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Game Skills

by Ken Poyner

The key to winning is simply
Selecting the right moon.
There are rules about the mass,
The overall diameter, but
Pretty much you are at leisure
To opt for any shape you think best.
Players take into account the number
Of planets, sort out where
The rocky worlds lie, how much
Gravity the gas giants are going to grouse,
Then with binary systems what havoc
On a shot star wobble will have.

Different players come to different conclusions.

This is where the sport of system destruction
Meets its art. Inexperienced players
Leave everything to chance, pluck
A moon that is the most round or dark,
Fling it through the system and hope
The new gravities of planets wounded
Will blindly let them rack up points.
I, on the other hand, calculate
Differences in orbital calculus, project
The effect of a good near miss,
Later a glancing blow
Then, finally, a solid smack
On the face of some dawning world.

The rule for me is keeping randomness
In order, clutching control for as long
As my mathematics can be held as good.

Players watch for millennia while my plan
Takes shape. The neophytes try
To understand why I opted for
Round or bottom-heavy or oblong.
The points collect, worlds smashed
Or splitting, worlds liberated from orbits
Careening into more score for me.
Crack and thunder and planetary dust
Shimmering in fresh, unencumbered star shine,
Until everyone concedes I have won this one,
And we go looking for another system to game.

Our season ends far too soon, but
We need the energy of suspending play:
Our efforts suck our heuristics dry.
Every system, every game, is different,
Yet my science is always the same,
If applied a little skew given some system’s
Specific characteristics. The numbers
And physics always work. I never need to guess.

Copyright © 2018 by Ken Poyner

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