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Gaming with Death: A Choose Your Own Adventure Story
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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Inspired by the Choose Your Own Adventure books I read as a child, I have had this idea rattling around in my head for a while. The rules are simple. Read the story contained in the list. At the end of each entry, you will need to make a choice. You will then be directed to another item number in the GeekList. Simply go there and continue reading the story. Do not read other entries if you do not want to spoil the list for yourself. Make sure you keep your score in your head or tally it on a sheet of paper. You will need to keep track of your number of wins and losses.
I apologize in advance to Ingmar Bergman and fans of Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey.
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1. Board Game: Grim Reaper [Average Rating:6.90 Unranked]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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One evening as the afternoon sun fades slowly into twiilight, you are setting up Arkham Horror with all the expansions. You don't have anyone to play with, but the act of completing such a massive undertaking fills you with a sense of accomplishment. While rummaging through the cabinet looking for a cup to put all the monsters in, the doorbell rings.

"Who the hell could that be,?" you mutter under your breath. You ignore the bell and continue to look for a cup. The bell continues to ring. No longer able to contain your frustration, you sling open the front door in a fury. Before you stands the hooded figure of Death. Underneath the hood, you can make out the pale face of a skeleton. His skinless hands jut out from the sleeves of his robe.

"Good Evening," Death says politely, "we have some business to attend to."

Thoughts of Halloween and practical jokes race through your brain.

"I assure you, it is not Halloween, nor is this a joke. I am not a figment of your imagination nor am I a dream. I am Death and I have come for you."

"No, no, no," you calmly reply, "You must have the wrong guy. I'm healthy as a horse. Besides, I'm right in the middle of setting up Arkham Horror."

"What is this Arkham Horror," Death asks suspiciously.

"Oh, it's a board game. Pure Ameritrash. You know, all theme, lots of dice, plenty of luck. Takes several hours to set up. You ever get on the web site Board Game Geek? You look a lot like someone's avatar."

Death does not reply. He slowly walks into the house and goes to the table. Intrigued by the massive of amount of colorful bits and cards spread over four tables, Death states, "I like to play games. I consider myself somewhat of an expert. Chess is one my favorites."

"Chess sucks. If I could possibly sit and do nothing for an hour while the other guy thinks, I'll pass.

"Ok then," Death says with a smile, "I will make you a deal. I will play you in one game of your choice for your life. If I win, you will go with me without further complaint. If you win, I will allow you to continue your petty existence."

Excited just to have someone to game with, you cry out excitedly, "Let's make it a tournament. First one to four victories. Winner take all."

"You will be lucky to win even one game," Death replies smugly, "but I accept your challenge. Shall we begin with Arkham Horror since it is already out?"

"It's a cooperative game. We'll have to play something else. Since it's my ass on the line, I should choose first.

Death nods in agreement, and you go to your large walk-in closet. You gaze at all your rarely played games and congratulate yourself on having the good fortune of another player, even if it is Death."

Two games catch your attention almost immediately. You know that the first rule of gaming is always start off with a gateway game.

If you pull down Carcassonne go to item #8.

If you pull down Ticket to Ride go to item #2.


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2. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:84]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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You slowly reach for Ticket to Ride. Death looks on apprehensively. You pick up on Death's doubts and cooly state, "Let's roll!"

An hour later, Death looks at the board with disgust. You have just finished connecting Los Angeles and Chicago, while Death sits with a handful of incomplete destination tickets.

"This game is all luck," he protests. "I did not anticipate luck playing a role in our little tournament. I feel you have tricked me, but now it is my turn to choose. Since you have little chance against me when I choose, I will give you two games to choose from and you will at least have that small part in deciding your fate. Monopoly or The Game of Life? Pick your poison."

You grow weak in the knees upon hearing this. Trembling and on the verge of vomitting, you weakly say,


"Monopoly." Go to item #4.

"Life" Go to item #5.

Don't forget to keep a tally of your wins and losses.

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3. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:11]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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"Are you sure this is fun?" Death asks doubtfully. "This theme seems really boring."

"Trust me. I'm sure you've picked a lot of people who have been electocuted."

Death nods.

Two hours later, Death is connecting his last city and prepare to flip the switch.

"When I supply power to all the cities, I will have won the game. How does that make you feel?"


"You cheated," is the only lame excuse you can utter as Death jumps up and dances around the table. You can't decide which is more disheartening: the fact that you are slowly losing your life or that a newbie just beat you at Power Grid.

"My turn," Death shouts.

He peruses your vast game collection and asks, "Stratego or Clue?"

If you choose Stratego go to item #11.

If you choose Clue go to item #6.

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4. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.46 Overall Rank:11045]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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You begrudgingly choose Monopoly beacause it is the game that has some semblance of skill involved, though admittedly not much. Death's insistence on using Free Parking as a cash bonus space only increases your dread.

Four hours later, you realize that the game is no where near completion. You figure that death would be preferable to continuing this game, so you forfeit with a whispered, "You win."

Death slams his skeletal hands down on the table with ecstatic energy. "Ha, now I have you on the ropes," Death gloats.

"Simmer down, Goth Boy," you reply. "It's my turn to choose."

Indecision once again rules your mind.

If you choose Tigris and Euphrates go to item #7.

If you choose Power Grid go to item #3.


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5. Board Game: The Game of Life [Average Rating:4.05 Overall Rank:11049]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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Spin the wheel, move the car, get money. The repetition begins to dull your senses and you feel as if you might make some mental error. Then you remember that this game requires absolutely no thought. Once the clicking of the wheel subsides and all the little plastic kids are unloaded from your little plastic car, you rise from your seat and stand over the board like a giant.

"You may have won the battle, but the war is still in balance," is all Death can manage to say as he slowly walks back to the closet.

"Looks like it's my turn to choose," you quip while trying to keep from grinning.

You look at the section of your game collection reserved for the all-time greats and quickly decide.

If you choose Power Grid go to item #3.

If you choose Tigris and Euphrates go to item # 7.
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6. Board Game: Clue [Average Rating:5.63 Overall Rank:6735]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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Sensing a fatal error by Death you calmly state, "Clue." After retrieving the box from the shelf, you feign surprise and state, "This game is only for three or more players. I suggest we play Mr. Jack instead." Death senses a trap but agrees.

It's not long before Death realizes you are a seasoned veteran at this game. You quickly uncover Death's pathetic attempt to hide Jack the Ripper's identity.

"Wasn't that so much better than Clue?" you ask.

"That was a dirty trick," Death whines.

If this is your fourth win go to item # 17.

"Cry me a river. Oh wait a minute, you're a skeleton. You don't have any eyes." You burst out laughing at your own joke, while Death sits there unamused.

"Just choose a game."

"Tough crowd," you mutter.

Looking at Death's bony hands, you decide a dexterity game is in order.

If you choose Crokinole go to item #9.

If you choose Loopin' Louie go to item #10.

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7. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:33]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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Although only an abstract pretending to have a theme, you decide to gamble. You know that Death loves Chess, but you feel that your experiece with T & E will win out.

About halfway through the game, Death asks, "How does this game have anything to do with the Tigris and Euphrates river valley?"

You just shrug and say, "It's your turn."

"I just don't get this game. The rules are simple, yet I don't have any idea what to do."

"A minute to learn; a lifetime to master, just like Chess," you respond with a wry smile.

"I don't even have one red tile," you hear Death muttering to himself.

You lean back and put your hands behind your head.

When the points are tallied, it's not even close.

"Why can't we just play normal games," Death says, obviously frustrated, "you know, like the ones you get a Wal Mart."

"Your turn to choose," is your only reply.

"Aaaarrrgh!" Death screams out in frustration and stomps toward the closet.

"Stratego or Clue!?" he yells.

If you choose Stratego go to item #11.

If you choose Clue go to item #6.

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8. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:107] [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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Just a few tiles into the game, you realize your error. Carcassonne is one of the titles often discussed as the ultimate gateway game, and Death catches on immediately. He promptly crushes you.

"That wasn't bad," Death said, "I might get myself a copy and try that with the wife."

"I'm glad you liked it," you reply sarcastically.

Rubbing his hands together, Death starts searching through your extensive game collection.

"Are you looking for anything in particular?" you ask.

"Where are the good games?" Death replies. "Oh never mind. I see them. All right, Monopoly or The Game of Life?"

If you choose Monopoly go to item #4.

If you choose The Game of Life go to item #5.

Don't forget to tally your wins and losses.

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9. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:39]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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"This isn't a board game," Death responds.

"It's listed on Board Game Geek, and it is played on a wooden board. Therefore, it is a board game."

"Whatever," replies Death. "I'll beat you anyway."

A short while later, with you leading ninety-five to fifteen, Death has had it.

"If those stupid ass pegs weren't on the board, this wouldn't be so hard. Just look at my fingers. I'm a skeleton. These discs don't come off of my finger with any accuracy. I hate this game."

You silently congratulate yourself on a good decision and finish him off.

If this is your fourth win go to item #17.

"I know some dexterity games too," Death quickly states.

If you choose Jenga go to item #13.

If you choose Don't Spill the Beans go to item #12.
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10. Board Game: Loopin' Louie [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:423]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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You soon realize that you should have chosen Crokinole. Death is very precise and patient as he waits for Louie to get within range of his paddle. He meticulously picks you apart, and you watch in dismay as your chicken tokens are laid to waste.

"Where did you get this? he asks. "I like it."

"It's hard to find. You can get it off Ebay, but you'll have to pay a lot for it."

"This is just a kid's game," Death responds, puzzled.

"You just don't understand." You lead Death to your computer and pull up the Geek. You show him the pages of reviews, sessions, and links to fan sites and tournaments.

"Loopin' Louie is not just a game; it's a way of life." you solemnly state.


If this is your fourth loss go to item #16.


"Well, I know some dexterity games as well," Death points out.

If you choose Jenga go to item #13.

If you choose Don't Spill the Beans go to item #12.

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11. Board Game: Stratego [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:2102]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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It's been years since you have played Stratego, but you still feel fairly confindent. At least you do until your Marshall stumbles into a bomb. Picking up on your frustration at a mental error, Death says, "Don't worry you still have your General." He then attacks your General with his Marshall. You unleash a string of profanity that brings a large smile to Death's skeletal face.

"Now, now," he says in a patronizing tone, "let's not be a poor sport."

"I'm going to whip your ass!" you yell and start to grab him, but stop yourself after it dawns on you that he is Death and could kill you at any moment.

If this is your fourth loss go to item #16.

"Let's just play a damn game."

If you choose Crokinole go to item #9.

If you choose Loopin Louie go to item #10.
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12. Board Game: Don't Spill the Beans [Average Rating:4.16 Overall Rank:10975]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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One by one the beans are placed on top of the red smiling pot. You watch as it shifts slowly, first one way then the other. Deah places one ill advised bean too close to the edge, but alas, the beans do not spill.

"Your turn," Death says cheerfully.

"Yeah, yeah, I know." You try to place a bean on the opposite edge, but the bean does not settle and rolls down toward the other edge. The pot tips over and beans spread out over the table and cascade into the floor.

"Damnit!"



If this is your fourth loss go to item #16.


"Victory is close; I can feel it," Death crows. "We have but on more game to decide your fate. It is only fitting that you should choose."

You look with indecision at two games. Which one will be the game that determines your destiny?

If you choose RoboRally go to item #14.

If you choose Battlelore go to item #15.
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13. Board Game: Jenga [Average Rating:5.52 Overall Rank:9565]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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This is not one of your favorite games, and your dislike for it only increases when Death begins chanting "Jenga, Jenga, Jenga," while you're trying to remove your pieces. Fortunately for you, Death's bony fingers once again prove to be an impediment. Lacking skin on his fingers, he is unable to get a good grip. Not long into the game, a wooden blocks slips out of his grasps and sends the whole tower crashing violently.

If this is your fourth win go to item #17.


"What do you think now, Skeletor?" you arrogantly scoff.

"I think that we have one more game to decide your fate. You had better choose wisely."

Knowing full well the magnitude of your decision, you weigh all your options. Suddenly, you realize the game that you must play.

If you choose RoboRally go to item #14.

If you choose Battlelore go to item #15.
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14. Board Game: RoboRally [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:222]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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You place the box on the table with a confident motion.

"You have no chance; this is my favorite game. I play it all the time."

"It looks like you have me backed into a corner." Death responds. He tries to exude confidence, but his body conveys a sense of nervousness.

Upon turning over his fourth register card, he cries out, "I meant to turn left!"

"Sorry, that's just the way it goes sometimes," you respond with false empathy.

Death's next register reveals a forward three, which promptly sends him into a pit. Death hangs his head as he senses that defeat is near. The rest of the game follows the same pattern, and you win after Death dies three times.

You have defeated Death go to item #17.
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15. Board Game: BattleLore [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:148]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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After an hour of setup, you finally explain the rules and start. It's not long before, you remember what you don't like about this game. With all your key units on the right flank, you have only cards for the left. You mumble to yourself but try to keep your frustration hidden. The dice do little to help, as you roll everything but the color you need. Methodically, Death picks your army to pieces. Each flag taken by Death is another piece of your life slowly slipping away. As Death captures the last flag, you sit stunned in your chair.

"It is finished," he says with a hint of sympathy.

You have been defeated by Death go to item #16.
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16. Board Game: Legends of the Ancient World: The Gates to the Underworld [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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Death stands up and stretches out his hand to you.

"Do not fear that which must come to all men."

"But I have so much left to do, so many games to play," you say despondently. "Is there no other option."

"I'm afraid not." Death pauses a moment, mulling over a newly formed idea. "I will confess, however, that I enjoyed our little tournament today. How would you feel about coming to the underworld to be my permanent gaming partner?"

You look up with surprise. "That wouldn't be so bad I guess, but what about my family?" you ask.

"Look, you can't have everything. I'm already giving you a break."

"I guess your right. OK. It's a deal. Help me gather up some of these games."

"Don't worry about it," Death replies. "I'll send some of my minions to pick them up later."

You follow Death out the door and look up at the rising sun for the last time. In the front yard, the ground splits momentarily and Death bekons you to follow him into the Underworld.

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17. Board Game: A Famous Victory [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:6622]
Charles Rayburn
United States
Cleveland
Tennessee
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You almost feel bad for Death as he sits on your couch.

"It's OK; you can't always win." you reassure. "You just weren't familiar with all the games, that's all. Perk up! You still have souls to harvest."

"I just don't understand what went wrong."

"Well if it's any consolation, I had a lot of fun," you continue in an effort to cheer up Death. It is at this moment you have an epiphany. "Why don't you come back next weekend and we'll play some more games."

Death looks up. "Do you mean it? You would let me come over and play games?"

"Sure," you reply with some hesitation. "Do I have to stake my life every week?"

"I could probably bend the rules a little. We would need to play for youe life at least once a year. I don't want to get in trouble with my superiors."

Afraid to inquire too much, you decide that a consistent gaming partner would be worth a yearly gamble for your life.

"Can I have some friends over too," you ask, but Death's harsh look answer your question.

"Don't push it," Death replies.

Walking out into the morning sun, Death turns back and gives you a parting wave. "I'll see you next week."

"Have fun collecting souls," you yell after him as you slowly shut the door.

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