Random Ephemera

Five Board Games to Try Once the Power Goes Out

Honorable Mention: Imhotep, which will teach you all you need to know about building.
Honorable Mention: Imhotep, which will teach you all you need to know about building. Photo by Cory Garcia
Gadgets are cool. As long as you've got battery life, your smartphones, tablets and laptops can keep you plenty entertained even if the power goes out. Of course, that means risking your ability to communicate with the outside world for a couple of hours of entertainment, which sounds like an unnecessary risk. With a storm on the way, it's time to start thinking about more old school forms of entertainment.

If you're content to leave that giant stack of unread books in the corner like you always do, now would be a great time to learn a new board game or two. This is doubly true if you're burned out on the classics like Monopoly and Scrabble or newer games like Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan that everyone who games these days owns.

Light your candles, grab your snacks and put your game face on; not only can board games keep you entertained, but they can teach you valuable skills about hurricane survival. Here's what I'll be playing during Harvey and his aftermath.

click to enlarge It's all fun and games until the clock starts, then it's weirdly even more fun. - PHOTO BY CORY GARCIA
It's all fun and games until the clock starts, then it's weirdly even more fun.
Photo by Cory Garcia
5. London Dread
Skill Learned: Dealing with the anxiety of time

We've known that Harvey was headed to Texas for a few days now, which is frustrating because it has meant a lot of sitting around and waiting. London Dread goes the exact opposite direction; time is the enemy, and it's slipping away faster than you can count. The first part of London Dread is like writing a computer program; you flip over cards and figure out what you can have that beats them, while using a board to “program” what order you'll do so in. It's complex, but made even harder by the fact you only have 12 minutes to figure out how you'll program your moves. Yes, the second half of the game relies more on chance than skill, but the real time section of the game is stellar.


click to enlarge When you can't watch TV, make up your own TV network. - PHOTO BY CORY GARCIA
When you can't watch TV, make up your own TV network.
Photo by Cory Garcia
4. The Networks
Skill Learned: Planning for the future

In The Networks, you play as TV executives trying to gain more viewers than your opponents by pairing stars and advertisements with shows people will want to watch. Some shows start off as hits only to fade quickly, others need to build into an audience. You have to juggle when to make your moves while also trying to keep the other networks from stealing your shine. It helps that the theme is lighthearted and brightly colored, which will come in handy with the grey skies.

click to enlarge What's the longest word you can spell on this layout? - PHOTO BY CORY GARCIA
What's the longest word you can spell on this layout?
Photo by Cory Garcia
3. Word Domination
Skill Learned: Words matter

If you're going to rise to the top in a post-apocalyptic Houston, you have to be able to use your words in a smart, timely fashion. Word Domination is an area control meets spelling game, think Risk meets Scrabble. You spell words with the tiles on the table, and if you use a letter twice before your opponent it becomes yours for the rest of the game. Make everyone learn the tyranny of the letter E. And hey, with the school closures going on, any bit of learning you can do will help, especially if the internet is down and no one can prove that “azinhg” isn't a word.

click to enlarge If you had big plans for this weekend, you've already learned a valuable lesson about the fairness of life. - PHOTO BY CORY GARCIA
If you had big plans for this weekend, you've already learned a valuable lesson about the fairness of life.
Photo by Cory Garcia

2. Unfair
Skill Learned: How to roll with the punches

Unfair starts off bright and sunny: you're running an amusement park, building rides and attractions, getting visitors and making money. Then, it all goes to hell, things break, money dries up, getting people in the gates gets harder and harder. Remember earlier this week when there wasn't a cloud in the sky? Life comes at your fast. But you can survive with some clever thinking and the finest robot rides this side of the Mississippi or a well stocked pantry of food and water. You've got this.

click to enlarge How can you be stressed with this face looking up at you? - PHOTO BY CORY GARCIA
How can you be stressed with this face looking up at you?
Photo by Cory Garcia
1. Bob Ross: The Art of Chill
Skill Learned: Seriously, chill

The next few days will be stressful, no doubt. The waiting then the water. Wondering how much we'll get and where. It's enough to stress out anyone. That's why you need Bob Ross in your life more than ever. Bob was the chillest man around, and if a lack of power means you can't marathon The Joy of Painting at least The Art of Chill is there to get you in the right headspace. You play as painters making your own version of Bob's classics, no artistic skill required. Get the easel ready, push the coffee aside, and just keep reminding yourself: there are no mistakes, only happy accidents.
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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia