Pop-O-Matic Trouble

The most important thing here is to listen to your old man. I’ve got experience behind me. You’re green. We can fix that. Just pay attention and learn from the master.

First, choose your color wisely. Don’t pick red or yellow, like I know you want to. Too gaudy. You don’t want the other guys to notice you when you’re passing by their little home base thing. And you don’t want to attract undue attention when they’re deciding which of their guys to move.

You want them to take their turn and then say, “Oh, look, if I’d have paid a little closer attention, I could have sent Sarah back to her home base. Too bad I wasted that last turn.”

Item two: get the rules down. Now, some people play that you can get your guy out on a 6, which garners an extra turn at the bubble. Other people allow that your guy can come out on a 6 pop or a 1 pop, but the extra bubble shot only follows the lucky number 6.

Don’t wait ‘til you’re in the middle of the game to decide which of these rules, both legitimate to my understanding, you will be playing by. Straighten that out up front, or by God, some little hot shot will decide to go on a 1 even if no one else has taken that option. It’s just not fair if we don’t all start on a level playing field, or level game board as the case may be.

On to strategy. You can play conservative, or you can play aggressive. Which is it, play like a winner or like a wuss? ‘Cause I want you to know it’s up to you. Let it be said here, however, that a conservative strategist I am not. So, if that’s the choice, if that’s how you want to play your cards, or your popping die, so to speak, it’s up to you. My money’s on the fierce, confrontational, crotch kick approach. You in?

I knew you’d see the logic, my bright little angel.

Right. Fear and respect the bubble. It is a force. Don’t slap at it. Give it a good, firm press. If it doesn’t get a solid pop, you can forget picking up the elusive 6. We play for sixes, forget the ones. Ones are for weasels. Excuse my French. It is French, you know. Give it a good press to force a strong pop. But don’t share this knowledge with your little pals. The less they know the better.

Next item: Every time you pull a 6, bring out another man. Go for it all! Don’t pussy foot about using up the 6 to move one of your guys closer to home. Sixes are precious! Use them wisely. It doesn’t matter if all four of your men are out! It doesn’t matter if you can’t protect them all from the opponents. Just get them on the board! We can worry about protecting them later.

Another thing, and this is very important: never pass up the opportunity to land on another man.

Let me say it again. Never pass up the opportunity to land on one of those little fuckers and send him home crying. So what if it’s your best friend and she only has one man out? So what? Screw her! She’d do it to you.

Onward! If another player pops the bubble and the die ends up kind of on its corner, you know, sort of leaned up on its edge, they cannot try to knock it down. That’s it. They forfeit their turn. Hey, if they knew how to properly handle the bubble it wouldn’t happen.

If, however, by some freak chance you end up with a die in this predicament, feel free to try and knock it down. I mean, you know, give it a shot. They can’t blame you for trying, right? Actually, if you can see which side the 6 is on, you can sort of tap at the bubble strategically. Maybe it’ll go your way. Something to think about.

So, to recap, choose a neutral color. Be elusive. That’ll work for you until they get pissed that you go out of your way to land on them. Then they’ll be after you.

Also, know your rules. You pick the rules you want to play by. Don’t cave in, like I know you want to.

And respect the bubble. It’s sorta like God, you know? It hands out numbers and there’s nothing you can do but work with them. Which is what you’ll do. You’ll work with those numbers. You’ll bring out all your guys, you’ll land on their guys, you’ll rule the board! You are a fearless warrior! Are you ready to play?

Hope Madden is a writer, film critic and filmmaker living in Columbus, Ohio, where she mainly watches scary movies and eats at Chipotle. Find her on twitter @maddwolf 

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