Games for a Power Outage
Joshua Noe
United States
Wauwatosa
Wisconsin
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Last night, central Indiana was hit with a pretty big storm. So much so that the power went out for a number of hours. So, after our obligatory trip to the basement for the tornado warning, my wife & I decided to play some board games by candlelight. We had to put some real thought into which games would work in the flickering light, and I decided this would make a wonderful geeklist.

I will be providing specific games that illustrate what a Power Outage game requires, as well as some examples of games that do not work well.

Please feel free to add more of your own examples, as I think this is a wonderful opportunity to have the TV and phone off, and spend some quality family time together.

Important point - I've tried to make it such that all the games are favorable in all catergories, which is why you might not see some obvious choices listed. For example, Arkham Horror may fare well for THEME, but does not do so well in SYMBOLOGY.
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1. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:28]
Joshua Noe
United States
Wauwatosa
Wisconsin
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Theme - A power outage is frustrating, no doubt about it. Your refrigarator does not work, and you don't know if your food will spoil. Your basement might flood if the sump pump does work. Not to mention the hot water will eventually run out. So having a game help paint the irony of the situation lightens the mood a little so people can still enjoy themselves, which is really the whole point of a board game in the first place. Plus, it gives me a chance to put Power Grid as #1, which had to be done for this list.

Other candidates & why:
-Zombies!!!: It's a nighttime horror setting. One note is that while this doesn't fare as well in the Symbology category with the event cards, you don't use them every turn.
-Fury of Dracula: Yet another Horror setting.
 
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2. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
Joshua Noe
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Wauwatosa
Wisconsin
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Symbology - Also known as "few, if any words". In the dark by flickering candlelight, players are not going to want to spend their game reading text on cards. Not only is the light wavering making it hard to read, but it will create literal headaches, as well as take much longer to play the game as players take longer to read the cards compared to normal lighting conditions.

If a game is going to have a fair number of words, they should be large font.

Settlers has almost no words, with the exception of the development cards. Granted, those cards' font is small, but if you've played the game more than 3-4 times, the cards: Soldier, Monopoly, Road Building, Year of Plenty, and +1 VP should be in your memory. The remainder of the game uses large symbols on the resource cards that are easily distinguishable.

Other Candidates & why:
-El Grande: Picture of caballeros are easily seen. The wording on the event cards is big and limited.
-Ra: What words?

Poor Choices & why:
-Arkham Horror: The game is almost all reading on the event cards.
-San Juan: Lots of reading on the cards
 
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3. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Joshua Noe
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Wauwatosa
Wisconsin
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Contrast - A game's colors should have well demarcated contrast, since the orange light of a candle will tint the colors and make poorly contrasted colors hard to differentiate.

Games that use bright colors alongside somber/earthtone colors, and very view color differentiations, are best. Avoid games where multiple colors are a predominate feature in the mechanics, since players may have a hard time telling blue from grey, or dark green from navy blue in this setting.

Carcassone uses 3 colors:
1. Bright green (farmer's grass)
2. Tan (cities & cloisters)
3. White (roads)
All 3 are easily seen in orange candle light and easy to distinguish.

Other Candidates & why:
-Go: Black and White. Easy to distingush pieces
-Chess: See Go

Poor Choices & why:
-Ticket to Ride: The game relies primarily on color distinction of the railroad cars on the cards. Granted, there are small symbols in the corners to match the colors on the board for the colorblind, the game plays much slower if everyone needs to use this method.
-Candyland: It's all color based.
 
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4. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:117] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
Joshua Noe
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Wauwatosa
Wisconsin
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Palpable Textures - 3-dimentional pieces used in candelight are beneficial for 2 reasons.

First, even candlelight will cast shadows and raise highlights to make the figures easy to differentiate.

Second, if the candles start running a bit low, touch is always something one can use to distinguish certain pieces.

Players are going to have a much easier time with games that use 3-dimentional pieces, than small flat chits in the traditional wargames. Memoir '44 is almost entirely 3D pieces.

Other Candidates & why:
-Tikal: Wooden "meeple-like" pieces.

Poor Choices & why:
-Paths of Glory: Lots of chits.
 
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5. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:367]
Joshua Noe
United States
Wauwatosa
Wisconsin
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Brightness - It's much easier to read a book with bright paper in candlelight than a book with darker tinted paper. Ever try reading a newspaper in the dark?

The same applies to games. Games that have brightly printed color schemes are going to be easier to visualize in low light settings.

Bohnanza is all about the bright, and it's easy to see why this game would work well in a low light setting.

Other Candidates & why:
-Thebes: The board and cards are fairly bright.

Poor Choices & why:
-Tannhauser: Extremely dark board that will make the paths difficult to see.
 
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6. Board Game: Nacht der Magier [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:1851]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Glow-in-the-dark...

'nuff said.
 
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7. Board Game: Waldschattenspiel [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:4300]
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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Perfect for a power outage. Its best played in the dark with one candle anyways as all but one person seeks to move their pawns and stay in the dark!
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