Thursday, December 09, 2021


 I have played a traditional game for the first time in it seems forever (since before the pandemic was pronounced, anyway).  As you can guess from the title, it was a game of Risk.  I hadn't played classic Risk for years (decades?) so it was quite a blast.

At first I was dubious about whether to play or not.  Memories of all night sessions, juvenile dummy spits, crazy 'rules' being invented and fought over, all these things tend to make me avoid a game these days.  But I decided to take a risk myself, and have a go again.  Afterall, it was the first 'classic' wargame that I played (over forty years ago) so it seemed kind of fitting as a way back into the groove of gaming.

The board was a 'vintage' wooden backed number from the early eighties.  Beautiful.  Cards matched the board.  Rules were 'standard' from then.  Pieces were imported from a more modern 'euro' style iteration of the game, a great improvement aesthetically from the always fiddly and cheap looking plastic bits that came with the older version.  It was a three player game.  Pink, Red and Black.  I was Pink.

My opponents had varied experience.  Both are hooked on phone based Risk MMOs, their favourite app being close but not identical in rule interpretation to the standard rules we used.  The black player had also intermittently played the board game (under some strange house rules at times) for almost three decades.  There was no obvious disadvantage to any of us.

The game took about six hours.  It hardly dragged at all, even in the middle phase.  This was a pleasant surprise.  I came out victor, by acclamation, as my steam roller was about to take off and there was no way the other two could stop it.  I was quite happy to go on for a bit longer, as I wouldn't have surrendered quite yet, but was happy to take the points.  And, of course, the GLORY!

Apart from the shared sociality of a good game, the thing I enjoyed most about the game was realising that my 'strategic brain' seems to have evolved since I last played something.  Reading the shape of the board and the pattern of play, biding time and using other's 'strengths' against them, getting inside their decision loops, all seemed to be much easier and less theoretical than they used to be.    Is it the result of playing only 'Go' and Chess occasionally over the past year, stripping the glitz off of strategy and only leaving the will to win?  Is this me evolving after a long break, having absorbed decades of experience?  If so, I like it.

It might be a while before I do it again, though hopefully not years.  Happy gaming to you all, and stay safe.