Hello, Chaz Marler from Pair Of Dice Paradise here, and I accidentally find myself in the middle of a mini series about the many aspects of board gaming -- other than the game play itself. So, since I’m already here, I might as well continue with the next facet of board gaming on my list.
Not more than two weeks ago, I found myself more than two hours into a four player game of Orleans. Or possibly “Or-lee-owns”? I dunno. I was calling it “Pandemic” all weekend.
Anyway, how you pronounce it isn’t important. What is important is that this was a friendly game. We were all joking and having a good time. You know, because I was involved. I’m infectious. That is to say, I’ve often heard that I have the personality of a virus.
The game Orleans is comprised of several boards. One of the boards is a map, populated with cities that are connected by roads and rivers. One way players earn points is by building trading posts in these cities. However, each city may contain only one player’s trading post, so it’s first come, first serve, making it possible for another player to sinisterly cut you off and ruin your plans.
Well, we were no less than two rounds away from the game’s end, and I was on track to actually not come in last place! (I find it best to set realistic goals.) But then, at the last possible moment, the player before me got a lucky break, hedged ahead of me, and built a trading post right where I was planning on going, completely destroying the master plan I’d been developing over the course of the afternoon.
And then I experienced something that hasn’t happened to me in years. Seeing my chance at not-coming-in-last-place ripped from my clutches, a flash of competitive anger burned over me. My face went flush, the primitive part of my brain took over, and I genuinely considered losing my mind right there in front of everybody.
Fortunately, the rational part of my brain caught up within milliseconds and reminded me that it’s just a game, and that it didn’t really matter. I just got caught up in the game because I was enjoying building my engine and working through my strategy.
But my momentary, prickly, competitive outrage surprised me. Especially since competition is pretty much central to the concept of gaming. Of course, varying levels of competition are available in games, but I know several people who don’t play board games at all because they dislike competition.
So, is that internal competitive fury that motivates a gamer a dangerous thing? Or is a little competition a healthy thing, and another benefit of the board game hobby? Let me know what your experience been.