Calgary and area is in a state of Emergency - We need Zodiacs, power boats, and...Ticket to Ride?
David Minken
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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I'm not sure how often Calgary and the surrounding area makes the news outside of, well, Calgary and its surrounding area, but today might be one of those days. Calgary, but more importantly, some of the nearby towns have been totally devastated by flooding. Here are some pics of Canmore (to the west) and High River (south):



In times of natural disaster I always seem to feel guilty when nothing serious happens to me. Am I the only one that feels that way? Anyhow, I digress. I have a story to share, that you might find interesting...

Purposes of this geek list:
1. If you have a natural disaster story that involves boardgames somehow, please share it - I am sure it will be totally interesting. (As an example, a really cool story might start something like, "so there we were, stranded on our roof top waiting for the helicopter to come pick us up, so we decided that we might as well play a game of Hive..."

2. If you do not have a natural disaster story, but want to contribute - please add a game that involves flooding, or any other natural disaster as a central theme, or action, or anyway really.
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1. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:127] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
David Minken
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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As I mentioned in the header, none of the flooding was near me - in fact my biggest concern today was trying to beat traffic home because I knew it would be crazy. So, I left work at 3pm happy to have an excuse to leave early (I hate writing this, because it sounds so shallow). On my way home I receive a phone call from my mom, "David, where are you?!"

"I'm driving home. What is up?"

"We have 8 evacuees coming over to our house," she says in a very panicked voice. "We need some things. They are two families who just lost their homes."

"Ok, ok - tell me what you need and I will pick them up and bring them over." (my parents live south of Calgary on an acreage so suddenly getting ready for an invasion of 2 families who have just lost everything was getting a little overwhelming for mom).

Fast forward - I arrive at my parents house to help get everything ready. Moments later 6 of the 8 arrive...crammed in one little truck (since their other cars were left stranded), wet - you could tell that they have been in the river, which once was limited to its own banks but has now made their home a barrier island, and crying. My heart broke.

We go inside and they tell us how they saw a car float past their house. They tell us that they still don't know where some of their friends are. The cell phone coverage is poor or down. The Edmonton army has been called in to assist. I could tell that they were panicked and anything I could say sounded so shallow to me. What do you say?

After an hour or so, the room fell silent. I didn't know what to say. They were out of energy to say anything more. Crickets. Tension. Worry. Uncomfortable Silence.

[I should add, that when I told this next part of the story, my wife gave me a raised eyebrows look and shook her head at me, until she heard the rest of the story...then she hugged me and said, "well done" so stick with me here!]

I cleared my throat and asked, "Sooooo, do you guys play boardgames?"

Instantly the 2 boys' (grade 6 and grade 8) eyes lit up - "Do you have Risk? Monopoly? We love those games! We even play Monopoly by the rules?!!" (no kidding - I instantly loved these boys when they added the Monopoly disclaimer - how awesome was that?!)

Their parents got excited - "Our boys played Risk for 5 hours last weekend!"


"Well, yes, I believe my parents do have Risk. But, ummm, have you ever played Ticket to Ride?"

(And here my mind was in complete debate with itself. One side was saying, "you insensitive jerk - they just went through Hell and you have an opportunity to make them feel at home, and comfortable with something they obviously enjoy - just go get Risk you idiot!" But the other side was saying, "Yes, it is true, they have just gone through hell - but why should they have to go through Hell again today?!")

They both look confused - Ticket to Ride? What's that?

"Lucky for you guys - I keep a copy of this game at my parents in case the opportunity to play ever presents itself. Let's play!"

So play we did! I taught them the game and within minutes those two boys forgot about floods, forgot about the disaster, and were only getting upset because someone blocked their way to Santa Fe! It was amazing! You could see the look of relief on their parents face to see their boys distracted, if only for a fleeting moment, and happy...that was an emotion they were not expecting them to have again for a while. But it was one that lasted for an hour, at the table, with a stranger, while playing a game.

After the game ended the boys looked at me and said, "that was awesome!"

I looked back and said, "you know what - keep the game, it's yours."

Then they cried.
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2. Board Game: Forbidden Island [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:597]
David Minken
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Here is a game with flooding as its central theme. It is fitting that it is a Cooperative game - at times like this you see nothing but cooperation as communities band together.
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3. Board Game: Survive: Escape from Atlantis! [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:234]
David Minken
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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This game kicks it up a notch - the island is not only flooding, but you are going to get fried by that volcano if you don't make it to shore fast enough!
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4. Board Game: The Downfall of Pompeii [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:449]
David Minken
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Volcano erupts with lava flows devastating the city. You must escape or be thrown into the fiery volcano!

My understanding is that this will be re-released soon?!
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5. Board Game: Yedo [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:463]
David Minken
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Here, there is a very nasty natural disaster in the form of an Earthquake, if you are playing the Samurai version of the game. This one disaster seems to be mentioned in every review with the reviewer going, "AGGGGHHHHHHHH!!"

Often this is the one event card that people use to decide what version of the game that they will play - Geisha or Samurai? It is deadly. It is brutal. It is, well, an earthquake - that seems like a fair representation, no?!
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6. Board Game: Collapsible D: The Final Minutes of the Titanic [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:6763]
Wolf Plancke
Belgium
Kortrijk
West Vlaanderen
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Not a natural disaster, but still a disaster. And not a bad game.
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7. Board Game: Fast Flowing Forest Fellers [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:1796]
David Minken
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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After seeing all the debris flying by in the river, I thought of this game. I have never played, but the river was definitely fast and flowing!

Apparently over 10% of Calgary is evacuated from their homes!

Days like today remind me of some of the hurricanes I experienced while living in Houston!
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8. Board Game: Civilization [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:227] [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked]
Adam
United States
Tempe
Arizona
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Thanks for posting this!

I hope your civilization is quick to recover from the flooding!

As part of my job, I talk to people in Alberta on a daily basis. It's been very sad to hear about all the destruction and loss of life. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone up there.
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9. Board Game: Two by Two [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:4745]
David Minken
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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It has been several days since my original post. Thank you everyone for your kind words and thoughts. My family has been extremely fortunate compared to most other people. For that we are extremely thankful.

I have added this game to the geek list for two reasons - it has been on my wishlist for a long time and I figure now might be a good time to finally pull the trigger on this one - seems thematic, no?!

I have also heard reference to this event lately!
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10. Board Game: UNO [Average Rating:5.35 Overall Rank:15571]
David Minken
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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The power was out last night in our neighbourhood. While we were out walking with the boys and my daughter, my wife overheard someone say, "Well, if the TV is not working, I guess we can go home and play Uno."

Unfortunately my wife did not find me to tell me that there were some gamers nearby - my sons and I were back somewhere saving worms.

She told me when I got home and said, "I wanted to say hey - you should come play some of our games! But I chickened out! That's kinda your thing."

"AGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!! Man! You totally should have called me - impromptu game nights are the best!"

Oh well! But it made me sad that there are people out there (for arguments sake, let's call them the majority) that only turn to games as a back-up plan when nothing else is available to do. With a proper introduction to games that stretch beyond Toys R Us, this will change. We, the board gamer community, need to be those positive agents of change as it is a very difficult transition to make - here are my comments from an older geeklist I wrote:
Converting a Non-Gamer to a 'Geek'. All the places it goes wrong. How can we make this better? The DEMAND of Boardgames.
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11. Board Game: Bangkok Klongs [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:4583]
Robert
Malaysia
Seattle
Washington
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Was in Bangkok Thailand teaching during 2011/12 and from roughly late September to December, the city itself was under threat from Flooding. Up country, hundreds of thousands had lost everything, several hundred lost their lives.

The Capitol was mostly unaffected, but some areas were. One of my gaming buddies while I was there nearly lost everything as his house flooded very suddenly due to a breach in an emergency levee. Another friend (a fellow teacher) had to work seven days a week for the rest of the school year because his school had been flooded and closed for three months.

Battlefield Bangkok, a store in the Bang Na area of town, became our sanctuary - we'd meet up every weekend and share stories "How bad is it in your neighborhood?" "Is your school still closed?" "Do you think the main city will flood?" - and while sharing these stories, we'd play board games.

I was very fortunate not to have been directly harmed by the flooding, but in a strange sort of way, I enjoyed the camaraderie that develops during a time of natural disaster.
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12. Board Game: UNO [Average Rating:5.35 Overall Rank:15571]
Shannon Kane
United States
Nashua
New Hampshire
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During an ice storm that some of you may recall, I was 14, and lived down the road from the elementary school. That was where the National Guard had brought in a generator for the retirement community in our very small town populated by the elderly and infirm; they were all living in the classrooms for the duration.

Back at home, my parents were supplying water out of our cistern well, but I spent most of my time at the school helping out. Making food, cleaning up, necessities. But a day in, and the people rescued were getting restless and anxious.

There wasn't exactly much of a game selection at the school, and I quickly ran out of games I knew with a standard Poker deck, but I did find a set of Uno cards that had been well-loved by many little hands. I spent the rest of my time volunteering at the shelter putting on games of Uno. Some of the players were mentally handicapped in some of the rounds, but nobody really minded if we didn't always follow the rules to the letter, at least we weren't just sitting around!

Also that was the day I started drinking coffee. But, most important of all, I'm pretty sure all that Uno at the impromptu shelter is part of why I still love card games so much.
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13. Board Game: The Hat [Average Rating:5.61 Unranked]
Jason Miller
Canada
Medicine Hat
Alberta
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My home town, Medicine Hat, just got hit with the flooding 3 days after it walloped Calgary. The forecasters had originally predicated a Saturday, 6 pm crest. Considering it had crested in Calgary on Friday morning, and that's at least 300 km away, I thought it was rather sudden.

The crest was again moved to Saturday midnight, then finally Sunday midnight, where it was flowing at roughly 5300 m3/second (or ~5300 cubic yards/second)

Knowing several of my gamer friends had been evacuated out of the area before the flood hit was a small comfort. This city seems to get rocked by a flood every decade or so, and it's never a pretty sight.

Our city was also very close to getting split in two, as the South Saskatchewan River threatened all 3 bridges. At one point, 2 of the bridges were closed, with the third, the TransCanada bridge, staying open, albeit at a slow crawl.

Knowing I'd get limited attendance, as I'm on the lesser populated north side of the river, I decided nonetheless to get my friends together. Six of us played plenty of great games: 1830 Cardgame, Walnut Grove, Love Letter to name a few.

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14. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:56]
Henry Williams
United States
Lake Mary
Florida
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I would argue that glaciation, an encroaching Ice Age, and mass extinctions are all natural disasters...

May the water in Calgary return to it's normal levels, and I hope that her geeks and non-geeks receive the relief they need and a speedy recovery. Your parents rock.
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15. Board Game: In the Year of the Dragon [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:221]
Brian McCarty
United States
La Crescent
Minnesota
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This game is pretty much disaster mitigation. You have plague, famine, invading armies, etc. The 1st two years are peace. And the festival years aren't bad.

We call it the game where nobody smiles.

Brian
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16. Board Game: Pacific Typhoon [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:2272]
Dylan Kirk
France
Paris
Ile-de-France
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We have our share of typhoons here, but being an Albertan, we aren't too used to this scale of natural disaster. I was quite horrified to find that even though I'd been through deadly floods in Colombo, terrorist attacks, and typhoons that shut down Manila, my own home town still had it worse than any of the disasters I'd been in. Well, they haven't had a war or terrorist bombing or assassination, but let's stick to natural events.

Each of the troubles I'd been through - the floods, the aftermath of the Kashmir earthquake (thankfully wasn't there for that), the typhoons and their commensurate landslides - had all had deaths. In some cases, many deaths indeed. In Calgary: not a soul. The evacuation appears have to been as perfect as it could have been. The damage is incredible from what I've seen (I've been glued to twitter) but our city responded with incredible civic duty and hospitality. A call for 600 volunteers was made, and even when the transit system was still out of operation, an estimated 6000+ showed up. People are driving in from far away to pump basements for free. It makes you proud to be Canadian.

As a side note, so does His Worship, Mayor Nenshi:
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17. Board Game: Tikal [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:213]
¡dn ʇǝƃ ʇ,uɐɔ ı puɐ uǝllɐɟ ǝʌ,ı
Canada
Chestermere
Alberta
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Tikal relies on a volcano eruption to advance rounds. And, while lava is potentially much worse than water, the river flow rate numbers in Calgary were staggering: Some reports said the river was moving at over 1500 cubic meters per second.
Imagine a cube that is 11 1/2 meters (almost 35 feet) on each side, full of water. Per second!!

I was born (52 years ago) and raised in Calgary, although I live fifteen minutes east of town, in Chestermere, now. I am in the city practically every day. I work there and all of my family and friends still live there.

We put up one couple for three days when their evacuation notice came on Thursday night. On Friday, I couldn't get to work so we tried to get back to their house which is 3 blocks from the river, north of downtown. They were lucky-- their place is elevated from the street by a few feet and their basement stayed dry. Just a block closer to the river, though, the water was up to the bottom of most basement windows.
That evening we stayed in and played games and, like you said, forgot about the disaster for a while.
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18. Board Game: Operation Veritable: ASL 1945 Rhine Historical Study [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked]
Michael Dorosh
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Plenty of flooded terrain in some of the scenarios of this one. It's also the only official ASL product thus far to primarily feature Canadians.

I work for Calgary Zone EMS in an administrative capacity, and part time in the Army Reserve with The Calgary Highlanders. Our brigade was called out to do flood relief. I was fortunate to be able to lend a hand with some sand-bagging and community assistance in Inglewood on the weekend after the flood. When the brigade stood down, I went back to my job at EMS and worked in the emergency command centre. I also spent a day with some AHS workers in High River, helping clean out a home that had been flooded.

It was interesting to experience the event from both perspectives, both in the command centre, and as a front line relief worker. The ECC almost seemed "game like", by which I mean the detachment required of those in the room from the events - having to watch it on monitors or listen over radios and telephones. I was not a decision maker but I was always impressed at the professionalism of those who were. Alberta has unfortunately had a number of events in recent memory (tornados, floods, even H1N1) so we seem to be getting our share of practice.

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