Saturday, September 03, 2005

German board games are a law unto themselves. Eschewing the childishness of their British counterparts (let's face it, Monopoly and Cluedo are mostly based on chance), the German games are all about strategy, tactics and screwing people over. Apparently Germans like playing boardgames with their children as a way of having family time (but not wargames).

A very glamorous German lady introduced me to The Settlers of Catan a few years ago, and it quickly swept through my friends and family - causing rows and addictions. It seems so innocent - you have to settle on an island, trading coal, wheat and wood etc to build houses. But the fights and lingering resentments that it caused! Thankfully, we are all over Settlers of Catan. But now I've acquired a new German game - with the scary title of Rette Sich Wer Kann, which translates as "Every man for himself". It involves screwing over your friends in a very unpleasant way. The players all have little coloured men who are in a number of lifeboats who are trying to get to a number of different islands of varying lush foliage. Each turn, the players vote on which boat gets a leak and which boat moves towards an island.

The clever mechanism of the game is that players also have to move one of their men to another boat, ensuring that any voting alliances that have been built never remain the same for very long. Boats with leaks eventually sink, killing all the poor little men in that boat. It's in the list as one of 13 games that have made people cry. I can see why. It's vicious. We played last night and everyone ganged up on me. Only three of my sailors made it to the island. The rest were cruelly booted out of the boat by the others. Bitches! I felt just like Tallululah Bankhead in the wonderful Hitchcock film Lifeboat. Except wasn't it a German who got thrown out there? Maybe Rette Sick Wer Kann is revenge!

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