Life as a board game

August 6, 2020

Listen to “Life As A Board Game” on Spreaker.

Board games have never mimicked real life, at least my real life. I have no history of wanting to be a tycoon that would have informed me of how to win at Monopoly. As far as Settlers¬† of Catan, had I ever been a real life settler, I’m quite sure I would have perished with the first frost. I can’t even begin to imagine what Chutes and Ladders is supposed to replicate in my life, unless it was that time I tried to learn how to ski.

But now comes Ticket to Ride, and it is clear, especially from its European edition, that not only is it representative of my recent life, it IS my recent life.

The object of the game is to score points by completing train routes throughout the major cities of Europe. The object of my recent travels was to complete train routes throughout the major cities of Europe. As Carol and I played Ticket to Ride for the first time, it kept occurring to me just how much all those pleasant afternoons spent in cafes with my Eurail rail planning app were comparable to a board game. It’s like taking a long walk, and realizing you took the same route as a knight in chess. (Taking a walk is not like playing chess at all; I just thought it’d make a clever analogy.)

Back to my real life board game (or the board game that’s like my real life). You accumulate more points the longer the train set is that you can complete on a particular route. In my real life, I always looked for routes that were ideally four hours in length, with first class seating, no station changes and a fully stocked bar. In the board game, there are no bonus points available for any of these amenities, which I hope is addressed in future editions of the game. (You could make it a drinking game. Every time you add a bar car, you take a shot of tequila.)

“In my real life, I always looked for routes that were ideally four hours in length, with first class seating, no station changes and a fully stocked bar.”

Back to reality, whichever one we’re discussing. Carol is demonstrating she’s a strong player of the game, and now will probably download the Eurail planning app on her phone for our next real train trip. Which means, when we slide into a cafe, we’ll be able to compete in real life rail planning as well. (The first one to plan a route with first class cars, no changes and a bar car wins and takes a shot of tequila. Works for me. Maybe get our Happy Hours started earlier now that there’s a game involved.)

In the board game, the game ends when you run out of train cars. In real life, that happens when you use up all the travel days on your Eurail Pass. In a final ironic display of life imitating a board game, real life travel ended with the coronavirus pandemic, which is where the board game, at least here at home, has had its beginning. Come to think of it, the pandemic has also made the stock market look like a game of Chutes and Ladders.

I’m thinking maybe I should start playing monopoly again.

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