Preppers are not typically the type of folks who are addicted to “screen time”, but adjusting to an off grid lifestyle during a SHTF event and the long-term disaster days that follows, will still be a massive change.
Watching the news every night on television, flipping the channel so the kids can entertain themselves, or getting online to live stream your favorite episode of Yellowstone, will no longer be possible.
If you have stockpiled fuel, watching DVDs and downloaded movies from the Internet will still be a limited treat in an effort to conserve the gasoline, propane, diesel, or natural gas for essential purposes.
Solar power may allow you to still enjoy tech gadgets without needing a fuel stockpile to do so, but unless you live in a hot climate with a home that is not obscured by trees, solar generators and solar panels can still become overly taxed with essential survival homesteading needs.
Stockpiling old school board games and card games to help the entire family or survival tribe to pass the time will not only make great morale boosters, but also serve as a fun learning exercise, as well.
The Top 15 Survival Board and Card Games for Adults and Teens
1. Doom and Bloom Survival!
This survival board game was developed by two of my favorite preppers – Dr. Joe and Amy Altons – AKA Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy.
These expert medical preppers known for their Doom and Bloom podcasts, created the first survival board game that was actually developed by real expert preppers – medical professionals, as that. We all know that medical prepping skills are the most difficult to acquire to enhance our survival plan.
The Doom and Bloom Survival! game is designed for 2 to 4 players. An alternative to the original board game allowing both solo play and an up to 8 player option will be available soon. Players are transported to a post-pandemic world where the resources are few and the challenges and dangers are great.
You must accumulate necessary supplies, attempt to recruit other survivors into your tribe, and find a new place to turn into a safe haven, with plenty of obstacles and threats placed in front of your along the way, as well as difficult decisions that have to be made.
Joe and Amy set out to create a realistic survival scenario with their Doom and Bloom Survival board game, and they abundantly succeeded. The conversations had around the table when a player is forced to make a potential life or death decision before proceeding make this not only a perfect SHTF boredom buster game, but an interactive training exercise the family or survival tribe should be playing right now.
2. Edible Wilderness and Wilderness Survival Playing Cards
This 2-pack of playing cards is not a game in and of itself. Instead, both of these card decks can be used to play a hand of any of your favorite card games – be it poker or old maid with the kiddos.
The vibrant colors and details on each card help you commit to memory the potentially life-saving information that is shared each time a card is dealt.
The Edible Wilderness and Wilderness Survival playing cards could also be used as a lightweight and compact homeschooling resource material.
3. Worst Case Scenario
The Worst Case Scenario Survival board game is designed for two or more players ages 12 to adult. It takes approximately 30 minutes to work through the game cards, and make virtual life or death decisions based upon the survival question asked.
The Worst Case Scenario board game is based on the best-selling book series by the same name. Players have their survival skill knowledge and instincts tested when placed in a forest fire, shark attack, and similar scenarios. There 600 game cards depicting unique and realistic emergency survival situations.
4. Urban Survival Playing Cards
This card deck can be used as a flashcard style teaching tool, or be used to play any of your favorite card games. Each Urban Survival playing card offers tips to help an urban prepper, or someone who finds themselves in a city when the SHTF.
Each one of the 52 Urban Survival playing cards offers tips from the Survival In Place website’s Urban Survival Course. The topic areas covered include basic survival skills, OPSEC, civil disorder, tactical skills, and emergency field medicine.
5. Conflicted Board Game
This survival board game puts players in an apocalyptic scenario where they have to both think and fight, in order to survive. Players can use “chance” cards and “Miracle” cards to create an immediate and drastic change in the current circumstances in the game.
The domino effects of the Conflicted SHTF scenario could also wipe you every inch you have gained in this cunning game of survival.
6. Conflicted Playing Cards
There are multiple deck series options with the Conflicted card game. Players ask each other questions that will reveal how they would react during a given survival scenario.
The discussions had during gameplay often initiate both intriguing survival conversations and a vividly enlightening glimpse into how morals, relationships, friendships, and societal norms can be epically impacted by life during a SHTF event.
7. Walking Dead The Best Defense
This survival board game might be zombie based, from a SHTF perspective, but the wise use of resources, leadership skills, and maneuvering around a societal in total chaos players will be placed in can still introduce or review essential survival and tactical techniques.
The Walking Dead The Best Defense board game is a cooperative came where one player is the designated leader during each round. Players must defend 4 essential locations from the zombie hordes for 12 rounds in order to win. It takes 1 to 4, and approximately 45 minutes to play this board game.
8. Would You Survive If
This survival playing card game is one of the least expensive items on this list, but still offers vital prepping tips that might one day save your life.
The Would You Survive If game offers a unique SHTF scenario on each card along with helpful hints that can guide you to make it through the ordeal alive.
9. Maximum Apocalypse
In this survival board game one to six players work in a cooperative manner. Maximum Apocalypse is set after the SHTF and society is broken.
The survivors – players, have to navigate through an increasingly hostile landscape using a game map that offers a new twist on the game each time it is played.
During each turn a player has four different options to choose from – and live (or not) with the results. This is definitely a game involving intense strategy that involves relying on the other player’s (various character options) strengths and maneuvering around his or her weaknesses.
10. Wilderness Survival
Each one of the playing cards offers detailed strategies to help players learn to avoid getting themselves out of potentially deadly situations.
There are more than 42 different Wilderness Survival categories that range from avoiding a snake bite, to fending off a bear, to surviving a forest fire, and useful knot tying. Get this game on Amazon.
11. Outdoor Survival Wilderness Skills
Players are both lost and alone in the woods in the Outdoor Survival Wilderness Skills game. You have five different survival scenarios to work through while dealing with threats from predators, finding your ways in dense woods, and searching for and safely using natural resources.
12. Permaculture Playing Cards
These cards cover a whole lot more than just sustainable grocery growing.
The Permaculture playing cards are designed like an attractive poker deck, but help teach players about: growing food sustainably and naturally, rocket mass heaters, wildcrafting, livestock husbandry, keeping honeybees, food preservation, using food as medicine – and many more.
13. Knot Tying Game
This card games comes complete with a piece of rope and wood tying for knot tying play. Each one of the Knot Tying playing cards illustrates how to tie one specific knot, and how it is used. This game should be suitable and manageable for children as young as 10.
14. Trailblazer S.H.T.F.
These survival playing cards guide players to learn how to find, use, and make the basics of survival during a SHTF event. Trailblazer’s Survival Playing Cards are lightweight and portable enough to be placed in your bugout bag for quick reference on the go and to play around a campfire.
Top Survival Board Games and Playing Cards for Families and Children
1. Let’s Go Hiking
This cooperative board game teachers players age eight to adult to learn from the woods and use all of your senses to track, find valuable plants, avoid dangers.
The hiker playing pieces in the Let’s Go Hiking board game take turns rolling a die and working through a series of problem cards, solutions cards, movement cars, and photographs of animals or their tracks.
Children as young as four and as old as 104 can enjoy playing this survival board game. Wildcrafting teaches players about 27 different medicinal and edible plants.
In this cooperative game the players must use strategy to hike up a mountain and then back to safety before nightfall. There is a colorful and large game boards, 53 trouble cards, a spinner, and 25 cooperative cards – and a story that can be downloaded and printed to accompany game play.
Both adults and children in the family can learn more about animal identification, nature, and being in the great outdoors by playing the Camp board game.
There are nearly 500 game questions and fun facts, one decoder, a game board, 16 level cards, 8 game characters, and 1 compass card.
This game is recommended for players four and up. There is also a travel edition of this award winning board game.
4. Fishing Camp
If your prepping tribe is multi-generational, this might be the perfect survival board game. Fishing Camp grows with the players as their skill and knowledge about fish species and fishing increases. There are 16 different levels of play, eight player game characters, and 100 fun fact cards.
This growing and identifying herbs game is surprisingly as fast paced as it is educational. Each Herbaceous game playing card could easily double as a beautiful watercolor work of art that depicts the herbs being used to help foster better identification.
6. Backcountry Game of Wilderness Survival
Appalachian Trail Edition – In this game of strategy, players age 8 and up strive to survive while backpacking through the wilderness.
The Appalachian Trail Edition game board is actually a tear-resistant and waterproof map that is housed inside of a zippered bag to make it easily portable for two to five players to take with them anywhere.
7. Animal Tracks Game
This survival card game for kids is three games in one. The Animal Tracks game teaches children ages five and up how to match animals to their tracks with 80 vibrantly colored cards that do no have cartoon images of animals, but boast real natural photography.
Children, and adults learn how to identify animal tracks by playing a concentration game, bing game, and guessing game.
8. Jr. Ranger Poop And Tracks
Players age six and up (I play with grandkids as young as three) follow the animal tracks while watching out for the wildlife scat to find the animal.
The Jr. Ranger Poop And Tracks includes 39 beautifully and realistically illustrated playing cards, a play and learn booklet that doubles as a great basic field guide to take on hikes, and a spinner. The game is designed for use by two or more players.
9. Knot So Fast
This game is designed for children, but the entire family will not only have fun playing, but can hone their survival knot tying skills in the process. Knot So Fast is includes knot tying challenges from a basic beginner to an expert level – all which must be completed before the included hourglass timer runs out.
The game comes with four brightly colored ropes, 40 challenge cards, and two rings. The game is set up for multiple players to compete head-to-head, but a single player could just simply race the timer and play alone.
Each player earns points by tying the knot correctly, seems easy peasy, but the timer only last so long and there are a few clever twists written into the game that add unique challenges to game play. Beginners and experts can play against each other at the same time.
10. The Farming Game
This agriculture based game was literally invented on the seat of a tractor by a real farmer who was trying to figure out how to bring in enough cash to keep his family farm. While the game is somewhat “farming meets monopoly”, it can teach valuable survival homesteading lessons as well.
Each player is given a specific amount of money and 20 acres of land at the beginning of the game. They must then plant, tend to, and harvest crops and livestock so they can feed the family and sell what is left over.
In The Farming Game, players have to battle changing weather patterns, the seasons, and other obstacles to keep their crops and livestock alive. During a long-term SHTF disaster money will be worthless and no longer changing hands, but the game could easily be adapted to put a bartering of services and commodities value on the pretend bills used to play.
This board game is designed for two to six players aged 10 and up, but with a little reading help younger children can play the game as well.
Survival board games and playing cards should be durable and not need batteries, so they can be used to play as training practice now, before the SHTF, and to entertain and enlighten the entire family or prepping tribe for the many years that could follow a catastrophic long-term disaster.
Tara Dodrill is a homesteading and survival journalist and author. She lives on a small ranch with her family in Appalachia. She has been both a host and frequent guest on preparedness radio shows. In addition to the publication of her first book, ‘Power Grid Down: How to Prepare, Survive, and Thrive after the Lights go Out’, Dodrill also travels to offer prepping tips and hands-on training and survival camps and expos.