I Would If I Could (But I Can’t, So I Won’t)

Where was that community spirit, fostered by the delightful approach of Christmas morn? Why would no one play Scattergories with me?

Tony approaches; his weapon is raised nervously.


What do you want to say to TONY?


Tony says: "Hello ARFARKENBAR"


Tony says: "…Actually, I had a GREAT holiday, thanks for asking – how about you?"

> SAY "SH*T"

Tony says: "The parse routines filter for rude words in twenty-seven languages. Please do not swear again or you will be logged off."


Tony says: "The parse routines filter for double entendres in twenty-seven languages. The penalties for such offences will be stiff."


Tony says: "I don’t understand."


Tony does not reply. He raises his fearsome tool…


TONY drops his sword and collapses to the ground in fits of giggles.


You get Tony’s sword.


(The cursor blinks, waiting for you to press <CR>)

As usual, the pre-Incarnation days were slightly fraught as ‘stuff-to-do’ continued to be required to be done, and the children grew cumulatively more excited day-by-day.* On Christmas Eve, we invited friends and such to our abode for mulled wine and mince pies (something we normally do a WEEK or so before) – imagine, if you can be arsed, the rumbling hub-bub of adult chatter topped by the foot-crashing thumps of sugar-fuelled infants, and the thunderous cacophony of falling furniture, all to the background accompaniment of the Kings College Choir singing carols and Arias.**

However, it was bloody difficult getting ANYONE in my (extended) family to play any sort of game over the Christmas period.

(Magic was right out, of course, as they think its some sort of diseased pastime for social outcasts and people with inordinately large, sticky-out teeth.***)

I thought I’d ease them gently into the subject with a flighty round of Boggle, followed by an informal Scattergories bout (deliberately NOT keeping score and, therefore, not having a winner); I attempted the bow-shot of my prototype children’s ‘Save the World’ game – it’s simple and sweet and has little plastic animals that you move around…

The response was luke-warm at best.

Why? Well, frankly, despite mutterings about colds and hangovers, I think the real problem lies in people’s attitudes – i.e., they stink! Nobody (apart from me, my wife, and my mother-in-law) seemed the least bit bothered with this caring, sharing family activity – preferring, as they did, to drink all my coffee and eat all my Paprika-flavoured Pringles.

No fair!

Where was that community spirit, fostered by the delightful approach of Christmas morn? Whither the filial bonding, the forgiveness of past wrongs, and the optimism for future successes? I’ll tell you – they must’ve been at the bottom of my Cadbury’s biscuit tin, judging by the energetic consumption and dismantling of said receptacle.

The family that plays together, stays together – right?

I would posit that all of us, in this particular Yuletide group, had reached a plateau with regard to the games that we play when together. It’s the simple fact that some of us are better at the games than others and, as a consequence, those less able have become bored: "What’s the point if <insert name here> is going to win AGAIN?"

Do you remember when Trivial Pursuit hit the stalls? Do you remember it being played ALL OF THE TIME? Now do you remember one person who was always in there with the answers? (You must’ve replied in the affirmative) I thought so! Bloody tedious, wasn’t it?*****

So what can we do to regain those jovial rollicking-relative days of old? The solutions available to us include:

a) stopping the winners from playing ever again – they can brew the Java and unpack the nibbles from now on,
b) asking the winners to teach us how to play better,
c) only playing games with the inept,
d) playing some NEW games that you might be better at, or
e) taking up Asheron’s Call and removing oneself from polite society altogether

(Aww, now you know I’m just kiddin’ ya about Asheron’s Call – of course it has its social elements…like pretending you’re a half-bred monster-man with big weapons and an unpronounceable name.+++)

Now, let’s take this niggling idea and transpose it, fulsomely, onto the world of Magic: The Gathering: If you play at a club, or regularly at tournaments, there will be a group of people who are simply better at the game than you.++ Is that any reason to quit? Is that cause enough to drown your competitive sorrows in caffeine and salted potato snacks (especially seeing as it’s at my own personal expense)?

No, of course not.

At least, I hope not.

Now that we’ve entered the true millennium, I’d like to think that this year’s maxim should be "HELP THY FELLOW PLAYER"

No cheating.

No ID-ing.

No collusion.

No complaining.

No patronising.

No hustling.

No racism.

No sexism.

No sexualism.

No ratings war.

No disrespect.

No elitism.

No pomposity.

No arrogance.

No milk today.

Ciao babies,

Tony Boydell

Les Notes De Pied

* – "Day-by-day, day-by-day, O! Dear Lord, three things I pray…"

** – I’m not much of an opera aficionado – not knowing, as I don’t, my arias from my elbow

*** – I DID manage to make it to the marvellous WAMSDAD club in Maidenhead for their last meeting of the year. I flopped appallingly in the draft, going 1-2; however, team prize split yielded a Foil Jolrael for me and a Parallax Wave for Brett (a fellow Hellfish, who managed 0-3 with a great Black/Red monstrosity that decided to manascrew him, in some shape or form, IN EVERY GAME OF THE GRUDDAM EVENING!)****

**** – He threw his sideboard across the room and fumed for several minutes. It was a bit like Scanners, but without the iddy-biddy bits o’brain

*****- With regards to Trivial Pursuits, I WAS that anorak…

++ – Unless you are, actually, the best player in the area – in which case, go take five…let the rest of us stew in our mournful gravy

+++ – A bit like Zvi Mwshvswshvitz in the real world