Do Not Pass Go

Oh boy! Oh boy! It's that time of the week, again. Yes! Board Game Night is finally here! Thank goodness. Work has been dreadful. The sort of drudgery and frustration that only Cinderella seems to understand. You've been looking forward to this all week long and tonight's the night at last! It's time to prepare. Only 30 minutes to go.

Of course, you would have been prepared earlier, but you've been given extra hours three days running. You know how it is, you get home tired and worn out and you just don't feel like doing much of anything except sitting in front of the TV and trying to remember what happened last time in Throney Games or Who's a Doctor.

The time has come though. Time to gird your loins and do battle against mighty opponents across the war torn lands of your game room. Time to demolish your opponent's armies, wreck their plans, and dominate them on the table of doom! Doom! Doom! Doom! Like a great drum banging out your destiny and their fate, you can hear it echoing in the halls of the mighty as they chisel your name into the firmament forever reminding the generations to come of your revered name. Let them tremble before you. Let them beg for mercy. None shall be given, their only reward is the solace of the grave as you destroy them utterly.

First, you have to tidy the house. Can't have people stumbling around the soda bottles from last week, or the dirty dishes from the rest of the week. And those pizza boxes, best not to discuss those. It's like a live action Civ game in there and clearly the pepperoni have been hoarding resources. Maybe if you bag them they'll run out of oxygen. To the sink with the glasses. Recycle the bottles. Vacuum the carpets until they stop crunching.

The table is a mess. Never did properly clean up the soda spill from someone's over enthusiastic celebration. Now you've got sheep semi-permanently glued to the surface. A die rolls funny with one side slightly stickier than the rest. Fortunately, a judiciously applied butter knife and some leverage frees them both. Hot soapy water, that's the ticket. Scrub away the dust of a thousand chips. Dried ranch dip? No problem. A swipe and a wipe and the field is prepared. 15 minutes.

Phone calls. "Right, you'll be late, no worries. No one else is here yet -- thank god. No no. No problem. Get here when you can. Yes, wife and baby come first. I completely understand. Right. See you when you get here." Coward, you think to yourself. Stand up and announce your departure. Go, man, go. Seek not, permission, simply do.

"No, I don't know what we'll be playing. Who's turn is it to pick? No, Frank picked last week. I'm sure of it. Yes, we played Carcassonne, remember? The week before? Are you sure? Well, what did we play last week then? Ticket to Ride? I don't remember that. Wait, yes I do. You stole longest route from me didn't you, you Bastard! Revenge is mine! I'll have you hung and drawn and quartered! I'll see your miserable family cast into the gutters for your offense! May the devil himself embrace you passionately on your arrival in hell! What? No. Nothing. Just thinking to myself. Right, so, if we did Ticket to Ride last week, that means it was Ken's pick and THAT means that it's my pick this week. Damn. What? No, no problem, just... contemplating my options. No. Right. See you then, then."

Damn damn damn damn. What game? No more gateway games. You've done them all in the last month. Need something meatier. Crunchier. Like the carpet. No. Not like the carpet. Think! What about Cosmic Encounter? No! It takes too long to set up, let alone play. And Frank always wins it anyway. A train game? No, not twice in a row. Although, Ticket to Ride almost doesn't count as a train game... hmm. Wait, does Ken know the rules to Age of Steam? No, he's never played before. What about Union Pacific? No, forget train games. We are not men of transportation, we are warriors, thirsting for blood.

What you want to play is some big box adventure offering. Descent? Set up is too long. The Adventurers? Too light. Candamir? Not adventury enough! Formidable Foes? Tricky, but maybe. Check the rules. Ahh, right, the leveling up could be a problem, but we should be okay if Dean doesn't show. Dean, the Duke of Doofery. Dean, the only person you've met who gets lost playing Candyland. Many a battle has been lost thanks to Dean charging the wrong way up the metaphorical field. May the Lord hear your prayers, no Dean please. Then we can play a good, solid game.

Phone again. "Oh, hi Dean. So, you definitely will be able to make it. Well, that's really... excellent. Glad to hear it. Right. See you when you get here."

Bloody hell! Never again! Animal sacrifices if necessary to keep Dean away next time. You'll personally burn bacon on an open flame if it prevents Dean from being able to make it.

Snacks! You've totally forgotten about the snacks. Why does the fridge echo like that? And what kind of dip can you make with a year old jar of pickles, ketchup, and one sad little half-used packet of instant noodle flavoring, shrimp. Crackers. Got to have crackers here somewhere. Ritz, half packet. Saltines, 8. Pretzel sticks, half box. Cheerios, 4, slightly stale. Okay then. Oven, 400 degrees, 5 minutes. All of it inside. Sprinkle noodle flavoring. Shake vigorously. Instant party mix! You're a genius. Watch out Gordon Ramsey, there is a new challenger on the field. Jamie Oliver be damned. Gamers don't need organic, green, healthy foods. You need gamer fuel. Starches, sugars, salts, occasional grease. Fried bits! These are the things that legendary heroes eat and drink!

Drinks! Wine? No! No wine. Real gamers do not imbibe wine with their games. Wine is for those with time to sit around and reminisce about annuities and investment strategies. Not conquerors.

Beer? Oh, if only you had beer in stock. No, friend beer has helped you lo these many nights and it is only thanks to him that you have made it this far. Alas, he has done his duty and you must do without this evening.

Soda? One can of Mountain Dew. Better down it now before the others arrive. How else will you make it through this night of valor? Better to have it yourself now than try to share out amounts that merely dampen the tongue without satisfying the thirst.

Water! Water it is. Water with a squirt of lemon juice. Yeah, in the champagne glasses. How up scale. Just like those fancy restaurants you've read about. With the folded napkins. And the parsley on every plate. And obscure cuts of meat that only reveal themselves if you happen to move a crouton to one side. No! May it not be so! You'll have none of that at your game night. Just water. Plain, ordinary, tap water for all. Maybe with an ice cube. Nothing more!

Still, what game? Don't panic. Keep calm. You've got at least three whole minutes to figure it out. Card games. Card games are easy and fast to set up. Bohnanza? Not enough people really. Bang!? Not since the argument about who could see who from where. Citadels? Money, Kings, assassination. Dean's tendency to eat the butterscotchy looking money. Better pass. Guillotine? French Revolution, head chopping, Piss Boy. Not for a whole evening, though. You need something with bite. Something with conquest. Something with a challenge. Something exactly like...

A knock at the door.

And that's why you ended up playing Fluxx all night long, instead.
 

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