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Gamers of Earth
Missive to the Nimbus-Brained Reader: 8/11/21
This July I played exactly half of the new version of Korea with Sensei Steve. He carpet bombed my railroads and sent his flying machines to harry my oxcarts and I turned his flank using the central mountains as a forward reserve for Korean divisions by avoiding combat with the monstrous marines. Boy he loved his marines. Every time he did an amphimbious landing he'd say, "Here come the prostitutes and drugs," and then he'd muse, "maybe the Koreans would have been better off without us."
Well, so it went. I played the side with fewer options and lower tech because I have a good eye for terrain and a lax mind for math. We made a good foe for one another as Sensei Steve, snarled, "Fuck your 37 Chink divisions—I'm raising world tensions and bombing them back to the stone age! I'm the good guys and that's how we roll!"
And then I would snicker as I counted out the mountain trail above Wanson and figured out how to murder a U.S. Army regiment and cut an ROK division off from supply...
That has become my role in gaming. Whatever mind i had for design and development has fled. I have noted that some articles on this gaming page have thousands of reads. So, i muse, that many smarter than i have visited this space.
A boon is asked by this cracked pottery.
Before traveling to Baltimore in April, my friend Rick, here in Pittsburgh, where I stage out of the east and thence return to its septic embrace, who was a long-time craps dealer in casinos, showed me how to play craps. I was reminded of the 6-36 probability curve used in developing results tables on a sliding odds scale for some board games I tried to make decades ago.
Then, while in New Jersey, unable to write for some days due to eye problems, i lie in the dark of my kind host's guest room listening to Herodotus on a loop. Most parts of the work I'd listen to thrice. Then, at a certain point, when remarking on the good fortune of a certain body of combatants, Herodotus wrote that it was as likely as "Rolling three sixes at dice."
I think "dice" was replaced for knucklebones in the translation. Sensei Steve remarked that the ancient dice were not cubed, but more smoothly shaped. If one were to market a game of chance played with three six-sided die, i suppose using the ancient knucklebone profile would be a nice touch of the authentic. But what i am really interested in, is how one would play a game of dice, with three six-sided objects, in which the very unlikely roll of three sixes [think of how hard it is to roll 18 with 3D6 when generating a roleplaying character] is counted as a great stroke of luck.
I am also reminded of the FMA count called "Heaven Six" and that box cars and snakes eyes are the two most unlikely results with two dice, suggesting a Hades reference for rolling three ones, perhaps naming this roll after his three-headed hound, Cerebus?
I suppose one needs to begin with a probability curve, which i can work on while I'm on the train. I'll pick up some dice at the Dollar General this morning and schedule the curve post for the day after this post when i get back on line in four days.
I suppose one would use craps as a basis. But, as a game used by soldiers in the field, I should think that it would be light on components, like ghetto dice played against the curb or stoop, and utilize a cup, not the empty hand. I say this, because lots were chosen by these ancient warriors for their athletic contests by shaking them up in a helmet and casting them to the ground from it, so that the hand of man did not pollute the will of the powers.
This would be another neat component for such a game.
My interest is not in manufacturing and selling a game. But in finding a rules system for playing such a game with three dice and a cup, in a plausibly authentic ancient fashion. For I am working on a fiction set during the Trojan War and would like to be able to write a knucklebones scene. I suppose the game would be called knucklebones, the three sixes would represent the favor of Heaven and three ones the hunger of Hades. How that bitch Fate and Her attendant Furies would be accounted this dimming mind wonders.
This now hopelessly marooned extra terrestrial anthropologist seeks a boon from you.
Please send any ideas to and I will post them here on the gaming page.
Look for the 3-18 curve tomorrow, 10/28/21.
Thank you.
James, Pittsburgh, Wednesday August 11, In The Second Year of Our Lord Floyd
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