Story for the Day: Mercenaries and Marinas - Part 2

While Alasdair loves playing games with his children, he loathes playing anything with dice. And there I must agree with him.

I admit that I’m surprised that you would play this game,” said Alasdair. “Having lived through some of the greatest sea adventures, I would have thought that something like this would be unexciting for you.”
                “It never could be that, I’m sure,”  said Danaco, with unanswerable dignity. “Everything about this game is pleasant, from the felth of the painted ships to the stories written on the captain’s cards. It is not an exact likeness to life I led during my time in glorious exile, but it is rather a close representation than not. All that going about and requisitioning— it was a life of perpetual motion, not knowing where one shall venture next, going from port to port in quest of any employment, running into pirates, hunting slave galleys, watching the sun rise over endless waters-- how I loved it of all things!” in a fond hue, and then recovering, “—of course I should play this game! It reminds me everything I loved so well during my formative years, and I must have a something to do at my family estate besides, when there are no more villains in my Prince’s realm to extinguish. I am not a serious player, but I do a tolerable job upon the whole. Bartleby was the avid philopolemicist of us and loved arguing about the regulations more than he did playing the game. He would argue a hole in the ground that a man of war should not be allowed in shallow waters due to hull length, that able seamen should never willingly take passage aboard a sloop, and a long et cetera, but his arguments and debates were always what entertained me most. We played many a capital set at Mercenaries and Marinas when he could but be torn away from his book, and Rannig was an excellent player, when he could but be encouraged to use his broadside. He was much to kindhearted to shoot a fellow mercenary, but he would often win by his ingenuity alone, staying away from the larger more preponderating ships and attacking sloops or frigates that could be captured rather than destroyed. Oftentimes he would merely wait for Bartleby to die-- Bartleby thinking himself equal to attack anything that was no less than twenty-two guns—and then sail around his remains to snatch up all the cargo drifting about. It is as enjoyable a game as you can desire, and as it can be played in many different styles, there is something for everyone to admire. With the chief of the actions to be taken written on the cards, and all one need do is follow them and use his moves to advantage, choosing to attack or not to attack, to sink or to capture as he would. It is really the raillery that sets this game apart from its friends: the battles at sea and where one is to go next and what enhancements one is to buy and what cargo is to be taken where leaves room for enormous disagreement-- when playing with more than one another person, what enormous alliances might be made, rendering others miserably wretched. Any game that makes otherwise civil men act as a raging brood when they lose simply must be played and that is all. There is a gambling element which was added to the newest edition of the game, but it can be omitted. It involves rolling a die, and I despise dice. They will roll against me and my hand will assist them.”
“There! You see?” cried Alasdair, in a rage of ecstasy. “I am not the only one who thinks dice do not belong in a game that is not a game of chance.”
Alasdair folded his arms and looked pleased with himself, and Boudicca laughed and shook her head.
“You act as though they are your worst enemy,” said she laughingly. “Perhaps we should have you exchange the dice for Count Rosse. I daresay you should prefer rolling dice to taking a chance on whether His Fashionable Grace is wearing something that will not make you instantly want to burn his estate and every one of his outfits along with it. At least with dice, Alasdair, you have a certain probability of success, but with Rosse’s choice in tight pantaloons, you have no chance of ever overcoming them.”
“At least I know my chances are nearly nothing,” said Alasdair. “Dice give the illusion of possible success. They give false hope when whatever the thing is that needs to be solved might be resolved with deduction and planning. Dice do not belong in games of strategy, and I don’t care what you say.”
He pouted and humphed and effected to look proud and unconcerned.
“Bartleby absolutely abominated dice and refused to play anything where rolling was involved,” the captain added, “declaring the whole thing a vulgar business to be avoided, making claims that dice originated amongst the lower ranks of life as a something to do when work was to be missed, a game for beggars and vandals, and so forth, not to be played by prestigious librarians and scientists such as himself. And,” with a sly look, “not to be played by kings, to be sure.”
Alasdair  only smiled and said nothing, gratified to appear acquiescent and satisfied to know that there were many other wiser heads than his that disapproved dice so entirely. In this, the infamous Bartleby Crulge, renowned antiquarian and cantankerous curmudgeon, was his ally, and gladly would Alasdair have schemed in vain if only to be assailed with the legendary librarian’s equal dissent. 

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