Here’s a weird but totally factual statement: Because of the weather, I didn’t have a job last week. As someone who A) relies entirely on the internet for income and b) was among those who lost electricity because of Tropical Post-Rock Hurricane Sandy, I had a whole lot of time to be alone with my thoughts — a pastime everyone pretty much hates.
In the interest of beating back any nagging memories of embarrassment and wrongdoing, I resorted to the only form of entertainment that works when everything fun is broken: board games. This is how they’ve held up since my childhood.
Pros: It’s a war game that doesn’t require almost any tactical strategy whatsoever.
Cons: I lost a bunch of the pieces (see: tried melting them, then threw them out) since the last time I wanted to play Battleship, putting me at a disadvantage that simulated actual warfare. Chalk it up to variant defense spending between sovereign nations.
Chutes and Ladders
Pros: Nostalgia; provides for upward and downward mobility.
Cons: Gameplay could be further simplified if all “chutes” and “ladders” were replaced by “stairs”.
Pros: Minimal meltable pieces required. Essentially poker for children.
Cons: Poker compliments heavy drinking better, and drinking, when done properly, also doesn’t require electricity.
Pros: Gameplay tends to run long, so expect to avoid at least two hours of pacing in circle, eating fun-size Halloween candy, or sobbing quietly.
Cons: I have no memories of actually finishing a game of Monopoly. In the harsh light of adulthood the reason is that Monopoly is more boring than watching already-dry paint just sit there and be paint. And when even Billy Joel comes out of hiding to raise money for your helpless blacked-out ass, it feels truly petty to tax someone just for hanging out on a specific avenue or railroad which they ended up on through sheer chance.
Pros: A massive timesink that provides a good mix of strategy and luck.
Cons: No one in their right mind owns a Scrabble dictionary — that’s what the internet is for. I found that this made inventing words very easy, much to the chagrin of my friends and fellow cothaliments.
Pros: The most abstract and historically significant popular game.
Cons: Only people who are already good at chess suggest a game of chess, and those people are dicks. It’s very, very easy to play chess for hours on end and not feel like you’re getting any better at it. I went outside to chop wood for the fireplace instead.
Pros: Easily the longest game ever made besides the waiting game.
Cons: The power is back on, but my troops in Brazil still need to conquer North Africa.
Settlers of Catan
Pros: Strategy-heavy and reasonably time-consuming.
Cons: Playing Settlers will probably involve hanging out with your nerdier friends, which can be a blessing or a curse. Relies on an obtuse “victory points” social contract that I felt shanghaied into.
Cons: Serves as a metaphor for the futility of human invention. Connect four, and then what? When will four no longer be enough? Are these red chips not connected in their opposition to the black chips and vice versa? The depth of man’s hatred for his own brother is yellow, plastic scaffolding on stilts.
Pros: Chess for idiots! Chinese Checkers for occidentals!
Cons: Wait, is “Chinese Checkers” kind of racist? Or at least discriminatory? My life would be very different if I grew up in China. I’d look different, but that’s besides the point. Would I have the same parents? Probably not. But isn’t life inexorably tied to its circumstances, so what’s the point of drawing this comparison? What do you mean “king me”? China doesn’t have kings. They used to have emperors and dynasties. But an emperor controls an empire. Isn’t a dynasty more of a lineage thing rather than a territory thing? Then again, these are English words. Maybe the Chinese words for these concepts have different shades of meaning. Oh, you won? Great, I checked out half an hour ago man.
Grade: Screw you, Sandy.