I gayly doff my beaver low
And freeing hand and heel
My heavy mantle off I throw
And I draw my polished steel
Graceful as Phoebus, round I wheel
Alert as Scaramouch
A word in your ear, Sir Spark, I steal
At the envoi’s end, I touch!
ā€” Cyrano deBergerac, Act I, Scene IV

SwordsbearFirst, a few notes. A beaver, in this piece, is a plumed hat, a mantle is a cape, and an envoi is the final, dedicatory stanza of a ballade poem. To make a long story short, Cyrano deBergerac is promising to make shishkabob out of the Viscount by the end of this very poem.

I can’t help but admire a man who can compose poetry and turn another man into Julienne fries at the same time.

Okay, so what’s that got to do with me? Well, I’ve discovered a game that’s very widely played all over Second Life called En Garde, a very successful adaptation of a fencing-themed card/board game by Reiner Knizia. In the three days I’ve been playing this game, I’ve gone from zero to 140 points, a ranking of #453 on the grid. I’ve taken a couple of very noteworthy scalps along the way, such as the #8 ranked MasterZed Zessinthal and #24 Captain Blinker.

I’ve also watched my views of the tactics of said game evolve rapidly. At first I saw no point in making multiple strength Advance-Lunge attacks, where you use three or four cards to first advance, and then attack in the same turn. It is a weak attack because even when the opponent cannot match the pairs or trios of cards with which I attack him, he still can use one of his other cards to retreat out of harm’s way.

And then I later found that the tactic, while useless for scoring actual touches, is great for forcing the opponent back toward his end of the fencing piste. He uses up his turn in retreating, so it’s my turn again, and I can mount a second attack. Barring an unlikely last-second touch when the deck of 25 cards runs out, I stand to win the round on position alone. It’s a very cerebral game which makes you think long and hard about what position you want to be in when you finish attacking, or how to stop an opponent from pushing you back too far.

This game is addictive. It’s going to busy me right out of a peaceful career of sightseeing and roller skating, if I’m not careful.


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