And You Thought “Wood For Sheep” Sounded Questionable

Here is the stick:

The stick is actually a bone. And the bone is actually plastic. It’s an accessory for the action figure called “Poacher” from McFarlane Toys’ “Total Chaos” line:

This stick looks innocent enough, but it is an integral part of the tradition of “Shaking the Stick”. Here’s the story.

Mike, Dan, TJ, and I were playing a game called Alexandros. None of use were enjoying this completely abstract snoozeathon, so Mike made a proposition. He reached onto a shelf and found this plastic bone and declared that if anyone wants to stop playing he can “shake the stick” (the bone) and if someone else agrees, we quit. A turn or two later, TJ was pondering his move and Dan said, “I don’t know what the hell you’re thinking hard about over there because I’m shaking that fucking stick as soon as it’s my turn.”

The stick itself hasn’t really come out since then (except for me to take this picture), but it remains an important part of our Tuesday night group’s lexicon. Declaring that you’re “shaking the stick” is a way to say you’re really not enjoying the game. To be honest, Alexandros remains the only game we’ve actually quit because we hated, and we’ve played a fair amount of games nobody liked. Another game by the designer of Alexandros, Go West, nobody was thrilled with, but we held out to the end. The annoying Palatinus got finished. We suffered through an entire game of Rocketville. Even the horrible, horrible, three-shovel game King’s Blood got played to completion. The stick remains shaken once, and Alexandros was the lucky victim.

“Say Dave,” you’re saying. “What did you mean a moment ago by ‘three-shovel’ game?” That’s a method of rating games. (It’s not exclusive to games. You could rate movies or TV shows or whatever with the shovel system as well.) To rate a game “three shovels” that means that you would rather take three hits to the head with a shovel instead of play it. Alexandros, believe it or not, I’d probably only consider a two-shovel game. Monopoly is four shovels, and there’s a “game” called Ricochet Robots that defines a five shovel game. Hell, Ricochet Robots is five-plus. I’d lean into that fifth hit.

(Calling Ricochet Robots a game is like giving six people each the same Sudoku puzzle, declaring the first one to finish the winner, and calling that a game.)

The stick and a shovel. Very important tools for any serious gamer.

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One Response to And You Thought “Wood For Sheep” Sounded Questionable

  1. Pingback: Dave Ex Machina - A Thousand Points of Articulation » The Stick, Shaken Again