Chuck Bartowski: A Humble Hero May30

Chuck Bartowski: A Humble Hero...

“I just know what an incredible guy Charles Bartowski is, and sometimes I’m not so sure that he knows it,” says Ellie Bartowski in the third episode of Chuck. And she doesn’t even know that Chuck is taking down dangerous killers, defusing bombs, and saving innocent lives on a daily basis.  Chuck’s opinion of himself leaves me asking the question: What is so great about Chuck and why doesn’t he know it? Any time someone mentions “the greats,” they’re usually talking about the rich, the powerful, and the famous. Alexander the Great conquered large swaths of Asia. Wayne Gretzky (The Great One) still holds most of the scoring records in the NHL. The Great Gonzo has had a long and storied career on The Muppet Show, even though no one really knows what he is supposed to be. Wealth, power, and fame are probably what Chuck hoped for after graduating from Stanford. He was supposed to have a successful career in software and retire early. Along the way, that dream shattered and so did his self esteem. That’s why he can’t see the greatness he has achieved working alongside Sarah and Casey, and even before that. While many people define “greatness” as being wealthy and famous, I like Chuck’s style of greatness much better. You see, Chuck is a hero. Even before he knew what the Intersect could do, he was saving people from electronic disasters; everyone at the Buy More knows Chuck is the best at what he does, and we see him go above and beyond when he arranges an impromptu, in-store ballet performance for a little girl whose father didn’t tape the real thing. Everyone loves Chuck, except for those who are intimidated by his authenticity. Add the Intersect to the...

Keeping it in the Game May13

Keeping it in the Game...

It’s another game of Settlers of Catan (with the Cities and Knights expansion). I am seated at the table with three friends. The mood is tense, as during our quest for thirteen points, they are tied with twelve points apiece. I, on the other hand, only have seven, but it is my turn. I play the Alchemist, which allows me to choose the numbers on the dice. I’m going with five. Five seems good. Five means everyone at the table produces wheat. Naturally, I follow that up with the Resource Monopoly, forcing the other players to give me two wheat. After playing Irrigation (more wheat) and the Merchant (ability to trade, and one point), my turn has become an epic tale of underdog victory. Taking the cloth citadel (2 points) and longest road (2 points), I build one final settlement for the win. Victory is mine. With that comeback, I win my fifth game in a row against those friends. My victory is even more satisfying because they had spent the first 95% of the game making sure I had a tough time getting anywhere. However, once they had decided I was no longer a threat, one of them moved the robber, allowing me to produce exactly the cards I needed to win. Their mistake. (The next game, that same player sacrificed a chance to win just to make sure I didn’t, but I digress.) I’m sure I have played over 100 games of Settlers with these particular gaming buddies. Each of us has won our fair share of games, and unspeakable acts were done to ruin strategies and destroy cities. Yet, throughout, our friendships remained intact. Many popular websites have devoted articles to the idea that board games ruin friendships. “6 Great Games (For...

Don’t bounce Burgundy Jun22

Don’t bounce Burgundy...

Burgundy. This word could refer to a few different things: a dark red that is one of my favourite colours; a fictional news anchor by the name of Ron who is kind of a big deal; or a region in France, known for its wine and mustard. The latter Burgundy was also the place Nazi Germany dreamed of using as their base for western expansion. Those dreams are the reason many a Diplomacy player has ordered a bounce by sending two units to Burgundy with the sole purpose of keeping Germany out. Diplomacy is a game that has been around for years, existing on the fringes of board gaming culture since 1959. It differentiates itself from other war-based games with its intense periods of negotiation and an absence of dice. To win a game of Diplomacy, a player has to control eighteen of the thirty-four supply centres. Working together with other players is necessary in order to expand. Negotiation and trust are critical to success. People might break that trust, but the alternative is far more terrifying. The thing is: trusting someone in Diplomacy can be very hard to do. If you ever leave yourself vulnerable, you’re suddenly open to an unexpected attack from someone you thought was an ally. And that’s why, when playing France, no matter what Germany says, the possibility of Munich-Burgundy is a very real threat to start the game. So then, the question remains: given that threat, what should France do? And many players default to the defensive option: self-bounce to keep Burgundy open. But playing on the defensive means you don’t move anywhere and your progress is delayed. If you ask me, in order to get anywhere in Diplomacy, you have to trust someone and as an extension...