It’s like board game treasure hunting. You never know what you’ll discover during an expedition into the aisles of your local second-hand store. And, just like a real treasure hunt, every now and then, you unearth an artifact that’s so unexpected, so bizarre, so indescribably otherworldly, it could only have come into being through extraterrestrial intervention.
That’s why you should prepare yourself for the revelation of a lifetime in today’s episode of Thrift Sift -- the series about board games I pick up at thrift stores because they look interesting, bizarre, or a combination of both -- for here today, I shall reveal to you undisputable proof of the existence of alien life. Prepare to rethink your place in the cosmos. Prepare to have your perceptions of reality shattered. Prepare to discover the board game Divorce Court. Today, on Thrift Sift. You have been warned.
Alright. So, for the sake of argument, let’s say you are an alien race living on the outskirts of our own Milky Way, trying for centuries to establish contact with mankind and introduce yourself. Your first attempt at correspondence began in 1678, when you started posting immense messages in the form of crop circles all around the planet, like some sort of intergalactic social media comments. Unfortunately, we oblivious humans just keep disregarding them as inconsequential and ridiculing anyone who pays attention to them… like real social media comments.
So then you tried sending deep space probes our way in order to establish contact… none of which have successfully delivered your message. But, in our defense, perhaps it was a poor design choice to model the probes afters swamp gas from a weather balloon trapped in a thermal pocket and reflecting the light from Venus, as we pathetic humans keep mistaking them for that.
Finally, your extraterrestrial imagination struck upon a truly inspired idea. To establish communication, you’ll embed your message within a board game. That way, tens of thousands of humans will discover your message as we partake in this leisure activity.
And that exact chain of events is the only thing I can assume led to the creation of the board game Divorce Court. Let’s take the first step in getting into the mind of this game’s designer from beyond the stars by first reviewing the game’s components.
As per the contents listed on the box, the Divorce Court board game comes with the following:
- FOLDING game board
- Game instruction
- Sequence playing cards
- Puzzle forms pack
- Plus (dice, game pieces)
So, that’s pieces used to play Divorce Court: the game made by aliens in order to establish contact with the human race. I know -- I know -- at first, it sounded crazy to me too. But over the past few painstaking months spent meticulously researching this game, I have collected evidence to support my theory.
For example, this game slash alien endeavor was published in the year 2000 by “uncredited”, which does not rule out the likelihood that it was developed by a secret team of space men. Perhaps drunken space men, but space men nonetheless!
Okay, I can tell you’re still skeptical. But the Divorce Court board game is alien in more ways than one. Take Exhibit B, or, as I like to call it, Exhibit C: the game board. The artistic sensibilities that went into this board’s graphic design are light years ahead (both literally and figuratively) of mere human abilities. There’s design principles at play here that we, as a species, haven’t even scratched the surface of yet. Like its liberal use of Photoshop’s emboss filter, or innovative use of markers and colored pencil as an artistic medium, or just the fact that you may actually have to be a rocket scientist in order to understand what’s going on here. The art direction in this game is unlike anything mankind is yet to comprehend!
Still not convinced? Well, prepare to be, because next we turn our attention to the rulebook, which was unmistakably written by visitors from another world. To demonstrate, I shall now, in cooperation with NASA and the SETI program, do my part for mankind by presenting what can only be encoded alien messages by reading, to you, the exact text of the Divorce Court rulebook. In its entirety. Verbatim.
THE RULE BOOK
DIVORCE COURT BOARD GAME
Object of the game:
Object of the divorce court game is to move as many web stickers as each player can in the website.
How to play the divorce court game:
1. Set up the board game and place the game cards in their place on the board.
2. Two to nine players can play the divorce court board game.
3. The poker chips must be at the powerhouse. Every player receives a set of web trays (which holds 39 perforated web stickers), including a matching color pawn.
4. The game starts at the checkered face of the board proceeding from left to right on the board. The powerhouse, website, labyrinth, and the starting place constitute one step on the board, the rules cannot be compromised.
5. Whoever rolls the lowest number on the dice is the banker, handles the poker chips at the powerhouse, until another player moves in.
6. Every player who’s in the powerhouse has an opportunity to trade cards for poker chips, while in the powerhouse.
7. Whoever rolls the highest number on the dice will start the game. Each player takes a turn rolling the dice and moving their playing piece in the block by selecting the numbers at the right, according to a number on the dice.
8. When a player lands on the block, the player will select a card. The triangular space on the left of the block determines which type of card, either a get help or a take a card a player should select, the player keeps the card.
9. If a player rolls seven after the first roll of the dice, he will be able to collect the value of any card at hand, in poker chips, from the powerhouse.
10. The card which the amount was paid, must be shuffled back in the designated card stack. If at any time when in the block, the player has a matching get help card or a take a card, and the player rolls a number which is on the card, the copy of the card can be according to a colored web tray as a rule or a US statute (web sticker) filed to the website.
11. Only one web sticker can take up a place at the website, the filed card goes back to the card stack. Furthermore after filing the rolled number on the dice is terminated.
12. Whoever enters the website, holding the wild card, can collect 10% of the cards, from the players who are ready to file at the website. However, if the player can't come up with the 10%, he won't be able to file a web sticker.
13. When a player lands on a block and someone already has a card, that player must pay the card holder the amount shown on the card.
14. If the player can't pay the amount shown on the card, he will go to the labyrinth.
15. When a player selects a get help card, 31, while the block lotto 31, wins 10,000 poker chips if he rolls the exact numbers which are shown on the right side of the block.
16. Anyone can auction a card, while in the pawnshop when holding a number 24 card. Any player that selects a labyrinth card with a number must move their playing piece to the labyrinth. While in the labyrinth anybody who selected a numbered labyrinth card, must roll the exact number on the card in order to come back to the game.
17. Any player that selects a labyrinth card must move their playing piece to the labyrinth. While in the labyrinth anybody who selected a numbered labyrinth card, must roll the exact number on the card in order to come back to the game.
18. After a successful roll, the player must move to the block as shown on the face card at an unsuccessful turn, the player returns the card back to the take a card stack.
19. After each use of the labyrinth card, the card must be placed back into the bottom, of either the get help or the take a card stack.
20. Anybody who’s in the labyrinth without the exit card rolls the dice, even number to select a get help card an odd number to select a take a card.
21. The player can come out of the labyrinth with the selected plain labyrinth card. The number rolled on the dice determines the place where the player moves next. When the player rolls 7 in the labyrinth and has a labyrinth card, either collect a hand or move on the board.
22. The game continues until one player has filed the most web stickers into the website.
23. To play the game, keep in hand enough poker chips so you are ready to file a playing card. Good luck!!!
Never before has the phrase “good luck” seemed so appropriate to me.
Unfortunately, this is where I must confess my failure to you, faithful viewer and fellow homosapien. Even after countless hours spent reading, rereading, and re-rereading this rulebook, I remained unable to decipher the alien message that it undoubtedly contains.
I had been searching in vain for the Divorce Court Rosetta Stone, which would unlock the unearthly wisdom that’s locked within this board game. But then, I realized I wasn’t thinking like an alien. They’ve demonstrated that they like to print things on big, flat surfaces, so I turned my attention to the game’s box, and, sure enough, I found three pieces of contact information printed there, like tiny little cardboard crop circles.
First, I located the name of the game’s publisher: Hubline Publishing. I attempted to contact the publisher, but the company no longer exists and their business license was revoked. This should have been obvious, since their corporate headquarters is thirty-seven thousand light years away! No corporation has its tendrils buried deep enough into the galaxy to withstand that amount of time and space! Well… maybe Google.
And then, just as I was about to give up hope, I found it. Somewhere between my eighth and thirteenth sleepless night, I realized that the letters in Hubline Game Publishing could be rearranged to spell “Humble Alien: Big Spin Hug”. Eureka! That’s their message to us. They come in peace and they want to give us big, spinning hugs! But now, a bigger problem. How do we get a message back to them? To find out how, I returned to the contact information on the box.
Let’s see. There’s an incorrectly formatted AOL web address. Further proof of alien intervention, because, c’mon what human still uses AOL?
But fortunately, there’s another website address listed here too. And if we visit that website we find that… oop, we find that the domain name has expired. Oh, come on, aliens! You know you can’t publish a web address on your product and then let it expire! If you do that, someone is going to purchase it and post their own message there.
That’s it! That’s where the aliens are watching! This website is the way we communicate back! I found it! Don’t worry, my spin hugging alien friends, we’re listening! I’m going to go put up a website at this address right now and be the first to make contact with you! I will become the ambassador of all mankind. I alone will be lifted on high by our interstellar visitors as the prime specimen of our species. I will rule supreme over my fellow man, unchallenged for all eternity throughout the entire cosmos!
And all it took was repeatedly playing the Divorce Court board game! (LOOKING AT GAME FOR A WHILE) Meh, it still wasn’t worth it.