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Subject: Games as Preperations for Disaster? rss

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S. Mitchel

Little Rock
Arkansas
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A little confession here, I keep some extra stuff around the homestead in case something unexpectedly offal happens. Example, a couple years back my income dropped by 60% for 18 months. Lean times. And I relied on canned food I had put away to keep my grocery bill down. So what does this have to do with board games?

Well, despite the many kinds of crisis that can befall us--power lines down for days, financial hardship, natural disasters, and so on--there are a number of things that are almost always handy for survival and sanity. If pressed most people can come up with a sizable list of things to stock up on, but until now games probably wouldn't have been on such a list. True, bottled water, canned food, batteries, candles, and a host of other things seem perfectly sensible if the lights go out for a while, or even a very long while, but what about keeping the family's spirits up and to stave off boredom? You may already have some good books and other activities, but why not put some thought into the best games to have on hand?

One of the more unusual criteria for my game collection is that I try to avoid anything requiring electricity, which would include games with DVDs, CD-ROMs, battery-operated gadgets, or phone apps. Yeah, I might get one or two, but the focus is on games that work by candlelight and don't need wi-fi or other gadgets. At this time the gaming industry is still keeping things almost exclusively cardboard or digital, but there have been some noteworthy exceptions. For instance, Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition is out and I have been so far resistant to getting it for its reliance on electronics. (But the flesh is weak! I might have to get it anyway.)

It should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Have fun games. Even if you favor mathy, brooding games, make sure to have a couple games handy that make your family smile, laugh, and have warm fuzzy moments. There are a lot of party games and family level games that work great for this.

Another consideration is the subject matter involved. Disaster games, or games that are stressful to play are great when your life is rolling along, but if you're already in a stressful situation or experiencing actual crisis events in your neighborhood, these games might actually make things worse. We all have our tolerances and when we are already operating at our limits, we need games that help us forget what's going on around us.

Next is the game's level of immersion. If we can involve our minds in activities that take our family away from fear or boredom, the games are doing their jobs. The games don't need to be overly complex, they only need to fully engage the mind for a length of time. I hesitate to offer suggestions for immersion as it can be a personal thing for each of us.

Time sinks are not usually something I look for in life, but a game that draws us in to many time consuming tasks is ideal when there is nothing else to do but sit and wait for things outside to normalize. Games that use customizable card decks are a great waist of time (lol), and the larger the collection of cards, the more time can be spent mulling over them. Games like Magic: the Gathering, Legend of the Five Rings, A Game of Thrones, etc. are fantastic examples.

Another kind of time consumption is a game that's a beast. Games that last hours and hours are a plus during times when we're stuck at home for days. Think Twilight Imperium III, Twilight Struggle, and so on. Also, games that have a campaign mode such as Descent or a legacy game like (an un-played) Pandemic Legacy: Season One will be an emotional lifesaver to keep spirits high and minds engaged. (Unless, of course, you are experiencing an actual pandemic...) Alternatively, have games that have a lot of replayability.

Games that are cooperative may be a good investment on a couple levels. First, by their nature they're less confrontational, and so less stressful. Second, having family and friends helping each other in-game may help build cooperation and improve morale after the game is concluded. Games like Pandemic (ify?), Mechs vs Minions, Mage Knight, Code Names, and even Eldritch Horror (though its a disaster game, it's pretty far from reality). However, I might leave off games that are very difficult to win in this genre, such as Robinson Crusoe, which may increase frustration or lower morale.

Lastly, have games that are the right complexity and player count to accommodate everyone you expect to be hunkered down at your hacienda. Include the kids, whether it's a family weight game for everyone or kids games chosen for them while the adults play weightier stuff. Even if the kids don't normally play non-electric games, have something for them, and they will be grateful (or at least less naggy). Also consider the possibility that someone in the household may be required to fend for themselves for a while. Have a couple games that can be played solitaire just in case.

To summarize:
✔ Non-Electric
✔ Fun!!!
✔ Non-Disaster
✔ Non-Stressful
✔ Immersive
✔ Time Sinks
✔ Long
✔ Replayable
✔ Cooperative
✔ Solo and Party Games
✔ Games for Everyone

A strange consequence of choosing "prepper" games is that they often have qualities that are usually negatives. Games that are too long, have player counts different than your game group's size, have a lot of downtime, or are too passive/cooperative for your tastes can be great when the lights are out. Such games may not be a priority for you, but I hope this at least got you thinking about your game collection in a different way.
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S. Mitchel

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Yes, I might have single-handedly given your game collection a critical purpose when you try to explain it to friends and relatives. You're welcome. ROFL
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T. Dauphin
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RedKnight808 wrote:
A little confession here, I keep some extra stuff around the homestead in case something unexpectedly offal happens.


Uh, like a spontaneous disembowling? yuk Something along the lines of spontaneous human combustion? Have to confess this gave me the biggest laugh.


RedKnight808 wrote:

Example, a couple years back my income dropped by 60% for 18 months. Lean times. And I relied on canned food I had put away to keep my grocery bill down. So what does this have to do with board games?

Well, despite the many kinds of crisis that can befall us--power lines down for days, financial hardship, natural disasters, and so on--there are a number of things that are almost always handy for survival and sanity. If pressed most people can come up with a sizable list of things to stock up on, but until now games probably wouldn't have been on such a list. True, bottled water, canned food, batteries, candles, and a host of other things seem perfectly sensible if the lights go out for a while, or even a very long while, but what about keeping the family's spirits up and to stave off boredom? You may already have some good books and other activities, but why not put some thought into the best games to have on hand?

One of the more unusual criteria for my game collection is that I try to avoid anything requiring electricity, which would include games with DVDs, CD-ROMs, battery-operated gadgets, or phone apps. Yeah, I might get one or two, but the focus is on games that work by candlelight and don't need wi-fi or other gadgets. At this time the gaming industry is still keeping things almost exclusively cardboard or digital, but there have been some noteworthy exceptions. For instance, Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition is out and I have been so far resistant to getting it for its reliance on electronics. (But the flesh is weak! I might have to get it anyway.)


I think you should succumb. Don't know how often the power goes out in your part of the world but your 'normal' state playing experiences will probably far outnumber your power-less playing experiences.

 
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Andrew S.
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The Zombie Survival Guide actually does have a bit about having board games in your shelter in the event of a zombie apocalypse for much the same reasons that you mention.
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