Playing Dice with the Devil: What happens when the BP staff meets a pile of board games

By Lindsay Gibb

Games from my past are strewn all over my living room floor. These are the spoils uncovered during a cupboard raid at my parents’ house. Boxes containing Trouble, Trivial Pursuit, Boggle, and Balderdash block the path from the front door to the kitchen and my cat periodically walks through the middle of game-play to get to her food. What to do with these boxes, these bits and pieces is anyone’s guess.

While in the brainstorming stages for this issue of the magazine it seemed we had lots of ideas about video games and schoolyard play, but we were lacking an essential board-game element. With events such as Games 101 going on, we could have easily run a feature on people who get together in public places to play board games, but what I really wanted was to find a group who was usurping the way regular board games are played in favour of taking their own creative liberties. Once this idea occurred to me I thought, “this sounds like too much fun. Why don’t we just do it ourselves?” And so, our Broken Pencil games night was born, where a group of our Toronto contributors and friends got together at my house to create a board game mash-up.

The participants:
James — ezines section editor
Erin — our new book section editor
Andrea — our old advertising manager, current book reviewer
Matt W. — a freelance photographer
Brian — an illustrator
Matt D. — an illustrator (and my husband)
Mike — a friend

The Materials:
Clue
RISK
Battleship
Connect Four
Twister
Yahtzee
Sweet Valley High the game
Decahedron Dice
and a Ouija Board

The launching point is the Sweet Valley High game. Digging out its contents, the only thing Erin can remember is that the purpose of the game is to find your boyfriend and go to prom. With this in mind, she, Andrea, Matt W. and Brian start searching for their hunks.

In the meantime James has the idea that he and Mike will be the boyfriends who, decidedly, are off at war. Using Battleship to fight and the RISK board and some Scooby-Doo Clue characters to represent the boyfriends as they are taken in battle, the war wages until two of them are dead. When it’s time for the living boyfriends (and their zombie counterparts) to come back to Sweet Valley, the folks back home are tired of traveling the halls of the school and have swapped that game board for the Clue house. Now the four girls from Sweet Valley high, the two living boyfriends and the two un-dead boyfriends are traveling around the mansion trying to solve the traditional Clue mystery.

At this point the goal varies for each player. The girls want to move around the Clue mansion without running into any zombies, and to solve the mystery in order to win the mansion. The boyfriends want to save the girls from the zombies while avoiding being eaten by one. Finally the zombies want to meet the living characters (particularly the girls) in

order to eat them and recruit some more zombies, as undead teenaged boys would.

The fate of the character that is unlucky enough to meet up with a zombie is decided in a game of Connect Four on a Ouija board. If the living character loses they become a zombie, but if the zombie loses he has his head chopped off. Of course, this isn’t the end for the zombie. Since we’re making up the rules as we go, it seems the goal is to keep the game going for as long as possible, so we decide that on his next turn the zombie must play dice with the devil for a chance at redemption. We make Matt D the devil, hand him a Yahtzee cup and die and sick him on the zombie.

For some reason it still seems that the game is not complex enough, so we incorporate the twister spinner and the decahedron dice to be used in conjunction to decide the amount of spaces to move on the game board. Upon reflection, there is already enough going on in this game, and these add-ons are completely unnecessary.

In the end Mike manages to evade all of the zombies, remains a living boyfriend and makes it to the courtyard without getting caught. Even though his potential girlfriends have all been turned into zombies, this escape, we decide, makes him the winner.

We decide to name of our game Sweet Valley Die. The premise of which seems to give away that some of us are horror and ’80s teen movie fans. Maybe we’re breaking some kind of copyright by calling it this, but since we’re not going to market it anywhere, it doesn’t really matter.

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