David G. Cox Esq.
Australia
Lighthouse Beach
NSW
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Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
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Lifeboats is an amazing game and surely an example of democracy gone crazy.



The concept behind Lifeboats is that a ship has sunk and survivors in lifeboats are paddling/rowing to one of three tiny islands on the horizon. The boats are not only overloaded with survivors but they are totally unseaworthy as well.

The game reflects the noble human spirit where some people are willing to give up their life so that others may survive. Forget that sad incident on the Titanic where it was a case of “rich women and children first”. In Lifeboats some people must die so that others may live – but just in case no noble spirits volunteer how should we decide?

Some people may see Lifeboats in another light. Some may see it as an allegory for the human situation as we have struggled through history. I see it as an example of democracy gone mad! In Lifeboats we vote on everything – which boat springs a leak, which person should be thrown overboard and which boat should actually progress shoreward. As well as being an example of democracy gone mad it also shows, via the Captain cards, how a strong albeit dictatorial leader can provide benefit to the overall group.

Anyway, that is enough of this general palaver. Let’s get down to the sad tale of this particular maritime disaster where an 8-year-old lad has almost certainly been scarred for life as a direct result of the diabolical struggle between his elders in this life and death situation…

The ship sank on a bright warm winter’s afternoon. There were six of us left – five men and a young boy. Several things happened to make this life-struggle more memorable than some other life-changing situations in which I have found myself.

The most obvious was the presence of an 8-year-old lad amongst the survivors – would the men take advantage of his youth and weakness for their own benefit or would the men band together as a group to protect the youngster. As it turned out, we probably shattered his youthful exuberance with our deceitful and bullying natures, but this sort of psychological damage to his young mind will, almost certainly, better prepare him for the pathos of later life.

The youngster didn’t seem to realize the perilous situation in which he found himself – he actually seemed elated and almost joyous and the excitement he created lifted the spirits of the entire band.

Promuso, being the oldest, wisest and most compassionate of the group sat himself next to the youngster, Luke. Rather than sharing his sage wisdom with Luke, Promuso actually allowed his own decisions to be guided by Luke, giving Luke a warm feeling inside. Halfway through the game Promuso asked the group in general, “Why am I doing so badly.”

I was the only one honest enough to reply, “You are taking advice from an eight-year-old and you want to know why you are coming last?”

Shortly after this one of the lifeboats was approaching the shore. Young Luke had two sailors onboard when it sprung a leak. I have no real idea why one of Luke’s sailors was thrown overboard – I mean, he was the smallest so you would think that throwing him overboard would do little to stop the ship sinking. Anyway, he was thrown out and it did keep the boat afloat.

Later in the same turn as sailors where jumping ship and changing to other boats Luke was about to place another of his sailors into this particular lifeboat – a wise choice as it was closest to shore.

I said, in a strong voice, “Luke, just remember what happened last time you had a sailor in that boat!”

Luke screamed in pain as the memory came back – he quickly made adjustment and moved to a different, less advantaged lifeboat. It never ceases to amaze me, how awesome is the power of suggestion, particularly on a young mind. Some of the others were horrified at the damage I may have been doing but at least one I think was a touch disappointed that he hadn't thought of doing it himself.

On the very last turn of the game, when it came time to vote for leaks and movement Luke’s father, for the first time, advised Luke. We were stunned when Luke followed his father’s instructions as they were clearly not in Luke’s best interest but certainly were in the father’s best interest.

Luke’s father won the game.

Old age and treachery always overcome youth and skill.



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Scott Henshaw
United States
East Bridgewater
Massachusetts
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That story brought a tear to my eye. Such wonderful memories and scars that will be carried forth. Awesome!thumbsup
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Eric Evans
United States
Port Angeles
Washington
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Gaming, Strategizing, Trading; This is what's best in life.
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I wouldn't be surprised if this game had caused children to run away from home and marriages to crumble. I am waiting for the cannabilism expansion with the tiny little bottle of barbecue sauce.
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Graham Lockwood
Australia
Blacktown
NSW
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...trust a Pyrate to try and take a game like this seriously. You are quite perceptive, it is totaly stupid to try and pin your hopes on winnning a game like this with directions from an eight year old. I don't know how I missed that. Still, it was rather good fun.

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Gene Baker
United States
Ocean Springs
Mississippi
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Games with dragons, spaceships, and bears aren’t wargames. Call them conquest games or strategy games or crap but they aren’t wargames.
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This reminds me of a time I played my dad a game of Stratego. I may have been 13 or 14. I having played the game with my devious brothers managed a sure victory. In order to quickly end the game my dad "helpfully" told me where his flag was located. You know where this is going – right? I course advanced toward it immediately only to be blown up by a bomb AND I was his first borne son as well! My mom was mad at dad for this and I was sitting there thinking “hey that was a great play”!
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James Fung
United States
San Diego
California
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I think Luke will have the last laugh, when he and his aged father find themselves on a lifeboat. Or when picking a retirement home...
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