Everyone loves board games, right? Right? I mean, we all have fond memories of playing with our kids, parents, Uncles, Aunts and friends, don’t we? Actually, when you stop and think about it, you probably didn’t like playing board games as much as you thought. Now, its all coming back. A nice, friendly game that you thought would last about 30 minutes took 3-hours and becomes as competitive as skating for a medal in Olympic Figure Skating. Well, now that I’ve stirred up childhood trauma you thought you had buried long ago, we might as well take a look at the top 10 board games you secretly hate, well, not so secretly anymore.
10. Candy Land
The Good: The game teaches color recognition and matching while reinforcing the lesson of taking turns and being a gracious winner or loser.
The Bad: This is basically a game of pure chance, which means there is a very real possibility you will lose to your 3-year-old without you intentionally throwing the game. Sure, you want your kid to win, but on your terms. As a thirty-something adult, your life is going downhill fast enough and the last thing your self-confidence needs is a can of butt-whup opened by someone whose diaper you were changing this morning. Even worse, you could lose by a considerable margin if you get lost in Lollipop Woods or stuck in Molasses Swamp. Gramma Nutt may not be there to save you. And can we please change her name to something more palatable, no pun intended.
My advice: Never play a game with a child, unless you are guaranteed to win.
The Ugly: After your toddler beats you for the third time, getting any respect from them will be near impossible and your road to parenting just detoured into the Gooey Gumdrops.
The Good: Stratego is a unique blend of strategy, memorization, and unit management.
The Bad: What better way to teach your child the horrors of war than with some plastic pawns that are given a numeric value. The game says it teaches strategy. I say it teaches you to sacrifice the weak so the strong may survive. A cruel but universal truth. For example, you send a scout forward and he lands on a bomb; no problem because you can send the miner to disarm it. Heartlessly you then send another scout to his death, finding another bomb so the General can move forward. Callous and indifference are the lessons learned here on the scorched cardboard that used to be a peaceful, evenly spaced grid.
The Ugly: You child takes a real interest in explosives after seeing how simple it is to disarm a bomb in Stratego.
8. Chutes & Ladders
The Good: This delightful game is simple and easy to play, even for children who can’t read.
The Bad: This game teaches the way life really works, which is good. But learning those hard lessons before you have lost all your baby teeth is a bit stressing on a child. Just like in life, you move forward trying to get to the ladder (of success?) and you move up; then before you know it you are back where you started when the chute gets you, and you’re wondering where the the last 5 years of your life went. I mean, what the heck is going on? Yeah, you’re going down a chute now, buddy, except the chute is a set of steps leading down to your parent’s basement, because you can’t roll a freakin’ 6 to get to the big ladder in the game of life…uh, I mean the game of Chutes & Ladders. Oh, and if you think you might actually win, well that’s when your kid hits the jackpot and takes the tallest ladder in the game and steals the victory. And now your self-esteem takes a chute.
The Ugly: Breaking the spirit of a child or adult is large price to pay for 40 minutes of ups and down, mostly downs.
The Good: Operation is the classic skill and action game where you’re the doctor!
The Bad: I’ll skip the over the disconcerting open body cavities “Sam the patient” is exposing to your family, but the medical misinformation is reprehensible. Let’s face it, children aren’t smart and they are impressionable. What if they think we really have rubber bands and miniature horses in our bodies. Didn’t we tell our children not to eat rubber bands…but now Sam has one in his leg?
And, my God, the pressure! Asking our little Sally to remove a broken heart has to be traumatizing. But wait, there’s more, don’t touch the sides or you will get “buzzed” and poor Sam will die. Life and death, its your child’s call.
I guess Milton Bradley also didn’t take into account a child’s underdeveloped motor skills when designing this pressure cooker of a game. And one more thing, shouldn’t we try to fix his heart, not remove it. What scary-a$$ medical college did we go to?
The Ugly: Whether your child wins or loses, they are a emotional and mental wreck for the next few days. Playing God with your patient on the surgery table will do that to a 6 year-old.
The Good: You try to deduce where the enemy ships are and sink them.
The Bad: Another war game teaching the annihilation of your opponent. Of course you will be teaching this lesson for a long time as they game is very long. There is a lot of open water in the game and actually hitting a battleship can take some time. Kind of like a demented Bingo game where you call out coordinates, Battleship isn’t high on action until the bloodlust hits after scoring a direct hit on your opponent’s battleship. Then all hell breaks loose as you take evil glee in sinking the ship and murdering men and women whose only crime was defending their country from likes of you. Hooray! Warfare was never so much fun! Let’s play again when we have 3 hours to “kill”, emphasis on kill.
The Ugly: Just try coming down off the “high” of sending thousands to their watery grave. Good luck, Colonel Carnage.
The Good: Two players square off against each other trying to jump the other’s colored discs until only one color remains on the checkered board.
The Bad: I thought racism was on the way out, but it appears Checkers will not let it die. Two separate color discs face off against each other, seeking complete genocide of the other by literally jumping over the other to remove them from the face of the board. Where is the ideal of living in peaceful equality? Apparently there isn’t enough room on the board for that, even with 64 squares. No, only one race of colored discs can survive in this apocalyptic analogy of our world. In the words of Jack Nicholson, “Can’t we all just get along?” No, Mr. Nicholson, we cannot. Now king me!
The Ugly: Don’t expect racial harmony and equality in our lifetime as long as Checkers, a game for hate-mongers and racists, is around.
The Good: This classic family board game has been loved by generations. Just like your so-called “real life”, this game has paydays, marriages, babies, revenge, and chance.
The Bad: This game is just like your so-called real life. Isn’t the point of a game to let us take a break from real life. Why would I want to play a game that forces me to consider all the stressful decisions a 80-year life would include, but in just 2 hours? As a child, don’t I have enough peer pressure without adding the decision to get married, have children (how many children) and what the heck my career is going to be? I don’t know if I want McNuggets or a cheeseburger in my Happy Meal and now I have to decide whether or not I need Fire Insurance? How is this fun? And guess what, even if you finish the game of Life you still lose if you don’t have the most money. Greed is good according to Milton Bradley. This game teaches you that whoever dies with the most toys does indeed win.
The Ugly: The game also teaches you about revenge, bankruptcy and taxes. After playing this game you want to take your own “Life”.
The Good: This classic game of luck, strategy, and determination is easy to grasp for children as young as 6 years old.
The Bad: This game is labeled as a game of sweet revenge. I can see it now, our nuclear family of Mom, Dad, Sister and Brother sitting down to a game of sweet revenge where all family ties are shattered, feelings are scorned and love gets sent back 3 spaces. The name of this game was aptly chosen as you will be sorry you ever played it. The only time the word “sorry” is uttered is with a sarcastic tone as your opponent (family member) sends back to your “home” base, alone to start over once again. Well, guess what, Mac, they ain’t sorry and they have learned that family means nothing when you are trying to get ahead. Thank you, Parker Brothers for destroying the family, one space at a time!
The Ugly: You will forever question the sincerity of any apology from your family members.
The Good: “Clue” is a game of deduction that the whole family can enjoy together.
The Bad: This game claims to teach deductive reasoning, and that is true and I applaud that notion, but Hasbro misses the fact that they are desensitizing our children to cold-blooded murder. Are we sure its good for little Jimmy to be fantasizing how a murder was accomplished? We are teaching the devaluation of life as we callously call out “It was Professor Plum in the kitchen with a lead pipe.” Does this sound like something we want our precious doe-eyed babes to be screaming at us? Oh, you may be thinking it instills moral values as the crimes are being solved, but think about this: With every wrong guess we are teaching them how easy it is to get away with murder in any room of a house and killing with a variety of household items. Murder isn’t a game, so why does Clue insist on treating it like it is?
The Ugly: You better hide your candlesticks, rope, lead pipes and wrenches after this unseemly game shows how easily a life can be ended without worry of capture.
The Good: The game that teaches capitalism and big business.
The Bad: Let’s start with the fact that no one has actually ever finished a game of Monopoly. Oh sure, you have stopped playing because of starvation, sleep deprivation and most likely sheer hatred for the other players you used to like before you started playing. But never did you finish a game. It’s impossible and much like a car accident you can’t look away from the board. Boardwalk and the St. James Place look like nice places to visit, and the rent ain’t bad, but it will cost you your soul to stay. And no railroad can take you home, not even Reading Railroad. $200 is never enough and when you circle the board for the 800th time and you realize you are never getting out of the nightmare world of Monopoly. You can bet your sweet Marvin Gardens that you will think thoughts about you friends and family that will shock you.
“Did Uncle Joe just take and extra $50? He is the banker, he had the access and opportunity to do so.”
“Why am I in jail again, life is so unfair, my brother should be in jail, not me…not me!”
“My stinkin’ brother owns Park Place, living it up while I’m dying slowly on Baltic Avenue, where is the justice?”
While these thought invade your mind it is now 3am and no one is out of the game yet and the fun stopped 5 minutes after you started. Greed is good, power is everything and it will never end. No chance, even when you land on Chance! And the game’s mascot, Rich Uncle Pennybags, isn’t the type of Uncle who lends you money and forgets about it. You’ll pay, brother. You…will…pay.
But other than the lust for money, lack of compassion for you fellow man as you force them to mortgage everything and the strain on you physically, emotionally and mentally, this game is great family fun.
The Ugly: It will be days before you speak to any fellow players from the last game. You will never trust or love the same again. And in the end, you still didn’t finish the game. Once you start a game of Monopoly, it never ends…even when it ends.