No matter who you vote for (or if you completely abstain from the political process), there’s a good chance you’re exhausted from the media onslaught of the past year’s presidential campaign. It’s only going to get worse tomorrow night.
So here are 16 games you should play instead of watching election coverage.
Choose a game for election night 2016 based on if you . . .
. . . think we’re headed for apocalypse: 51st State Master Set
Do you think this election will bring about a world-ending war that leaves factions fighting over the remaining bullets, gasoline, and machinery? That will leave disparate factions battling for supremacy in a post-apocalyptic wasteland? Then this is the game for you. It’s quickly become one of my favorites, and I highly recommend it.
. . . think we should just leave Earth: Terraforming Mars
Need to get away from it all? Why not try Mars? Whoever gets elected tomorrow, they won’t be able to bother you there. And you probably won’t hear about the 2020 election until at least 2022. On top of that, this game is amazing. If you can get a copy or know someone who has one, play it. You will absolutely not regret it.
Buy Terraforming Mars on Amazon ($85; only one left at time of writing)
. . . want to hide underground: Caverna / Haspelknecht
In the face of coverage by CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, USA Today and the Huffington Post, the inclination to go hide underground is completely understandable. I will be playing games in my friend’s basement on election night, so I actually will be underground. But if you don’t have that luxury, Caverna and Haspelknecht are great options. The former is a Rosenberg worker-placement underground farming game, and Haspelknecht is all about coal mining.
. . . think a cyberpunk dystopia is coming: Android: Netrunner
Dark money, super PACs, hidden trade deals . . . it’s all starting to sound like shadowy mega-corporations are running the country. Want to fight back against the corporate hegemony and free the media from control of big business? Play the Runner in Android: Netrunner and that’s exactly what you’ll do.
. . . want the old days back: Great Western Trail / 18xx
While the “good old days” are likely a myth, there are quite a few games where you can live in that myth for a while, and that’s a great thing. Great Western Trail will bring you back to the Old West to drive cattle from Texas to Kansas City. You’ll need to hire cowboys, craftsmen, and engineers to make sure you maximize your profits. I haven’t played it, but people love this game. It might be hard to get a hold of at the moment, but if you have a copy, break it out! 18xx games speak for themselves. They might not be great if you’re opposed to big business, but they’ll certainly keep you busy through election night. I’ve never played one, but 1830 is quite popular.
Buy 1830 on Amazon ($62)
. . . welcome Ragnarok: Blood Rage
Playing Blood Rage won’t count as a vote for Giant Meteor 2016, but it’s pretty close. Ragnarok is coming, parts of Midgard will be destroyed in fire, and you need to smash enemies to earn glory before it all ends in flame and destruction. And it’s called Blood Rage, which is absolutely perfect for election night.
Buy Blood Rage on Amazon ($53)
. . . want to elect Bill Gates: Through the Ages
Think Bill Gates would make a better president than the current contenders? Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization lets you elect Gates, Sid Meier, Charlie Chaplin, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, or Winston Churchill as your modern leader. This can be a long game, and is typically complicated for Chvátil, but it’s a really awesome card-driven civilization builder.
. . . need to get out some aggression: Runewars
We all need to get out aggression sometimes. Especially during election season. If you want to let off some steam and beat the crap out of a bunch of dudes, Runewars is a solid choice. You’ll be facing off in a high fantasy world, so there will be little to remind you of the 2016 election campaign, and you’ll feel better after grinding some minions to dust.
Buy Runewars on Amazon ($88)
. . . would rather fight off zombies: Zombicide / City of Horror
Fighting off zombies sounds pretty good right now, doesn’t it? Grab a chainsaw, Uzi, sword, or shotgun and fend off as many hungry zombies as you possibly can in Zombicide. If you work together, you might just survive. If you’re not feeling very cooperative, City of Horror gives you similar goals . . . but also lets you betray other survivors and feed them to the hordes. It’s not very nice. But you gotta’ do what you gotta’ do to survive.
. . . think drug lords rule the streets: Deal: American Dream
Do you think the country is actually run from the streets? In Deal, you can be a drug trafficker vying for control of the drug trade in the Americas. Manage your supply and distribution, fight for territory, forge alliances, and try to meet your secret goals to become the top dog in the trade. It might be a bit cynical, but it sounds like a lot of fun.
. . . just need some peace: Settlers of Catan
There are few games more peaceful than Catan. You plant yourself on a bucolic island, trade to benefit yourself and your neighbors, and build up settlements and cities for your subjects. You can build an army, but you can’t even block a road. Plus you can play a number of games in a row without it getting boring. It’s an election-night staple.
. . . really need some peace: Tokaido
If there is a game more peaceful than Settlers, though, it’s Tokaido. Work your way along the coast of Japan, meeting people, eating food, buying souvenirs, stopping at baths, and donating to temples. Whoever has the richest experience at the end of the trail wins. It’s the board-game equivalent of acupuncture: you’ll feel super relaxed afterwards. Put on some relaxing Japanese music while you play and you might just forget the entire world.
Buy Tokaido on Amazon ($26)
. . . want to check out for the entire night: Twilight Imperium
I once played a game of Twilight Imperium with both expansions, which allowed us to play with eight players. We also played the Long War variant, which goes to 14 points instead of 10. It took ten hours. TEN HOURS. We weren’t playing super fast, but we weren’t dallying, either. And that amount of time may have included some teaching. But still. It was insane. Politics, resource management, combat, secret goals, alliances, backstabbing, exploration . . . this game has it all. It’s phenomenal. Just be ready for a really long session (which very well may be exactly what you’re looking for right now).
What are you going to play on election night?
These 16 games are great options for having a good time and avoiding nauseating election-night media coverage, but there are tons more choices out there. What will you be playing on election night? Leave a comment below or let me know on Twitter!