Bad News and Board Games

I got some bad news today. I’m not going into detail because it’s not my news, but it’s health-related and regarding someone close to me. That gives enough context for the kind of helpless fear that’s got a hold of me right now.

In a weird way, the timing was excellent.* You see, last night Steven and I did something we hadn’t done in probably well over a year–we played a board game together.

I’d been having a so-so weekend (due to factors unrelated to the lousy news), and I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do on the eve of the work week. (That in itself was making me more anxious than I like.) I’d been listening to episode 24 of Unjustly Maligned, in which Cory Casoni defends the board game Monopoly. It made me nostalgic for the days when my siblings and I played board games all the time.

We played LOTS of board games. As a family with limited means, games were perfect. They were cheapish and provided hours of re-playable fun. When one of us was home sick from school, Mom often let one of the other kids stay home to keep the sickie company. And that always meant board games–endless rounds of Life, Sorry, Careers, Chutes and Ladders, and, of course, Monopoly.

So yeah, board games conjure up a sense of comfort and safety and being-cared-for. That’s a difficult feeling to capture these days. I’d forgotten just how good it felt. Last night I got a reminder.


I don’t own Monopoly, but I do have Solarquest, which is something like a more complex version of Monopoly in space. The properties are planets and moons and space docks and research labs. It’s way cool. I hadn’t played in years, but I suddenly knew that’s what I wanted to do.

Luckily, Steven is a geek who loves the idea of zooming around the solar system collecting moons. We spent a delightful hour playing before it was time for bed. We didn’t finish the game, though it was a very close thing a couple of times. We set it aside to continue later.

I’d been hoping to finish last night, but the interrupted game was the best possible outcome. Because now, even after getting today’s lousy news, I’ve got an in-progress board game to look forward to. It’s weirdly like being in the middle of a long, metaphorical hug–instead of arms wrapped around me, it’s a square piece of cardboard, some cards and dice, and most importantly, a plastic spaceship and a bunch of metal “fuel stations”.**

Solarquest game

I’ve posted before about using puzzles to combat anxiety. I now realize board games are a tool I can use to battle depression. And I’m going to stay on the lookout for other pastimes that fill me with warmth, because having another weapon in my arsenal is always a good thing.

For now, I suspect I may be on a bit of a board game kick.*** Think I’ll be needing that comfort in the coming days.





*Well, as excellent as timing for this kind of news can ever be.

**I am a sucker for games with nifty, well-made metal or wooden pieces.

***Of course now I’m wishing like heck I’d gotten around to buying Starfarers of Catan (another spacey game with fond family memories). Sadly, it’s out of print. But it’s got sweet zooming rockets and the fun of a Catan game. Steven would love it! Definitely putting it on the to-play list for next time we’re visiting my brother.

9 thoughts on “Bad News and Board Games

  1. Ari B. says:

    Solarquest was a personal childhood fave of mine. Sorry about the bad news, I hope things pick up. :-/

  2. Bill Jennings says:

    I am sorry to hear about the health concerns and hope that things get better soon. Like you, board gaming was an important part of my childhood (and now into adulthood) and agree about their restorative power. They are implicitly social, and demand that other players agree to a compact through the rules and fair play. Jane McGonigal has given some nice TED talks on the subject and her latest book, SuperBetter looks directly at a use for games as a vehicle for improved health outcomes. The link is for her 2010 speed on how games make the world a better place.

  3. Michal says:

    Never heard of Solarquest until this post. Now that I’ve seen the board…I want a copy.

    That board is a thing of beauty.

  4. Mike Huberty says:


  5. Flossie Peterson says:

    Erika, I understand the bad news. We will hope and pray for the best. I’m glad you can buy some properties in outer space and clear the depression away!!

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