This was going to be the place. Last weekend was the rematch. Stories, spin and desperate pleas notwithstanding, EGM was in-house, with their video camera on-hand: the end of the drama that started back when I carried their squad was nigh. The Bungie vs. Ziff, he-said, she-said, high school drama, that our own Brian Jarrard said “was a tie,” could end on this chilled summer Saturday near Seattle. These games would answer old questions: Did Frank quit early? Was the first game really a “practice game?”
The day arrived, the scores would be settled. All day long people listened to EGM boast and brag. “Our team is better now. New Luke is way better at Halo than old Luke.” (Keep in mind, this is the very same EGM that had Halo-tryouts on a Saturday afternoon after I had parted ways with Ziff Davis Media to find my replacement. Halo. Try. Outs. Read it again and snicker.) We didn't have any tryouts we just had a couple of folks show up. When the time came to sit in the four chairs against EGM, the four folks who took Humpday chairs were Joe Tung, Tyson Green, and CJ Cowan and myself. And so began the protests:
“We don’t know the maps.”
“We don’t want to play the Humpday now, we’re not ready.”
“We’ll only play if Brian and Frank are on the team.”
Without paying subscription fees, we’d just descended into a shameful World of Excusecraft, where everyone playing character is a Level 1 Whiner. We played three "exhibition" games, our four against their four. We won 2, one of those wins came on a map they’d played only a handful of times earlier in the day, a map many know of, but few have seen, Jub-Jub – the final score wasn’t “steakworthy” but it was 50-32. On a map they were more familiar with, we played CTF 1Flag and we ended up locked into a 1-1 tie (a real Humpday would’ve found a way to break the tie, but EGM needed this to be an exhibition because of their litany of excuses). The final map and mode was Team Slayer, they broke 40, just as we broke 50 and then summarily broke bread and beer.
“Oh, none of those games count,” they cried.
That’s fine, EGM. None of those games count, but the above story is all true. When it came time for you to put your boots on the line and play the Humpday you were destined to play, you collectively changed into your Carebear pajamas and put on big fuzzy frog slippers and gave up. We’ll remember, while we form the team and restock beer fridge for a time when you guys are “ready to play.” We’ll be waiting.
With that dose of Truth out of the way, we didn’t play a full three game Humpday this week, but we did play a pair of games with a pair of even more interesting fellows. Rolf Herbrich and Joaquin Quinonero Candela are two of the bright minds who make TrueSkill, Xbox Live’s ranking system and recently, these two fine Deutschlanders were poking around the Bungie office – so Frank and I decided to see if they wanted to participate in the German tradition of Ze Zwei Spiel Humpday Challenge.
Team Half America
Team Cold As Ice
Rolf “Lundgren” Herbrich
Joaquin “Don’t call me Phoenix” Quinonero Candela
Team Slayer, High Ground to 50
Tone of Game: Blitzkrieg
We wanted to make these guys feel at home, so we played a map they were familiar with: High Ground. The obvious problem with their familiarity with High Ground was that we, too, were familiar with it times 1000. “Beach spawn,” I whispered, wishing on a star before the round started. Like Pee-Wee Herman’s Jambi himself was in the room with us, we spawned at the beach.
Frank grabbed invisibility and made his way toward that “thing he likes” (the Splazer) and I picked up the Sniper Rifle promptly picking off some guy trying to grab the Splazer. Moments later with Spartan Laser and Sniper Rifle in hand, we were hanging out by the caves, picking off dudes on Mongooses (Why?), guys jumping out of broken wall, guys jumping out of Spartan Laser tower. All of the sudden it was 21-0.
At 31-5, I was still on pace for a perfection. Frankie had completely entered the zone and Rolf and Joaquin switched from English to some foreign tongue. Giving directions to one another in this weird, guttural language, they attempted to mount a comeback.
Frankie and I shifted to their language, giving commands and retorts in their native German tongue. Amidst a sea of swears from Der Vaterland, the tide they wanted to turn, rushed back at their face – a tsunami hurtling toward a quiet, Deutsche-gesprachenen two person town.
Final Score: 50-12
Team Slayer, Jub-Jub to 25
Tone of Game: Better, closer, warmer
“Ze one you call Jub-Jub, let us Spiel that one!” they clamored. After realizing that talking in their native tongue wouldn’t save them, Team True Sorta Skilled switched back to English, but their words were mixed with (intentional) Borat-isms, things like “Oh, yes, I want to ride ze Brokebackz” and “It’s nice” came out of their mouth, a concoction filled with hilarity and we drank this distracting potion.
We were never really in danger of losing, with Frank invisible again and me using one of those new weapons I’ve discussed before – remember, the one that is death a single hand – we got out to an early lead and maintained. At this point, we were both feeling kind of bad about the last game and that, coupled with Test needing the room to work on the game had vacuumed some of the momentum from our team.
They found enough weapons they were familiar with to keep this game more interesting, a far cry from the mess of schnitzel they ejected all over their bibs in the first game. One tore around the map with a Shotgun, another with a Carbine and an Energy Sword. It wasn’t “close” per se, if we were playing to 50 it would’ve stretched out to 50-34, which is a sound drubbing, but the final score doesn’t sound quite as dominating as it actually was.
Final Score: 25-17