Leverett, Pforzheimer, and Quincy Houses Win ‘Risk’

Alliance allows Houses to defeat Lowell and Kirkland in

Unnamed photo
Hillary W. Berkowitz

The allied war ministries of Leverett, Quincy, and Pforzheimer camp out in the Hilles penthouse for the final rounds of “Risk” and celebrate their victory.

A coalition of Leverett, Pforzheimer, and Quincy Houses declared a joint “unconditional allied victory” yesterday in the campus-wide Internet “Risk” game, signaling the end of two weeks of intense online battles.

The victory came after Lowell—the last remaining House outside the winning alliance—was defeated in the sudden-death round initiated yesterday. Leverett, Pforzheimer, and Quincy’s war councils had signed a pact to form the alliance Wednesday night.

The official treaty, which was presented to the game’s organizers, Campus Life Fellow John T. Drake ’06 and the College Events Board (CEB), stated that the three signing Houses “recognize our bonds of mutual assistance and trust to be greater than our individual Houses’ needs for sole victory.”

“The outcome was by no means certain,” said CEB President Adam Goldenberg ’08. “I’m glad that it has ended the way it has with such amicable terms.”

According to Pforzheimer “Warlord” John M. Sheffield ’09, the treaty between the three winners emerged following frustrations at what players characterized as the rampant cheating and treaty-breaking. He cited Dunster’s unhonored alliance with Pforzheimer and a ploy by the Mather War Council to bombard the site with fake accounts in an attempt to shut it down before their demise.

“It was a moral victory,” Sheffield said of the treaty, “basically to salvage some dignity in winning the game.”

Designed as an online version of the classic war strategy board game, CEB’s “Risk” began at the start of reading period on Sunday, May 6. Moves took effect three times each day—at noon, 5 p.m., and midnight—after which armies and territories were gained and lost.

During the course of the game, numerous accusations of foul play were made. Allegations included spies on House open lists, fake accounts, bribes to encourage participation, and stolen passwords.

Goldenberg, who is also a Crimson columnist and member of the editorial staff, said that the CEB received roughly 30 e-mails every hour with complaints, comments, and praise.

The board tried to address all concerns and constantly worked to improve the game as it progressed, Goldenberg added.

Members of the alliance said that the game drew them closer together. According to Matthew D. O’Brien ’07, second-in-command for Quincy, the members of the three war councils became good friends.

“None of us really wanted to back-stab the other. It was that simple,” he said.

Participants said the game also built spirit within individual Houses.

“I love the fact that we rose out of the ashes—a lot of people expected us to die within a few turns,” said Yomari Chavez ’07, a member of the Leverett war council. “The fact that we defied all odds was amazing to me. We worked really hard to keep Leverett alive.”

With the defeat of Lowell, which had seemed dominant early in the game, the war officially concluded.

Members of the House war councils said that they dedicated hours out of their reading and finals periods for the war effort. Sheffield estimated that Pforzheimer’s three most active members collectively spent 400 hours over the course of the game. Sheffield said he had played about 16 hours a day during the first week.

—Staff writer Joyce Y. Zhang can be reached at jyzhang@fas.harvard.edu.

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