Saturday, 16 June 2012

Lesbians On: Valuable Lessons I Learned About Board Gaming

Hey guys, we’re a couple of very gay and very gamer chicks from Australia.
As I write somewhere, somehow, a postal package – the only kind of package I would ever handle – is slowly snaking its way towards my girlfriend’s house. Inside it contains two things. Twilight Struggle, the commended and recommended cold war game, and a gaming classic, Race for the Galaxy. But in the interim until this package of rainbows and gaming related happiness arrives, I thought I would write on the subject of:


And boy, did I learn all of these the hard way.

1. Boardgaming is not a valid way to express or resolve underlying group tensions.
This point is especially true for Risk. Anyone who has played Risk with a group of people they are close to will know that it DESTROYS friendships and RUINS relationships. To play Risk is to push your bf/gf/bff/bffbf/bffl/any other acronym to the extreme limits of their feelings towards you. So deciding to play Risk with the intention of having a fun afternoon that will bond your irritable and somewhat pissed off friends back together and bring about harmony and peace and love is just stupid. At least, I know that in retrospect.

The particular game of Risk I am thinking of ended particularly badly. Some of the highlights included: a player checking the rules to see if it was legal to attack himself; many tiny Risk tokens being thrown at said player - hitting 20 or so times for 0 damage per hit; and a player becoming so upset by everyone they locked themselves in the TV room with all seven seasons of Buffy. All this left just my girlfriend and I, ALWAYS competitive UNTIL THE DEATH, and utterly confused about what happened, staring at the board. From memory, we had the following conversation:

Me: Wow.
GF: Yep.
Me: This sucks.
GF: Yep.
Me: I WAS JUST ABOUT TO TAKE EUROPE. (Extremely Awkward Silence) I mean…um…wow, isn’t all this fighting terrible.

So, if you’re going to play Risk, you’ve got to be willing to deal with the risks. (badoomcha)

2. Do not pressure non-Boardgame Geeks into playing games with you.
They WILL go out of their way to show you they are not having a good time. They may even finish all your beer just to prove this to you. Once a non-gamer did even make me listen to an entire Jay-z album just because I made them play one stupid game of Puerto Rico. It is therefore, not worth it.

3. Playing Games Outdoors Is Not “A Great Picnic Idea.”
This is not a hard and fast rule - there is a difference between playing cards on the table in your backyard, and trying to play Smallworld in the middle of a busy park. Yes, I tried to play Smallworld in the middle of a busy park, and I regretted it even more than being forced to watch a video recording of the Taylor Swift concert.

First, my OCD girlfriend freaks out every time a piece of dirt touches one of her immaculately sorted tokens. Which is a lot of the time. Because parks are full of dirt. Being parks and all.
Second, the ants become massively annoying pests.

Third, large dogs, much larger, more scary, and more dangerous to your gameplay than ants, decide that trampling on the board would be a fun activity. Too many games that should have ended in my glorious Smallworld-domination instead ended playing hide and seek with many tiny tokens that were scattered all over the grass. THEN, WOE and MISERY if you happen to be me and have an EXTREMELY OCD girlfriend who discovers one of her little giant tokens has gone missing. This means you have to search your entire section of the park not once, not twice, but three times for this tiny little cardboard thing like it was a wedding ring.

The offending giant token

BUT it does not end there because, for the rest of the day and the next day, you have to hear about how her perfect mint condition board game now has a metaphorical scar so big and noticeable that it dwarfs the scars on TWOFACE. AND THEN one month later when you find the offending giant token under the five bivouacs, you do not even get an apology….
So I am not bitter about this point at all.
Anyway, I would recommend against playing complex multi-piece boardgames in the park.

4. The “Strip” of Strip Poker cannot be applied to games at random.
Like scrabble. It cannot be applied to Scrabble.
I am not going to elaborate on this one.

5. Do not ask your opponents what their master plan is, and then believe their answer.
One of my many flaws, boardgaming, and non-boardgaming, is my tendency to think out loud. Or what the Girlfriend calls “commentary you can’t switch off.” Take a game which we have played many a time, Settlers of Catan.

My Gf’s average turn in Settlers would sound like this:
“(silence…………………) How many turns until the barbarians attack? (silence……………………………..)”

My turn would sound like this:
“Well, ifIplacearoadhere,thenthatmeansyoucouldplaceyourknightthereandblockme.ButifIplaceitherethenIhaven’t gotenoughbricktogetallthewaytothewoolport.Icouldusethiscardand-Butyou’reholdingcardsinyourhand,whatif-OrmaybeI’mbetteroffjustbuildingacityandnotexpandingthisturn.No,butthenyoucouldbuildyourroadthere” etc,etc,etc, ad nauseum, and I mean nauseum.

Which means, at any one time during the game, you probably have a pretty good idea what I’m up to. Fortunately in most games, this kind of babble doesn’t matter too much, although it does make me shockingly bad at poker.
A habit I have is asking other players what they’re planning to do, and assuming they are as free and giving with their information as me. Turns out the bastards lie! You have no idea how many games of Citadels I have lost like this. Do not trust your opponent, even if they do provide you with snacks.

6. Do not beat your girlfriend too many times in a row.
Once is good. Twice is ok. Three times may even be acceptable. At this point it should become obvious, to you at least, that you are clearly the superior gamer. Skillz, stratergyz, movez, die modificationz, you’ve got it all. You don’t need to show this to your girlfriend again. She’s already seen it three times in a row. She may become dismayed, pouty, hungry, distracted. Her love of gamez may even begin to waver. As a boardgaming addict, this is the last thing I want to happen. My girlfriend disliking games is almost as bad as my girlfriend becoming straight. Fortunately, she is not close to becoming either of these things – like myself, she loves both the gamez and the ladies too much. My girlfriend is very understanding. She still gave me a goodnight kiss, even that day I won Dominion five times in a row. But let me tell you, it was a close call.

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