David: An Analysis of a Case of Obsession, by S. Freud
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I departed Vienna in the summer of that year to speak at a psychiatric convention in C_____, a midwestern town known for architecture plainly in keeping with my theories. As my train from New York entered a tunnel, I reflected upon my long and distinguished career and wondered if America held any surprises for me. It turned out I would not have long to wait.

After my keynote address, "Übermensch, Weltanschauung, and Götterdämmerung: The Psychology of Overusing German Words in Academic Papers," I was approached by an old colleague from Essen, Dr. Rüdiger Knizia, a game theorist.

"Ah, Rüdiger," I greeted him, "still using umlauts, are we?"
"Never mind that, Siggy," he retorted. "I have ein duzi for you to see."

Fascinated as to what this might entail, I said my goodbyes and accompanied the doctor to his study down the street, where a young man, fully straitjacketed, awaited us. I released him on Dr. Knizia's assurances that he was in the midst of his "docile" period.

His manner was normal, but, as I talked to him, I realized that he was gripped with a singular mania: Bordenspielmania, known in America as "Sid Sackson's Syndrome," or the obsessive collecting of board games. His condition had worsened severely in recent months, he told me, a telltale meeple clutched in his left hand.

"What a bizarre case!" I remarked.
"Bizarre, schmizzare," replied Rüdiger. "The bastard keeps winning at 'Louis XIV'! You have to do something!"

So, I settled down to learn this man's strange history. I hope that these notes might prove some use to future psychiatrists.
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1. Board Game: Dark Tower [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:2184]
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His mania first manifested itself, as these often do, in childhood, when he received a copy of "Dark Tower" for Christmas. He and his brother, who appears to have been his Enabler, played it until the Tower broke. Still, the seed was planted.

Incidentally, this experience also resulted in a chronic episode of Katchitünenzyndrom, whereby certain snatches of "Die Valküre" and "The 1812 Overture" remained stuck in his head until about 1994.
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2. Board Game: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Battlesystem [Average Rating:5.55 Unranked] [Average Rating:5.55 Unranked] [Average Rating:5.55 Unranked]
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From there, it was merely a short leap to fantasy roleplaying, but not the type that occupies my profession. Apparently, groups of people pretend to be adventurers in fantasy literature and imagine scenarios in which they fight orcs, dragons, and Steve Jackson in settings festooned with women in chainmail bikinis. Alas, the women, too, were largely figments of their imaginations.

David admitted to having several alternate personalities as an indirect result of this experience, all of which inhabit a parallel dimension I have encountered before (q.v., "Der Welt des Kriegskrafts: Ganken und Ninjalüten" (2004)). When I asked him to describe these personalities, he replied, in German, that they were "über."

Clearly, that schweinhund Nietszche has gotten to him first.
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3. Board Game: Talisman [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:1866]
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Soon, he switched to fantasy-themed board games, such as Talisman. Despite the fact that it was a pain in the kiester to put away, David devoted many hours to this one. Although it was difficult at first, institution of a "No Prophetess" rule smoothed things nicely.
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4. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:521]
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In college, David switched to Diplomacy, actually a much healthier move, given the fact that the board is almost beside the point. He was interacting with normal people in a social environment who talked about things having nothing to do with vorpal swords, and things began to look up. He had a torrid affair with Alyssa Milano upon which sufficient comment was made in the papers of the day, and thus I will not bore the reader here with details, salacious though they may be.

Regardless, things were looking up, and he seemed to have overcome his crippling obsession...
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5. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:152] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
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...which got shot all to Hell in 1994.
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6. Board Game: Shadowfist [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:2695] [Average Rating:7.11 Unranked]
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...and 1995.
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7. Board Game: Illuminati: New World Order [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:2559] [Average Rating:6.37 Unranked]
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...and 1996 through 1997.
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8. Board Game: Scrabble [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:1572]
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Eventually, however, David's mania seemed to encounter a dormant period. Apart from the purchase of a Scrabble set and a few rounds of Trivial Pursuit, all seemed right with the world.
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9. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:335]
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However, in June of this year, David encountered his first Days of Wonder game, a simple enough affair. Possibly fueling his renewed interest was the fact that he got to play King Arthur and pass cards around while repeating "I am king, you know." Despite being flattened by a siege engine on the last turn, he and the rest of the knights won.
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10. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:294] [Average Rating:7.21 Unranked]
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And then someone suggested Die Siedler von Catan, described aptly by the Austrian Psychiatric Association as the single greatest "gateway" to board-game collector mania. At that point, David decided to build up his own collection.
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11. Board Game: War of the Ring (First Edition) [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:83]
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Here, we see the "Bigger is Better" aspect of board-game mania, as his first game was the light wargame "War of the Ring." Like the man who buys a Hummer, he feels the need to compensate for something...in this case, nothing more than a minuscule game collection.

No, really!
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12. Board Game: Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:273] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
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Alas, the collector mentality again asserts itself, and his next purchase is "Heroscape," a game which encourages the buying of nice-looking miniatures. Impossible to keep in a box, David builds an addition onto the back of his third-floor apartment for the sole purpose of housing his Heroscape stuff.

The Department of Buildings, diligent as always, has yet to send an inspector by to comment on the construction, which sways visibly in a stiff breeze.
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13. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:247] [Average Rating:7.31 Unranked]
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Keeping with the fell creatures theme, David's next purchase is Arkham Horror, a game stocked with tiny cardboard counters, clearly manifesting a sort of fiddlispielphilia which is, frankly, quite a bit unsettling. He teaches the game to a large group shortly after purchasing, thereby creating a minor epidemic forcing the closure of several bars, a science fiction bookstore, and the Rock 'n' Roll McDonald's.
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14. Board Game: Betrayal at House on the Hill [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:442]
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Clearly an offshoot of the Arkham Horror influence, this homage to cheesy horror films itself manifests some disturbing traits, such as a player turning traitor, ghosts, mummies, and an Underground Sea located on the second floor of a house. Obviously, these are merely reflections of the subject's own muddled thinking!
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15. Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:2462]
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Here, David fell into another miniature-related trap, set by, he claims, diabolical forces I cannot possibly comprehend. As proof, he tendered me a corporate org chart so mind-bogglingly byzantine that I knew it to be a work of purest, conspiracy-laden fiction! Indeed, this company, which he had named "Hasbro," controlled not only Wizards of the Coast and Avalon Hill, but California, the Moral Minority, and Orbital Mind Control Lasers!

Alas, his dementia had plainly progressed to a dangerous point.
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16. Board Game: Nexus Ops [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:356]
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Unfortunately, David was not alone. By now, others were giving him games to add to his collection. Another enabler, "Scott", sent him Nexus Ops, a perilously close concept to "Settlers," the last exposure to which triggered David's collecting mania. Even worse, the bits are very nice, and gameplay is pretty easy to teach. It even has a little cardboard tower.

I was dealing with forces beyond my comprehension.
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17. Board Game: RoboRally [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:355]
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"Give me little people! Hitting each other!" Obviously, the subject's problems had advanced to the level of a Napoleon complex, and thus, he needed to control things that pushed other things into pits, spinning blades or so forth, all to snorts of laughter from his opponents.
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18. Board Game: A Game of Thrones (First Edition) [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:339]
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Even works of literature were not immune, as the subject picked up a copy of a game based on another work of fantasy. The purchase of the expansion cannot be far behind.
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19. Board Game: Wings of War: Famous Aces [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:824] [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked]
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This one was a bit of an aberration, as, so far as I know, the Luftwaffe didn't use orcs in WWI.
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20. Board Game: Age of Renaissance [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:925]
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Another Enabler introduced David to this game last month, a titanic struggle for supremacy, survival and figuring out where certain borders meet. Even more alarming was the fact that this game used little cardboard counters, which could very well lead to what we psychiatrists call "Grognardism," or intensive wargaming.
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21. Board Game: Fearsome Floors [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:944]
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Eventually, David suffered a major relapse into horror-themed board games when he purchased this one. When asked for an explanation, he merely replied, "Hey, it looks cool."
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22. Board Game: Java [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:762]
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Finally, David fell under the influence of a young woman who suggested this game, which she described as "intensely complex." Never one to shrink from a challenge, the subject pursued it and added it to the now-massive collection.
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23. Board Game: Louis XIV [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:569]
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In recent days, David stopped believing he was Napoleon, and instead became convinced he was Louis XIV. Pronouncements that "It's good to be the king!" drove many away from him. "Regardless," confided Rüdiger, "he managed to get, like seventeen coats of arms last game. What is up with that?"
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24. Board Game: Funny Bones [Average Rating:5.19 Overall Rank:14965]
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Reluctantly, I had to conclude that David was, in the original German, Kükü für die Kokopuffen. Alas, there is little I can do but collect massive royalties on the publication of this case study and garner worldwide acclaim among my lessers.

However, I did learn one very great lesson: Sometimes a meeple is just a meeple.
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