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I have a confession to make.

I am a nerd.

Not just any old nerd.  I’m a super nerd capable of giving the fellas on The Big Bang Theory a run for their money.   I own every video game system that’s been released in the U.S. since the original NES, and my collection of games is truly impressive.  I even have a special chair for retro gaming–a big, comfy papasan that I can burrow into while playing Final Fantasy VI.  I spend thousands of dollars on custom computer gaming rigs just to make sure I can run the latest titles at maximum resolution and settings.  I am a connoisseur of classic and modern board games, from chess and backgammon to Carcassonne and Ghost Stories.  I’ve not only played Dungeons and Dragons for almost fifteen years; I’ve been a DM for seven.  I can (and will) argue that video games are a valid art form, as are comic books.  I watch cartoons, and science fiction television, with unapologetic passion (The Highlander, Invader Zim, Dragon Ball Z, and Death Note are some of my favorite television series ever).  I read Jim Butcher (my favorite modern author), R.A. Salvatore, and Simon R. Green.   The random contraptions I’ve built would bring a tear to the eye of the most avid MythBuster.  And finally, I do science, not because it pays well (it doesn’t), but because I genuinely think it’s cool.

Fortunately, I’m just as passionate about physical fitness as I am recreational gaming and reading.

I say this to give you a bit more information about me, and to provide a bit of background for the following.  It’s my first multi-part post in a long while, because I just don’t have the time to keep writing tonight.  Enjoy.

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My fingers are laced together, obscuring my mouth from view as I contemplate the scenario before me.  The relative probabilities of success surge through my mind in binomial equations and density curves.  I see multiple avenues of approach, but nothing that comes without a hefty risk.  But the potential rewards…

Beside me, Hank grumbles, “Dude, you’re taking forever.”

“World conquest isn’t something one pursues hastily,” I answer.

I survey the board, assessing troop placement, reinforcements per turn, and relative army strengths in what is the most intense game of Risk I have ever played.  Today is–Lord, this is hard to admit–day three of the game.  What started as a friendly six person Thursday afternoon game has gradually become a cut-throat battle between me and the person across the table: Jenny.

I glance up at her, a lovely specimen of gamer chick, with her fit, pear-shaped frame.  She is observing the board as intently as I am, lips pursed, blonde-and-chocolate highlights framing a slender, almost angular face and blue eyes that flit to and fro in concentration.  I see her focus on Australia.  I’ve been amassing forces there for the better part of two days, preparing for a major siege of Asia.  She knows it’s coming, and she’s been fortifying her territories there.

Hank grumbles again, “Dude, seriously, are you ever going to go?”

I click my tongue and shake my head.  “Patience, padawan.”  I casually reinforce Australia, and drop another few on Greenland and Alaska for good measure.  A quick skirmish from Alaska.  Fortify Alaska.  Then Jenny moves.  As expected, she fortifies Siam, India, and China, ready at a moment’s notice.

But it’s all a ruse.  In Chapter XX of The Prince, Machiavelli wrote that the problem with a fortress is that it draws attention, which is precisely what I wanted.  While she’s been focused on my upcoming Australian attack, she’s left Africa relatively unguarded, poorly enough that I can sweep through from Brazil.  By simultaneously attacking from Australia to keep her from moving her forces, I can control Africa in no more than two turns, then it’s a simple matter of pushing through Europe from Greenland and North Africa while keeping her Asian forces occupied from Alaska and Australia.

My turn.  Drop every reinforcement on Brazil.  Full attack from Australia, Greenland, and Alaska.  Fortify Brazil from Venezuela.  I hear Jenny whisper, “Oh fucking hell,” and I smile.  She sees it coming, but it’s too late.  On my next turn, I unleash plastic figurine hell.  The game is over in 20 minutes.  Hank and Jenny stare at the board, now dominated by my blue armies.  “Dude, fucking really?  I didn’t see that shit coming.”

“I’m the Keyser Söze of Risk,” I answer with a smile.

Jenny busts out laughing.  “Seriously, you had me so freaked out about Australia and Alaska that I never imagined you’d try from South America.  You just brain fucked me.”

“The greatest trick the Devil ever played,” I say as I start cleaning up the board.  Jenny chucks a six-sided die at me.  I let it hit my chest.

Following clean-up, I grab a glass of scotch and excuse myself to the front porch.  The sun has long since set, and Hank has resumed drinking heavily and chatting up the few remaining girls from a party in which I’d taken no part.  I’m mentally exhausted from the three day long battle, and I have no desire to deal with loud music and drunk women.  Instead, I light a cigarette and sit on the porch swing, watching the fireflies dance through the yard, basking in the warmth of the summer night.  I recap the game in my mind, piecing through my errors and considering what to do in similar situations in the future.

“Glad to see you’re enjoying your victory.”  Jenny’s voice yanks me from my reverie.  I look toward the door and see her leaning against the door frame, arms folded as though judging me, but she’s smiling quite genuinely.  She holds up her own glass, a dark soda-based concoction, and asks, “Mind if I join you?”

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12 Comments

  1. Ah, how I love a nerd. Lovely post. Leaves me wanting more.

  2. Excited to see what is coming Bi… This reminds me of college and 20 hour Axis and Ally games. Man, I love that game!

    • That game has been the source of much anxiety and rage amongst me and my college friends.

  3. I love that you’re nerdy. Can’t wait for part 2!

  4. Bi – Can I tell you, that you’ve never gotten me this wet before … but I’m talking about everything above the line. My guy builds his own rigs. We too have owned every system back to the SEGA Genesis including hand-helds. I used to play Streets of Rage until my eyes ached. We currently have him and my girlie playing Skyrim simultaneously on their respective rigs.

    Comic books, video games, board games, fantasy novels … *shudders* Damn, shower time …

    • Ahh, Skyrim. My productivity dropped to nearly zero for two weeks after that one came out. ^_^

        • Gillian Colbert
        • Posted April 4, 2012 at 11:12 am
        • Permalink

        LOL .. I can imagine!

  5. I don’t know how you find time to play those games amongst everything else!

    • Careful planning! Admittedly, now that I have a career, I don’t get to play nearly as often as I would like. But I take a little time off whenever I can to play for an hour or two. And I don’t sleep much, so it’s usually late in the evenings.

  6. Love it and damn you for stopping there. But of course I understand you have a life to lead…
    Look forward to the next part…


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