Saturday, January 12, 2013

Never Start a Land War in Asia

Just in case anyone at the highest levels of government is thinking about offering me a position in the Department of Defense, I would like to withdraw my name from consideration. I just finished an 80-minute RISK game with my six-year-old son and I cannot find a strong enough metaphor to describe how thoroughly I was demolished.

If you’re not familiar with RISK, the game of world conquest, you have lived an unfortunately sheltered life, and the rest of this story will be a blurry of meaninglessness. If you have played, then you know how important it is to take over Australia, which I did early in the game. I also took over South America for good measure. These, and a few skirmishes in Europe, were the extent of my strategy. (Which is why the aforementioned defense post is not for me.)

The Game of World Conquest

My son’s strategy involved piling his troops at different random places around the board, taking one country, and then ending his turn, leaving him with masses of forces scattered throughout the world blocking my way. In a real war, these forces would have died of malaria, frostbite, or alcohol poisoning.

I didn’t go easy on him either. Every turn I took my allotted number of soldiers and attacked strategically chosen locations close to my borders, hoping to chip away at his morale in a battle of attrition.

The climax of the war was a skirmish in Siam, whose existence I was unaware of outside of that movie with Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat. I would posit that if the fate of the world ever rests on a one-sided battle fought between an invading horde from China and a force of Siamese guards, we’d better stock up on canned goods. My humiliating defeat in Siam was followed by a mop-up operation in Australia. The jewel of my world empire had only one soldier in each of its territories. If it had been a real war, I suspect the men would have disappeared into the outback to survive on kangaroos, but as it was, they had to suffer the humiliation of my rolling ones and twos in opposition as my son’s juggernaut rolled through.

He was a gracious winner, reaching his hand across the table to shake hands and wish me “good game” after I swept my last troop into its plastic grave. He even attempted to patch my wounded pride by adding, “You were a good challenge, Daddy.”

I was the Blue team. Yep--all gone.

 I looked back across the table at my little Genghis Bonaparte, and then took in the mob of green plastic armies that had just turned Australia into its private playground. Maybe getting my butt kicked wasn’t such a bad thing. America might need a good general someday if Iceland and Kamchatka decide to invade.

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