Eschaton has existed at Enfield Tennis Academy for many years, originally an extension of a similarly themed computer game also called Eschaton, bought by a Croatian refugee transferred from the Palmer tennis academy. At first it was a mild amusement, but it wasn't until Micheal Pemulis took over and reformed the system that the it became the intricate and advanced system that it is today. It is only allowed at Enfield Tennis Acadamy because it allow the juniors to practice and improve their lobbing skills. It is normally played on weekends by the juniors, of whom one each year is nominated the gamesmaster of Eschaton and who calculates the results.
Eschaton is played on four full-size tennis courts from which all nets have been removed, and upon which a map of the world is set up, with various articles of sports equipment representing military installation, large centres of civilian population, communication and government, eg a tennis shoe represents a nuclear sub. Teams of between one and three are then assigned to one of several major military powers, or rogue states, refered to by military acronyms, including REDCHI (China) and SOVWAR (Russia). The game is set during the height of the Cold War, so both Russia and America are very well prepared. Each team is given a set number of tennis balls concealed in a basket so the other teams do not know how many there are. Each represents a five megaton nuke. The number given is calculated using a complex formula from such factors such as the country's GDP, typical arms spending, the previous numbers of nukes given to that team, the country's bellicosity etc. All of the setup and all the calculations during the game are calculated by the Eschaton gamesmaster, who "wears the beanie", assisted by a laptop which has been secretly wirelessly networked to the Enfield Tennis Academy main computer (quite possibly a supercomputer, certainly not your average PC), which does all the major maths.
The teams then stand on the areas of their related countries and proceed to play. A suitable scenario to start the game has been thought of, such as the detonation of a terrorist device
or an attempted coup
in one of the countries. This serves to destabilise the game. The players then have the freedom to talk and make alliances, peace treaties or war
threats, the usual method is by shouting across the courts. Private conversations can also be arranged, usually in a neutral country. Most importantly the teams can lob their tennis
balls at any of the targets to simulate a nuclear strike
. The game is then stopped as the effects of the nuclear strike (precise yield, death toll, EMP pulse
etc) are calculated, accounting for factors such as weather. More than one ball can be strapped together in an athletic support to simulate a MIRV
weapon, although there is an increase in inaccuracy.
It is generally considered that the only sensible way to play Eschaton is by using the game-theoretic methods developed by Micheal Pemulis, which are also stored on the computer system. The game ends when peace is again reached or all countries run out of nukes. The winner is the country that has the largest ration of damage dealt out to damage recieved. The decisions each side takes are weighed very carefully, using the game-theoretic methods mentioned earlier, and players are expected to do what's best fro their country, not what would be most interesting, such that all out nuclear war only happens rarely.
The red beanie
The red beanie has been worn only twice in the history of Eschaton, and is the symbol of a very serious game event. The first was when the total megatonnnage of weapons detonated ignited the earth's atmosphere, and the second was the infamous Eschaton debacle in Infinite Jest, which you really have to read to understand, but basically it involves a debate over whether the players themselves, representling world leaders,are valid targets. Only once has the propellor on top of the red beanie been spun, signifying a disastrous Eschaton crisis, in this case the aforementioned Eschaton debacle.