How to Destroy the Earth
Ken Crangle
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You might think it is easy to destroy the earth, but it turns out to be remarkably difficult. Here's an overview of various methodologies for destroying our planet.

Full credit goes to Sam Hughes:

http://ned.ucam.org/~sdh31/misc/destroy

As for me, I have done absolutely nothing to forward the complete destruction of the Earth. Other than this geeklist...
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1. Board Game: Twilight Imperium: Armada – Stellar Matter [Average Rating:6.85 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.85 Unranked]
Ken Crangle
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GOBBLED UP BY STRANGELETS

You will need: Some strange matter.

Strange matter is a phase of matter which is even more dense than neutronium. (Wow.) It's theorized to form in particularly massive neutron stars when the pressure inside them becomes just too great for even neutronium to exist: the individual neutrons comprising the neutronium are instead broken down into strange quarks. The neutron star then becomes a "strange star" which is essentially a single gigantic nucleon.

Some theories suggest that a lump of strange matter ("strangelet") could remain stable outside of the intense pressure which created it. This would make it theoretically possible for strangelets of sizes all the way down to the atomic scale to exist. It's further theorized that the gravitational field of a microscopic strangelet would be enough to gobble up anything it comes in contact with, turning it into more strange matter.

Method: Hijack control of a particle accelerator. (I suggest the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in Brookhaven National Laboratory, Long Island, New York.) Use the RHIC to create a strangelet large enough to remain stable. Once created, your job is done: relax and wait as the strangelet plummets through to the Earth's core, where it will eventually swallow up the entire Earth.

Earth's final resting place: a tiny glob of strange matter, perhaps a centimetre across.

Feasibility rating (revised): 2/10. Evidence for the existence of strange matter is sketchy at best; there are a few neutron stars which look too small to be made of neutronium, there are a few earthquakes which might have been caused by a microscopic strangelet passing through the Earth at high speed, but that's about it. And even if it were possible that small stable strangelets could exist and swallow matter up in the manner described, the odds of forming one in a particle accelerator are pretty much zero.
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2. Board Game: Black Hole [Average Rating:5.47 Overall Rank:9119]
Ken Crangle
United States
Albany
Oregon
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SUCKED INTO A MICROSCOPIC BLACK HOLE

You will need: a microscopic black hole.

Note that black holes are not eternal, they evaporate due to Hawking radiation. For your average black hole this takes an unimaginable amount of time, but for really small ones it could happen almost instantaneously, as evaporation time is dependent on mass. Therefore you microscopic black hole must have greater than a certain threshold mass, roughly equal to the mass of Mount Everest.

Creating a microscopic black hole is tricky, since one needs a reasonable amount of neutronium, but may possibly be achievable by jamming large numbers of atomic nuclei together until they stick. This is left as an exercise to the reader.

Method: simply place your black hole on the surface of the Earth and wait. Black holes are of such high density that they pass through ordinary matter like a stone through the air. The black hole will plummet through the ground, eating its way to the centre of the Earth and all the way through to the other side: then, it'll oscillate back, over and over like a matter-absorbing pendulum. Eventually it will come to rest at the core, having absorbed enough matter to slow it down. Then you just need to wait, while it sits and consumes matter until the whole Earth is gone.

Earth's final resting place: a singularity with a radius of about nine millimetres, which will then proceed to happily orbit the Sun as normal.

Feasibility rating: 2/10. Highly, highly unlikely. But not impossible.
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3. Board Game: Spinergy [Average Rating:5.80 Overall Rank:7383]
Ken Crangle
United States
Albany
Oregon
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OVERSPUN

You will need: some means of accelerating the Earth's rotation.

Accelerating the Earth's rotation is a rather different matter from moving it. External interactions with asteroids might move the Earth but won't have a significant effect on how fast it spins. And certainly it won't spin the Earth fast enough. You need to build rockets or railguns at the Equator, all facing West.

Method: The theory is, if you spin the Earth fast enough, it'll fly apart as the bits at the Equator start moving fast enough to overcome gravity.

To do this the Earth will need to be spinning very fast indeed. Currently it rotates completely on its axis once every 24 hours. You'll need to spin it fast enough to perform a complete rotation once every 84 minutes.

Comments: This assumes that the Earth won't distort as it spins faster, which it will - the poles will flatten and the Equator will expand. It's also completely unknown what will happen once the rotation actually reaches the kind of speed we're looking at here. Will a ring of matter spontaneously lift off from the Equator and expand outwards? Will lumps of matter fly off at a tangent? If they do, will they come back down again? Will some other exchange of angular momentum occur to slow the planet down? The only thing we can be sure of is that Earth will not simply just fly apart into pieces. It'd take some computer modelling to find out what would actually happen.

Earth's final resting place: presumably, various lumps of matter expanding away from each other.

Feasibility rating: 3/10. Improbable, difficult, messy, and possibly not even workable.

 
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4. Board Game: Chain Reaction [Average Rating:6.30 Unranked]
Ken Crangle
United States
Albany
Oregon
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BLOWN UP BY MATTER/ANTIMATTER REACTION

You will need: 1,300,000,000,000 tonnes of antimatter

Antimatter - the most explosive substance possible - can be manufactured in small quantities using any large particle accelerator, but this will take some considerable time to produce the required amounts. If you can create the appropriate machinery, it may be possible - and much easier - simply to "flip" 1.3 trillion tonnes of matter through a fourth dimension, turning it all to antimatter at once.

Method: This method involves detonating a bomb so big that it blasts the Earth to pieces.

This, to say the least, requires a big bomb. All the explosives mankind has ever created, nuclear or non-, gathered together and detonated simultaneously, would make a significant crater and wreck the planet's ecosystem, but barely scratch the surface of the planet. There is evidence that in the past, asteroids have hit the Earth with the explosive yield of five billion Hiroshima bombs - and such evidence is difficult to find. It is, in short, insanely difficult to significantly alter the Earth's structure with explosives. This is not to mention the gravity problem. Just because you blasted the Earth apart doesn't mean you blasted it apart for good. If you don't blast it hard enough, the pieces will fall back together again under mutual gravitational attraction, and Earth, like the liquid metal Terminator, will reform from its shattered shards. You have to blow the Earth up hard enough to overcome that attraction.

How hard is that?

If you do the lengthy calculations you find that to liberate that much energy requires the complete annihilation of around 1,246,400,000,000 tonnes of antimatter. That's assuming zero energy loss to heat and radiation, which is unlikely to be the case in reality: You'll probably need to up the dose by at least a factor of ten. Once you've generated your antimatter, probably in space, just launch it en masse towards Earth. The resulting release of energy (obeying Einstein's famous mass-energy equation, E=mc2) should be sufficient to split the Earth into a thousand pieces.

Earth's final resting place: A second asteroid belt around the Sun.

Feasibility rating: 5/10. Just about slightly possible.

Earliest feasible completion date: AD 2500. Of course, if it does prove possible to manufacture antimatter in the sufficiently large quantities you require - which is not necessarily the case - then smaller antimatter bombs will be around long before then.



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5. Board Game: Falling into a Black Hole: A Space VLBI Intergalactic Adventure [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Ken Crangle
United States
Albany
Oregon
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SUCKED INTO A GIANT BLACK HOLE

You will need: a black hole, extremely powerful rocket engines, and, optionally, a large rocky planetary body. The nearest black hole to our planet is 1600 light years from Earth in the direction of Sagittarius, orbiting V4641.

Method: after locating your black hole, you need get it and the Earth together. This is likely to be the most time-consuming part of this plan. There are two methods, moving Earth or moving the black hole, though for best results you'd most likely move both at once. (See the "Guide to moving Earth" for details on how to move the Earth. Several of the methods listed can be applied to the black hole too, though obviously not all of them, since it is impossible to physically touch the black hole, let along build rockets on it.)

Earth's final resting place: part of the mass of the black hole.

Feasibility rating: 6/10. Very difficult, but definitely possible.

Earliest feasible completion date: I do not expect the necessary technology to be available until AD 3000, and add at least 800 years for travel time. (That's in an external observer's frame of reference and assuming you move both the Earth and the black hole at the same time.)

Comments: It's clear that dropping the Earth into a singularity is massive overkill. A reasonably strong gravitational field, such as might be associated with any body between Jupiter and a neutron star, would be sufficient to rip the Earth apart via tidal forces. These possibilities are dealt with further down.

 
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6. Board Game: Blast Out [Average Rating:6.13 Unranked]
Ken Crangle
United States
Albany
Oregon
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METICULOUSLY AND SYSTEMATICALLY DECONSTRUCTED

You will need: a powerful mass driver, or ideally lots of them.

Method: Basically, what we're going to do here is dig up the Earth, a big chunk at a time, and boost the whole lot of it into orbit. Yes. All six sextillion tonnes of it. A mass driver is a sort of oversized electromagnetic railgun, which was once proposed as a way of getting mined materials back from the Moon to Earth - basically, you just load it into the driver and fire it upwards in roughly the right direction. We'd use a particularly powerful model - big enough to hit escape velocity of 11 kilometres per second - and launch it all into the Sun or randomly into space.

We will ignore atmospheric considerations. Compared with the extra energy needed to overcome air friction, it would be a relatively trivial step to completely burn away the Earth's atmosphere before beginning the process.

Alternate methods for boosting the material into space include loading the extracted material into space shuttles or taking it up via space elevator. All these methods, however, require a - let me emphasize this - titanic quantity of energy to carry out. Building a Dyson sphere ain't gonna cut it here. (Note: Actually, it would. But if you have the technology to build a Dyson sphere, why are you reading this?)

Earth's final resting place: Many tiny pieces, some dropped into the Sun, the remainder scattered across the rest of the Solar System.

Feasibility rating: 6/10. If we wanted to and were willing to devote resources to it, we could start this process RIGHT NOW. Indeed, what with all the gunk left in orbit, on the Moon and heading out into space, we already have done.

Earliest feasible completion date: Ah. Yes. At a billion tonnes of mass driven out of the Earth's gravity well per second: 189,000,000 years.
 
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7. Board Game: Collision! [Average Rating:4.58 Unranked]
Ken Crangle
United States
Albany
Oregon
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PULVERIZED BY IMPACT WITH A BLUNT INSTRUMENT

You will need: a big heavy rock, something with a bit of a swing to it... perhaps Mars

Method: Criminal, really, that this blindingly obvious method was overlooked for so long. Essentially, anything can be destroyed if you hit it hard enough. ANYTHING. The concept is simple: find a really, really big asteroid or planet, accelerate it up to some dazzling speed, and smash it into Earth, preferably head-on but whatever you can manage. The result: an absolutely spectacular collision, resulting hopefully in Earth (and, most likely, our "cue ball" too) being pulverized out of existence - smashed into any number of large pieces which if the collision is hard enough should have enough energy to overcome their mutual gravity and drift away forever, never to coagulate back into a planet again.

Falling at the minimal impact velocity of 11 kilometres per second and assuming zero energy loss to heat and other energy forms, the cue ball would have to have roughly 60% of the mass of the Earth. Mars, the next planet out, "weighs" in at about 11% of Earth's mass, while Venus, the next planet in and also the nearest to Earth, has about 81%. Assuming that we would fire our cue ball into Earth at much greater than 11km/s (I'm thinking more like 50km/s), either of these would make great possibilities.

Obviously a smaller rock would do the job, you just need to fire it faster. Taking mass dilation into account, a 5,000,000,000,000-tonne asteroid at 90% of light speed would do just as well.

Earth's final resting place: a variety of roughly Moon-sized chunks of rock, scattered haphazardly across the greater Solar System.

Feasibility rating: 7/10. Pretty plausible.

Earliest feasible completion date: AD 2500, maybe?

Comments: Earth is believed to have been hit by an object the size of Mars at some point in the distant past before its surface cooled. This titanic collision resulted in... the Moon. While the Mars-sized object in question obviously didn't hit Earth nearly as hard as we're proposing with this method, this does serve as a proof of concept.
 
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8. Board Game: Corona [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:6426]
Ken Crangle
United States
Albany
Oregon
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FRAZZLED BY SOLAR PLASMA

You will need: an extremely large, heat-insulated ring, lots and lots of wire, lots and lots of electricity

Method: Anybody who knows anything about the Sun, or has at least seen the opening titles of Star Trek: Voyager, knows that the Sun frequently erupts with huge rings of plasma called coronal rings and even huger rings of plasma called prominences. These, and sunspots, are caused by changing magnetic fields. Big prominences can break apart and cause coronal mass ejections, bursts of plasma which erupt into space and which can occasionally reach the Earth itself, where they can disrupt radio communications and cause blackouts.

Place your ring in as low an orbit over the Sun as you can manage. Now run an extremely powerful electrical current around the rim of the ring. High school physics will tell you that this will cause a powerful magnetic field passing through the middle of the ring. Carefully steered, you can use this ring to artificially induce a gigantic prominence and eject a much, much larger-than-average discharge of coronal plasma towards Earth. It'd probably be too much to expect just one carefully aimed CME to destroy the planet completely, but you can repeat the process over and over again, burning off layer after layer until the planet is gone.

Factors you will have to contend with include heat damage to your ring, targeting, and heat dissipation as the coronal plasma spreads out and crosses the gulf between the Sun and the Earth. You will want to fire as much plasma as you possibly can and focus it as tightly as you possibly can on the Earth. You could consider using other rings in higher orbits to focus the plasma after it's first ejected from the Sun, and further rings as relay stations en route. And these rings need to be BIG. Hundreds or thousands of kilometres across.

Earth's final resting place: Cooling lumps of matter, spread across the greater solar system.

Feasibility rating: 7/10. Excitingly plausible, though impossible with current space technology.

Earliest feasible completion date: AD 3000.
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9. Board Game: Infernal Machines [Average Rating:7.16 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.16 Unranked]
Ken Crangle
United States
Albany
Oregon
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EATEN BY VON NEUMANN MACHINES

You will need: a single von Neumann machine, which subsists almost entirely on iron, magnesium, aluminium and silicon, the major elements found in Earth's mantle and core. A von Neumann machine is any device that is capable of creating an exact copy of itself given nothing but the necessary raw materials.

Theoretically, if it will be truly a von Neumann Machine, then its size doesn't matter: it can be any size from microscopic to planet-sized (though if you have the technology to take a body the size of the Moon apart and make a machine out of it, you have the technology to take the Earth apart and leave it in pieces), but it seems that miniature, molecular-scale nanobots, capable of building other nanobots and/or dedicated nanobot factories (nanoassemblers) would be the best way to go. It need not even be mechanical; all living things are technically biological von Neumann machines. Scott Lujan writes, "Through processes of directed evolution, perhaps beginning with diatomaceous microbes (capable of silicon processing) and choice natural subterranean extremophiles (can respire, i.e. oxidize, various heavy metals or live at extreme pressures and heats), one could conceivably create a strain of lithovores that would process earthly matter."

Method: Once you have your von Neumann machine built, release it into the ground under the Earth's crust and allow it to fend for itself. Watch and wait as it creates a second von Neumann machine, then they create two more, then they create four more. As the population of machines doubles repeatedly, the planet Earth will, terrifyingly soon, be entirely eaten up and turned into a swarm of potentially sextillions of machines.

Technically your objective would now be complete - no more Earth - but if you want to be thorough, then you can command your VNMs to hurl themselves, along with any remaining trace elements, into the Sun. This hurling would have to be achieved using rocket propulsion of some sort, so be sure to include this in your design. If you find yourself unable to design a VNM strong enough to stay intact at the core, you may need to do this in stages; consume a layer of the planet, launch into space, repeat.

Earth's final resting place: the bodies of the VNMs themselves, then a small lump of iron sinking into the Sun.

Feasibility rating: 8/10. So crazy it might just work.

Earliest feasible completion date: Potentially 2045-2050, or even earlier.
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10. Board Game: Race to the Sun [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Ken Crangle
United States
Albany
Oregon
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HURLED INTO THE SUN

You will need: Earthmoving equipment.

Method: Hurl the Earth into the Sun, where it will be rapidly melted and then vaporized by the Sun's heat.

Sending Earth on a collision course with the Sun is not as easy as one might think; even though you don't actually have to literally hit the Sun (send the Earth near enough to the Sun (within the Roche limit), and tidal forces will tear it apart), it's surprisingly easy to end up with Earth in a loopy elliptical orbit which merely roasts it for four months in every eight. But careful planning can avoid this.

As far as energy changes are concerned, this method is inferior to the next one.

Earth's final resting place: a small globule of vaporized iron sinking slowly into the heart of the Sun.

Feasibility rating: 9/10. Impossible at our current technological level, but will be possible one day, I'm certain. In the meantime, may happen by freak accident if something comes out of nowhere and randomly knocks Earth in precisely the right direction.

Earliest feasible completion date: Via act of God: 25 years' time. Any earlier and we'd have already spotted the asteroid in question. Via human intervention: given the current level of expansion of space technology, 2250 at best
 
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11. Board Game: Jupiter [Average Rating:6.08 Unranked]
Ken Crangle
United States
Albany
Oregon
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TORN APART BY JUPITER

You will need: Earthmoving equipment.

Method: Hurl the Earth into Jupiter, where it will be torn apart by tidal forces.

Moving the Earth out to Jupiter is much the same as moving the Earth in towards the Sun, the most obvious difference being your choice of vectors. However, there is another important consideration, and that is energy. It takes energy to raise or lower an object through a gravity field; it would take energy to propel the Earth into the Sun and it would take energy to propel it into Jupiter. When you do the calculations, Jupiter is actually rather preferable; it takes about 38% less energy.

Earth's final resting place: lumps of heavy elements, torn apart, sinking into the massive cloud layers of Jupiter, never to be seen again.

Feasibility rating: 9/10. As before, impossible at our current technological level, but will be possible one day, and in the meantime, may happen by freak accident if something comes out of nowhere and randomly knocks Earth in precisely the right direction.

Earliest feasible completion date: As before, via act of God: 25 years' time. Any earlier and we'd have already spotted the asteroid in question. Via human intervention: given the current level of expansion of space technology, 2250 at best.
 
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12. Board Game: Supremacy [Average Rating:5.54 Overall Rank:9867]
Philip Thomas
United Kingdom
London
London
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Old fashioned, I know.
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13. Board Game: Nuclear War [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:1794]
Constantine von Hoffman
United States
Boston
Massachusetts
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Great list. But I'm shocked SHOCKED! that this one got left out. Now someone needs to come up with a pandemic game. Maybe Settlers: The Plague Years
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14. Board Game: Cults Across America [Average Rating:5.67 Overall Rank:7120]
Chris Kice
United States
Shorewood
Illinois
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Everyone joins a cult and drinks the KoolAid...

Of course, this only destroys the people and might just end up saving the Earth.
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15. Board Game: Star Wars: Destroy Death Star Game [Average Rating:5.33 Overall Rank:9547]
Robert Martin
United States
Atlanta
Georgia
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DESTROYED BY A GIANT SPACE STATION

Guys, come on! This is so obvious! You just build a space station the size of a moon, arm it with a big frickin' laser, and have a crusty old British guy give the orders to annihilate the Earth.

This one is probably the most feasible plan of all. With all the Star Wars Guides to Weapons out there, I'm sure complete and detailed plans to build a Death Star have already been published. And after all, the Empire built one of these a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away so it should be no problem for us in the 21st century. We don't even have any of those pesky rebels to contend with.

The upside of this approach is twofold. First, we still have a place to live after we wipe out the earth. Second, we can cruise around the galaxy afterwards and destroy other planets for profit and fun.
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16. Board Game: Ultimatum [Average Rating:5.54 Overall Rank:8661]
Paul Denhup
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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Humans can do it alone...
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17. Board Game: Invasion: Earth [Average Rating:5.99 Overall Rank:7048]
Paul Denhup
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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...or they ("them?") can help.
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18. Board Game: Exorbitare [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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SEPARATED INTO ITS COMPONENT ATOMS

You will need: One human capable of manipulating quantum effects with his/her mind.

Method: Said human decides that a significant fraction of the Earth's atoms should suddenly move over...*there*.

We already have the necessary technology to achieve this goal, namely games like Monopoly, Risk, Heroscape, basically any game that might be labeled a "dicefest".

We all know people who excel at these kinds of games. Such a talent is often mistakenly called "luck", but really consists of a latent skill at manipulating the quantum effects that control nominally random events such as dice rolls.

All we have to do is establish a breeding progam in which prospective parents must win several such games to be granted a license to have children. Over several thousand generations, evolutionary forces will distill and hone this skill until our many-times-great-grandchildren achieve conscious control over these effects.

The destruction of the Earth will occur shortly thereafter when, in a fit of pique over a lapse of concentration that resulted in a roll of all 1's rather than all 6's, a practitioner of the art (known as Titan-fu for reasons lost to time) will suddenly decide that the atoms of the Earth should suddenly move over...*there* -- an event that is vanishingly unlikely but that has a non-zero probability.
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19. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:141] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Paul Lilienkamp
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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20. Board Game: Godsfire [Average Rating:5.67 Overall Rank:8564]
 
Davido
United States
California
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Godsfire-three ships in a hex can cause Godsfire-essentially a Supernova that torches half of each planet. So while technically, the planets and civilizations survive, that's a *lot* of carnage/destruction.
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21. Board Game: Chrononauts [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:1544] [Average Rating:6.24 Unranked]
J. Romano
United States
Denver
Colorado
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In Chrononauts you use your time-travelling abilities to create paradoxes in the hope of patching them up later. A few paradoxes here and there won't hurt much, but thirteen of them are so unstable that they annihilate the entire Space/Time Continuum.

The instructions are unclear about whether or not that means that the entire universe gets destroyed, or just a local pocket (like our solar system where the Earth happens to reside). Either way, the Earth goes away completely, which results in a loss for all players.
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22. Board Game: Raj [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:1493]
pronoblem baalberith
United States
Pleasantville
Massachusetts
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Is it just me or do my balls itch?
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Well... Lord Shiva has the task of destroying the Earth at the end of days, so why bother with our feeble attempts?
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23. Item is no longer in our database
Jim K.
United States
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DESTROYED TO MAKE WAY FOR AN INTERSTELLAR HIGHWAY

like JeremyVS said:
Quote:
And I thought all it would take was a Vogon constructor fleet...


 
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24. Board Game: Fun Funky Fingernails [Average Rating:2.50 Unranked]
Michael Van Biesbrouck
United States
Mountain View
California
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Encourage people to grow long fingernails and toenails. Loki takes the nail of dead people to build his boat of nails. When it is complete, the world will end.
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25. Board Game: Candy Land [Average Rating:3.18 Overall Rank:11163]
m k
United States
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sugar
 
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