New game is a wonderfully bitter version of the economic mess

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“Crunch, The Game For Utter Bankers” is a card game for anyone with a distinctly gallows sense of humor:

[It] allows you to experience the upside of down. Placed in the role of a global banking CEO, you have to juggle the conflicting demands of your ailing bank and your flourishing bank account. … Each player starts the game with a number of Assets in their bank, a small workforce and a few Trust cards. Trust is essential to your bank’s survival. Not only will capitalism falter without it, but each Trust card hides on the reverse a potential Government Bailout.

card-rebrandThis  is the latest product from the fine warped folks at TerrorBull Games and – judging by the website — it is as bitter and cynical as their last number: War On Terror: The Board Game. (Does anyone do bitter better than the Brits? They have a cultural gift for angry commentary that I have never seen equaled: Waugh, Ralph Steadman, Francis Bacon, Martin & Kingsley Amis, Thackeray, Joe Orton – the list just goes on and wonderfully on. While the US has some fine satirists only Mencken really ranks for among the great acidivists.)

An average game sees you bribing your way out of government investigations, fending off aggressive takeovers and forcing debt onto the unsuspecting public. Meanwhile, reward your hard work by taking inappropriate bonuses and – when no one’s looking – brazenly embezzling your bank’s own funds and hiding them about your person. Crunch is unique in that to win, players are coaxed into cheating.

Fittingly, the game will hit stores on April 1, but it is NOT a prank.

Full disclosure alert:

  • I have not played the game yet.
  • I am being given a free review copy.
  • The company has wormed its way into my heart by sending a free copy of War On Terror to a friend who is currently deployed in Afghanistan.

That said, if the game is half as fun to play as the website is to read it will be great.

card-toobigtofail Although the problems inherent in, say, spending over a trillion dollars on a war, while your country’s exports diminish year-on-year, would be apparent to the average school child, somehow everyone seemed caught off guard by this. And, being simple people, we started looking around to find out who to blame. …

Unfortunately, you can’t bomb the economy into shape, so looking for culprits was largely a waste of time. Even when bank bosses finally came under fire, it all felt like a bit of a diversion. Like sitting in an upturned, burning car and taking that moment to try and work out where you went wrong, when the car itself has no breaks, no steering wheel, tyres made out of butter and wood instead of glass for windows. And it’s not even a car, it’s an angry lion on roller skates and you’ve been trying to drive it.

Not sure if this will be as much fun as some tar and feathers – but I have my hopes up.

Hasbro thinks women aren’t worth the Risk

The game company is subtly discouraging women from buying Risk with an ad campaign featuring images like

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God, I hope not.

Now I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of people who play one of my all-time least-favorite board games are — biologically speaking — guys. However up until this point the marketing to guys was more implied than overt. That was a good thing for a couple of reasons. 1) It allowed boys some chance of getting their sisters to play. 2) It didn’t discourage 50% of the population from buying the damn thing.

Anyone who thinks I am reading to much into the “Man Up” campaign should attempt to play the online version “Risk Factor.” It features things like

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Oh, no. You are NOT talking about MY mama, are you?

Furthermore, if you sign up to play and do not give a nickname one is assigned to you. But not all nicknames are acceptable as was pointed out in the splendid blog Sociological Images:

I tried a series of names: “Fred”, “Thomas” and “Patrick” went through fine, but if I tried “Melissa” “Jessica” or “Natasha”, the system wouldn’t accept them, and I was told to “Keep it clean, please.”

If you don’t choose a nickname yourself, the system will assign you one. I suppose they are meant to be humiliating names: I got “Bubbles”, “Cupcake”, “Jelly belly”, “Violet” and “Daisy”.

The game platform is a floating island, full of clickable objects. Among them: a facial hair selector, a chainsaw, a TV which exclusively plays footage of girls dancing in a club, a giant finger to pull (which emits gas), etc.

Doubtless Hasbro would defend this all as being meant in “good fun” and bring out the “humorless political correctness” defense. To which I would point out that A) humor is supposed to be funny and; B) The campaign doesn’t work because it’s nothing but tired cliches (which is itself a tired cliche). Hasbro could easily played both sides of the gender fence (and gotten a laugh or two) by using the idea of a tough guy named Bubbles. (And the truly tough frequently do have names like that. When you are tough enough your name is always the same: Respect.)

How about “Are you going to let someone named Sunflower Rainbow kick your ass all the way to Irktusk?” That was you appeal to both the Sunflower Rainbows and Richard Steels of the world.

I think it only fair to note that not playing Risk has been seen as a cause of military blunders. As Prof. Eddie Izzard notes: “In the ’30s, Hitler: Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, Second World War… Russian front not a good idea… Hitler never played Risk when he was a kid. Cause, you know, playing Risk, you could never hold on to Asia. That Asian-Eastern European area, you could never hold it, could you? Seven extra men at the beginning of every go, but you couldn’t fucking hold it.

Sadly, Prof. Izzard’s theory was discredited when it was discovered that George W. Bush had played Risk.

A big thanks to Mrs. CollateralDamage for pointing this out.!

War on Terror makes it to Afghanistan!

The fine folks at TerrorBull Games, makers of The War On Terror: The Boardgame*, have made sure that the war on terror is helping out our troops in Afghanistan. When I told them my friend and fellow boardgamer, Lt. Pete, was over there they sent out a copy free of charge.

Lt. Pete writes:

I just wanted to let you know that War on Terror made it to theater!  I was a bit worried because once we got here they said to just use the APO because any address with the word “Afghanistan” on it typically gets routed thru Kabul and doesn’t always make it to Bagram.  Thankfully it did!

I really appreciate the effort you put into this and will be sure to update you with pics, etc.  I am doing a right seat/left seat ride with the person I am replacing right now and we are quite busy with turnover. Once things settle down with the turnover I should get a chance to play.

Again, my sincere gratitude – boardgames are the best stress reliever I know, so it will be very theraputic and fun for me!

Anyone else wishing to send things to either Lt. Pete or Lt. Autumn, please drop me a line a cvon (((at))) areporter DOT com or post a note in the comments section and I will get you their shipping information.

*Official board game of CollateralDamage and heartily endorsed by the Penguins of Irony!

Not very pretty in pink: Monopoly for girls

There are about a trillion different editions of Monopoly out there all of which appeal to different segments of the population. For ironists there is the Dot Com edition (yeah, I got it). CollateralDamage Jr. owns something like three different Star Wars editions (one of which is a really cool design with place on the board to hold the deeds until you buy them). Apparently the one segment not yet targeted is actually 51% of the population. Thus Monopoly in pink. Ugliest edition ever? You decide. I just hope they gave Mr. Moneybags some gender re-assignment surgery. Hey Hasbro, how about just releasing the Hello Kitty edition here in the US?

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