Board Game Buzz Kills
There is no room in my heart for “Sorry, I didn’t know it was my turn!”
By John Miles, Santa Fe College
You’ve finally purchased your very own over-priced set of “Settlers of Catan.” What better way to celebrate your slight financial misstep than to rally up the team for a board game night? In the back of your mind, you know that you’ll only put it to use once or twice before it finds its place within the dusty black abyss of your closet, so you make sure to plan the night with extreme care.
Pizza has been ordered, soda and/or beer (only for 21+, of course!) has been purchased, and friends have been carefully hand-picked for your game based on their likelihood of not being annoying.
Your game night is virtually flawless on paper, yet you’re well aware that annoyingness can never be predicted.
Depending on your mood (usually reflective of your place in the game), any player at any time can become annoying or un-annoying.
There are a handful of sentences/phrases that anyone is capable of uttering, and if you hear one of these sentences, your game night has probably already been compromised.
Don’t panic. There’s an easy fix. But we’ll get to that later. For now, here are the Seven Deadly Sentences of the board game night. (Note: Some of these follow a Settlers of Catan theme, but they can and will appear in almost any other board game.)
“Sorry guys! I’m just a slow player!”
A comment like this is usually preceded by a high volume of condescending euphemisms encouraging the player to hurry the hell up.
Scientists haven’t discovered a cure for these types of people, though I haven’t given up hope yet. That being said, you shouldn’t feel obligated to invite them to your game night just because you know there’s something terribly wrong with them.
“Let’s team up!”
Team players stand no chance at ruining my game because I’ve chosen to stop their silly little acts before they ever get a chance to play them out.
While I’m aware of board games in which alliances are permitted (Game of Thrones Board Game, which you should definitely check out if you’re interested in what a ruptured brain aneurysm feels like), there is no place for teaming up in board games, unless you intend to find some new friends.
“Pass me the chips and dip.”
Eating chips and dip during a board game is like playing death metal in a coffeehouse. Show some respect for the silence.
I have to concentrate on how I’m going to beat you—by now, I’m not sure if I’m referring to the game or an event outside the game—and I can’t concentrate for more than a second without being lost inside the thunderstorm of your chips and dip addiction.
“Sorry guys! I didn’t know it was my turn!”
You’ve got a cell phone problem, mate! Eyes on the board, or right out the door. That’s the motto you should follow if you’re serious about having an incident-free game-night.
“I’m not going to win, so I trade all of my resources to _____ for a single sheep.”
The same phenomenon occurs with inexperienced Monopoly players when they go bankrupt.
Maybe inexperience is all it is—maybe you’re just unseasoned and haven’t yet learned the severity of your actions. You’re still committing an unforgivable offense, but I suppose you’re slightly less unforgivable for being a beginner.
“If we all team up against _____, there’s no way he can win.”
We’re getting into hot water here, and I’m starting to get worked up. As a frequent winner, I have trouble getting to sleep most nights because of these kinds of people. If you happen to have a reputation for winning, all the people with a reputation for losing might start teaming up against you from the very first turn.
But there are two scenarios in which leader-bashing is permissible: first, if they’re dangerously close to victory and you want to keep the game alive; second, if I’m the one doing it. My house, my rules.
You have to do what it takes to win, unless you’re my opponent, in which case you should always be a courteous and respectable player.
“I have to leave.”
At this point, you might wonder if this person was the real reason you bought all that alcohol. Concentrate. This too shall pass. If they naively suggest that you “just leave my pieces and go on with the game,” calmly suggest to them that they are wrong to make a suggestion, and that they’d better go before the situation gets any worse.
You may have figured out that sometimes a player is especially annoying and might even think to say three or four Deadly Sentences in the same night.
In this scenario, you will be faced with an ethics problem: “Do I give into the urge to heave them out the door, or do I harness my rage and direct it to winning the board game?” I’ve found that both will work just fine, but that the first option offers a more educational and rewarding experience. (Note: I would never actually throw someone out of a door.)
In a perfect board game, there won’t be a single utterance of any of the Seven Deadly Sentences. I am aware that this is virtually impossible. I am aware that the end result of throwing people out the door whenever they annoy you is that eventually there will be nobody left at the table but yourself. And I’m not so sure that I wouldn’t enjoy this scenario a whole lot more. Boy, would I make a great dictator! Maybe that’s why Solitaire is so popular.
If you think that I sound like an elitist, it’s because I do sound like an elitist. Enough bad board game experiences will turn the softest hearts into solid brick. I don’t forgive you if you are one of these people, and I can’t be sure that you won’t repeat your sins again, so the obvious course of action is to promptly remove you from the Board Game Group-Chat. You are hereby banned from our biannual board game night. And you. And you. And you! Wow! I’m the only one left! I guess I’ve won again.