The game is called “Frustration.” Its tagline reads: “The slam-tastic chasing game that drives you mad!” Personally, I think a more appropriate tagline would be: “The rage-filled chasing game that puts its winner’s life in danger as it drives all others at the table to discover the inner ‘serial killer’ hiding in their emotional darkness.”
Hasbro, the game’s producer, also provides humanity with the better-known “Monopoly,” which you probably already know as the boxed contest that has been obliterating relationships across the world since 1935. But while Hasbro sells Monopoly in the United States, Frustration is only sold overseas. I think I may know why.
For the most part, Americans understand and accept the ideal that anyone willing to plan and work hard can overcome any circumstance and ultimately achieve success. Monopoly makes sense to Americans because it exists within the boundaries of this premise. The game’s ability to send even the best marriages into divorce court is only due to a combination of the ruthless strategies employed by most who play it and the fact that the game can go on for hours, seeing the losers simmer in sadness. Even so, no matter how the dice land or what the Community Chest card instructs, Monopoly still allows for the employment of strategy. With some smart dealings, even the most misfortunate player can suddenly be found on easier streets.
Frustration isn’t this way. It’s completely apart from a player’s ability to make his or her own way toward victory. My guess is that Hasbro performed a study regarding the marketability of the game in the United States and the results came back bloodstained.
I don’t want to waste your time trying to explain the rules to you, even though there really aren’t very many. Just know that there’s no strategy involved in Frustration. It all relies on smacking a little lever that jars a singular die in a plastic bubble at the game’s center. Whatever number the die displays, you move that number of spaces. The first person to get all four of their game pieces around the circular board to their safe zone wins the game.
One thing, though. A player can’t put a game piece into motion until he or she gets a six on the die. After that, the game piece is in play until the end of the game. That is, unless another player rolls and his or her piece lands on an opponent’s piece. In that case, the opponent must remove the piece from the board and start over. Remember, you can’t bring that piece back into the game until you get a six on the center die.
Doesn’t sound that bad, you say? Oh, that’s precious. I dare you to play any one of my smack-talking children.
Mind you, there’s no aiming smack at me in Monopoly. I employ a strategy for victory that wins every single time, no matter the precariousness of my situation at any given moment in the game. Seriously. My kids have been pestering me for years to teach them how I do it. But there’s no strategy in Frustration. You swat at the lever before you like a mindless imbecile, and you take whatever it gives in return. The thing is, I can smack that stupid lever a thousand times, never once getting a six, never once seeing any of my game pieces actually brought into play on the board. I can do this watching my opponent get six after six, moving each of his or her pieces all the way around the board to their safe zone. And it’s not like the loser’s fuse gets lit over the course of two hours, as is true with Monopoly. In that game it takes a few hours before you actually feel like murdering everyone at the table. Frustration can light and launch this emotion in about two minutes—which (when you’re getting pummeled) is often the amount of time it actually takes to play the game in full.
Frustration is truly the next level of evolution in relationship-destroying board games. Personally, I can’t play it without a whiskey in my hand. I say this not only because whiskey is a calming beverage, but because it’s a lot harder to strangle someone with just one hand—unless of course the whiskey you’re holding isn’t that great. A bad whiskey is too easily tossed aside for the sake of getting a good grip on your opponent’s throat.
My advice: Play the game with a good whiskey in hand. It’ll keep you out of the news. In particular, may I recommend the Pot Still Reserve from Willet? Indeed, it’s a dram you’d be less likely to drop to the floor in order to take up a chase.
With a nose of sweet lemons and carmeled corn, the whiskey is easy to keep close, being a soothing breath of tranquility in moments of distress. A sip is most certainly the same. With heavily peppered vanilla and citrus zest delivered at the forefront, one is more than pleasantly distracted from the incessant tapping at a lever that is forever six-less.
At 47% ABV, the finish is much longer than the tortuous game you are enduring with your offspring. And this is a good thing, because when none of your pieces have made it to the board and the last of your opponent’s pieces is in its safe zone, the Willet’s finish is there to restrain your darker passions with spicy blood oranges and oak char.
Deliciously pacifying—enough to bring about a fertile pause for remembering that one moment in time needn’t change the course of your life or relationships forever. It may even bring you to say right in the middle of board game annihilation, “So, who’s up for another match?”