Saturday 30 March 2013

How I Lost to My Dog on Tabletop Day

Today is International Tabletop Day. Started by Geek and Sundry, today is the day when everybody is supposed to get together to play tabletop games. Alas, there was nobody available for me to game with. Because of the holiday weekend and various other things, everybody had other commitments. My wife is working all day today and even my regular Sunday Pathfinder game (which, while technically not on the right day, I was thinking might be close enough) is cancelled this week.

But I couldn’t just let Tabletop Day pass by. After all, while I have branched out somewhat, this blog had its start as a place for me to review tabletop roleplaying games. Tabletop Day is what this blog is all about. So I needed to come up with a solution. I debated just playing solitaire games with myself, but that would be boring to write about. Then it hit me. I’m not totally alone today. My two dogs are here. So I decided to challenge them to a game!

Of course, being dogs (and not the brightest specimens of dog-kind either), they needed something fairly simple that they could comprehend relatively quickly. With that in mind, I decided on a game of Zombie Dice. For people not familiar with the game, the following episode of Tabletop features it.

Before getting into the details of the game we played, I should introduce my two dogs (I’ve always wondered if I would ever find a way to include my dogs on my science fiction and fantasy site). They’re both greyhounds and both retired racers. My wife and I rescued them five years ago and they’ve been living a life of luxury ever since.

This is Pan. He’ll be eight years old in a little over a month. While he looks a little feral in this picture, he's actually extremely friendly. He’s the more inquisitive and considerably more intelligent of the two (even though he still wouldn’t win any dog intelligence contests unless Frey was his only opponent). He used to be the more hyper of the two and was even a bit of a trouble-maker, but he’s starting to slow down now that he’s getting older. He only gets up from lying down when it’s worth his while.

This is Frey. He’s about six months younger than Pan, but he’s always been a calm, lazy dog. He’s incredibly lovable and affectionate, but he’s also severely lacking in intelligence. I’ve owned a few dogs in my life and I’ve met many more, and all of them were smarter than Frey. When I was initially training Pan and Frey, it took simply ages for Frey to learn to sit. Then, when I started trying to teach him to lie down, he promptly forgot how to sit and started lying down in response to any command. I retrained him to sit and that’s where his training ended.

Given that even the most intelligent dog is likely to have difficulty with any game, even one as straight-forward as Zombie Dice, how well did my two boys fare? Well, they pretty much lost interest after sniffing and determining that the dice weren’t something they could eat. But I was not about to let that spoil things, so I offered to roll for them. They agreed. And so the game began!

I got off to a good start, amassing three brains on my first turn. Pan had terrible luck on his first turn and acquired four shotguns and no brains in just two rolls. Frey started out not too badly on his first turn, collecting five brains, but kept going on too long, losing them all when he rolled three shotguns all at once. Like I said, he’s not too bright.

My second turn did not go well and I gained no more points. This is when Pan showed a surprising knack for this game. In just three rolls, he gained seven brains! He wisely decided to keep those. Frey actually managed to gain two brains this turn. At this point, I wasn’t too worried. I was playing against dogs after all. Pan had just had a bit of beginner’s luck. That was all. I’d quickly come back for the win.

As if to prove myself right, I got two more brains on my next turn and Pan got none. Yet Frey got three, which meant he was tied with me. I was eliminated quickly on my next turn and Pan got four more brains! Frey got none. Pan was now at 11 points and close to winning, and I only had a measly five, no more than Frey. Something wasn’t right here.

I managed to redeem myself a little on my next turn, getting three more brains. But Pan got four again, meaning we were into the home stretch. Frey and I had one more turn each in which to beat Pan’s total of fifteen brains. Frey’s turn started out reasonably well. He managed to acquire three brains while still only having two shotguns. He wanted to stop at this point and play it safe. I pointed out to him that this was his last chance, so there was nothing to lose. He reluctantly agreed and promptly rolled three shotguns. He was not happy with me. He just didn’t get it.

Then it was my final chance. And I blew it. I found myself in much the same situation as Frey had been in: three brains and two shotguns. It wasn’t enough brains to win, so I had to keep going. I didn’t roll three shotguns like Frey, but I did roll one. And that was all it took. The game was over and Pan had won.

So that’s how I lost a game of Zombie Dice to my dog Pan. I deny any and all allegations that this was all in my head and that I was just playing by myself on behalf of my dogs. All I did was roll for them. They made all the decisions themselves, and I translated them by careful observation of their movements and reactions. It doesn’t matter that I couldn’t get them to even stay in the same room for the entire game. I called out to them to tell them what they rolled and they responded accordingly.

So congratulations Pan! You are the Zombie Dice champion of our household! You get a treat as your prize. And just so he doesn’t feel left out, Frey gets a consolation treat for coming in last place.

Happy Tabletop Day everyone!

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