My Wife Always Wins - An Uphill Battle in Boardgaming! - Bill and Ted's Excellent Boardgame
This Week’s Game: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Boardgame
My wife, Lyndsey, and I are currently in the process of moving. I hate moving, I’m sure everybody does. I thought it was bad when I moved five miles from the city to the suburbs, but now we get to make a 1,200 mile move from New York to Florida. Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to enjoy my new life in the south – even as I write this it is 16 degrees in my current location and 66 degrees in my future location. Being there will be great, but getting there is the worst.
To compound the terribleness of moving, Lyndsey has brought her competitive spirit from the gaming table to the moving truck. Not a minute of our packing and cleaning goes by where I am not reminded that she is much better at organizing, much better at optimizing every moment of our move, and that my only real purpose is to carry the heavy stuff like I’m her personal donkey.
Needless to say, I am quite burned out. A day filled from morning to evening with just packing and carrying heavy boxes and furniture leaves me beaten and broken. By the time I’m ready for bed, I’m too sore to be able to sleep. In these times of sleeplessness, I just sit on the couch and watch whatever is on TV, though in my zombified state I don’t really catch much of what’s going on.
One such night this week, I fell asleep while on HBO. I woke up in the middle of the night, dreary as ever, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure was on. I’ll watch that movie anytime I stumble upon it, and – 3:00 A.M. or not – I was going to watch it that night. The movie was as good as I always remembered it: Wannabe rock stars Bill S. Preston, Esquire, and Ted Theodore Logan, traversing history in their most excellent phone booth time machine.
As I watched it, zoned out as can be, there was a scene I never remembered from the movie. Ted, played by Keanu Reeves, looked deep into my eyes and spoke directly to me. He made me feel special, like his entire world revolved around me. Keanu told me if I played his game, I would be most triumphant against Lyndsey. If I beat Lyndsey at the gaming table, it would end her most heinous reign over me and I could go on having some pride in my board game hobby once more.
Listen, I know I was teetering on the brink of insanity there. But in my sleep-deprived stupor, I was certain my vision of 1980s Keanu Reeves was some sort of divine oracle foretelling my certain victory against Lyndsey. What was the harm in playing her in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Boardgame? In the end, the result couldn’t be any worse than any other time we play.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Boardgame is an action-programming game where players assume the roles of alternate history Bills and Teds as they travel through the Circuits of History to collect personages of historical significance. Players move their phone booths around the board by programming two action cards per turn (those two cards are replenished by drawing at the end of each round). There are two evil dudes, a sheriff and a knight, that are chasing Bill and Ted through the circuits as well.
Whenever a player moves onto a space with a personage, she collects that tile. The personage tiles have their own actions on the back, and those actions now become the player’s first movements of every turn. Now when the player programs her actions, she must account for her personage movements first, then her action card movements. If an evil dude moves into the space with a phone booth, that player must drop her most recently acquired personage on that space.
Whoever has the most personages of historical significance at the end of ten rounds (when the cards run out) forms the most triumphant band, Wyld Stallyns and brings world peace!
Check out a rules explanation video here.
Time to Play
Lyndsey and I each drew our starting cards, and each collected a personage of historical significance in our first turn. The evil dudes went off on their own way, not bothering either of us. For the next few rounds my initiative allowed me to go first, and I collected three more personages, raising my collected characters to four, while Lyndsey still sat at one.
I was off to a great start and felt good about my chances. Anybody who has read some of these articles will know that’s never a good sign.
On the very next turn I miscalculated a move and ran right into the sheriff, so I had to lose one of my personages. When my time to move the evil dudes came, the sheriff was moved off of my space, then back on to my space – I lost another personage. On Lyndsey’s turn she picked up a personage herself, then moved the sheriff off of my space, and back on to my space. Just like that it was a four point swing, and Lyndsey was in the lead.
For pretty much the remainder of the game, Lyndsey’s initiative allowed her to go first each turn. She was able to pick up more personages and stay away from the evil dudes. Pretty much every time I picked up a personage I lost it within a turn. Lyndsey said she wasn’t trying to take me out, and that “I am just focusing on my own piece in regard to the evil dudes, it’s just working out in my favor that you keep losing.” I don’t buy it.
At one point the score was seven to one. I managed to pick up three personages by landing on a single space (the one where I had to dump three of mine earlier in the game), and place the evil dudes strategically so that Lyndsey was guaranteed to strike at least one. Her movements took her through both evil dude’s spaces, she lost two personages, then she picked up two new personages. Even my best efforts were just a wash.
I made a decent comeback, but that counts for absolutely nothing. I ended with four, and Lyndsey had seven.
I am absolutely heartbroken that Keanu Reeves lied to me.
Maybe it is that pain that brings me to look unfavorably upon this game, but something tells me it’s more. As far as programming games go, there is nothing special about Bill and Ted. It’s not a bad game by any means, but I just can’t find enough about it to keep me coming back as I do with other games.
Turn priority pretty much decides the entire game, and while it can be fun to set the sheriff on your opponent, at most times it feels tedious. If you’d like to play a programming game, I think you’d find a better time with The Dragon and Flagon that we played a few weeks back.
If you’re going to play this game, the whole purpose of playing Bill and Ted is for the theme. If you like the movie, like I do, you will be willing to overlook the flaws of the game in order to travel through time to collect some old, dead dudes for your history report. I have to say, gameplay didn’t grab me at all, but the theme did for sure. It’s difficult to figure out this disconnect, because the programming mechanic is the perfect way to bring the movie to the tabletop – since they go hand in hand, I should like this game more than I do. I think I’m still just mad at Keanu.
Edit: All right, so after writing this, I looked back at the cable listings for the sleepless night when Keanu “lied” to me. As it turns out, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure never aired that day. I don’t know how my mind concocted the idea of the movie, and of the oracle of my victory… but I have a feeling Lyndsey is to blame. I envision something like her whispering to me while I slept, planting this subliminal message that I had a chance against her in this game.
I’m just ready to finish this most heinous move and limit my bodacious disappointments to the gaming table.
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