Board games allows us to live out our greatest fantasies, such as bankrupting our parents by charging them an exorbitant amount of rent, or conquering Australia. Join us as we discuss 10 of the more amusing ways it’s possible to dominate popular games by taking advantage of little known rules, or using math. For example, did you know you can…
10. Beat Monopoly by camping in jail
Monopoly is a game where the main objective is to consolidate as much wealth and property as possible while simultaneously bankrupting your fellow players. Although Monopoly seems fairly random at first glance, statisticians have worked out that during regularly play you’re most likely to land on the orange squares, making these properties the ones you should attempt to buy first. The reason behind this is that the most common result when throwing two dice is a 7, which would place you right in the middle of orange town after leaving jail, which is statistically where you’ll spend a disproportionate amount of time because of the existence of multiple ways to be sent to jail in Monopoly.
Speaking of which, a high-level tactic in Monopoly utilized by Monopoly pros is to deliberately attempt to be sent to jail. Why? Well, according to the official rules of Monopoly – which nobody ever seems to read – you can absolutely you claim rent from other players while in jail, and while paying nothing yourself. As a result, the best place to be once you own a significant portion of the board is jail, where you can sit and claim rent for three turns. As a bonus, if you own the orange corner of the board when you leave jail you can go stay in one of your own fancy hotels. Just like a real rich person
9. Win Scrabble by just lying about everything
A key tip from Scrabble pros about how to dominate the game is to learn a bunch of obscure, high-scoring words and play conservatively, not cooperatively, to close off the board early. All of which sounds like a lot of work, right? So instead, why not take the advice of less scrupulous Scrabble buffs and work smarter, not harder? By which we mean lie your ass off.
You see, there is absolutely no rule in Scrabble against playing a fake, non-existent word, and many top level Scrabble players suggest playing fake words if you think you’ll get away with it. This is because the onus to call out a fake word is placed entirely on your opponent(s) and if they fail to do so in the turn it is played, it counts. Furthermore, if you play a fake enough sounding word that turns out to be real and your opponent calls you on it, they lose a turn. Meaning yes, that episode of The Simpsons where Bart tries to cheat at Scrabble by playing the word kwyjibo wasn’t against the rules.
8. Win at Jenga by steadying the tower with your elbows
There are numerous “invented” rules for the game of Jenga that people come up with while playing the game, none of which are actually in the official rulebook. For example, although the rules say you can only use one hand at a time to remove a block, there’s nothing that says you can’t steady the tower with your other arm while doing so. If you think that sounds like cheating it’s worth pointing out that it’s advice from the woman who invented the game, Leslie Scott.
Scott also advises players to go out of their way to sabotage the tower as much as possible by placing any bricks they remove on top at an awkward angle to unbalance it. In fact, Scott’s number one piece of advice is to ignore other players, stating that a key reason people lose at the game is by trying to play cooperatively when they should be taking every opportunity possible to screw their family and friends over.
7. Dominante Hangman by playing the word “jazz”
A lot of people assume that the best way to win the game Hangman is to play an incredibly long and obscure word. The problem is that the longer and more unique a word is, the easier it becomes to guess when only a few letters are discerned. Which makes sense, if you think about it; there aren’t exactly many possible answers for this potential Hangman game:
On the other hand, there are like a hundred possible guesses to solve this doozy:
Mass, Cake, Gasp, Wasp, Wall, Fart; the options are endless, which is why statistically the absolute hardest word in the entire dictionary to guess is the word jazz because it contains too awkward letters that are often guessed last (J and Z). This quirk of the game was discovered by a statistician who used a computer to simulate a game of Hangman for every word in the dictionary and discovered that jazz was harder for the computer to guess than anything else. So if you ever find yourself playing a game of Hangman on a bus or something, be like Beyonce and keep the letters J and Z in mind.
6. Win Connect 4 by playing first
Connect 4 is what’s known as a “solved” game, meaning the mechanics are fully understood to the point it’s possible to win every single time… provided you play first. In fact, even if a player going second plays perfectly, against an equally-skilled opponent, they will still lose every time. In other words, if you know what you’re doing, you literally cannot lose at Connect 4 if you go first.
The actual math behind how this works is a little complicated so if you want to learn how to do this and dominate your friends at a popular children’s game, you’ll need to actually put some work in. The key thing to remember, though, is that you should always play the middle column first to guarantee the best your opponent could do is force a draw if you make a mistake.
5. Be the king of Risk by attacking everyone all of the time
Although there’s no way to guarantee a win in the game of Risk due to chance always playing a part, meaning there’s always a risk of losing (we paid someone to write that joke and we hope it makes everyone reading angry), you can pad your chances of winning by being North America, and a douche.
You see, by diluting Risk down to its base components, statistically North America is the easiest continent to conquer and hold as it can only be attacked from three places at once and provides a large army bonus. Once you hold North America your tactic should be to attack absolutely everyone all of the time, as statistically in the game Risk the attacker always has an advantage unless they have less than five armies. In other words, one of the best tactics for Risk is to conquer America and attack your neighbors every single turn so they lose their continent bonus while you consolidate your own power. There’s a joke about America in there somewhere but we’re still reeling too much from that Risk joke to make one.
4. Improve your chances of beating Battleship by creating boat clusters
In the game of Battleship the center of the board is statistically the safest place to be, as there are numerous ways to position your ships, whereas on the edges of the board there aren’t. Or to put it another way, if you position your ships around the edge of the board, an opponent who scores a hit only has handful of possible options for their next move, making the odds of them sinking your battleship all the higher.
Although the random nature of the game means that there’s no way to guarantee a win, a statistician named Nick Berry simulated millions of game to figure out ways to make you a more difficult-to-predict battleship commander. In short, cluster ships together in unusual shapes to throw off your opponent by making longer ships seem shorter than they are, and vice versa. Alternatively, use them to spell out swear words so that if your opponent does beat you, they feel bad about it.
3. Beat anyone at rock, paper, scissors by yelling at them
As unbelievable as this is going to sound, there are professional rock, paper, scissors players who compete in actual tournaments for actual money. Many of these players insist that they have a tactic to ensure victory and seasoned RPS players use everything from reverse psychology to emotional conditioning to snatch victory from their opponents. All of which are legitimate tactics that can take years to learn and master… and you know what? Screw that noise.
An equally effective and far easier tactic is to simply scream and yell at your opponent seconds before throwing out your choice. If you’re currently wondering, “is this allowed at the official RPS tournaments I just learned are a thing?” The answer is, “absolutely.” Trash talk and insults are allowed, if not encouraged at most RPS tournaments and high-level players make extensive use of them to unnerve novice players by announcing the sign they’re going to throw out and then playing it like a boss.
2. Be a pro Diplomacy player by channeling your inner Eddie Guerrero
Diplomacy sets itself apart from most board games by completely negating the element of chance and making victory something that can only be achieved through careful use of… well, diplomacy. Alternatively, you could always just lie, cheat, and steal your way to victory, since the best way to win the game is to disregard everyone else playing and betray everyone you can to sow the seeds of distrust amongst rival players.
Additionally, it’s worth keeping in mind that the two most statistically “safe” countries to hold are Turkey and France due to them only being adjacent to a handful of countries at the beginning of the game. As such, these are statistically the best countries to either hold, form an alliance with, or betray the hell out of.
1. Boost your chances of beating all board games by playing AC/DC (if you’re a woman)
Sadly, the following tactic is one that only the fairer sex can take advantage of, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t round off an article about how to best opponents at various board games by citing a study that reveals how any woman can boost her chances of beating any man at any kind of game.
You see, according to a study conducted by the Royal College of Music, while listening to loud rock and roll music (specifically AC/DC) men playing board games that require a steady hand or concentration made significantly more errors than women. In fact, music had no effect on the ability of women to play games whatsoever, meaning that if an equally skilled man and woman played the same game while listening to “Let There Be Rock,” the woman would statistically have the advantage. So there you have it, ladies: the next time you find yourself talking with a particularly annoying man, ask him if he wants to play Jenga, and play “Back in Black” on Spotify.