I looked into my dining room and found it in shambles thanks to my four guests: Otto von Bismarck, Henry Kissinger, Genghis Kahn, and Napoleon Bonaparte. Otto was serving the first course, and Genghis had stolen Napoleon’s hat and was teasing him by holding it above his head. Henry had just arrived and removed the game board, miniature soldiers, dice, and cards from his briefcase. This wasn’t just any dinner party; I had invited these great strategic minds over to enjoy a game of Risk. After a briefly gorging ourselves on Otto’s very own schupfnudeln served with his signature sauerkraut, the game began.
We placed our armies across the board, each scheming to conquer the world. I focused my efforts on securing Australia first and working my way out. Otto, as can be expected, put a sizeable portion of his troops in Germany and Napoleon established his main force in France, while Henry decided to secure North America along the Greenland border. Finally, Genghis put a considerable number of troops in Mongolia. With our initial armies in place, the fighting began. Otto quickly made alliances with everyone at the table, intending to keep none of them. After convincing Genghis to place his troops on the French border and invade Napoleon’s territory the next turn, Otto invaded Genghis from behind and took a sizeable portion of his territory in Asia. Infuriated, Genghis retaliated. But because Henry was bound to assist Otto by a treaty they had just signed on a napkin, he assisted in knocking Genghis out. Genghis did not take this very lightly and almost took off Otto’s head with a few swings of his club. We finally got him to leave by promising he could go first in our next game.
All this nonsense did not leave Napoleon very happy and he quickly decided to march into Russia. His supply lines got overextended and, sensing his weakness, Otto strategically turned on the air conditioning. Just as his troops had been defeated by the cold Russian winters in the early 1800s, he was defeated by the unpleasant chill of central air. When Napoleon went to get his jacket from my hallway closet, Otto quickly moved his forces around and took a significant portion of Napoleon’s troops off the board. Then, next turn, Otto’s army crushed Napoleon’s, removing him from the game. Napoleon skulked off. We later learned he had moved to the Island of Elba. Henry struggled to develop a strategy to fight Otto’s now almost unbeatable force. Finally, he developed a plan: he would discuss his strategy with Otto in his deep monotonous voice until Otto feel asleep. Once Otto passed out from this soporific discussion, Henry and I took out his territories and called a truce. I kicked the remaining world leaders out of my dining room and cleaned up after our crazy night. Just before I went to bed I noticed I had 37 unchecked messages on my answering machine: I had forgotten to invite Julius Caesar.