A close-up of the game battleship
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The Worst Board Games of All Time Will Destroy Your Relationships and Steal the Joy from Your Soul

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Updated on July 27, 2021

There’s a reason so many people regard the very concept of family game night with dread. Until relatively recently, as Eurogames like Settlers of Catan hit the market in America, your choices were split between irritatingly childish games like Operation and relationship-ruiners like Monopoly. Oh, and Scrabble. Scrabble’s cool.

Settlers of Catan
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Random Chance Isn’t Fun

One of the biggest problems with these traditional family games is that they rely almost entirely on luck. Take Candy Land. The art promises delightful fun for sugar-obsessed kids. Instead, you get a slogging reminder that life is unfair. And none of the board game pieces taste good.

Candy Land has been around since the 1940s, and it shows. Life is even older, dating back all the way to 1860. If you want to reinforce traditional gender roles and be bored out of your socks, then grab this relic. Just hope that you haven’t lost any of the very small pieces.

Battleship is also terrible. There so many tiny pieces that ruin the game if you lose just one. And despite what you might tell yourself, there’s almost no strategy involved. You guess where you think a ship might be. If it’s there, cool. If not, keep guessing. Oh no, you sunk my battleship! Isn’t the military-industrial complex fun?!

Cards Against Humanity

Is this is a board game? Okay, no. But it’s one of the most popular and widely played parlor games among people who are over 16 and under 60.

If you’ve somehow never been roped into playing Cards Against Humanity, the whole idea is to be as offensive as possible. You use cards with pre-printed phrases to complete a fill-in-the-blank statement. Whoever manages to push the envelope the farthest scores a point. The game requires no real creativity and flirts with deeply racist, homophobic attitudes under the guise of “humor.”

Boardgame pieces on table
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There’s always a moment in every game of Cards Against Humanity when you learn something about a friend or family member that you’d rather not know. Hey, it turns out your cousin is super comfortable with racist Asian stereotypes. Neat!

Operation

You know what’s fun? Jenga. Super simple, fun for a big group. You get a kick of adrenaline as you test your manual dexterity, and then everyone laughs when the tower inevitably tumbles.

I would rather play Jenga solitaire than ever touch another game of Operation again. Whose idea was it to vivisect a man and remove his organs with tweezers? Does anyone actually enjoy that teeth-grating buzzer and obnoxious red nose?

Your child can play the doctor and avoid the buzz in this fun game of silly skills! Start the game by placing each ailment in the matching space on the gameboard.

The game is over once all of the ailments have been removed and the player with the most ailments wins!

That’s actual promotional copy from the game’s Amazon page. That’s not a game. It’s a twisted punishment, a hellscape straight from the mind of Heironymous Bosch.

Monopoly Is Everything Wrong with America

Monopoly is a terrible game. It takes forever to play. The boring, repetitive gameplay offers few surprises. And, again, it relies primarily on luck. But honestly? A game based on shameless capitalism is a lot less appealing these days. It reinforces the zero-sum mindset where the only way to win is if everyone else is losing.

Monopoly
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Slowly driving your friends and family into debt as they watch their assets disappear? Sending the poor and disenfranchised to jail–and letting the wealthy buy their way out? It’s a late-stage capitalist nightmare. I’d say we should burn every copy or throw them into the sea, but this poor planet has suffered enough.