There’s a lot more nuance to this game than most people realize: it’s an actual strategy game masquerading as an excuse for collecting play money. Unfortunately, the strategy options don’t save it. It takes way too long (even when you don’t hand out jackpots to people who land on Free Parking) and it’s usually clear by the end of the first hour who’s going to win, yet it takes hours and hours more to painstakingly grind all but the victor into ashes and bankruptcy. If roped into a game of Monopoly, remember: the worse your decisions, the faster you’ll be able to hand off your property titles and skip off to eat the rest of the cookies while everyone else finishes the game.
2. Any children’s game with a card or square that sends you all the way back to the beginning.
There is no excuse for these games. None. When the most interesting question is, “who at the table will cry harder when that Plumpy card gets drawn — the kid, or the mom?” it’s time to consider whether letting your child disassemble the blender might be both more educational and less aggravating.
3. Any game where you have to build the board, but it breaks if you breathe on it.
When I was a kid and would be over at the home of a friend who had a copy of Mousetrap, I always suggested we play it. They always refused. They were right.
4. Trivial Pursuit
If there was ever a game that was painstakingly constructed to rub it in the face of Gen X’ers that the Baby Boomers were the center of the earth and always would be, it’s Trivial Pursuit.
5. The Game of Life
Because nothing says “family game night” like a rousing reinforcement of heteronormativity and obligatory reproduction. Also, the little pegs fall out of the cars, and in the world of this game, there’s no such thing as crushing student debt.
6. Most (though admittedly not all) licensed board games associated with a famous TV show or high-grossing movie.
Probably the single worst game I have ever played was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Game, which I picked up at a garage sale for $2. I am pretty sure the game was never play-tested by anyone, anywhere. In recent years there have been licensed games that were not merely playable but excellent (Battlestar Galactica would be the best-known example) but for every Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game there’s at least ten of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader: The Board Game (adequate questions, terrible game design, lots of dull waiting) and The Hunger Games: District 12 Strategy Game (“less strategy than Checkers!” –amazon.com review.)
Bingo is a perfectly fine game if you’re playing it in a church hall and potentially winning money. I cannot think of a single reason to own your own set. If you want to introduce your children to the joys of gambling before they’re out of grade school, teach them Poker.
8. The Worst-Case Scenario Game
There are dozens of versions of this. They’re all terrible. If you find the Worst-Case Scenario Books entertaining and want to make a game out of it, bring out a random copy, hand everyone a set of dice, and whoever gets the high roll gets to read a bit of the book out loud. If you feel the need for a victory condition, maybe add in some round-robin Mercy.
9. The Ungame
Badly done family therapy/1970s-style encounter group, now in convenient board-game form. Even when I was a middle schooler at my Madison, Wisconsin school run by hippies, I can’t remember anyone actually playing it.
The game publisher (Hasbro) won’t tell you how long it’ll take to play, but the Wikipedia entry says it can run from between one and eight hours. Spoiler: it definitely won’t actually be one hour.
Do not play these games this holiday season, there will be tears. But, Bitter Empire can help you. We bring you 5 Terrific Games You Should Be Playing Instead of Trivial Pursuit
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