Security Boardgames

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linusDuring these past holidays I’ve come to the realization that just like some babies have their “security blankets”, I have my very own “security boardgame”. Though it might sound funny (or sad maybe?) I think it is an accurate analogy. I have a boardgame that I constantly move from the closet to my car and vice versa; or to my wife’s car, carefully placing it next to the stroller so the box does not get damaged. I simply don’t want to get caught anywhere without it. It’s the “just in case” game. You know, “just in case” I find enough people and time to play it. I call it the security boardgame because I really do feel insecure and exposed if I go out on a trip without it. When I don’t have it I feel if the family gathering or friend’s get-together sucks, I have nothing to fall back on. I don’t bring it on all trips for fear that my wife might think I’m crazy[1]. And of course when I do bring it I rarely get to pull it out. But just knowing it’s in the trunk gives me peace of mind. It works exactly like insurance: It’s unlikely that you will be able to make a successful claim, even if you suffer the conditions you are supposedly insured against. Yet somehow you are tricked into having peace of mind.

I think a good security boardgame has to be very portable, meaning it has a small box and can be played in a small table. Ideally it will have appealing looks to entice non-gamers, and must have easy to explain rules to keep non-gamers from losing interest before play even begins. The difficult thing is finding a game that fits this description and yet makes it well worth your while. Since you are going through the trouble of carrying it around it should be a game you thoroughly enjoy.  Game length is important but a bit overrated. I’ve found that if you lie...err… surprisingly misjudge how long a game takes to play, people don’t mind as long as they are enjoying themselves[2]. The key is to multiply the real game length by the FGG factor[3] and use that number when asked: “So how long will this game take?”

My security boardgame is Nexus Ops. I don’t think it fits the bill perfectly because it lacks the looks to entice mature or uninitiated gamers. But I’ll be damned if somebody can to pack more fun in such small space and play time. Chaos in the Old World might challenge it from what I’ve read, but it is not as portable and suffers the same theme problem. Plus I’ve read it’s not very scalable. I regard Nexus Ops as the gold standard in scalability. It’s Ameritrash distilled, then concentrated and taken intravenously. I also have been known to carry Jamaica from time to time as a security boardgame. But I’ve used it not because it’s awesome, but because I feel it bridges the gap from the Wal-Mart boardgames to the Ameritrash boardgames. And the components are a lot more inviting to non-gamers and women than the Nexus Ops components. Overall it’s time better spent than watching a movie so it gets my vote (I can’t say the same for the Wal-Mart games). However I will say that any publisher out there willing to re-print or re-theme Nexus Ops with art that is easier on the eyes gets my pre-order, and I suspect many more.

So which is your security boardgame?

[1] While writing this it occurred to me that by getting rid of the spare tire, I can hide the game inside the spare compartment of our cars so my wife won’t know I’m still carrying that box around like an overgrown baby huey. The problem is I would need one copy of the game for each car. And I shudder to think what would happen if we did actually get a flat tire!

[2] Though I am generally an honest person, a small miscalculation of game time will not hurt anyone. After all, it’s not like game publishers are honest when printing the game length on the box. Yep, those dastardly publishers fool us every time. When looking at the printed game length on the box cover a quote from All My Circuits seems appropriate: “I would really like to believe that… So I do!” Just remember to act surprised that the game actually took longer and you’ll be fine.

[3] Current accepted value for the FGG Factor is .6285

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