MAYDAY! MAYDAY! is published by Cwali and created by Cwali's owner and CEO Corné van Moorsel.
It is unusual as it is for 5-8 players aged 11-99 (guess I wont be playing it in 38 years then) and takes about 25-30 minutes
for a game.
The components are a deck of multi-lingual / illustrative cards and (player) coloured coded wing-counters with a heart for
honesty and a broken-heart (infiltrator) in the central hub of the wings.
The rules booklet is multi-lingual also, with English being the first 4 pages, followed by German, French and Dutch, again 4
pages for each. Each set of the rules is identical apart from the language, so that the many photo illustrations are replicated
throughout. With lots of pictures and a half page seasoned player (veteran) expanded rules the four pages of rules offer very
little by way of text, which can either be a good thing (when they are well written and concise) or a bad thing (when the
designer/publisher has kept them to a bare minimum and omitted a number of relevant points). MAYDAY! MAYDAY! has
rules that are short, clear and concise and well written.
The basic story is that the Pilot of the plane you are on has possibly been murdered. The passengers are holidaymakers,
families and couples all blissfully unaware of what has occurred, but the crew are suspicious of each other and by design
affiliate into two groups, honest and infiltrators from (a rival airline perhaps ?), though neither group openly states to all
the other players whom they are with. To ensure no-one gives the game away everyone accuses everyone else and so their
true feelings are kept hidden they conspire to scuffle and punch each other. The infiltrators can bluff and work together as
they know who they are and obviously who the honest Crew are, but the Honest Crew cannot trust anyone to begin with.
The game play is a sort of Cluedo meets Werewolf in a compressed metal tube hurtling through space at about 500mph;
what could be a better situation to find yourself in ?
Up to 8 players take the part of the Crew and each has a card showing Punch on one side and Protect on the other. Each of
these cards has 2 types of identification, colour and symbol - these colours and symbols also appear on the wing (knowledge)
There are four Status cards with Benefit of the Doubt / Reliable and five Status cards with Cockpit Access / Skirmish card no.
on either side. Players are dealt cards from a deck made up from the 9 Skirmish cards which have been adjusted and shuffled
according to the number of players - ensuring that games played are often similar but not identical. Players are also given 2 of
the Identity cards - one for honest and one for infiltrator.
By deduction, watching other players, thoughtful play, luck and the search mechanic - using the knowledge and Status cards the
players are trying to deduce who is Honest and who is an Infiltrator. If you are Honest your win if you can keep the Infiltrators
out of the Cockpit, but if an Infiltrator gains Cockpit Access then the good guys have lost.
The illustrations by Stephanie Brandl are both bright and gay, the counters thick, and the cards strong and durable for regular
playing. The rules are clear and the player interaction is good as you try to discover who are your adversaries and who are your
friends. There is also an amount of it being a memory game as cards played face down in your area cannot be reviewed once in
position - you have to remember your choices as well as the identity of the cards of other players that you have viewed during
your investigation - not so great for someone like me who often cannot remember what day it is - maybe that's why I am always
invited to play ?
It is quite rare to find a game that needs a minimum of five players and, being honest, I think it is a brave decision by CWALI to
publish such a game. Up to 8 players is also good news as there are few and far between games around to cover such numbers.
Adding up the facts already mentioned - the concise rules, the cards and counters and the detective mechanism - this is probably
a lot different to almost every other game, card or board, you have played. Yes I likened it to Cluedo (Clue in the USA) because
it is a detection game and to Werewolf because there is that element of trust where everyone has to close their eyes and then only
the Infiltrators open theirs, for just long enough so they recognise each other. I suppose that it's more fun to be an infiltrator (like
being a werewolf) where you can watch the others (the Honests / Villagers) stumbling around in the dark so as to speak.
I believe that this is a good game for families at Christmas and other such gatherings, and I suggest that the game's owner learns the
rules and the cards inside-out so they can quickly set the scene and explain the mechanics to all players as there is always bound to
be someone who hasn't played before - the best way to learn is from someone who knows the game.