Playing the Sociopath During Board Games

Playing the Sociopath During Board Games
Samuel's Perspective

It is the sixteenth of January, 2018. The night is stormy and friends have gathered to play Scythe at my home, the Deitz residence. Inviting others to where you reside makes them slightly uncomfortable. They do not live there and are typically, subconsciously, submissive. As guests, even the closest of friends, they aren't sure what boundaries they are allowed to cross.

Scythe

The thoughts and choices running through a guests' mind:
Should I ask for a glass of water or should I ask where the glasses are? Should I accept an offered food dish or reject it? What if my car mysteriously gets a flat tire while I'm here and I need to ask for help? My kindness or lack thereof is a potential investment for the immediate or long-term future.

So the guests arrive one by one. First Jack, then Sammy, and last to play/arrive is Brandon. Lauren, of course, has also come to play. The game really begins before it begins. I survey my "friends" who are more like villains, starting now.

Setting the Stage

I want to feel out moods for the night. In order to do this, I've coordinated a fun poker parody video that we can all make together. I suggest that if you haven't seen it you do so now and significantly improve your life. I have the ideas and we'll do it my way. I tell the others they have to trust my vision as I've watched the most poker vlogs, so I know what will and won't be funny. During the filming of this video, I notice that Brandon puts out a hefty amount of suggestions.

"Well, Brandon, you are really just here for the setting," I tell him, "to help build a presence that this is an actual poker game." This offends him. That's okay, we are investing these semi-offensive gestures in an attempt to pull a full-tilt out of Brandon later on in the night.

Before Brandon ever arrived, I asked Sammy and Jack "Who wants to play "the villain" in the poker video?" I could tell they both wanted to, I mean who wouldn't, the role is a lilypad to stardom. Sammy initially accepts the role, but minutes later Jack claims that he really wants to do it. Sammy submits to Jack's request, showing the timid hand he'll play the rest of the night.

Jack's initiation to take this role from Sammy suggests that he is in an aggressive, yet playful mood. He'll most likely play his game of Scythe creatively, yet his excitement may cause him to overlook things.

We begin to shoot the parody.

Brandon eats during the poker video. He came from his job at Embassy Suites. Still in his work clothes, there is a high chance that he may be in a mood of agitation. He's having a drink, this quickly confirms my theory. I don't like the idea that the beer is taking his edge off. I'll need him to be hyper-aggressive during the game if my plan is to work.

I text my cousin Addie who lives a block away.

9:45 - Playing board games with the friends you like. You should come over. It'll be fun!

Addie has been going through a rough time lately... home issues; she could use someone to be around, especially a family member whom she believes she can place trust in.
Adi

She arrives twenty minutes later in the middle of the poker video. Addie gives me a hug. I whisper in her ear "Call Brandon, Evan."

This subtle joke started a long time ago, this comparison of Evan and Brandon, both of them finding disdain and offense in the comparisons made. We, as a group, have kept this going for a while. Now, this is where things get interesting.

A few days before this board game night we played another game at Brandon and Jack's place. I gave Brandon a hard time for taking long turns. He got a little testy about it, so I decided to withdraw, realizing I'd pushed the joke too far and crossed a line.

At one point he even said, "You are always either playing the victim or the bully!"

This confrontation from a few days prior would still be with him. Remember now, I need him to tilt. This doesn't happen by saying one terrible thing to someone. You have to chip at them subtly over time.
Confrontation: Playing Terraforming Mars days earlier.

"Hi, Evan." Addie giggles.

Rage and hurt crosses over Brandons face in this moment. "Do you want me to go home? Because I'll leave. I'm obviously not wanted here."

"What are you talking about?" I smile.

"You told her to call me Evan," he accuses.

"No I didn't." What an incredulous accusation?! I calm him down and assure him that he's wanted here.

Using Information

So we know the moods our enemies/friends are in, but how do we use it to benefit ourselves? I'll show you the way.

We finish the poker video and we begin to setup Scythe, or should I say, I begin to setup Scythe. Sure, they all help pull out the pieces, but I am the one who grabs the important pieces: the factions. I glance at these as the others are distracted and make note of where they all are. First, I turn to Brandon. Having him pull the one I want him to pull will be the easiest. He's in an aggressive mood, which means he'll pull on the one that feels the most resistant to him.

I grip one harder than the others. He smiles subtly when he feels me tugging on one. He chooses that one. Jack wants the one closest to him. Sammy hesitates with the remaining three, showing that timidness once again, and then chooses the middle one, stating "I guess it really doesn't matter."

Oh, Sammy, if only you knew.

Just Lauren left. Addie is bouncing around her, the energy of a youth dancing like a daisy in the summertime, unaware the grip of fall is right around the corner. Lauren is distracted. I offer her one and keep the other recoiled a bit. This is common reverse psychology which works dangerously well while someone is distracted. She touches the one near her, senses I'm keeping something from her, and then grabs the other card.

We all sit in our appropriate places. The seating arrangement is very important because of the turn order, I cannot stress this enough. Brandon is to my right. His moves will most heavily dictate how I play as I have less time to react to them. I want Brandon playing into my palm on this night. I tell Addie to pull a chair up next to Lauren. She'll be a hyper distraction for her all night, really taking her out of the game entirely.

Jack will have some buffer room to make his moves. This could be a problem because he is positioned between two weak players: Lauren and Sammy. But, in a game of Scythe comfortability plays more like a trap than an advantage so things should work out okay.

Gameplay

I'll lay out my vocal strategies and observances of each player below, going in turn order.

Lauren: She is heavily distracted by Addie, so much so that I am constantly having to remind her that it is her turn. This applied pressure causes her to act irrationally and waste valuable turns. I notice she is one dimensional as she builds up an army during the game, with no real intention of pointing it at a player or making an aggressive play.

Sammy eating a hot dog and Jack on his phone.
Jack: He is in a great mood, spirits soaring like Micheal Strahan after his Super Bowl victory. He is so excited in fact, that he can't dedicate his gameplay to a single strategy. He is also an avid texter, this societal tool is an additional distraction. He leaves his pieces vulnerable, and ultimately, it will be the final key to my victory. Late in the game when he leaves his character alone, I strike. He's in a position where he can't use any of his power and I can afford to give up all of mine. At this late point in the game, he realizes he is defeated, and his mood takes a deafening blow.

Sammy: It's only his second time playing the game and he lost to Cesar the first time around, who was playing the game incorrectly to his disadvantage. Oh dear. He's also constantly hungry, begging for food. I point him to the leftover scraps. Not much to worry about here, but Sammy is a smart one. In order to ensure that Sammy is discombobulated on his turns, I shoot him small comments mid-play: "Sammy, are you and Meredith dating yet?" "Why haven't you watched Martyrs yet?" "Remember when you thought you were in the fantasy playoffs, but really, you weren't?" These tidbits are enough to throttle him. By the end of the game he has laid no stars on the board, nuff said.
Sammy finding the planted hair in his food.

Brandon: This is the most important piece to the puzzle. From the getgo Brandon is low key being passive aggressive towards me. He never announces that his turn is up, which the rules state you should do, but instead makes his turn quickly. Jack constantly asks "Whose turn is it?" to which Brandon would quickly respond, "Sam's. I've been done," in a snippy tone, ultimately trying to prove that he is a fast decision maker and that perhaps I am the slow one. You see, I knew this would come back from days before. Plant those seeds and sew the rewards.

Instead of ignoring him, I realize that he is slowly entering that tilt mode we'd mentioned earlier. BINGO. I notice he starts to move his pieces towards encounter cards. To get under his skin, I mimic his action. Nothing can irritate someone more. Yes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, yet, I like to think of it as a mirror that has the ability to melt one's skin off.

"Copying my strategy?" he interrogates me.

"Nope." One word answers are great too. They limit the amount of information you give up.

I also call him out on a few rules he's playing incorrectly throughout the game. This drives him insane. "You didn't tell me these rules! I wish I would've known ahead of time."

Don't hate the game, hate the player.

Brandon moves across the entire board, allowing me to move into free space that he's abandoned and to dominate the southeast regions of Europa.

Result

I earn four stars in two turns and end the game with a W and two signatures on the Scythe scoring sheet.

I hope you all enjoyed a board game night from my perspective. Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

Sidenote

A lot of people ask me how I sleep at night. Pretty well for the most part, besides the outlandish night terrors that plague me about once a week... the teeth ripped from their sockets, the barbed wire sticking through my flesh, a helpless, sinking feeling as I am pulled beneath my bed into a land where Roger Goodell is President of the world and Mercy receives a new buff once a week.

Disclaimer: This perspective is a fictional account. Realistically, these thoughts are insane.

3 comments

  1. Wow, it's like Mindhunters in here. Now I know to berate you with questions all night long to drown out your inner scheming monologue. I'll have to spend my first time playing Scythe just feeling out your play style, then the second time mercilessly exploiting the chinks in your plot armor.
    Oh, and the caption of Sammy finding the hair absolutely killed me.

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  2. I will return to the next game night more prepared and I will sign that scoresheet... I will also bring my own snacks cause hair tastes gross.

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