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Artwork by Dustin Goebel

Blake on Blake Violence

It was shortly after I was forced into playing Drunken Blake that I knew this was not your average card game. My card depicted a chubby, fully drunk manchild on the verge of throwing a tantrum (perhaps a premonition of what was to come). The other Blakes in play included: Gamer Blake, Athletic Blake, and Drowsy Blake. The game is called Battle Blakes—if you hadn’t gotten that already—and it is a bizarrely fun time.

I met the local creators of CohioGames, Battle Blakes at a bar to try out their game. My first thought was, “How in the hell did this come about?”

“No one wants to be Blake,” Lucas told me as he handed me example cards. “Blake was a co-worker of ours—and was the inspiration for the game, really.” Don chimed in and the group laughed at the mere thought of a real-life “Blake.” The cards are colorful and strange—a cartoonish roast of this poor sap.

“How did he take having a card game made after him?” I asked.

“He was ‘kind of against it,’ but conceded that it was actually fun. He also signed the waiver and we got the rights so we’re good,” Lucas said.

So what is the goal of Battle Blakes, you ask? To mentally and physically dismantle the other Blakes in play. Quite simply, you use stats like mental acuity, strength, and wit to whittle away the other Blakes’ self-esteem before they reach “Can’t Even.” And, well, the rest is left to your imagination.

The game is unlike other “play-nice” board games. It’s hilariously mean and requires you to be a ruthless asshole—you must destroy the others. The rules are simple enough, and with a seasoned Blake running the game, I caught on within 10 minutes of play (which was good, because I was getting Drunk).

The game we played kicked off with Athletic Blake taking on Drunken Blake (me) in a verbal assault battle; this ended with a pretty solid blow to my self-esteem (things were immediately reflective of my life). Things progressed quickly and I ended up accumulating a metric-ton of items as Drunken Blake, including a magical flask and a cardboard box—all of which boosted my stats and allowed me to fight the other Blakes. After I made a retribution attack on Athletic Blake for his early transgressions, Drowsy Blake played several cards to the detriment of us both—and from here, the game spiraled into madness. With Blakes donning capes, working overtime, and going to prom, we were all on the verge of self-destructing. Each Blake was down to his last shred of self-esteem.

One of the best rules of the game is the ability to prevent a winner. If two Blake Avatars tie their self-esteem after the third round, no one wins (which seems to be the larger commentary) and that’s exactly what the losing players set out to achieve: having two players tie. It’s a nuclear option for the meanest players—if they can’t win, no one will.

In our game, Drowsy Blake and Drunken Blake had been strategically picking apart the other two Blakes to force a tie, and it worked. Everyone lost, which meant the losers won.

This was a fitting theme for the night, as after a month of launching their Kickstarter, they’d failed to accumulate the funds for large scale distribution. Unlike their hapless mascot, Blake, who’d surely give up at the first sign of trouble, the game’s creators have no plans for stopping and intend to bring this excursion to future events and gatherings. 

If Battle Blakes has piqued the curiosity of your inner board game nerd, you can find seasoned Blake sommeliers at Kingmakers Board Game Parlour. (It’s fun, I swear.) For more, visit battleblakes.com.

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Matthew Erman has been writing fiction for the better part of his 26 years. His work has been featured in; Vanderbilt University's The Nashville Review, Filigree Literary Journal, University of Miami's Mangrove Literary Journal, Pelorus Press, Cracked, 614 Magazine. Matthew has a high school diploma, no college debt and attended the 2012 Kenyon Review Writer's Workshop. He lives in sunny Columbus, Ohio.