No One Games in a Vacuum

This entry is part 6 of 42 in San Check

I learned to play chess at a young age. This kid taught me the basic rules. He would always beat me, but I would get better each day.

Or so I thought.

After awhile, I was learning to anticipate his moves and think a few steps ahead. Finally I had him.  Then he pulled this move he called castling. I thought he was making shit up.

Of course he wasn’t. He was providing enough information for me to play, but not enough to actually win. That did not stop me from playing him again and again.

I had to learn to beat him. So I kept at it. Okay, now I had him. He did not even seem to notice.


He looked up at me and then down at the board.  He placed his hand on the edge of the board and flipped it violently into the air.  The pieces scattered as the board landed upside down.

I don’t want to play anymore.

We never played chess again.

The Next Philosophy

Sometimes it was hard finding other kids to play chess. Some kids wanted to play Monopoly, others wanted to play Risk or a simple game of checkers. We all have our favorites and each of us probably has a particular board game we grew up with. With so many different board games out there, what do you do when one of your friends wants to play a different game than you want to play?

The answer is to create the ultimate board game.

To create this ultimate board game we first need to examine what they all have in common. With a focus on traditional board games, this can be narrowed down to two core elements.

  • A board.
  • Playing pieces.

One person wants to play chess? Drop the chess module in. Grandma wants to play? Drop the Parcheesi set in. Monopoly? Check. Battleship? Got it.

I had a couple guys play test this idea for me.

Mr. Cook says,

In my play test, I had at one long term table a guy who hadn’t played since [chess], a guy who was more into [Monopoly] and a guy who was recently in to [Risk]. The guy who hadn’t played [chess] didn’t want a lot of options. This solidified in my mind, along with the other evidence I’ve seen, that there are a lot of players who want to have very few options in their game. As a game goes on, that guy might see some of the cool things that other games are doing and might want to add some of those modular rules. This is something that is easy to do and change as the game progresses – he can pick up some of those more modular options if he wants after that point.

For instance, when your checker piece gets “kinged” you can upgrade to the chess rules. If the chess player wants to simulate enforcing taxes he can add the Monopoly options. Don’t like the way your navel battle is going? Pull out a deck of cards and play War!

Mike had this to say,

I think [a board game] needs to have elements of chaos in it. Sometimes that can be funny, or weird or off the wall.

Look, Mike. I appreciate you testing out my ultimate board game that will bring us all together under one banner, but this is not funny.

This is serious business.

Editor’s Note
Delve - San Check - TOC
[«««] PreviousNext [»»»]

  1. You know, for kids!
  2. Digger, Please!
  3. Semantic Railroads
  4. Mapping Progress
  5. Honeymoon Adventure
  6. No One Games in a Vacuum
  7. House Rules, You’re Doing It Wrong!
  8. WotC’s Poisoned Apple
  9. Oh Shit Run – An Outside Perspective
  10. Greyhawk Campaigns
  11. Nostalgia Vomit
  12. Dicing with Dinosaurs
  13. The Eye of the Dragon
  14. What Did You Do Over the Summer?
  15. It’s Like Cops and Robbers, but with Dice!
  16. Emergent Death or Why Losing Is Fun!
  17. How to Train Your Delvers (More WotC Snark)
  18. WotC’s Babel Fish
  19. More Nostalgia Vomit
  20. Fantasy Fighting
  21. Fighting Fantasy
  22. The Delvers 1985
  23. From Weird WotC to the creator of Giant Space Hamsters
  24. The Daedalus Complex
  25. There Is No Cow Level
  26. Double-decker Bologna Sandwich!
  27. It is Not a Secret Door if You Tell Me
  28. All Apologies
  29. Be the First to Solve the Mystery and Claim the Dungeon Treasure!
  30. Dungeon Treasure & Hidden Treasure
  31. You Unlock this Door with the Key of Imagination
  32. The Answer to the Mystery at The Delvers
  33. The First Keeper
  34. Sandbox Apophenia
  35. Nearly Enough Dice – Interview
  36. The State of The Delvers
  37. Vicariously Join Two Girls and Their Mom Around the Gaming Table
  38. Cassette Cover Art
  39. Bastion of the Boglings
  40. WotC Piss and the Last Boy Scout
  41. Campaign Timeline
  42. B4: The Lost City

The Delvers Podcast B-side