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Tycho / on Mon, Jun 9 2008 at 12:00 am

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Couch Diplomacy

Let me tell you a story about Robert.  I have often wondered if Business School transformed him into a monster, or if his psychology simply whirls around an inherently bestial core.  This tale may deliver a hint.

Negotiation is a course you can take in these institutions, like Usury or Potions.  On the first day, they separated into groups of two to play a highly codified version of Nuclear War.  It’s mostly discussion, but it does have three game “pieces,” written on three-by-five cards:

1.  A “Nuke” card, which represents your sleeping arsenal.
2.  A “Strike” card, used to wake up the aforementioned.
3.  A “Peace” card, which probably doesn’t see much use.

As the first round commenced, Robert suggested to his partner/opponent that, you know what, listen.  Let’s just tear up our nukes right now, in plan sight, and move forward in a spirit of shared purpose and reconciliation.  Agreement was instantaneous.  Cards were torn.  Of course, Robert had torn his peace card.  As the silos opened and coordinates were entered, the tenor of the negotiations were altered irrevocably.

Robert found it difficult to make friends.

Boom Blox has experienced a resurgence here, as we have travelled out of the main modes - some of which devolve into shooting-gallery style minigame abortions - and into the adversarial modes.  There are a few options in here, as is often the case in this game:  going into one menu will open up four menus which then bloom into eleven more options.  This is probably why we had not discovered that there is a fully-loaded version of fucking Warlords in there, queued up and ready to go.

Warlords is my heart’s delight, as Gabriel is quite aware.  The spirit of the game has been scrupulously maintained, though it now works in a way that makes it a more strategic experience.  The two player mode has a ton more maps, but the three included in four player all have their virtues.  The concept is surprisingly elegant: each identical castle has a number of gem blocks inside and on its ramparts that must be destroyed.  This is the standard Boom Blox motif that you already know about.  But there are two sizes of gem blocks, and knocking out the larger of the two gives that person another cannonball on their next turn, making you think twice about your targets.  Also, because of the unintended consequences shots can have, it’s easy to knock an enemy’s block into another opponent’s castle, or even into your own.  This complicates matters in the best kind of way.  Let’s break it down even further: it is a delicious, vandal thrill to throw heavy bowling balls at your friends’ shit.  The level of spite on offer here is comparable to a Gears chainsaw fatality, and if you don’t believe me, it’s because you haven’t played it.  The couch diplomacy common to four player contests moved very quickly, as shifting allegiances, canny trick shots, and bizarre accidents altered the field of play.

This mode could use about a thousand more maps.

(CW)TB out.


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