“Mound Builders?” my friends ask, picking up the half-sized box. “What this?”
“It’s a solitaire game from Victory Point, the folks who published Nemo’s War, Dawn of the Zeds, and Ottoman Sunset,” I start to explain.
“What do you do in it? Build mounds?” My friends assume a mock heroic voice. “Hey, what should we build? A cathedral? A castle? No, I’ve got it! Let’s build a mound!”
They think that’s pretty funny. I guess it is, especially if the phrase “mound builders” doesn’t have any historical connotation for you. Mound builders were basically the native Americans more native than the Native Americans; the Indians before the Indians; the equivalent of the Precursors in a dopey sci-fi story. They made huge earthenwork structures in North America a thousand years before any pharaoh in Egypt had the bright idea to tell his slaves to stack a bunch of stones in the shape of a d4. When Europeans swept across North American, conquering tribes with now familiar names, they asked them, “So who built these enormous mounds? Was it you?”
The tribes with now familiar names just shrugged. “They were already here when we got here,” they said. Some of the Europeans concluded they must have been made by the giants briefly mentioned in the Bible. Other Europeans did some archaeology and eventually gave the earlier tribes the name Mound Builders. Great. Nice work, archaeologists. That’s the best you could come up with? My friends wouldn’t think it was so funny if you’d given them a cooler name. People of the Earthenwork Edifices? Tumulists? Was Barrow Lords taken?
“Is the game any good?” my friends ask after they’ve stopped laughing about mounds.
After the jump, I have some bad news. Continue reading →