(Originally appeared on danieljhogan.com)
Board games can bring out the worst in people (and are perhaps second only to Mario Kart when it comes to inciting anger).
My younger sister still holds a grudge against me for beating her at Monopoly in our youth. Yes, I was cheating, but it was her own fault for not paying attention. We both learned valuable lessons: she learned to never trust a banker,¹ and I learned just how hard a ten year old girl can punch.
Decades later, my sister still brings this one game up, and is hesitant to play most games with me.
I witnessed another anger inciting game this weekend, while playing the Civilization board game (based on the video game) with my friends, Ken and Francis.²
There goes your weekend. Images via Amazon and © original source.
Francis is quite taken with board games, and has the stacks of boxes to prove it. And when I say board games, I don’t mean Monopoly, Life, or Sorry. I am talking about “hobby” board games, such as Settlers of Catan, Dominion, and the aforementioned Civilization (to name only a few).
I partake in a weekly Game Night with the pair (and others), and depending on the game, we will either be laughing all night, or looking for the nearest heavy object to hurl.
The latter was the case with Civilization on Sunday afternoon. It nearly came to blows.
I was Egypt,³ Ken was China, and Francis was Russia. The board was laid out in a sort of Christmas tree shape, with Ken and Francis on either side of the ‘base’ and myself far away at the ‘top.’
Ken and Francis’ proximity to each other (only two square ‘land’ tiles separated them) resulted in a crash course with wackiness. By which I mean, Francis went after Ken like a junkyard dog.
Ken was content to focus on culture and creating a peaceful civilization, while Francis went the opposite way: War. Ken, bless him, took the assaults as personal.
“I just want to build libraries!” Ken yelled as his troops were crushed under Francis’ iron heel. Ken threw up his hands and resorted to a weapon of his own: Passive Aggressiveness. “I can see you don’t care about culture or libraries. The arts clearly aren’t important to your people. All you care about is grunting and swords!”
Francis cleared Ken’s pieces off the board, “Dude, it’s just a game.”
Ken jabbed a finger toward my empire, “I don’t see you going after Dan at all, and he’s winning!”
Francis shrugged, “You’re closer.”
There was a loud scrape as Ken pushed his chair away from the table and got to his feet, “We are a peaceful people! We have libraries! You don’t even have writing!”
Later on, I emailed another friend, Glenn, about the near-brawl. His only response was, “Who the [expletive] plays Civilization just to build libraries?”
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¹ Summed up best in this hymn by Mojo Nixon
² Names changed, same goes for Glenn.
³ Egypt is so Over Powered (OP to use the gaming vernacular), that I ran away with the game. I had three Wonders of the World, gunpowder, rifle carrying cavalry, and steam power, while the others barely had irrigation. When/if we play again, we decided Egypt cannot be used.
Daniel J. Hogan always plays as Babylon in the computer version of Civilization, because he always liked the New York Dolls song. Follow him on Twitter, @danieljhogan