If you're reading this on the East Coast, you're probably stuck in a blizzard. Whether this year we call it Snowmygod, Snowpocalypse, or the Blizzard of Oz (because it isn't in Kansas, anymore), you're going to have some time on your hands.
Fear not, you won't be bored: We've got you covered. Here's a gaming and app guide that offers all you need to pass the time. Light a fire in the fireplace (or put on that old Yule Log DVD with the sound down) and settle in for a couple of days of relaxation courtesy of Mother Nature. If you aren't on the east coast, call in sick, turn up your air conditioning, make some cocoa, and pretend you're snowed in.
[ What are the best videogames this year? Read Video Games Of 2015: 10 Hot Releases To Watch. ]
Games To Play Before The Power Goes out
Before you lose power, don't do any mobile gaming. You'll use up your lives or get bored of the game. Stick to your PC or console with these games. Here are some good ones for the snowbound.
Hearthstone -- One of the most highly rated collectable card games ever online. Hearthstone is a tactical CCG set in the World of Warcraft universe. Unlike many online CCGs that rely on an automated set of rules, you can aim your cards at specific enemies (within a set of capabilities). It removes much of the luck and places a premium on skill. Here's a (long) demo of a game:
To be honest, I'm not a fan of the game. I was excited about it, and even joined the early beta testing. I found the game repetitive, and the sound effects (as you can tell from the video) annoying. But the repetition takes a few days to kick in, so if you are new to it, it is a totally great couple of days. Also, if you haven't caught the joke from the World of Warcraft reference, the people who make the game call themselves … wait for it … Blizzard.
Mario and Sonic at the Sochi Winter Games -- Why just look out the window at the snow? You could imagine skiing down a mountain or bobsledding at breakneck speeds. And why not do it with Mario, Princess Peach, and all of your favorite Nintendo characters? I mean, just the humor of watching Donkey Kong figure skating ought to get you through a few hours.
Tropico 5 -- When you're finished with shoveling your car out of a snowdrift, you probably want to dream of being on a warm tropical island. Why not run the warm tropical island? Tropico 5 allows you to be the dictator of a small Caribbean island. You can exploit the island's labor in sweatshops to get back at your boss for trying to make you work in this weather. Or, you can build a beautiful tourist industry so you can imagine lying on the warm beach far from the snow.
Survive coups, make your enemies "disappear," or run a benevolent dictatorship where you make everyone as happy as possible. Your choice. This is one of the best "builder" games ever made. And, if you need more or are on a budget, try Tropico 4. The graphics are less good, but the game play is probably even a little better.
Games To Play After The Power Goes Out
No more electricity? You still have your smartphone. Hearthstone has a mobile app, and here are some mobile games to try.
Disney's Frozen Freefall -- Tired of Candy Crush Saga, but not tired of "Let It Go"? Try this Candy Crush clone and imagine the snow outside was made by a fairy tale princess. And, if you get tired of the ice, you can always imagine what happens "In Summer."
Spaceteam -- If you've got a friend over, Spaceteam is the way to find out if they are friends for life or you if should immediately unfollow them on Twitter. I'm serious. Marriages have probably broken up over Spaceteam. The game is fiendishly simple and impossible not to love. You connect devices over WiFi (or, in the case of a power outage, via Bluetooth). Each device is given a console with buttons, knobs, and switches on it. You will then be given a series of silly commands like "defrag the hard drive" or "set tachyon field to 4." Only one device has the ability to do each thing.
You will be inundated with commands, and the team must follow each one or the ship will be destroyed. The catch is that not all of the commands show up on all of the devices, so you have to shout them to each other. You have a limited time to follow the command or the ship takes damage. The fun starts when your friends start yelling at you to repolarize the warp drive and you get to yell back that they have the button to do it. Trust me, it is more fun than it sounds. They really should have called it "Chaos with Friends." Skip to the last minute of this video to see what I mean. [Warning: mild adult language.]
Goat Simulator -- If you haven't caught on to this phenomenon yet, you're in for a treat. Goat simulator is exactly what it says it is. You play a goat. You eat stuff. You ruin as much stuff as possible. The developers say it is like an old-school skating game. It reminds me more of the old Japanese classic Katamari Damacy. If you've never played Katamari Damacy, add that to your list of games to play before the power goes out. Want to have a sense of the attitude of the Goat Simulator developers? This is what they say about their own game in the app store: "Goat Simulator is a completely stupid game and, to be honest, you should probably spend your money on something else, such as a hula hoop, or a pile of bricks, or maybe pool your money together with friends and buy a real goat."
Games To Play When Your Battery Dies
Board games are fun, especially by candlelight. Here are two you may not have heard of that are probably available if you run out really fast before the snow hits:
Machi Koro -- A quick, 30-minute game that is a little too reliant on dice, but is made beautifully with very nice art. You are the mayor of a city that only has a bakery and a field of grain. Your people want places to work, eat, and play. Build them amusement parks, radio stations, and convenience stores before someone else does, so you can keep your cushy job as mayor. A quick game to learn, and even non-gamers will like it.
Tzolk'in -- If you got more snow, Tzolk'in is the game for you. It is a three- to four-hour game (two hours if everyone knows how to play). It is one of those games where, when you play it the first time, and you get to the end, you realize all the stuff you did wrong. Then you want to play it again right away. Then you play it again and realize that you've overcompensated and need to play it a third time. Twelve hours later, you are ready to go to bed and dream about it. The coolest part about the game is the special gear system that moves your people around as if they were on a little carousel. They represent the calendar, and as the gears spin, your little people can get crushed on the gears of time if you aren't careful. Build farms, mines, and temples to please the gods. Watch the people go around, and don't anger the gods!
Of course, you can always go out and play in the snow. But if the idea of the cold makes you want to crawl under a quilt and sip some chicken soup, we recommend one of these options instead.
What do you do when you're stuck in the house? What are your favorite snowy-weather activities? Tell us in the comments section below.
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