Canada: Nice Country... I'll Take It!

One of my favorite computer games is Lux Delux. If you've never heard of it, it's essentially the boardgame Risk. You can play the classic set-up: 

a variation of the classic set-up: 

or any one of the hundreds of user-created maps. 

The Vietnam War
The Punic Wars.
I'm not here to simply promote the game; I'm here to explore / reveal the depths of madness I plumb while playing it. It's not enough to merely play videogames, after all; one must provide background and context and sometimes orchestrate the plot twists for one's self.

Take this, for example:

I spent countless hours playing Defender back in the 80s. It's a pretty simple concept, so I liked to add details. Each time I died, I'd pretend the next life was the first guy's brother, or old buddy, volunteering for the mission in a spirit of payback. Or if I kept failing to kill a particular enemy on my sorties, I'd pretend he was the Red Baron of the bunch, or, even better, a former colleague who defected to the other side. This time, it's personal.

I'm sure normal people don't have any of the above (or the below) going on while playing, but in the immortal words of Danny DeVito's character from Twins, "Do I look normal to you?" This sort of stuff is half the fun of videogames to me. (I talked a little about this in my blog for Stephen King's and Stewart O'Nan's Faithful re: Blubbs Canasta, the best and longest-lived Cuban-defector-near-giant-pitcher to ever take the virtual mound.) 

A few weeks back, I found I was really drawing out my games. If I was having trouble with one particular computer opponent, it wasn't enough to win; I had to surround him and pummel him, invent insurrections and false flags, etc. 

But why waste any further time when I can show you? Always willing to draw back the curtain on the Dog Star Omnibus mental bullpen, I present to you:

The Winnipeg Protocol

First, I love Canada. For reasons I never understand, it's popular (though perhaps not as popular as it once was, which is a good thing) for Americans to make fun of Canadians. Probably popular in the other direction, as well. Anyway, none of this is in that spirit. Like many American policymakers of the 19th (and probably 20th) century, I just like the idea of conquering Canada.

Though when I do need some extra incentive, I pretend I'm attacking armies of Caillous... and crushing them.
Plus, it's a fun way to learn geography. To wit:

What the what, now? It's not what you think.
Second, I'm not actually a bloodthirsty tyrant, but I enjoy playing the role when playing Lux. Die, Mutant Scum.

Third, I don't always name (or screencap) the individual games I'm playing, lest you think I'm more of a lunatic than I actually am. They're derived from whatever starting point I'm allotted. I like to let the computer randomly assign armies at the beginning of each game and then decide on a path and premise from there. 

For today's class, that was Winnipeg. Here's how things looked after the first round.

What happened here was they started me (General Blue) off with Winnipeg and a couple of surrounding towns, so I just consolidated that into the image above. Unless otherwise noted, all of these images are what my screen looked like at the end of each turn.

Round Two:

Master of NW Ontario and the Lower Prairie!
I like to avoid a two-front war, but sometimes, history forces these things upon us.

Round Three:

I invaded Flin Flon (that's its real name; good for Canada, naming a city after a science fiction character) and didn't do a very good job of it. Now my upper left flank is dangerously exposed. I sack the commander in charge of this operation and replace him with a loyal subordinate known for his no-nonsense approach to fortifications. General Black's taking Iqaluit from me will not go unpunished, but I'll table it for now.

Between Rounds Three and Four, I get to cash in my cards:

Which leads to:

Edmonton falls! And Toronto is getting nervous. Technically, the invasion of Edmonton is called an "unlawful widening of the war" by the United Nations, but they just don't know the facts on the ground, man. (Plus, this nets me vast oil resources. This has no correlation to gameplay; I don't get anything but a couple of extra armies at the beginning of my turn for holding Edmonton. But in my imagination, I see my tanks guarding thousands of barrels and a giant refinery.)

And Toronto's getting nervous. Ex-cel-lent.

Round Five:

Not much to see here. A nominal expansion out of Flin Flon and strengthening my borders. Onto Round Six:

Uh-oh. My "Niagara Offensive" was a failure. Now Toronto knows I've designs on their city. (I tell the world I'm only responding to its citizens calls for a crack-free mayor.) I need to get my card, though, so looks like I'm going for the Upper Prairie.

End of turn. Wasn't able to completely take the Prairie, but I moved some armies into Ontario.
Between Rounds Six and Seven, another card cash-in:

Ruler of All the Prairie! Now I can play defense in the west and start attacking the East. In a reversal of Manifest Destiny, I have my propaganda ministers start preaching "Our Glorious March to the Atlantic."
Round Eight: I take Toronto and move chemical weapons into Polar Bear Park.

Round Nine: "Everyone knows the people of Quebec cry for liberation from their French-speaking oppressors."

Round Ten: My Atlantic campaign is bogged down in the great mutiny of 2013. The highways are littered with the crucifixions of its ringleaders. This cost me valuable time. So... say your prayers, Yellowknife; I'm comin' at ya, live, like Tesla. Using the extra armies from my third card cash-in:

My spies tell me the Western Inuit (here represented by General Orange) have no love for Generals Black, Red, or Green. I promise to restore them to their former positions if they allow me to absorb them into my flank. They agree. So:
Of course, whenever you knock out one of the other Generals, you get their cards.
Time to avenge myself on General Black!
And everyone else on the Atlantic seaboard. In exchange for promises of tribute and fealty, I let the Inuit roam freely in their native lands.
Next Round: I feign overtures of peace with Western Canada while fortifying key chokepoints:

But wait! This is interesting:

Generals Red and White attempt to re-take Edmonton! My garrison is reduced to a mere two armies. But they hold the line. This provides me with the perfect excuse to resume hostilities.
So, I attack Dawson City in the Yukon in Operation... Pacey Witter.
It's all over but the crying, Generals Red and White...
 As for you, General Green: you don't die...

Time to spread my troops through the provinces, to (ahem) "keep the streets safe."

This is where the game can continue indefinitely if I just want to keep inventing scenarios for myself. (Food riots in Vancouver? More troops. Earthquake relief in Nova Scotia? More troops. Rumors of a terrorist attack in Ottawa. God bless our first responders. J-Lo concert out of control in Manitoba. Assassinate J-lo. Etc.)

But finally, enough of this!

I probably don't need to tell you how this went.

One of the most fun features of Lux Delux is that you can write your own victory messages. Here's a sampling of some of the Attaboys I give myself once I win:

Extra points if you can name the movie. (Without googling. You're on your honor.)
Ditto for this one.
This one is probably my favorite. It's meant to be taken as a badly-translated fortune cookie message of some kind, not like a cry for help or anything.
There are more, but I'll spare you. (Two of them are just lyrics from Motley Crue's "Kickstart My Heart." Whoah! YEAH!)

This was likely a very tedious blog to read, and I don't blame you if you skipped it. At least I have answered the question "Say, what would a blog about Lux Delux look like?" for myself, freeing up space and time for other pursuits.


  1. "You Are Punching a Bad Life in the Face with Your Winning Fists" is probably the best thing I've seen all year. Wait...did those Scarlett Johansson selfies leak this year...? No...? Okay, then yep, that settles it.

    I also cannot tell you how charmed I am by the fact that Canada has a town named after a sci-fi character. Flin Flon! FLIN FLON, for Pete's sake!

    I don't want to invade Canada. I want Canada to invade us!

    1. I'm with you on all counts, there.

      Or Iceland. They seem reasonable. Too bad they don't have a sizable Expeditionary Force. If they did, I'd offer up my services as a Fifth Column.