Happy day of tomfoolery and pranks! On this special holiday of mischief and tricks, I’d like to talk to a very specific group out there that may feel shame in coming forward: board game cheaters. That’s right: players who twist and break the rules in order to secure that sweet, sweet victory. You may be shunned by society and your friend group, but I bring you support and guidance on your quest to score unethical triumphs and conquests. I myself am one of you: a dishonourable swindler, hiding in the shadows with their bag of evil tricks. It is the greatest tragedy that the perfect crime must go unnoticed and uncelebrated, but winning is its own juicy reward.
Cheating is an art form, albeit an unrecognized one. It requires more than just a hasty peek at someone’s hand or the counting of cards. It’s strategy, planning, charisma, and a finely-tuned sense of timing, all skills that one would use to play a board game fairly. If you follow my precise, well-tested methods, you too can become an expert in winning games that others are better at. But be warned: alienating and pissing off those that care about you is highly likely, even if these tactics are correctly deployed.
Cards Up Your Sleeve
I recommend avoiding playing games where the presence of a duplicate card could immediately implicate you as a cheater, such as standard 52-card decks. If you get a turn to shuffle the cards, however, doing one shuffle under the table and saving a card or two for yourself could really help your chances in Crazy Eights or Euchre. Then, simply deal yourself less cards than everyone else and make up the difference in your lap.
The two biggest mistakes you can make is forgetting about the cards residing in your sleeve(s), and calling attention to yourself before drawing them out. Practice drawing cards magician style in the mirror beforehand so you can do it without looking, as the eyes give everything away.
Create A Distraction
Perhaps the oldest trick in the book, getting your target to look away for just a moment is the tried and true way of cheating that most people rely on in board games. Once they’re distracted, you can nudge a piece over one space or snatch it off the board altogether. Of course, you can’t simply point behind their shoulder and grab the piece. This is simply too obvious. Cheaters must modernize their strategies in order to pull off The Distraction. If you’re in a public setting such as Funny Bones, there are plenty of diversions to use to your advantage: interesting games on the shelf, the server taking orders, or even other rowdy customers in a frenzied game of Happy Salmon. The important thing about The Distraction is to be able to grab any opportunity when it presents itself.
If you’d prefer to strike on your own terms, there are a few good options to consider. Dropping a piece that requires them to bend under the table or leave it altogether is a viable move, as well as getting into their space under the pretence of sharing food. Waiting until they use the bathroom is a good enough strategy, but be careful and subtle about the pieces you move, since your opponent will be aware (at least subconsciously) that you had time to tamper with the board. Personally, my favourite method is creating an injury (bleeding is a must) that they will rush to fix by securing first aid for you. Take the opportunity to move some stuff around while you’re “vulnerable”, though make sure not to transfer any blood to the pieces.
Fudge The Numbers
While your opponent’s too busy counting up their own points in Azul, you can count a higher number of points or simply move your counter token to a more preferred number. Doing your own point tracking in Scrabble? Give yourself an extra point or two for every other word you place. If you want to pull off some extreme levels of fraud, pull out your calculator and add up your points that way. This works very well for games that have plenty of addition and subtraction at once, making the overall outcome unexpected for those not thinking too deeply about the actual answer. Just type whatever number you want to be your score, then show them that number as your “final calculation.” Fudging requires a solid ability to lie, so be sure to rehearse your neutral face!
Gaslight Your Opponent
Most of us that are online 24/7 will have heard the term Gaslighting. It describes the act of manipulating a person using psychological means to make them question their own sanity, perception of events, and their own memories. It is an insidious form of harm that takes its name from the 1944 film Gaslight, where a man manipulates his wife into believing she is losing her sanity. I believe that there is only one acceptable scenario for Gaslighting another person…and that’s to win a board game. You can use this deplorable tactic to convince your opponent that they never knew the rules of the game, and that your rules (which benefit you) are the correct ones.
The key is to not be overtly hostile until they begin to disagree with you. Becoming argumentative will put off your opponent and may even cause them to walk, meaning nobody wins and it was all for nothing. Here is an example to study: casually comment that you thought houses could only be put on properties in Monopoly when the owner lands on them (this is not true.) Most people will admit to never reading the official rules of Monopoly and acquiescing to keep the peace, or because they are flexible and humble people. Invite all your pushover friends to this gaming session to get the maximum leverage out of your bold lies.
Eat The Pieces
This gambit is only for the most dedicated of cheaters, putting your life on the line for the chance of a dirty victory. By employing both The Distraction and this strategy, you will vanish pieces into thin air and create a new reality where it never existed, similar to Gaslighting but with more physical risk. You’ll first have to estimate how much damage the current pieces on the board could cause you and whether or not you’re willing to risk emergency medical care. Mancala stones are on the safer side, while Sorry pieces pose a choking hazard. Know your limit and swallow within it! My recommended practice drill is swallowing various nuts whole: start with peanuts, then almonds, and work your way up to cashews and walnuts. The faster you can swallow these nuts, the better chance you’ll have at downing larger and more irregular-shaped game pieces without gagging.
Once the piece is down, you’ll have to employ your best poker face, since your opponent may realize its absence. Pretend to look for the piece with them, or convince them it never existed if that’s what you prefer. Expect increasing amounts of anger as they begin to suspect your involvement with the disappearance. They may even demand you empty your pockets and strip down to your unmentionables…but never will they find the valuable piece that lurks inside you. Wait 24 to 48 hours for the piece to emerge and don’t be alarmed by mild to extreme intestinal pain. It’s all for the glory of victory.
(Disclaimer: Don’t actually do any of these things, especially swallowing game pieces!)