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desert island games

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I know, I know — it’s cheesy. And so very, very 80s. But humor me here — if you were stranded on a desert island with just ten games (no computer games, please), what would they be?

Mine, roughly in order of preference, are listed below.

(1) I’d take a deck of cards (game systems are okay). With a deck of cards, you can play hundreds if not thousands of good games: Hearts, Poker, Spades, 500, Bridge, Pinochle, Canasta (would need a second deck), Gin Rummy, etc. A great many people already know these games, so you’d be less likely to have to teach your companions the rules. Plus, they’re lightweight, small, easy to take with you anywhere. And easy to pick up and take with you if any natural disasters threatened your camp.

(2) By the same token, I think I’d want some dice. A bunch of dice — ten d6s and maybe a few d8s, d10s, d12s, etc. thrown in for good measure. You can always play Yahtzee, plus you can use them to make up games on the fly. With enough dice and a deck of cards, you can do almost anything. :-)

(3) It’s starting to get harder, but I’d have to include … plenty of paper and enough pencils to last a lifetime. Great for keeping score, playing battleship, hangman, you name it. And again, another great resource for designing games. With pencil, paper, dice, cards, and shells / pebbles for tokens, there are very few games you couldn’t play….

(4) And now I’ll start heading for more traditional choices: Backgammon. I’d have to say Backgammon is my favorite game of all time, for a number of reasons — it’s fast, there’s a nice blend of luck and strategy (if you’re playing with the doubling cube), you can often come from behind to win it in a dramatic way, etc. BTW, anyone who says that luck dominates the game needs to (a) start using the doubling cube and (b) start playing for a dollar a game. I guarantee they’ll start taking the game more seriously.

(5) It’s starting to get harder. A cribbage board? Nah — too easy to make on the island. Same with Mancala. Go? It’ll probably make the top ten, but it might be hard to find people who were willing to play. Chess? Sure, let’s go with Chess. It’s a wonderful game, very deep, takes a lifetime to master, etc. It would help to keep your mind sharp, and you’d have plenty of time to explore at least some of its subtleties. You’d have to find folks willing to play with you, but you could while away many an evening with the right partner / opponent.

(6) I think I’ll go with another classic for number six: Scrabble. Here’s another game you can spend a lifetime playing. What’s more, if you’re lucky enough to have the official Scrabble dictionary along, you’ll also be able to learn a few new words along the way.

(7) Maybe it’s time for another gaming system: dominoes. Sure, they seem a little pedestrian, more the kind of thing that kids play with than adults, but ChickenFoot is fun and I’m sure it would be possible to come up with other (and possibly more interesting) games given sufficient motivation. Plus, they’d be great on the beach. :-)

(8) At this point I’ll have to go with … Go. Aside from the fact that it’s the greatest abstract of all time, and could easily warrant many lifetimes of study, it’s also a relatively flexible gaming system in its own right. With a go board, you can also play go-moku, Pente (go-moku with a twist), Amazons (limit the board to 10×10 and find 8 shells of two colors for the queens), checkers (if for some reason you wanted to play and had lost either your chess set or your backgammon pieces), etc. Plus, all those Go stones can be used as counters or markers in other games.

(9) I honestly thought I was going to have trouble limiting myself to ten games, but now I’m finding I’m having a hard time justifying any further additions. I could throw in Hive just because (a) I want it and have never played, (b) the pieces are cool, (c) it would be great on the beach, (d) it would be durable, and (e) the bakelite hex pieces could be used for countless other games even if I didn’t care for the game itself. Okay, fine, Hive it is.

(10) Hmmm. Maybe instead of number ten I’d take a shortwave radio so I could try to contact passing ships. Or maybe I’d take along a really good map so I wouldn’t run aground in the first place. Or a GPS unit, or a satellite phone, or a lifetime supply of waterproof matches. Or a change of clothes. Or — I know — what every good traveler needs: a towel. =^..^=

  1. November 16, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I guess we’re also supposing that you’re stranded with an opponent? ;)

  2. November 16, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Ideally, yes. I suppose if I were stranded by myself, I’d have to develop multiple personalities just so I’d have someone to play against. :-)

  3. December 2, 2010 at 1:06 am

    Hive is a great game, so no worries there. You’d be happy with the choice.

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