Thursday, July 30, 2009

Two Games

I think most people that know me know how much I love to play Risk. It started in junior high when Will, Lee, Peter, Sam, Craig, and I would have weekend-long sleepovers from Friday night through Sunday morning sitting in Lee's basement watching Star Wars movies and playing Risk. I'm pretty sure Lee's basement was designed for Risk: a big open floor, recliners, and a big screen TV for movies to play for those who had been knocked out early in the game. (The big screen TV isn't such a big deal today with everyone owning 52" plasma screens, but in 1998 a 52" projection screen was epic.)

This tradition continued throughout high school. Krister and John also played fairly often, giving us eight players who circulated in and out depending on availability. We rarely had trouble getting a group of at least four together for all night Risk games. I don't think we actually completed games very often. The most common ending would be someone having all of North America and South America and maybe Africa, while someone else owned Europe, Asia, and Australia. This would lead to a massive standoff usually with one side saying "screw it" and surrendering after 5-6 turns of give-take territories.

(Other game endings we experienced were: dog/cat/sleepy person walks on the board and ruins unit placement leading to everyone saying "screw it" and going to play Goldeneye; everyone saying "screw it" around 4AM with half going to sleep and half going to play Goldeneye; someone saying "screw it" after a broken non-aggression contract and quitting; someone saying "screw it" and resorting to good old fashioned violence; and I think once someone actually won legitimately.)

Towards my senior year Risk was replaced by Scrabble one night, quite randomly. It was pretty awesome. About 2 in the morning at a Trollwood (local theater arts group) cast/crew party one of us just got the urge to play Scrabble, so we went back to my house and started playing. At 6:13 we adopted the rule of not using the dictionary to find words after John spent 3 hours and 17 minutes looking through it, eventually finding the word "qiviut" giving him 54 points after a triple word score and winning the game.

In college my Risk playing days declined with our core group that played spreading itself across the US going to different colleges. Facebook has a Risk application called "Attack!" that we tried to play a few times, but without fail it would glitch out around round 3-4 and would randomly give the game to a player. Then Brad found something else, a website called Warfish.net. He said it was Risk online and invited us to join; I was excited but kind of tentative, afraid of the same glitches and errors in present in Attack!.

Thankfully, I was wrong. Save for a week when the Warfish servers were down, the games have played flawlessly. Even better, they log all moves and allow for replay videos of the games, log stats of victories/losses, and provide variations on maps and rules. Currently we're playing an almost perfectly replicated world map with 131 territories (slight change from Risk's usual 42) and includes rules like "fog of war" which means you can only see the nations next to your own. The fog really changes how you play since you don't know what bonuses opponents are getting or who's conquering Asia while you're trying to secure a few nations in Central America to just live a few more rounds.

We're having an absolute blast.

No mercy.

While we're all spread out--me in Utah, Brad in Massachusetts, Krister in wherever (something like Morocco or Uzbekistan probably), Lindsey, Will, Sam, and Craig in Minneapolis, Lee and Peter in Moorhead--we're still able to all log into Warfish and play Risk together just like in high school.

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