How to Play: Tragedy Looper

June 13, 2017

Our How to Play videos are designed to be short (but still complete) instructional videos, mainly for people who want an overview before playing with someone who knows how to play (in place of that person teaching the rules). Setup and refresh is usually in a separate video, since only one person needs to know the details.

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Transcript (How to Play)
Hi! This is Ambie from Board Game Blitz, and today I’m gonna show you how to play Tragedy Looper.

Game Overview [0:10]
In this game, one player is the Mastermind and the rest of the players are Protagonists. The Protagonists are trying to figure out and prevent bad things from happening by traveling back in time, while the Mastermind is trying to make sure the Protagonists fail. If there are fewer than four players, one player will play as two or more Protagonists.

Scripts [0:32]
The game is played over a series of Loops, each containing multiple Days. Each time you play, you’re playing a specific script, which defines which characters are in the game and what bad things will happen on which days. There are two script cards for each script - one for the Mastermind and one for the Protagonists. The Mastermind knows the entire script, which includes the character roles, the main plot, and subplots. The protagonists only know when certain incidents will occur. For example, in the first script, there is a Murder on Day 2, and a Suicide on Day 3.

Player Sheets [0:57]
These player sheets show what the plots and character roles can be. For example, if the main plot is Murder Plan and the subplots are Circle of Friends and Unknown Factor X, there will be a Key Person, a Killer, and a Brain, plus two Friends and a Conspiracy Theorist, and a Factor. There are no additional roles, and each character in the game can only have one role. There is also a maximum number of certain roles that can be in a script, shown here. Also, each incident has a culprit, which is one of the characters, regardless of role. Each incident must have a different culprit, but culprits and roles are unrelated.
For example, the Boy Student could be Key Person and a culprit for a Murder Incident, but he could not be a culprit for two different Incidents. Throughout the game, the Protagonists are trying to deduce what the plots and roles are through the actions in the Loops. The Mastermind, who knows the script, will be doing the rules and actions associated with the plots and role abilities.

Locations [1:48]
The game is centered around four locations: The Hospital, Shrine, City, and School. There will also be a certain number of character cards, specified by the script. Each character has a specific location where it starts and one or more special powers.

Day Overview [2:02]
Each day, there are 5 phases, shown here. In the Morning, some script or Mastermind role abilities can happen, if they have the keyword “Day start.” Most of the gameplay is done during the Playing card phase, when players play action cards onto characters or locations.

Playing Cards [2:16]
Each day, the Mastermind will place three action cards face down. After all 3 are placed, the Protagonists will take turns each playing one card face down, starting with the Leader and going clockwise. The cards go on either characters or locations, and you cannot have two Mastermind cards or two Protagonist cards on the same character or location. You can have a Protagonist card on the same spot as a Mastermind card.

Once everyone has placed a card, all cards are revealed and the Mastermind resolves them at the same time, with movement cards happening first. 
When all cards are resolved, they return to the respective player’s hand, unless they have the once per loop symbol. Those are placed face up in front of their owner and cannot be used again this loop.

Action Cards [2:55]
These are the action cards. Each Protagonist has  the same set of cards, and the Mastermind has a slightly different set.

Movement [3:01]
These cards affect movement. They do nothing if placed on a location, and if placed on a character, the character will move in the indicated direction. Everyone has a vertical and a horizontal movement card. The Mastermind also has a diagonal movement card. If there is a Mastermind and a Protagonist movement card on a character, they will combine as shown here. For example, this character would move diagonally. The Protagonists have a Forbid Movement card, which cancels out any movement card on the character.

Paranoia [3:28]
These cards adjust a character’s Paranoia. They do nothing if placed on a location. If placed on a character, this one adds a Paranoia token to the character, and this one takes one away. If both a plus and minus are on a character, a Paranoia gets added and then removed. The Mastermind has these, and the Protagonists have these. The Mastermind also has a Forbid Paranoia card, which cancels out any Paranoia card on the character.

Goodwill [3:51]
The Protagonists have these cards that add Goodwill. They do nothing on a location, but if they’re on a character, the character gets one or two Goodwill tokens on it. The Mastermind has a Forbid Goodwill card, which will cancel out the Goodwill card.

Intrigue [4:04]
The Mastermind has these cards that add one or two Intrigue to a character or a location. The Protagonists have a Forbid Intrigue card that will cancel out the Intrigue card on the same character or location, but if two or more Forbid Intrigue cards have been played on the same day, they nullify each other and they do not work.

Mastermind Abilities [4:20]
In the Abilities phase, first the Mastermind can use any role abilities that have the keyword “Mastermind ability.” The Mastermind will only announce the result of the ability, not who used the ability or what ability it was. For example, if the Script has a Conspiracy Theorist, the Mastermind can place a Paranoia token on a character in their location during the abilities phase, without saying anything about what caused it.

Goodwill Abilities [4:42]
After the Mastermind Abilities, the Protagonists can use Goodwill abilities of characters, shown here. In order to use an ability, the charac ter must have at least the number of Goodwill tokens specified. The tokens are not spent - they stay on the character after they use the ability. The Leader chooses what abilities to use, and announces the ability and the target if it has one. Then, the Mastermind resolves the effect. Some roles have Goodwill Refusal, which means that those characters will not be able to activate their Goodwill abilities. For example, if the Protagonists try to use the Goodwill ability of the Boy Student, but the Boy Student is the Cultist, the Mastermind must say that nothing happens, since the Cultist has mandatory Goodwill Refusal. Multiple Goodwill abilities can be used, but each ability can only be used once per day. The characters and their abilities are listed on the player sheets.

Dead Character [5:28]
If a character is ever dead, the Mastermind will turn it sideways. You cannot place action cards on dead characters or use their abilities, but Goodwill counters stay on them.

Incidents [5:38]
The Incidents phase is when the incidents specified in the script can happen. If there is nothing scheduled, then nothing happens. If there is a scheduled incident, then the Mastermind checks if the culprit of the incident is alive and has reached their paranoia limit, shown here. If one of those conditions is unfulfilled, then the Mastermind says that no incident happens. If the culprit is alive and has reached their paranoia limit, the Mastermind says that the incident happens and resolves it. The Mastermind gets to choose who it affects if there’s a target. If there are additional conditions that also need to be met for a specific incident, the Mastermind must say that the incident still happened, but there is no effect.

End of Day [6:12]
At the end of the day, the Leader switches, so give the Leader card clockwise to the next Protagonist. Also, some abilities can activate if they have the keyword “Day end.”
If this was the last day of the loop, then the loop ends. Otherwise, a new day begins.

End of Loop [6:27]
The loop can end in three ways: You’ve finished the final day of the loop, the Protagonists have died, or some other rule from the script has caused the loop to end. When the Loop ends, the Mastermind checks the loss conditions that have the keyword “Loss condition: Loop end.” If no loss conditions are met, then the game ends and the Protagonists win. If one or more loss conditions are met, then the Protagonists have lost that loop. The Mastermind tells the Protagonists they have lost, but not why. The Protagonists also lose the loop if they died. If this was the Final Loop, then the game ends. Otherwise, the protagonists travel back in time to start another loop, and everything resets.

End Game [7:02]
The game can end in two ways: First, if no loss conditions are met through a whole loop, the game ends and the Protagonists win. Secondly, if all the loops are completed and the Protagonists lost in every single loop, the game ends. The Protagonists have one Final Guess, a chance to guess the details of the script. First, reset everything on the board. Then, the Protagonists discuss with each other, and they pick one character at a time and guess their role. You don’t need to know the culprits, only the roles. If the Protagonists guess right, they continue. If they guess any character incorrectly, then the Mastermind wins. If the Protagonists succeed in guessing all the characters’ roles in the Final Guess, they win.

2 Player Game [7:38]
In a 2 player game, one player is the Mastermind and the other plays all three Protagonists. The Protagonist has all 3 Protagonist decks, and plays one card from each deck each day.

3 Player Game [7:48]
In a 3 player game, there is one Mastermind and two Protagonists. The current Leader will play one card each from two Protagonist decks each day, so the extra Protagonist deck gets passed with -the Leader card each day.

And that’s how you play Tragedy Looper. Click the link for setup, character abilities, and the Mastermind script card. Check out our website for more videos, podcasts, and blogs. Thanks for watching Board Game Blitz!

Transcript (Setup)
Put the four boards in the middle of the table with the Hospital in the top left, Shrine in the top right, City in the bottom left, and School in the bottom right. Put the Data Board to the side of the locations.

Choose one player to be the Mastermind.

Get the script cards for the script you are playing. The Mastermind takes the Secret Script card, and the other players take the Protagonists card.

The Mastermind takes the character cards of the characters in the script, as shown on the Mastermind Script card, and places them in their starting positions, indicated by the highlighted section of the card.

Place the Loop Marker on the data board, marking the number of loops in the scenario. Place the Incident Markers to mark the days of the incidents based on the script. Put the Day marker on Day 1. If the scenario indicates any counters to be placed at the beginning, place them. Place the rest of the tokens on the table.

The Mastermind gets the Mastermind action cards, and each Protagonist gets their set of action cards. Everyone also gets a player sheet turned to the side specified in the script.

Decide on how much table talk you will use during the loops - varying from being able to talk about exactly what you’re going to play to only being able to talk to each other between loops.

Pick which of the Protagonists will be the first Leader and give that person the Leader card.

End of Day [1:08]
At the end of the day, move the Leader card clockwise to the next Protagonist.
If this was the last day of the loop, then the loop ends. Otherwise, move the Day marker a step down and begin a new day from “Morning.”

End of Loop [1:20]
When the loop ends, if it’s not the end of the game, reset everything to start a new loop. Move the Loop marker one step down, remove all counters from the locations and cards, and place the characters back in their starting positions. Move the Day marker back to Day 1.  If there are any counters to place at the start of the loop, place them. Everyone gets all their action cards back in their hands.

Character Cards [1:42]
These are the character cards. Each character has a starting location, shown here in white. Some characters are also not allowed to move to certain locations, which are crossed out. Characters also have traits here, which can be referenced in abilities. The Paranoia limit is here, showing how many paranoia tokens the character needs to set off an incident if the character is the culprit. These are the abilities of the character. Goodwill abilities show how many goodwill tokens are needed to use the ability. This symbol means the ability can only be used once per loop. Some characters have “passive” abilities, which are always in effect.

Player Sheets [2:15]
The player sheets describe all the characters and their abilities, as well as the possible plots, roles, and incidents and their rules, abilities, and effects.

The keywords “Loop start” or “Start of loop”mean it happens at the beginning of the loop.
“Mandatory” means the Mastermind must do it if the conditions are met. For example, when the Key Person dies, the loop ends immediately and the Protagonists lose that loop. “Optional” means the Mastermind can choose to use the ability.
“Mastermind ability” is used during the Abilities phase, which is right after the Actions.
“Day end” happens after the Abilities phase.
“Loop end” is only checked at the end of each loop. For example, in the Giant Time Bomb plot, having 2 Intrigue on the Witch’s starting location will cause the Protagonists to lose the loop, but only after they’ve played through all the days.

Whenever the Mastermind uses abilities or rules from the script, do not say which ability you are using, only the results.

Protagonist Script Card [3:08]
This is the Protagonists Script card, which is all open information. It will show what player sheet the script uses - either First Steps or Basic Tragedy in the base game - which lets you know which plots are possible. The options for the number of loops for the script is here, and they’re also shown in the Mastermind’s Handbook with difficulty ratings. For example, this script can be 3 loops for an easy difficulty, or 2 loops for a harder challenge for the Protagonists. It also shows the number of days per loop, plus the incidents that can happen.

SPOILER - Mastermind Script Card [3:37]
Here is the Mastermind Script card for the first script. The Mastermind card has secret information. The Main Plot and Subplots are here, and the characters plus their roles are here. If the Role says ‘Person,’ then the character has no special role. These are all the characters that are used in the game and placed on the board during setup. Also, the incidents are shown here, along with the culprits of the incidents. In order for the incidents to go off, the indicated culprit must have paranoia tokens equal to or greater than their paranoia limit at the time of the incident. Additional information for each scenario can be found in the Mastermind’s Handbook.
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