfish to the nearby hippo pond—hence the scene you can see in the video.
Overall, what I loved about this game is the same thing I love about every good game of Eden: the animals giving terrible advice, and/or the humans coming up with terrible lessons based on the advice. The players have to decide to misinterpret the animals (or not), and when they do, the results are sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant.
Many thanks again to my players Ben, Pat, and Feiya, and of course the final player that you didn’t see (but can hear once or twice in the video if you listen real carefully!), Caroline! She filmed the entire thing. ON HER BIRTHDAY. She is a true hero, now and forever. Thanks everyone!
Eden is on Kickstarter until November 10th!