I’ve Seen The Lights Go Out On Olathe

2003 blackout New York

I saw the Empire State laid low.

Taking advantage of the long weekend, I planned several weeks ago to get together five friends and play a game of Dune, the classic game based on Frank Herbert’s book. This was going to be my fourth game, and I’ve been waiting to get it played again since this winter. It’s not always a long game, but it can go as long as six hours if it goes the distance, so it can take considerable effort to get it set up. Needless to say, this was a pretty exciting prospect for me.

Sunday afternoon, the weather was nice enough that I thought a bike ride was in order. As I returned from the trail, biking into a headwind, the skies were growing ominous and dark. The wind blew a light mist into my face as I wheeled my bike into the garage. By the time I had shut the garage door, it was coming down in waves that pelted the pavement and created a small stream down our cul-de-sac. I thought it’d be a good idea to shower, and then refresh myself on the rules before everyone arrived in a few hours. I started the water and was waiting for it to warm up when…

*blink* The lights went out.

We’ve lost power in a storm plenty of time, so I wasn’t  really worried. I went ahead and showered in the dark (thank you, thank you), then went downstairs to brush up on the rules. I still wasn’t worried after an hour, since my phone indicated that there were a few power outages in the area. I wouldn’t even say I was worried by hour two, though I was beginning to make some tentative plans with my friends “just in case.” But by hour three, we still didn’t have any power, and people were supposed to  be arriving in the next half hour.

Since one of my opponents was coming from a bit of distance, I had to make the call that Dune just wasn’t going to happen. It required too much light to read cards and keep secrets, and we didn’t want to have to light candles if the game went long. I offered to let anyone who wanted to come and play some lighter shorter stuff with the remaining daylight, operating on the apparently-unreasonable assumption that the power should come on at any minute. I was even treated to a brief treat of 30 seconds of power, followed by yet another outage. It was becoming obvious that we were in this for a long haul.

Two of my opponents came anyway, and we set up down in our sun room with a card table and an open window. We started with a game of Eight-Minute Empire: Legends, which was a clever little conquest game that I would gladly play again. By the time we finished the shadows were beginning to lengthen, but we thought we could get in one more game in the waning daylight. We set up a game of Wiz-War and then went about reminding ourselves why it’s literally one of the best games ever, especially with the new Malefic Curses expansion.It went so well that we thought a second game was in order.

At this point we were in the late evening, barely any light left at all. The room was beginning to get a little stuffy, so we opened up all of the windows in the house and busted out our cell phones to light the field of play. I once again was eliminated early as I watched my friends pummel each other by candle and cell phone light. We wrapped up with a very poorly-lit game of Love Letter, which is a great game when you can barely see.

So I didn’t get to play Dune, and who knows how easily I’ll be able to reschedule. But I really wasn’t disappointed with how the evening went. I got to learn a new game, play one of my favorites twice, and ended with a fun little frothy dessert game. More importantly, I got to spend my evening with a couple of friends who were willing to suffer through no lights and a stuffy room to play some games.

The lights finally came on after seven and a half hours, but by that time my friends had already left. It was basically time enough for my wife and I to watch a couple episodes of Community, and for me to read a few more chapters in the Brandon Sanderson book. Some days the power goes out, and sometimes you can’t play Dune. But it turns out those days can still be pretty terrific.

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