“So let me get this straight,” Garrus said. “The object of the game is to accumulate property and raise rents until you bankrupt all the other players?”
“That’s right,” Shepard replied. “What’s the problem?” she added, observing the look on Garrus’s face.
“Well, where are all the people supposed to live?” Garrus asked. “Do they get a housing assignment with their service, or what?”
“Do they— look, that’s not the point,” Shepard said. “The point is to make the most money.”
Garrus’s mandibles pressed in toward his jaw. “I don’t know, Shepard.”
Her eyes narrowed. “No wonder you turians needed the volus to run your banks.”
“Hey!” Garrus protested. “It’s not that, it’s just, that’s exactly how things worked on Omega, you know. Well. Minus the gangs and the eezo mining. But you would not believe the housing contracts most people were forced into.”
Shepard sighed. “’Monopoly’ is just a game, though, Garrus. Okay, fine, we’ll play something else. I think you’ll like this one, it’s more of a strategy game. I used to play it with my brothers.”
An hour later, Shepard was grinding her teeth as Garrus’s giant army swarmed toward her last bastion in Australia. Playing Risk! against a battle-trained turian tactician turned out to be quite a different proposition than playing against three younger brothers when all four of them were kids.
To add insult to injury, he said, “I don’t know, Shepard. It doesn’t seem all that strategic to me.”
“What makes you say that?” she said through her teeth, pushing the button to roll the dice.
“There’s too much luck involved,” he said. “It really comes down to who gets the bonus armies the fastest. Speaking of which—”
“Do not tell me you have another set of cards,” Shepard hissed.
Garrus smirked. It was only the tiniest flicker of his mandible, but she knew it was a smirk, damn him. “You’re seriously outnumbered now, Shepard. Do you want to concede?”
“No,” she snapped. “I suppose you’re going to claim that turian games are much better.”
“Well, more strategic, anyway. More interesting. But, you know, you’d be a beginner, so you wouldn’t have much of a chance—”
Shepard’s eyes narrowed. “You’re on.”
It only took forty minutes (twenty of which had been rules explanation) for her to want to curse turians and their three-dimensional game board and their “pure strategy” game. She was on the defensive, had only the faintest idea what she was doing, and had only one weapon left in her arsenal. “Wow,” she said, loosening her collar. “Is it getting hot in here?”
“Feels fine to me,” Garrus said absent-mindedly, staring at the holographic board as if it were the most fascinating thing in the room. “You know, I’d forgotten how much I enjoy this game.”
“How was game night, Commander?” Samantha Traynor asked brightly the next morning.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Shepard said. “Next time we’re sticking to video games.”