Phirax's Magical Box of Hot
Keats and Yeats are on your side, but you lose... because Wilde is on mine.
Being a Vlaada fan-boy obviously makes you cool and popular with "the ladies," but there is also a darker side that you might not know about. For the sake of full disclosure, here are the top five worst things about idolizing all things Vlaada...
5) Vlaada won't make babies with me
Now I know this one might seem a bit strange, but bear with me for a moment. You see, I'm a gamer. More specifically, I'm a Euro-style board gamer which means that I spend most of my time studying game manuals on this website. To be quite honest I'm not really sure how babies are made, but a member of my game group who knows about these things has told me that the act of making babies is pretty much exactly like playing a session of Space Alert.
Making Babies v. Space Alert
* The hardest part of both is finding someone willing to play
* Both activities feature repetitive, simultaneous actions performed by the players
* The actual fun part takes only a few, hurried minutes to complete
* Then there is a long, drawn out part where everyone involved waits anxiously to see if all the effort resulted in a positive or negative result
* My friend highly recommends playing with three or four players (Two players will work in a bind)
I have only ever played Space Alert solo which is generally not recommended (though I find it quite satisfying). The difficult part is trying to visualize what all the different players are doing, but since I have a rather active imagination it seems to work out okay.
Vlaada, will you please play Space Alert with me? I just bought a new webcam and I have set up the game on my bed so that we have lots of room. We can hook up over video Skype and you can tell me exactly what moves you want me to make. Love you! xxoo
4) Vlaada won't change his name
Like many board gamers, in my free time — you know, when I'm not spending 3 hours setting up a 30 minute game — I like to write poetry about games. Lately, I have been exploring the ancient Japanese art of haiku. Haiku poems, much like Vlaada's game designs, feature repetitive mathematical structures that mask thin pasted on themes.
Grains of sand flowing
I thought this game was turn based
Also, most people who read haiku or play Vlaada's games quickly realize that "anybody can make this crap," and then try to give it a go themselves.
Floating witch is kinda hot
Wood in my pocket
This search is pointless
Maybe its in the Walkthrough?
Mage Knight combat rules
The trouble is, nobody seems to know how to pronounce Vlaada's last name. And whenever someone tries they wind up either making it sound like it has twelve syllables, or just one. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, but my poetry requires Caylus-like perfect information.
Life is stone and food
Three of these buys two of those
Does that even work? Who knows? For this reason, I would like to now officially request that Vlaada change his name to Bob Smith. This would be beneficial to me because I could call him Bob when I need one syllable and Bob Smith when I need two. In those rare times when I need three syllables, I could use his proper name, Robert Smith. And in those super-rare instances where I need nine syllables I could call him Robert-the-benevolent-game-king. Wait, that isn't right.
It is Bob Smith's turn
The rocket is getting big
Space Alert on Skype
(if you have a Vlaada haiku you like, feel free to post it in the comments section)
3) Friendly Local Game Stores
During a recent trip to my local game store...
Phirax: Do you have any games by Vlaada Chvátil?
Clerk: (Not bothering to look up from his magazine) Cghtzykwnbatkdenmhdgckyzl.
Phirax: Excuse me?
Clerk: His name, you mispronounced it.
Clerk: Yes, but it's pronounced "chz."
Phirax: Um, you said it totally different that time.
Clerk: (Stops reading) Can I help you with something?
Phirax: I'm looking for a game by Vlaada... Vlaada...
Clerk: (The clerk returns to his magazine.)
Phirax: Do you have any games by the guy who made Through the Ages. (I am grinning like an idiot when he finally looks up at me.)
Clerk: We have Space Alert back in the adult section but you need to be 21 years of age with proper I.D. to purchase it.
Phirax: I already own Space Alert.
Clerk: (Eyeing me with disgust.) What a surprise.
Phirax: Do you carry anything else?
Clerk: (Checking the computer inventory) Nope, all sold out. Wait, we have one copy of Dungeon Petz remaining.
Phirax: Dungeon Petz?
Clerk: (He bursts out laughing at his phone and then starts excitedly texting someone)
Phirax: (After a minute or two I clear my throat) Ahem, Dungeon Petz?
Clerk: You play a family of imps running a pet shop for demons.
Clerk: You clean poop, stress about money, you know, the usual stuff.
Phirax: That sounds awful.
Clerk: Yeah, but the misery ends in less that 90 minutes and there are victory points.
Phirax: Vlaada is a genius! I'll take it.
Clerk: Sorry, all sold out.
Phirax: You just said you had one copy left.
Clerk: (rediscovering his magazine) I'll have to check the computer.
Phirax: (I wait patiently for a minute while he casually turns the pages of his magazine)
Clerk: (looking up suddenly) Jesus, you scared me!
Phirax: I, uh...
Clerk: You shouldn't sneak up on people like that.
Phirax: I would like to purchase a copy of Dungeon Petz.
Clerk: Hmm, Dungeon Petz... Dungeon Petz. I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with that title. Tell me the designer's name and I'll check for it in the computer.
I met Seksmiama Veerjin at last year's Spiel Essen. Seksmi was half Japanese, half Dutch, though to look at her you would think that her parents were Brazilian super models. She had big eyes, soft olive-brown skin and though she was petite, she had long slender limbs. That's right, Seksmi was the living, breathing embodiment of the plastic imp figures from Dungeon Lords. She was that beautiful.
We met at Vlaada Chvátil's booth where I was picking up my Mage Knight preorder and she was buying her first board game, a shiny new copy of Space Alert. You see, Seksmi was a ninja-assassin-pleasure-concubine. And like most ninja-assassin-pleasure-concubines she had been raised on a secret island totally cut off from the rest of the world. She didn't know what TV was, had never heard of the internet, and hadn't even seen a man until she arrived at Essen. She had grown up in near total isolation and talking to her was like stepping into a time capsule with someone from another era. For instance, she still believed that Agricola was a fun game. She was so naive, so innocent...
Now I know what you are thinking. "Oh right, Phirax, you want us to believe that you met a ninja-assassin-pleasure-concubine at Vlaada's booth at Spiel Essen? How gullible and mindless do you think we are? What do you take us for, Dominion fans?" I know, I know, it sounds crazy. As everyone who has ever been to Spiel Essen can attest, all the ninja-assassin-pleasure-concubines are usually hanging out at the Portal Publishing booth with the cool Polish guys.
But Seksmi was different.
Seksmi didn't care about linen finish on her playing cards. Seksmi didn't care whether Martin Wallace had released A Few Acres of Snow with a dominant strategy that broke the game. Seksmi made my head swim. As we stood in line talking about the ideal thickness of cardboard tiles, Seksmi looked into my eyes and in her lilting, broken English said, "I am nubile, yes?"
Her accent was thick, but as comprehension took hold I began to laugh so hard I thought I would vomit. "I am noob aisle, yes?" She thought she was in the noob aisle, but the Days of Wonder booth was in a completely different hall. I told her in parroted broken English that we would visit the family games section after leaving here, "Phirax buy games first, then explore all of noob aisle later." She brightened at this and started to blush.
"I'm sorry, my English is not very good," she offered.
"Seksmi" I replied, "Thunderstone isn't very good but we still love it, don't we?" I reached out and brushed a wisp of hair that had fallen across her face. She smiled and leaned in towards me. Her lips seemed to be glistening.
In the 10 minutes since we had met we had spent so much time talking about deck construction, ideal game length and theme v. mechanics that I hadn't noticed her lips. They were definitely glistening, that much was certain, and they now seemed to be slowly moving towards me. Sort of like how heavy infantry units slowly move towards you in Command & Colors Ancients. My hands started to shake and it felt as if someone had sucked all of the air out of the room. Yes, this was exactly like playing Command & Colors Ancients.
Suddenly, we were jerked out of our reverie by a shrill, annoyed voice.
It was the clerk from my local game store. It seems he had gotten a job working Vlaada's booth for the convention. I allowed Seksmi to go first and he quickly fetched her copy of Space Alert from the wall at the back of the booth. As I waited, he spent what seemed like an eternity telling her about all the expansions available and which house rules he preferred. Finally, he wrote down his phone number and told her that she could call him if she ever needed rules clarification or a personal, private "walkthrough." When he finally released her from his sway, she turned to me and commented on how friendly and helpful gamers were. I smiled weakly and stepped up to the desk.
Phirax: Mage Knight. I preordered...
Clerk: (annoyed) Did you just call me Mage Knight?
Phirax: What? No. I preordered. Phirax...
Clerk: You preordered Phirax?
Clerk: We don't carry that game. (Looking over my shoulder) Next!
Phirax: (Flustered) No, wait! Mage Knight! I was... that was my name!
Clerk: Mage Knight was your name?
Phirax: Can we start over please? Make believe I just got here.
Phirax: My name is Phirax and I've come to pick up my preorder copy of Mage Knight.
Clerk: Sorry, we're closed.
Phirax: Excuse me?
Clerk: (Pointing to the clock) We are closed. It is one minute past closing time.
Phirax: But I have been standing here for 20 minutes.
Clerk: Sir, do I have to call security?
Phirax: No, please... I was here waiting my turn... (pointing at the girl) but first you... Seksmi...
Clerk: I most certainly will not!
The security guards had just arrived and heard the last part of our exchange. As they dragged me from the hall I looked back over my shoulder to see Seksmi crying and the clerk putting his arm around her, consoling her and pointing at her Space Alert box.
1) Vlaada keeps stealing my awesome game ideas
Here is a little known bit of trivia for you: I am the world's greatest game designer. Now I realize that some of my detractors might try to point out that I haven't actually designed any games, and others will suggest that my lazy, slacker lifestyle prevents me from being much of anything. Still others will point out that I don't have a BGG geek badge that says "Game Designer" which is, of course, the one true way you can tell if someone is, in fact, a published game designer.
But I don't need any of those things.
Why not? Because I, my friends, have traveled to the future.
Now, there is a long story I could tell you about my time travels but as you must realize by now I would never tell long-winded stories that don't have much of a point. The short version of my time travel story is that Way-in-the-future-Vlaada travelled back through time to 2015 and picked up a-future-version-of-me and we zipped around like Doctor Who and had lots of zany adventures.
That's it, that's the story.
Oh, now you want the long version, right? Well I'm not sure I want to tell you the long version after those mean things you said about my long-winded stories. Okay, technically, I said those things but I still don't like your attitude.
If all this "who-said-what" seems a bit confusing then I must warn you that any discussion of time traveling will seem even more confusing because each jump through time creates a new "reality" and each of these new realities spawns an infinite number of potential parallel realities and soon your head feels like it is going to explode. It is kind of like playing a game designed by Reiner Knizia. Well, except that time traveling is fun. But I digress...
During our super-fun travels through time, I told future-Vlaada all about my unfinished game design ideas (actually "unstarted" would be closer to the truth) and then he traveled back into the past and made them. Through the Ages? Civilization with cards was my idea. Dungeon Lords? Please, so obvious... Bunny Bunny, Moose Moose? Um, actually that was 100% his idea.
The point is that I am getting sick and tired watching Vlaada get rich and famous off of my great ideas. Even worse is when he turns my stupid ideas into classics. Like that night back in the 25th century when I drunkenly proclaimed, "Someone should make a misspelled game about cleaning animal poop out of cages," I never believed that he would actually make a game out of it. And if you think Dungeon Petz was a stupid idea, wait until next year's Spiel convention when he releases "Colossal Fart Exchange: Stink Traders from the Nether Zones."
Board Gamer: My god, what is that smell?
Clerk: New Vlaada Cghtzykwnbatkdenmhdgckyzl game just arrived.
Board Gamer: It smells almost as bad as a Magic: The Gathering tournament.
Clerk: Stink is the hot new mechanic.
Board Gamer: Who would buy something like that?
Clerk: Well, the game already has two published expansions.
Board Gamer: Expansions?
Clerk: Silent But Deadly adds a "find the traitor" element to the game.
Board Gamer: Whoa!
Clerk: The second expansion, He-Who-Smelt-It-Dealt-It adds co-op play.
Board Gamer: I must have the whole set!
Vlaada, please stop stealing my game ideas. If you feel the need to continue to make all my favorite games can you at least make the next game be that World of Warcraft idea that I told you about? You know, the edible deck building game that tastes like bacon...