Most gamers I know tend to collect unplayed games. We buy them with the greatest intentions, but then they sit, unplayed, often unread. Fiasco is a great game, a collaborative storytelling game about people with powerful ambitions but poor impulse control. We finally got to play it tonight and had a great time. For your enjoyment, here’s a rundown of our little adventure in Beatrice, Nebraska. It was a real fiasco.
We played the Flyover playset, it’s about small towns in those in-between states, construction workers, the long arm of the fed, and those dirty secrets that need to say hidden. Our characters were Chulee Marie Sands, 20-something farmer and owner of 250 acres of bad soybeans, played by Lindsey. Johnny Smith, CPA, 40-something half-brother of Chulee (unbeknownst to both), town’s go-to accountant, played by Carlos. Joe Friday, 50-something Federal Investigator, played by Jon. Dave Beeman, 50-something airport construction manager, played by me.
The year is 1993. Next to the Beatrice, Nebraska airport sits 500 acres of rotting soybeans, deep in the Sucker Creek flood plain, that nobody wants. Donald Hoover, the region’s Federal Transportation Liaison has an illegitimate daughter and a legitimate son he wants to take care of. His son just got his CPA license, and could use a big deal to jump start his career. His mistress needs a place to stake her claim and raise their kid where Donald can keep an eye on her. Collaborating with the airport’s construction manager, Donald works a deal where his mistress buys the 500 acres on a phony promissory note, funneling the money through Johnny Smith, his son’s (mother now divorced) new accounting firm. The mistress turns around and sells 250 acres at a steep profit to the federal government, supervised by Donald Hoover, for an airport runway expansion. Dave Beeman signs off on the deal and the construction plans, even though it’s in a flood zone.
The year is 2013, and Donald wants to talk to Johnny and Dave. They meet at the airport where Dave’s building out some new offices inside a hangar. Donald says he’s tired of carrying this secret around, that he can make good money turning states evidence, and that Johnny and Dave had better get their houses in order. Johnny knows the books are dirty, and Dave’s underwater on his house, any ill-gotten gains he had, now long gone. In the midst of a heated argument, Dave grabs a pneumatic nail-gun and TAP-TAP. Two nails to the back of Donald’s head and he’s a corpse. They load the corpse up in Donald’s truck, drive just off the airport to a neglected sunflower field on Chulee’s farm, and dig a shallow grave. Dave takes the truck back to the airport and trades it to a couple of Mexican construction workers/drug runners on their way back to Juarez for a kilo of Columbian Bam Bam.
Joe’s sitting in his office at the Lincoln Federal Building, wondering where his co worker, Donald Hoover’s gone. He goes rifling through his papers and comes across a newspaper clipping from 20 years ago, a picture of Donald, Dave, Johnny and Chulee’s mom at the groundbreaking of the airport runway. The article mentions the flood plain, and Joe knows something’s up. Donald’s never been the most straight and narrow, but this is extra fishy. He grabs his hat, gun and Crown Vic and heads for Beatrice.
Chulee gets a call from her cousin at the Sheriff’s office, letting her know that someone from the Fed just called asking for directions to her place. Some investigator, said he was looking into her mom’s land deal. She calls Johnny. He was the CPA on that deal, everything should be fine, right? Johnny promises he’ll take care of it. After getting off the phone with Chulee he calls up Dave, and they arrange to meet out in the sunflower field. Johnny and Dave discuss this new investigator, how this is going to keep being trouble unless the Fed has his own problems to deal with.
Joe drives up to Chulee’s house. He says he’s looking for Donald, and that it sounded like the land deal was fishy. Chulee tells him to get off her land unless he has a warrant, that she owns it fair and square. Joe goes back and gets a warrant from the judge. He returns and explains that he’s just looking for Donald, and he knows Donald’s her father. Chulee’s shocked. She doesn’t believe this, it can’t be true, he never said anything. Donald digs around a bit, but doesn’t find anything but some tire tracks in a sunflower field.
Johnny, Dave and Chulee meet at her farmhouse. Chulee tells Johnny that Joe said Donald was her father. Johnny doesn’t believe it either. Johnny and Dave exchange worried glances. Dave says they need to take this fed out of the picture permanently, that he and Chulee need to head out to his hotel and maybe make it look like he’s dirty. Johnny agrees and says he’ll arrange for Joe to come to his office in town so they have time to toss the place.
Johnny and Joe meet at his office, Joe re-iterates that he’s only looking for Donald, and that he knows that Chulee was his daughter. Johnny says the only way to be sure would be a blood test, and that if they’re really half-siblings, it should show up. Joe keeps asking if Johnny knows where Donald is, but Johnny reluctantly shrugs him off.
Chulee and Dave drive Chulee’s truck over to the Holiday Inn and break into Joe’s room. They find the newspaper clipping, and Dave shoves the kilo of Columbian Bam Bam into Joe’s suitcase. He picks up the phone, calls 911, and pretends to be the hotel manager. There’s something strange going on in room 309. Something with drugs, he says. Dave and Chulee high-tail it back to the truck, and get a quick bite to eat at the Mexican restaurant down the street from the hotel, Playa Azul.
Joe beats the cops to the Holiday Inn, and noticing his room’s been trashed, finds the kilo of Columbian Bam Bam and flushes it down the toilet. The cops finally show up and turning on the professional charm, they leave assuming it must have been a prank call. Joe asks to hear the caller, so they play him the recording of Dave calling 911.
Joe’s heading back into town to talk to Johnny and notices Chulee’s truck pulling out of Playa Azul. She’s with some guy he hasn’t seen before, so he follows them back to Chulee’s farm. At the farm Joe confronts them, and after hearing Dave warn him off, realizes he was the one who tried to set him up. Dave goes into the house, finds a shotgun, and tries to scare Joe away, but after shooting the Crown Vic Dave pulls his gun and puts a bullet in Dave’s leg.
Johnny has been trying to call Chulee but hasn’t been able to raise her, so he drives out to the farm. He arrives to find Chulee putting a tourniquet on Dave’s leg, and Joe trying to call 911. Johnny’s had a change of heart, and he tells Joe and Chulee that he has something to show them. They leave Dave passed out on the porch and drive out to the sunflower field, where they dig up Donald.
Joe tells Chulee and Johnny that Donald wasn’t a really good guy, and it’s probably best for everyone if this just stays quiet. He knows this area’s a flood plain, and someone’s going to find this body sooner or later, so he suggests grinding it up and spreading it over the soybean fields. They load the body into the truck and head back to the farmhouse.
At the farmhouse Dave wakes up, realizes what a mess he’s in, hobbles inside and turns on all the gas burners on the stove. He sets a candle on the fridge and walks out to the back porch.
Johnny, Joe and Chulee drive up to the farmhouse. Joe gets out and goes looking for Dave. Johnny heads towards the house with his briefcase, full of all the documents detailing the dirty land deal. Dave decides it’s not that bad. Maybe he wants to live. He starts to climb down the porch, and walk away from the house.
The house explodes. Joe is thrown back, Johnny holds the briefcase up to protect himself, which is does, while being burned to a crisp. The cops and EMS arrive, to find a dead body in the back of a truck that nobody can explain. We just found it, Joe says.
This is Chulee Sands, her house blown to smithereens, nothing to her name but 250 acres of rotting soybeans that the property taxes are past due on, living in a trailer.
This is Joe Friday, under investigation by Internal Affairs for his possible role in Donald’s murder, finances sapped and kicked out of public service without his pension.
This is Dave Beeman, getting his leg patched up from an apparent nail-gun accident, and getting back to work on the hangar offices.
This is a couple of Mexican construction workers getting stopped in a black truck at the El Paso border crossing.
This is Johnny Smith as the sole inheritor of Donald Hoover’s estate. This is Johnny Smith walking away scott free.
It was a real fiasco.