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Gaming in the Nine Circles of Hell...
David Dixon
United States
Mauldin
South Carolina
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So, as I wandered through a wood in on the island of Catan, looking for some wood to harvest, I was being stalked by a leopard, a lion, and wolf. I despaired of getting out alive, but just when all hope seemed lost... who should I come upon but the ancient writer Virgil; strangely, he looks a lot like Mark Simonitch in a toga...
"Come," he said, "you have not wandered in your last forest, nor have you harvested your last wood... I must show you what happens to those gamers who have passed on, but been found unworthy..."
And so, like Dante, I set off with my ancient guide, to the underwold, and, like Dante I shall relate what I saw there, as a warning to those BGGs who do evil.
We passed through the Gates of Boardgamer's Hell, where "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate" was written above the door in Scrabble tiles.
I took my first step along the path and discovered what happens to boardgamers who do evil...

PS: My apologies to Dante. If you've never read the Inferno, you owe it to yourself to do so.

Disclaimer for ShreveportLAGamer who responded so earnestly to my attempt at dark humor at an earlier geeklist:

"This Geeklist is not to be misconstrued by you or other parties as an attempt by me to validate and prove the existence of hell which this author acknowledges is at 'such contriviance to the facts' known about the physical universe as revealed by naturally testable, repeatable, and observable phenomenon. Nor is this Geeklist an attempt to validate Dante's Judeo-Christian view of the afterlife, and the previous statement is not meant to minimize the role that Muslim eschatology may have played in the formulation of Dante's magnum opus."

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1. Board Game: Stratego [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:2090]
David Dixon
United States
Mauldin
South Carolina
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Limbo; The First Circle: The Righteous Unbelievers

"In the first circle are those boardgamers who have committed no real sin, but lacked the faith and drive to push on to playing more serious games," Virgil explained to me. "They could have been gamers, had they been just a little more devoted."

Around me were thousands of tables, each with two players, concentrating on the gold embossed red and plastic pieces in front of them.

"So what is their punishment?" I asked, fearing for the enternal souls of my casual gamer friends.

"It is not true punishment," Virgil explained, "but not heaven either. They, for all eternity, will play Stratego. Those here did not aspire in life to play anything more, and so after death they still do not, but they must suffer knowing that there are far greater games than this, but can never ascend to Paradiso, and play truly great games with great gamers for all eternity. That is their punishment."

I quaked imagining the souls I saw there trying to capture flags and not run their level 1 generals into bombs for all eternity, when they could be playing so much more, but what I was to see as I descended deeper into Hade's region would soon eclipse the thought...
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2. Board Game Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
David Dixon
United States
Mauldin
South Carolina
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The Second Circle: Lust

Virgil led me on deeper into that infernal city, and we came upon a huge room. It was a vast basement, with a wall of Star Trek novels, Dungeon Guides, and Warhammer 40k sets on one side, and a huge gaming table the size of Minnesota set up in the middle.

On the table was every single Fantasy Flight game ever produced, and many I had never seen in our mortal plane. Twilight Imperium, in its full glorious 8 player setup, A Game of Thrones with its blade, throne, and raven tokens, The Arkham Horror with all its expansions, World of Warcraft setup on an ten acre space, Runebound, and Descent with a dungeon larger than any living man has ever seen. The beauty of the plastic pieces, chits, counters, and multicolored dice made me weep with joy.

"What kind of hell is this, O noble guide?" I asked Virgil. "Many a living gamer would die to see these bits in all their glory."

Just as Virgil was about to answer, an evil fiendish beast, a tabby housecat the size of a jaguar ran across the board. Bits flew everywhere, and out of nowhere, fiendish vaccuum cleaners ascended from the netherworld below and began to suck the bits up.

I was nearly run over and saved only by Virgil's quick hand as he pulled me from danger. Thousands of crazed gamers, their clothes torn and madness in their eyes, ran after the foul beast. They cried woeful cries and beat their faces as the vaccuums sucked up chits and plastic fighters and orders tokens into hell's eternal flames.

In their madness and despair, they could not even see the beauty of the games that had been set up. They passed me, chasing the cat towards a never ending succession of gaming tables.

I sat and wept at the beauty that had been.

"Bit-Lust," Virgil spoke gravely. "Those gamers who lusted too much in life after little plastic pieces, cardboard tokens, and overproduced boards, so much that they could not enjoy a game that did not boast of having 255 plastic minatures, are condemned for all eternity to run through endless rooms of Fantasy Flight games, always searching for their precious bits that are lost forever."

I wept all the more, fearing that my own bit-lust had been revealed to my divine guide as I admired the beauty of the boards.

Virgil, sensing my fear, consoled me. "Your race is not yet run, Diis," he told me. "Come," he said as he grabbed my hand, "for there is more I must show you."

From there we walked through the basement door into...
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3. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:122]
David Dixon
United States
Mauldin
South Carolina
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The Third Circle: Gluttony

The door from the basment led deeper still into Hell. A dimly lit cardstore chock full of CCGs awaited us. The decor was dark, and whether it was a high-school aged goth behind the counter or a demon I could not tell.

His glass display case stretched on in a huge arc for thousands of leagues in all directions. Gamers stood, entranced, staring at the cards beneath the glass; they pointed and gestured and rifled through their pockets for money.

While at first I thought there was only one attendent, I saw that the name on his tag was Legion, for there were many. They were all the same fiend, each patiently waiting on his customer.

"Draw near," Virgil ordered me, "and behold, and understand."

I did as my guide said and drew near enough to hear what was said between the gaming sinner and his torturer.

"Yeah, man," the gamer said to the attendant as he pointed to a card I had never seen. "That'll do it right there. With this, my Red Goblin rush deck will be unstoppable! This is the only copy you guys have right?"

The ghoulish CCG demon merely smiled and took the money that the CCG gamer handed over. He handed the gamer the card and a plastic sleeve.

The gamer put his card in the sleeve and turned to walk away, but a soft voice that made my soul shiver stopped him. The attendant ghoul spoke.

"Hey, man, want to check out this month's Scrye?" he said, with tones like a sword exiting its sheath.

I went white, and Virgil steadied me as I felt faint. I turned to face him, the horror of what I knew was going to happen already burned into my soul.

"No, no," I whispered. "Surely not... surely... he would have told him?"

Virgil shook his head without a word.

The gamer, his formerly gleeful eyes now full of suspicion and fear, as the nameless terror every CCG gamer knows began to lurk in his brain. He trembled as he took a copy of Scrye from the clerk. The demon on the Magic card on the cover seemed to leap from the page at me and leer a wicked smile. The gamer slowly opened the magazine and read a moment before the awful truth hit him.

"NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! BANNED? BANNED? HOW COULD THEY? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYY??? WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME? WHY--THEY DIDN'T EVEN BAN UHOLY ALTAR AND THEY BANNED--"

The rest of his cry was cut off by the haughty laughter of the clerk-demon. The demon turned to me. "Could I interest you in black bordered Premier Vader?" he asked in lethal tones. "You could really use one, and SW:CCG is the highest selling game on the market, there's no way Decipher could fold."

"No, foul creature," Virgil told him, as I shrank away in fright and fear, for such was the demon's hold on me that I almost considered checking to see whether I had $70 to spend on a cardboard picture of a movie character. "Stay back," Virgil warned the imp, "For this one still lives, and is not destined to see these foul shores again. We leave in peace, and without buying anything."

Virgil grabbed my hand and with a grip like a Warhammer 40k player's paint bench vise, led me towards another door, keeping me far away from the wicked clutches of the innumerous clerks.

"Gluttony," Virgil explained. "Those gamers who always want more and more can never be fulfilled by what they have. They repeat this same horrible fate for all eternity--that which they desire most is useless."

We walked through the door and down into the Fourth Circle...
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4. Board Game Publisher: Cheapass Games
David Dixon
United States
Mauldin
South Carolina
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The Fourth Circle: The Misers

The Fourth Circle of Boardgamer's Hell was a sparsely furnished conference room. The tables were cheap plastic and the chairs were old lawn furniture or folding chairs that looked to be in danger of collapse.

Several players sat around in stony silence and stared at each other, with a few cheap sheets of thin stock paper spread out between them. Beside them sat empty cups and pizza boxes without grease--they had never held a pizza.

They remained motionless, except for shifting as they tried to get situated in their uncomfortable chairs.

"Here are the boardgame misers," Virgil explained. "These are those gamers who never buy beer or bring a Coke, those who always ask to carpool to tournaments and conventions but never pay for gas and never have enough money to cover their part of the hotel room. These are the gamers who will never buy a game because their friends will buy them instead. These are the boardgamers who owe you for pizza for six consecutive Thursdays but will never pay you back."

"Virgil," I said in horror, "I know some of these men. Tell me what awaits them? What terror do they face?"

"Look," Virgil replied. I drew closer to the table and saw that between them was setup a game of Doctor Lucky. All that was missing was counters and dice. "They will never play," Virgil said. "For they are too miserly to buy any dice, nor anything to use as counters. They will forever stare at empty pizza boxes and wistfully wish for something to drink from empty plastic chalices. In life, they never bought a thing, so what they did not buy, they do not have here."

The boredom of the room oppressed me and made me almost desire to go sit down in Limbo and play a game of Stratego.

"This is it?" I asked Virgil. "For all eternity? They sit here, thirsting but never drinking, hungering but never eating, and looking but never playing?"

"Yes," Virgil said, "forever."

I resolved to make those who owed me for pizza pay their dues, if only to save them such a horrible fate.

"We must go, Diis," Virgil said to me, and we progressed further, down through a door which appeared in the floor.
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5. Board Game: Axis & Allies [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:980]
David Dixon
United States
Mauldin
South Carolina
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The Fifth Circle: Wrath and Sloth

We walked outside along the banks of the river Styx, the home of Lethe and Oblivion.

Standing half sumberged in the river were scores of gamers, throwing tantrums and hurling abuse at one another. In the distance, I could hear the sound of a thousand arguments and could see boards flipping and plastic pieces flying against Hell's red sky.

Drawing closer, I saw that each board flipped was an Axis & Allies board, and each time they were flipped pieces were lost forever, and IPCs fluttered into the water, swept way to regions unknown. The gamers who had been playing then kicked the board, flung trays of plastic pieces at one another and generally screamed and yelled like disappointed two year olds.

"These," Virgil explained, "are the wrathful. These are the gamers who, when they have lost, or feel they have lost, flip games, destroy worlds, and yell immature things at those who they would have as friends.

"They will lose and rage at one another forever. Never shall they win again, nor ever shall they finish a game."

I gulped, trying to remember if I had ever flipped over a gameboard in wrath. "Surely, Virgil," I stammered, "one sin does not doom a man to lose forever in this way?"

"No," Virgil said, "this punishment is reserved for chronic game flippers... they know what fate awaits from them.

"But look, there are more being punished here." He pointed in the river at someone I had hitherto not noticed. Under the water, sitting on the riverbed was a man who looked as if he were trying to set up an Axis & Allies board. He had the Japan reference chart in his hand and was placing his two infantry in Japan.

However, as I stood watching him, he put the reference chart down and looked at the board and then at his watch. He looked around as if looking for someone else to come, but no one did.

By now, I was becoming familiar with the tortures of hell, and I guessed what would happen. "No one will ever come, will they?"

"No. His friends will never come. Under Styx sit the slothful gamers. They have never truly helped set up a game in their lives, though they play them frequently. Their punishment is to sit here, for all eternity and do something they have never done but made their friends do on their behalf countless times--set up a game by themselves." Virgil paused. "They will never even make it past Japan. Never. Even after Judgement Day, they will still be here, waiting for someone to put that submarine in the Soloman Islands for them."

I shuddered, but allowed myself a bit of pride that I at least was not guilty of one sin. Virgil must have sensed it, for he turned to me with a heavy countenance.

"Grow not proud, Diis, for there are more horrors to see."

We walked on, and Charon did not wish to ferry me across the Styx, for he ferries no living man willingly, but Virgil rolled double sixes and he was forced to transport me.

Across the Styx we found the great city of Dis, whose gates are under the charge of fallen angels, who look a great deal like Lovecraftian creatures from the box art on The Arkham Horror.

We crossed under the watchful eyes of these great terrors and into...
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6. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:161]
David Dixon
United States
Mauldin
South Carolina
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The Sixth Circle: Heretics

In the sixth circle sat two distinct camps of gamers. The first group was well dressed, wearing nice shoes, and appeared to be made equally of both men and women. The second group was older, and looked to be mostly middle aged men wearing shirts from various gaming conventions in the 1980s.

"These are the heretics," Virgil told me gravely. "There are two sects--the Eurogamers and the Grognards." As he explained, I could hear crying from the Eurogamers and muted cursing from the Grognards. "Move closer, and explain to me, if you can, what you see."

I drew first to the Eurogamers. In front of each of them was a stack of rulebooks the size of the Atlanta phone book. Each of the Eurogamers had tears streaming down their cheeks as they read. I saw that one of them was reading the rule book for the King and Country Module for Advanced Squad Leader.

"Why do you cry?" I asked the man as he cried tears into his fashionable wool sweater vest.

"These rules," he wailed, "all these rules! Look at them--rules for smoke screens, rules for vehicles, rules for tanks who don't have turrets... rules... too many rules. Too much conflict--I don't want to shoot anyone, I just want to move wooden cubes and trains across the board--where is the auction system? Why can't we bid on who gets shot?"

I puzzled over this, but before I tried to explain what I thought to Virgil, I went over to the Grognard camp. They all sat around a game of Settlers of Catan. Each held three resource cards in their hand, and each held them tightly.

One of them rolled the dice. He swore a filthy oath he learned from a World War II movie and then spoke to the rest of the board.

"Seven again! Who designed this thing? Why can't I roll something besides a seven? This robber is useless--why can't I use him to burn down your settlment--that's what I'd do. I can't even build an army, and thats all I want to do! And the rules say even if I build an army, I can't even fight with it! We've rolled sevens for ages and never got to actually do anything!"

"You could trade resources," I suggested. "You know, trade wood for sheep or something and then at least one of you could buy a development card."

The Grognards looked up at me, their rage at rolling sevens forever now mixed with hostile suspicion. "Trade? Trade? Can't you see we're trying to win here? I'm trying to kill these guys--burn down their towns, sow their fields with salt, rape their women, slaughter their livestock, sell their children into slavery, and obliterate even the memory of their civilization from the earth. Trade? Never!"

The next player rolled again, and as I withdrew I saw it was another seven.

I returned to Virgil. "These are the heretics of their sects, aren't they? These are those Eurogamers who sow dissention by hating Settlers of Catan, and the hardcore wargamers who refuse to play ASL, aren't they?"

Virgil nodded. "And now," I ventured tremelously, "for their heresy, they are given over to what they hate most? Now, it is the Grognards who must play Settlers, and the Eurogamers who must wrestle with module 5a of Advanced Squad Leader?"

"Yes," Virgil agreed. "Let this be a lesson to you, Diis, if you claim a label, you cannot escape all that comes with it. If you pick a boardgaming faith, do not betray it lightly, for it comes at great cost."

I shuddered, but followed Virgil deeper, into the Seventh Circle.
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7. Board Game: Risk [Average Rating:5.59 Overall Rank:9597]
David Dixon
United States
Mauldin
South Carolina
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The Seventh Circle: The Violent

The Seventh Circle was a gladiatorial arena. In the ring stood woefully inequipped gamers who ran headlong into ravenous beasts, were shot at point blank range by columns of 18th century Napoleonic warriors, crushed by tanks that chased them around the arena, ridden down by charioteers, and incinerated by robots carrying all manner of lasers, saws, axes, and guns. Ogres squashed gamers with clubs, and overhead I heard the buzz of bombers as squadrons of B-24s passed overhead, bellies full of death.

The carnage was wretched and I fell to my knees crying, for I saw that even after the horrible mutilation they suffered, the gamers pulled themeselves up and were again mercilessly and cruelly attacked.

"Why? Why, Virgil, do they not fight back, why do they not run?"

"They cannot," Virgil explained. "They are controlled by The Player. They have their own lives, hopes, and dreams, but they are sacrificed in a malestorm of violence, fighting wars they will never benefit from, and being thrown upon Mars' Altar for all time as kindling wood for the fire that will never heat them.

"These are the violent; this is the punishment that awaits all those who sacrifice their cardboard and plastic armies for the fruitless pursuit of victory. This is what awaits those who milk their countries dry and sacrifice the plastic flower of their culture's youth to the winepress of war."

"You mean," I said, my mouth parched in fear, "killing little plastic men and cardboard army counters is a sin?" I thought of the millions I had sent to their doom in boardgames.

"Not always," said Virgil, "but there are those that feel no remorse when they send plastic battleships full of men on suicide missions in Axis & Allies, those who run their squads in the open without cover without a second thought, those who leave Heroscape figures to die at the hands of werewolves and massive dragons but who don't even care if their brave pre-painted figures live or die.

"If these men are to be sacrificed in their most vulnerable moments of terror and pain, the least The Player can do is show some empathy for them, instead of leaving them without supplies for several turns or ordering repeated attacks long after it is obvious that a retreat should be in order."

As if to illustrate his warning, I saw a group of players charge a machine gun, seemingly oblivious to the minefield in front of them. I turned away before I heard the boom.

"Virgil," I cried, "let me leave this place, and never return--although I fear I have been to cavelier with my men--no more, and never again, but we must leave!"

"So we must," Virgil agreed, and we left the horrible arena and descended again.
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8. Board Game: Monopoly: 70th Anniversary Edition [Average Rating:5.53 Overall Rank:9264]
David Dixon
United States
Mauldin
South Carolina
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The Eighth Circle: The Fradulant and Cheaters

In the Eighth Circle, I saw a dreadful sight. Monopoly boards, as far as the eye can see.

"Monopoly? For all eternity?" I asked, bile rising in my throat at the thought. "For what crime?"

Virgil pointed at one of the players. He was the banker, I saw, and when he counted out change from buying a property, I saw that he slipped himself an extra $20.

"He is a cheater--deliberately false, knowingly untrue. Do not be decieved, though, Diis, for Monopoly is not the only game where they cheat, although it is their punishment. Those who look at others cards when their opponents must go to the bathroom, those who make seemingly innocent accounting errors, those who give themselves phantom victory points, and those who surrepticiously give themselves an extra fleet in Diplomacy, all those wind up here.

"What is worse, is that for all their cheating, they cannot win here. They may win in the mortal plane, but here in Hell they will cheat but never win. You see, none of them will ever get a monopoly, so their extra money will eventually be frittered away by meaningless, painful, slow, repeititous landing on small value properties owned by their opponents."

I almost fainted again at the thought of playing a non-monopoly game of Monopoly for all eternity, but Virgil steeled me, and took me deeper, into the final circle of hell...
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9. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:357]
David Dixon
United States
Mauldin
South Carolina
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The Ninth Circle: The Traitors

The final circle was frozen, deep and dark. The cold chilled me deep inside, down to the very fabric of my spirit. I have never felt further from all that is good than deep inside Hade's frozen keep.
I saw a Diplomacy board set up in the center of cavern, right next to a river that was frothing with ice.

I saw what appeared to be a player, dressed in the livery of the Dual Monarchy, Austrio-Hungary. He stared intently at the board, evaluating his position. As I watched him, I saw a figure step out of the shadows, gleaming knife in his hand, dressed in a Prussian uniform. He slowly crept up to the Austrian player, and my hand went to my mouth. I knew what was coming--The Stab.

As the German player brought his deadly bare bodkin down to his foe's back, the Austrian player vanished, and the German player slipped forward, into the freezing water. The look of terror on his face was burned into my eyes, but the water took the breath from his lungs, and he sank into the freezing water without a word.

"Virgil," I whispered, "This is the place of tratiors, isn't it?" I thought of my reputation in boardgames, particularly diplomacy. I thought of my Backstabber Geekbagde.

"Of course it is. This is why you have taken your trip, Diis, through boardgamer's hell. This is to show you what awaits you and all your kind if you do not ammend your ways.

"How many innocent victims have you stabbed, how many friends have you betrayed for victory points? How many, Diis? How many?" Virgil's words cut me like a blade and I collapsed to my knees.

"Have mercy on me, mercy upon a poor boardgamer!"

Virgil stared at me, as unperturbed as Reiner Knizia at an actuaries' meeting. "I have no power--your punishment will be meted as Divine Justice deserves. If you do not wish to suffer such a fate, then change thy ways, O tratior!"

I ran screaming, and was lost for a time in the dark caves of the Ninth Circle before I came to a door... Suddenly, I was back in Catan, staring at a stack of wood.

I had a brief thought about trading a bunch of wood away and then using the monopoly card to get it back, but remembered the Ninth Circle, and resolved to change my ways...
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