Bowb is an extremely useful word introduced into the English language by
Harry Harrison in his entertaining science fiction novel, Bill
the Galactic Hero. Those who have read Starship
Troopers by Robert Heinlein need to read Harrison's
book as a necessary counterbalance to Heinlein's rosy vision of life in
the Troopers. While Heinlein's view may have been valid for WWII-era
soldiers, Harrison shows what it's been like in the army since then.
[Note: be sure to get Harrison's original book. Avoid the
sequels that have been published since - they're not very good.]
Of course, life in the real Troopers, if portrayed accurately,
requires an extensive vocabulary of obscenities, frequently applied.
But Harrison didn't want the book to be censored (it's from the mid
'60s, and in fact is also a harsh commentary on the Viet Nam war,
which was raging at the time). So he made up an all-purpose cuss
word which can be used for any swear word ever invented: bowb.
Some examples include:
Don't give me any of your bowb!
The word is very useful for getting your meaning across without
offending too many people.
Get over here, you stupid bowb!
What is this, "Bowb Your Buddy Week?"
Bowb as a Game Term
Well, it was the What is this, "Bowb Your Buddy Week?" phrase
that started it all. My position (in a game I was losing) had just
been hurt badly by my friend Mike, and the phrase just popped out
of my mouth. Mike, who spent 14 years in the Troopers and also
loves Bill the Galactic Hero, instantly supplied the
response given in the book: "Every week is Bowb
Your Buddy Week." We were hooked after that.
We use bowb in gaming mostly as an adjective or verb to describe
an action or play that really hurts an opponent's position, whether
it actually helps your own position or not. Actions that help your
own position but don't hurt an opponent are not bowbing actions.
Actions that help your position and hurt your opponent are indeed
bowbing actions. And actions that simply hurt your opponent, even if
they also hurt you, are definitely bowbing actions.
(However, bowbing isn't really spite or malice - it's in the spirit
of the play of the game. No outside-the-game vendettas allowed at
Thus certain cards are bowb cards, for example: their sole
function in the game is to hurt someone's position and not directly
help anyone. Or you might hear me say, You really bowbed me
with that move! [Hmmm, I seem to say it a lot - I guess it's
my fate in life to be a bowbing-target ...] And of course there is
the ever popular self-bowbing move we all make in a game at
some time or another ...
Some games have more bowbing than others - in fact I often find
it useful to assess a game by the amount of bowbing potential.
This is because some of my gaming friends have to have bowbing in a game
to enjoy it, but I have at least one other friend who prefers a minimum
of bowbing in her games. My database of games owned does indeed include a
"Bowb" field, with entries listed simply as High, Med, Low.
I believe bowb to be one of the most useful invented words
introduced in a science fiction book - perhaps not as useful as
Capek's robot, but miles ahead of grok, for example.
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