by Rich Sommer

A lot of people dislike negotiation games. Those games where you have to make offers and agreements to help each other and get all nice-and-huggy, and then reveal that you're a big liar and a jerk and you totally screwed the other guy over and now you have points and he's out of the game. 


Me? Sweet jeebus, I love them.

Look, I don't love that moment where you realize I was lying to you. I don't like how your face falls. I don't relish in the involuntary smirk I get on my face when I'm shrugging and apologizing. And I REALLY don't like it when the tables are turned. My goodness, I'm going to rage when you screw me over.

Ask the guy who was sitting at the table behind our game of Alcatraz: The Scapegoat at the 2012 BGG.con (he heard me threaten to, "burn this motherfucker down"). Or ask Morgan Dontanville how I told him I would never play another game with him again after our little run-in in Quo Vadis (I ended up playing lots more). Or ask my "friends" who helped me "celebrate" my 30th birthday by wiping England off the map about 90 minutes in to a four hour game of Diplomacy. 
That I was hosting. On my 30th birthday. I was, um, surly.
I don't feel happy when I get screwed over in one of those games. And I don't really enjoy screwing you over, either. But I will do it. Oh, I will do it hard.
Here's what you and I have to remember: It's not personal. It's the game. I still really, really like you. I'm still not going to tell anyone your email password, or where you keep your passport, or whatever. I will only screw you over within the rules and spirit of the game. And I fully expect that you will do the same.
I don't want you to go easy on me because you heard I had a bad day. I DO NOT WANT YOU TO BE NICE TO ME IN THAT GAME UNLESS IT IS GOING TO BENEFIT YOU. If you go soft on me, I will do everything I can to take advantage of you. You had better look me straight in the eye, put your hands on my shoulders, and PROMISE me that you are not about to betray me. Swear on your kids or my kids or whatever. And then rip my guts out. 
Know now: I will not be pleased.
But when the game is over? I will still hug you and pick you up at the airport and stay up late talking about secrets and stuff. 
Because I draw a clear delineation between my in-game persona and my extra-game self. 
And I would like you to do the same, please.