12 Games to Play When The Power or Internet is Down (or Anytime)

12 Games to Play When The Power or Internet is Down (or Anytime)

by Brandon Hunt

There are emergencies big, and there are emergencies small—of which the small occur everyday, or…. if we’re lucky, every other day. 

For your kids, the internet going down is a big emergency. While you, as the parent, might see it as an act of Providence, your kids react like life has lost all meaning. What started out as relief for you quickly turns into a desperate search for a way to entertain your kids, as they turn on you with zombie-like expressions. 

That’s when it’s time to pry open the storage cupboard in the laundry room, pull out a box, blow the dust off, and teach your kids about board games.

Well, it may not be all that bad. Maybe your family already enjoys board games. But let’s be real. Kids these days are growing up with gadgets and games in their hands. It’s hard to compete with that.

Of course, you don’t have to wait for a power outage or the next lockdown to play board games. In my house, we respond to three year-old “emergencies” everyday, and we’ve found that playing games is an invaluable way to entertain our boys, plus it keeps them from skulking in dark corners, muttering “my precious” whenever the t.v. is off. 

Why You Should Keep Board Games

Well, with board games you don’t have to worry about power. They are self-contained entertainment. All you need is a place to play and sufficient light to see by.

Board games will occupy the minds and relieve the stress from any kind of emergency. And when I use the word emergency, I’m applying it to everything from a severe weather power outage, to a three year-old throwing a tantrum over the television being turned off (I’ve dealt with that one more than I care to admit).

I like to enjoy a movie night, or playing video games once in a while, yet, from my own experience I have seen my three year-old boy devolve into a mean, cranky, bizarro version of himself because he spent too much time in front of the television. And I don’t like the effect it has upon him.

On the other hand, when we play family games together, whether it’s making one up on the spot, or playing a board game, we have way more positive experiences than sitting around staring at a screen.

I’m an advocate of keeping plenty of board games on hand to use for any sort of emergency. If you already have a bundle of games, great — pull them out and use them. And if your board game collection is sparse, start with one and slowly build up. There’s quite a few cheap games to begin with.

What To Look For in Family Games

So, you realized that you lack board games and you want to start building up emergency entertainment. If you’re looking for family games here’s a few tips you’ll want to consider.

  • Type: Will your family enjoy strategy games, or cooperative games? There’s also trivia, drawing and guessing games. Find one or two your family will enjoy, and if you have little ones, you could also look for games that provide educational opportunities.
  • Age Range: The tricky thing will be finding a game or two that is easy enough for your youngest to understand, while still entertaining your oldest. You may have to split and buy a couple of games to meet the age ranges.
  • Number of Players: Again, it’s good to consider games that are adaptable to the number of people in your family, or even extended family.
  • Playing Time: Depends on how long you want to keep your kids occupied. With something like Monopoly there's the possibility of monotony.

12 Games To Keep Around

A few classics to include in your emergency entertainment store. ( To make it easier, I’ll just provide links to Amazon )

  • Monopoly: A classic game. I’ve never been able to enjoy this one personally. But other folks like it. It definitely occupies the time.

  • Connect 4: It’s only a two player game, but it’s easy enough for young kids to play and have a good time.

  • Mousetrap: Another kid friendly game, where the youngest will want to snatch the traps if they can.

  • Sorry: A fun classic that engages up to four people, and is not very complicated.

  • Jenga: Even the youngest will get a kick out of the toppling tower of blocks.

  • Life: Perhaps it’s a good way to let your kids glimpse what’s ahead for them.

A few new games that look like fun options. I’m familiar with a few of the games in this list, but they all have great reviews.

  • Spot It: This is one we have. It’s a compact matching game that has quite a few gameplay variations. It’s also great for working on recognition for younger kids. Technically not a board game, but is a good one for little kids.

  • Sushi Go: I haven’t played this one, but it has positive reviews and seems like it would be a fun, fast-paced game. Also, not a board game, but could be another good one for younger kids.

  • Blokus Strategy Game: A lot of good reviews, also pointing out that even younger kids can pick up on this one fairly quickly.

  • Tsuro: This is one we have and we love it. The number of players is quite adaptable. It’s fun and quick. It’s all about laying down tiles on the board and staying on the path until you’re the last one.

  • Catan: A lot of people say this is a fun one. I’ve never played it, but it seems to be quite popular.

  • King of Tokyo: Another one that just looked and sounded like crazy fun.


There’s a lot more to preparing for emergencies than storing up survival supplies. You need to have a way to keep things fun and light. Of course, in this context, the definition of emergency is not concrete. To my eighteen-month old and three year-old, emergencies occur multiple times a day.

Games are a great stress relief. Even in an extended emergency without power, a game will get those “good feeling” chemicals coursing through the body, helping people calm down and refocus their minds. Think about what it can do for your kids when there's no internet access.

So, if you have a favorite game that I didn’t list, leave a comment. I’m always on the lookout for a new, fun game to add to our collection.

12 board games

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