Last time, I talked about the group with whom I played Risk. By the way, if you’re reading this, then it’s evidence that I haven’t edited the blog before publishing it. As it stands, my brain is still wondering why it’s not asleep, and why someone with a Southern accent just asked me for cheese. Life is confusing, and I don’t understand it half of the time.
Anyway, I hit you with such an onslaught of exposition that I’m sure your heads collectively exploded. I apologize for that, and I sincerely hope that your medical insurance covers it. What would that go under? Emergency Room? Do ERs have the capacity to put an exploded head back together again? UK people, what’s the NHS like for exploding heads?
What? Oh, Risk, yeah.
So I mentioned Gilles before, and what I hadn’t mentioned – I don’t think – once again, rusty mind right now – is that he was in one of my courses at the University. The course was Post-Colonial Literature, and I took it because Rudyard Kipling was listed as one of the course’s main authors; I’d been reading an anthology of his horror stories, and I was desperately hoping one of them would pop up in discussion so I could seem smart and well-read.
None of them did, so I just spat out random thoughts that went through my head. Oh, Risk, yeah.
So I knew Gilles as a really smart guy. He knew three languages, and despite the fact that English was not his first language, he was much, much better than I was at literary discussion. (To wit: One of my ideas was to write a paper on how Rudyard Kipling kicked ass. I viewed this as a legitimate topic for anything other than Cracked.com.) But what I didn’t know is that we were equals on one very important level:
We’d both read a disgusting amount of the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels. For the uninitiated, the EU novels are a series of noncanonical (or canonical, depending on what sort of mood Lucas was in at the time of publication) plotlines about characters from the original trilogy and their offspring. The only thing you really need to know about the EU is that the Skywalkers continue to be The Most Important Family Ever and it takes
SPOILER An entire moon to kill Chewbacca
This was a recurring conversation between the two of us, and when I first found out that the guy occasionally ran Star Wars Risk sessions, I had to get in on them.
The ins-and-outs of Star Wars Risk are as follows:
- There are three factions: 1) The Rebel Alliance; 2) The Galactic Empire; 3) The Hutts.
- The Rebel Alliance should fight like they’re, well, an insurgency. Zipping around and not relying on one massive force is the encouraged method of play. Obviously, they want to take out the Emperor.
- The Galactic Empire’s main strategy in the films is analogous to the Soviet Union’s in World War II: Throw enough people at the problem, and the problem will be solved. Similarly, that is the way the Empire is played in the board game. The Galactic Empire wants to take out the Rebel Alliance, if you’ve been living under a rock for a while.
- The Hutts are the personification of capitalism: They’re sneaky, slimey sons of bitches, and are best played by people who don’t play well with others. Their goal is to control a certain number of resource planets–which, by my knowledge of the Star Wars universe, would be like if the U.S. discovered a planet completely made of oil. (Which, for the record, I think would be good. NASA would finally get some funding.)
- The Empire receives a fun little bonus that you might have heard of: The Death Star. The Death Star is moved around via die rolls and then can happily explode an enemy planet, provided the Empire player has a card for that.
- The Empire also puts down “bases.” Bases are little cardboard octagons that either have a portrait of the Emperor, or one of his Royal Guards–those guys in red with the bitching staves. These bases allow the player to roll an extra die in the event that the planet on which they are placed is attacked.
- Every faction receives bonuses for ships ranging from fighters to capital cruisers, e.g. X-Wings or Star Destroyers. I’d go into specifics, but you probably don’t care unless you desperately want this to be a review of a board game. (Which, I’ve just realized, I’m going to have to do for Bullet Reviews.)
- Like Risk, successful attacks on enemies nets you a card; unlike regular Risk, these cards can be traded in for boosts to attack or defense. It’s kind of like cards in Magic: The Gathering. It should also be noted that I have no idea how to play Magic: The Gathering.
- Like Risk, a prolonged game of Star Wars Risk can feel like it takes eons to finish.
So, those were the rules I heard the first time I played the game at Allison’s (Gilles’s girlfriend) apartment. It was Gilles, JonChad, Gary, Ray, and I. We sat around a small table next to a fire place; across the room was a bird, perched and squawking in terror at us as we screamed at each other over the Star Wars soundtrack looping in the background.
Since this was my first time playing, and I wore the Confusion Face (slack-jawed, head tilted, squinting), I was thrown on Gilles’s team, the Empire. Now, the Confusion Face did not leave the entire time I was playing. Gilles was the strategist, and I was a monkey who could roll dice.
We played against Gary and Ray (Gary’s housemate, cool guy who spelunked) as the Rebels, and JonChad as the Hutts. This fit our needs nicely as Gary and Ray were housemates, and thus it was assumed – by me – that they’d work well together; JonChad, as I mentioned, was prone to supervillain-esque plots of world domination that made mine seem paltry; and Gilles knew what to do to win, and I could roll a dice.
So, we turned on the Star Wars saga’s soundtrack and played. The game progressed slowly, as most Risk games tend to do, and most of us got progressively drunker as the rolls went on and everyone attacked one another to the point of stalemate. This didn’t bother me, as the MA in Creative Writing program was (and still is, I’d imagine) a joke–mostly due to my prowess at being a prolific writer of garbage. I didn’t have anything to do the next morning (this was well before the couple of weeks leading up to Production Week in Fiddler on the Roof), and was quite content to sit and dick around.
Around midnight is when I experienced what a ragequit looks like in real life.
A ragequit, for those of you who are not unabashed nerds, is when a player of an online video game spews forth horrible obscenities to teammates and opponents and leaves the game. Because I’m feeling generous, and am willing to break up this rambling brick wall of text, here are a couple examples… in ViDeOoOoOoOoO!!!!
And from my personal favorite, the only game in which I gladly play a troll (in more than one sense of the word):
So, that’ll give you a sense of both rage quitting and nerd rage; both of which are very potent sources of anger and energy that, if bottled and sold correctly, would put Red Bull out of business. (Note to self: Find wealthy MBA and start up a Nerd Rage Energy Drink company.)
Anyway, around midnight, Gary and Ray were on an offensive streak. Well, that is to say: Ray was on an offensive streak. He’d taken a few planets and captured a couple of our (the Empire’s) bases. He’d run up against the problem of not having enough troops to complete his maneuver, though, and passed the die to Gary.
Gary couldn’t roll to save his life. It was simply one of those things that happens; sometimes you roll sixes, sometimes you get steamrolled. Anyway, shortly after giving up and cursing the game for being retarded and gay, Gary left the apartment in what could be called a huff, and bolted out into the night.
I was concerned, because I didn’t know how easily his ego could be bruised, so I sent him a text message asking if he was okay.
From the confines of his impenetrable fortress in the Mid Rim territories (Kessel, for example) JonChad shook his head and said that was a mistake. Gary, he said, was overreacting, as usual. He might have also said this was because his mother drank while he was in the womb, but I can’t be sure about that, and might just be making it up.
We continued playing, with Ray doing better with Gary’s troops than Gary had been doing, and Gilles and I trying to take out the Rebels. (NOTE: Should have been easy, but, once again, I had no idea what was going on and was trying to take control of continents.)
About five minute in, a giant ball of snow thwacked against the window and scared the bajesus out of all of us. Outside, Gary was waving his arms in the air like a madman – or unsupervised child – and shouting that he was going to kick ass in the game and that we should let him in.
We did, and a few minutes later, as he failed in another attack, he was back to sulking.
The moral of this story, kids, is that those people you hear about online? The ones who go into a game, shout at someone for not being uber-leet, and then quit at the first hint of losing a match online? Those people exist. They live amongst us. They’re probably in your circle of friends, and you will never know about it until they play games around you.
Have fun being suspicious of everyone you know!
Next time: Hulking out over creating a New World Order