Dear wooden cubes from my favorite board games:
You represent many things across many genres. You have played innumerable roles atop my table: spice, currency, disease, paint, cattle, food, whiskey, coal, monster shit, yellow cake, textiles, pollution, influence, housing, sanity, fish and countless others. You have come to symbolize so many things, and yet the most significant is singular: you represent possibility.
A blank slate. Tabula rasa.
Before opening the box, before reading any rules, a cube is just a cube. But it’s also potential. A chance for great things to happen. The promise of fun and good times with close friends. You are building blocks to memories of arguing over minute rules or cackling over a well-executed turn. As far as game components go, you are a tactile distraction from the mundane and an entertaining way to pass the time between turns.
I like to imagine the factory that produces you, wooden cubes. A place full of limitless practicability. All that potential in one spot. This hypothetical place reminds me of grade school, when our innocence was the catalyst for ambition. We could be astronauts and athletes back then. Celebrities or senators or firemen or nurses. Just like us, cubes have myriad directions in which to grow, and can become nuclear energy just as easily as caballeros. Even a simple turn marker is a respectable occupation, as every game needs one.
If Through the Ages and Terra Mystica represent swank and success in the board game world, surely they are worthy goals of new wooden cubes, born innocent and naive. But, inevitably, some good cubes fall though the cracks and wind up as recycled meeples for sub-par games like Vasco de Gama and Gelini Nightlife, the board game equivalent of watching your child grow up to squander their potential by dropping out of community college.
Your simplicity is perhaps your greatest asset; your no-frills design is economical and allows for all sorts of functionality. You can be stacked, slid, and tossed with relative ease, and without rolling around the table like a drunken player disc. And yet, despite that simplicity, you posses massive versatility, like a small, wooden Gary Oldman.
Many things in life come and go, wooden cubes, but you remain a constant. The winds of a changing political climate and the threat of global warming cannot stir your stout resolution. As reliable as the rising of the sun, you greet me when I open up Goa or Macao for a night of gaming. I am never disappointed by you, unlike No Man’s Sky. You do not make promises you cannot fulfill, unlike No Man’s Sky. And you offer a great variety of activity…
…unlike No Man’s Sky.
If the world were made of wooden cubes, I have no doubt that humanity would stop warring and love one another. We could set aside all differences and just engage in a game of Troyes or Glen More. But the happiness you bring to my dining room will have to suffice, and for now that is enough. Thank you, wooden cubes.