2468: Inheritance

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Inheritance
People ask me whether I feel any moral qualms about the source of the points, but if he hadn't introduced factory farming to Agricola, someone else would have.
Title text: People ask me whether I feel any moral qualms about the source of the points, but if he hadn't introduced factory farming to Agricola, someone else would have.

Explanation[edit]

This comic is in reference to strategy board games, which often score players on some type of point system based on a variety of possible achievements. The joke in this comic is that Cueball has a massive sum of points that were not scored in the current game but rather handed down from his grandfather. Board games do not normally include an inheritance from previous sessions[citation needed], in contrast to real life where some people become wealthy by inheriting vast sums of money from ancestors. Such inheritances tend to lead to 'successes' in life for those who have done little, if anything, to earn their wealth. Cueball offers to distribute a trifling fraction of his points to the other players, teasing them, but he will still have an insurmountable advantage. Despite his 'generosity', no one wants to play a game that they have no chance of winning. The value of his score, 10,019, seems to indicate that he "earned" 19 points during the course of the game (less than his competitors) and then added 10,000 from his 'inheritance'.

Some board games do include a "legacy" mechanic where players who have played the game previously (and thus benefit from meta knowledge) can be granted additional items or challenges to keep the game interesting for them, but not usually to the point of breaking the game's balance. As well, gifting these achievements to anyone else is seen as absurd.

The comic may be a reference to economic simulation board games like Monopoly, which was created as a critique to capitalism; in this case, no one can win the game against people who start out with a large amount of accumulated wealth. See also the 'Small Loan of a Million Dollars' trope of a profile in which the author or subject discusses the simple tricks they used to retire early or buy a house, often involving a hurried admission of financial assistance from a family member.

The title text asks Cueball if he has any moral qualms over the source of these points, then indicates his grandfather's fortune was made through factory farming in the farm-themed board game Agricola. Factory farming is a broad term for applying mass-production techniques to agriculture, treating both plants and animals as commodities to be processed as efficiently as possible. These techniques are condemned, at least in some circles, as being cruel to livestock, in addition to having serious environmental and land-use implications, among other criticisms. The implication is that Cueball's grandfather somehow managed to introduce an immoral and/or socially harmful mechanic into a board game, greatly enriching himself and his heirs. This echoes another concern about inherited wealth: that the source of the money may have been unethical, but the heirs still get to enjoy the advantages, without considering themselves accountable for the harm. Cueball brushes off this criticism with the claim that the change was inevitable, which is a common response to analogous real-life concerns.

It could also be a reference to inheritance in programming, where a class truly inherits everything from its 'ancestors'. Similarly, it could be a reference to evolution in biology; in evolution, an individual with beneficial traits is more likely to survive to have offspring, and the offspring accumulate the beneficial traits (“points”) of their “ancestors”, making them more likely to survive and “win”. The game Agricola was previously mentioned in 696: Strip Games and 778: Scheduling.

This comic possibly alludes to a 100 percent inheritance tax, as such one is effectively employed between each round of a board game - no points are carried over between rounds. In extension, Randall's position might be that only a 100 percent inheritance tax can ensure that everybody begins the "game" - namely his or her life - in a fair manner, and with the same possibilities. Though in practice this too would be unfair, as those who get more points in the game will still give their extra points to the people they want to see succeed along with them, they would just have to make sure they do it while still playing the game.

Transcript[edit]

[Ponytail, White Hat, Megan, and Cueball are playing a board game. There are drinks on the table. Ponytail is writing something]
Ponytail: Let's see...I got 31, you have 28, 35 for you, and-
Cueball: -I've got 10,019.
Ponytail: *Sigh*
Cueball: Hey, add another 20 to everyone, on me!
White Hat: I hate this.
[Caption beneath the panel:]
No one wants to play board games with me ever since I inherited 4,000,000 victory points from my grandfather.


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Discussion

Does anyone feel this is kind of a reference to feudalism?172.69.71.88 19:16, 26 May 2021 (UTC)

Seems more like commentary on modern-day capitalism, particularly in the US with increasing inequality and more and more inherited wealth. Randall seems more comfortable with social commentary in recent years.DKMell (talk) 18:41, 26 May 2021 (UTC)
In 2019 and 2020, the Edelman Trust Barometer cited CEOs as the most trusted persons globally. Your company is your castle, with its leader your Lord. That trust collapsed per the 2021 Barometer, so just maybe resistance is not feudal.172.68.129.132 18:50, 26 May 2021 (UTC)

Might be related to the rise of legacy board games, in which outcomes of prior matches influence future games. Usually, those have a limited number of plays and they are designed such that prior winner's don't have too much of an advantage in future games. But one could imagine a game that, (if it has no limit to the number of plays), after being played for generations gives a significant advantage to whomever inherited a specific character/player role. 162.158.94.234 14:21, 26 May 2021 (UTC) Tobl

Obligatory reminder to everybody that (1) life is not a competition and (2) money is not "victory points". There are ways to cynically portray these things as such, but fully buying into this paradigm inevitably results in profound unhappiness. mezimm 172.69.71.178 14:54, 26 May 2021 (UTC)

This one was pretty early... maybe Randall’s getting back to schedule? --172.68.132.119 15:14, 26 May 2021 (UTC)

Anyone notice anything special about 4000000 and 10019, also what is arigola

Agricola is a board game LINK 172.68.102.194 15:37, 26 May 2021 (UTC)
I'm thinking 10019 means Cueball allocated 10000 points from his inheritance, then earned 19 through the course of the game. 162.158.142.160 16:44, 26 May 2021 (UTC)

huh. ive never seen a comic explanation finished so quickly in a bit! we sure about removing that tag?

It has been put back in. So no ;-) --Kynde (talk) 07:02, 27 May 2021 (UTC)

I feel like this is very much a criticism of modern day (colonial) capitalism. It's both concisely stating that the disparity is absurd, that small donations from billionaires are laughable and dont change the inherent unfairness, and implies that the best way of leveling the playing field is to wiping the slate.

Totally agree. The whole idea of money surviving a wealthy persons death is a pyramid game. The more money that is inherited the more can someone who did nothing expect to buy from others, without they doing any thing to create physical values. Only question is when we run out of people to be at the base of the pyramid... Sadly they cannot like Cueball's playing partners decide not to play the game... --Kynde (talk) 07:02, 27 May 2021 (UTC)
Obligatory reminder to everybody that (1) life is not a competition and (2) money is not "victory points". There are ways to cynically portray these things as such, but fully buying into this paradigm inevitably results in profound unhappiness. mezimm 172.69.69.74 14:51, 28 May 2021 (UTC)

Is there any chance that this is a reference to the “How We Win” speech which gained some attention last summer in regards to BLM protests? The speech uses a metaphorical game of Monopoly which is rigged for one side to explain how the US still isn’t economically fair, and I know Randall has put up the BLM banner in support. Agricola instead of Monopoly (and race not mentioned) but he might have drawn inspiration there. 108.162.219.102 11:38, 27 May 2021 (UTC)

The title text references the pro- colonial argument that engaging in exploitation is being smart, because it was bound to be done by somebody, so the perpetrators are smart for taking initiative. 162.158.203.15 01:45, 27 May 2021 (UTC)

Can someone create a Category:Board games? Category:Chess should be subcategory of this category, and this comic, and 1566: Board Game, 492: Scrabble, 839: Explorers, 778: Scheduling, 738: Incision can be added to it. 172.69.35.39 18:48, 26 May 2021 (UTC)
Created the category, however I'm not brave enough to put Chess into it. -- Hkmaly (talk) 00:51, 27 May 2021 (UTC)
Talking about chess, I quote: "Board games do not normally include an inheritance from previous sessions[citation needed]"...uh, you are probably not old enough to have played an adjourned chess game ;-) 141.101.105.134 09:00, 27 May 2021 (UTC)
Others where braver I can see. Bu great category. --Kynde (talk) 07:02, 27 May 2021 (UTC)
Also, talking about chess, the rating system (i.e. Grandmaster/Master/etc.) are based on a victory points like system that goes from game to game. It doesn't affect the games themselves, but essentially records how you've done in the games you've played. The totals can be quite large, but, cannot be transferred. There are others that have something like this. Should we mention it? -- MAP (talk) 22:07, 27 May 2021 (UTC)

The explanation seems a bit bare of what examples of inherited wealth this is parodying. In the UK there's a bruhaha (in some circles, and equally a bruhaha about the other bruhaha in other circles) about historic Slavery-profits that set up now historical country estates, etc,now maintained on behalf of the nation as a public good but possibly needing contextualising. In Germany (and relatedl there are huge multinational companies that undoubtedly benefitted from Nazi work-camps or assett-confis ations that might owe a moral debt in more recent climate even though generations have passed since such things. Pretty much every culture will have such examples (and if it's not transatlantic slavery, too for the US version, it could be the treatment of native tribes/lands, starting well before; or share-croppers/dustbowl/Great Depression/poor-immigrants issues more recently, if the Agricola reference is any clue), or is it just general inheritance (and maybe Fred Trump in particular?) 141.101.99.161 15:27, 27 May 2021 (UTC)

Don't forget the China connection with the Muslim Wiegers forced to work in concentration camps manufacturing products sold in the U.S. Who's benefiting from this now?

Should just challenge that guy to a game of golf.