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This will be your tombstone.

Game night! Gather the family around the table! Yes, even your brother-in-law, who always cheats. If Mom was setting up any one of these games, you knew you were in for a world of pain. Literally and figuratively. Trip down memory lane with me as we explore some Horrible Board Games.

Operation

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A game that shocks you when you make a wrong move. Is this a game or behavior training? Look around you — do you see any large water bottles, sawdust, or a running wheel? You might be a rat in a lab. What’s your experience defusing bombs? Because this seems just as nerve wracking with the same chance of ending in your death. Not for the anxiety prone, those amped up on coffee, or Michael. J. Fox.

Parky McFly!

Aren’t games supposed to be fun? What’s fun about the potential of bodily harm? If you’re a pro-athlete, millions of dollars. You? Not a lot. I guess you could use it to train yourself to build up a tolerance for shock and surprise, to not flinch in the face of danger, to become immune to sticking a knife in a toaster, thus having a unique party trick. I’m not really about the negative reinforcements and sustained stress levels. For those adrenaline junkies who got snowed in from their skydive ski surfing, this could be the perfect fireside cabin alternative. Keep your senses sharp.

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You’re not even getting the five bucks.

Life

Really? Who decided this was a good idea? Life — the game within the game of Life. Very meta. Hipsters weren’t even official when this board game was born. I don’t see how you ever walk away from this game feeling good. You either succeed by creating this great life, a life you could have had if you had just worked harder and not majored in Philosophy…

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Plato would want it that way.

Or it ends up reminding you how shitty your real life is. We’d replace the cars with Micro Machines. We’d take any opportunity to replace pieces with Micro Machines, in any game. They livened the mood. The best part of this game is the damn spinner. That thing was cool. All heavy and clicky. Mmmm. Satisfying.

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Damn right, that spinner is prom worthy.

But just like life, this shit eventually gets too complicated to be worth it. At least if you quit this Life, you can go on living. The real one, not so much. Not yet, anyway. That could be a fun game: Resurrection. Might not be morally or ethically sound, but neither is life. Full circle.

Perfection

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You know what sounds like a delightful afternoon activity? Tiny plastic projectiles being blasted into your face. Fun! No. If your career goals include being an international man of mystery and foiling the plots of evil villains, this game could help you sharpen your skills. They always leave you with some elaborate puzzle to solve in order to escape, or a bomb to defuse (see Operation). I’m sure it’s great for hand-eye coordination and attention to detail, but you know what else is? Video games. And knitting. Painting civil war miniatures. Performing actual surgery. I’d rather cut a guy open and try winging it than play this game. Less stress.

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“The red thing’s connected to my… wrist watch!”

I’m not looking for anxiety inducing levels of stress or threat of bodily harm when choosing a board game. Chances are, you’re going to lose some of those little projectiles and then what do you do? Carve some new ones out of cheese? That’s not going to keep well. “Hey Marv, why is Perfection in the refrigerator?”

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You’re scaring the animals.

This is another game for you adrenaline junkies and self-mutilators. It should come with goggles and Valium. Because you know who survives car crashes? Drunk drivers, because they’re so relaxed from being drunk. Try this game on Valium and see if you do better. You’ll at least care less if you lose, or lose an eye.

Mousetrap

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Man, were my brother, Sammy, and I excited to get this game. The commercials were so fun! Let’s build a contraption and watch it work! Woot! And the trap itself? Super fun. You feel really accomplished when you can get it all snapped together correctly and make that basket fall on that mouse just right.

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It’s all on you, old man!

But you don’t get to just slap the trap together and start catching mice. No, you have to play the game and move your mouse around the board, collect cheese, and build the trap one agonizing piece at a time. You know what kids aren’t big on? Patience. Hell, most adults I know aren’t big on patience. Playing this game is agony. The fun part is building the trap! I wanna build the trap! Fuck this, let’s just build the trap. What else can we launch off this catapult? Hey Sammy, how about your real mouse, Freddy?

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We’ll give him a helmet!

No, no, we’re not assholes. We will let him run around the board sniffing the fake cheese, though. That’s cute and fun. Ah, no, don’t poop on the board, Freddy! Mom, Freddy pooped on the board! Gross. But more entertaining than playing the game the right way.

Titanic: The Board Game

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For real. Let’s take the greatest maritime tragedy and turn it into a board game. Is there a Holocaust: The Board Game I can pick up while I’m at it? Buy one, get one? Just like in real life, if you don’t make it to a lifeboat, you die. Wha-wha… Maybe you’ll be bumped back to steerage and locked behind one of those pesky death-assuring gates.

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You guys brought wetsuits, right?

You should have the option of spotting the iceberg and saving the whole damn ship. But then we wouldn’t have a movie or this game. When James Cameron makes the first functional time machine, he’ll go back just to make sure the Titanic sinks. He’s no fool. What, was this game OK to make because all of the survivors are dead? So, is there a countdown to that Holocaust game? Or maybe a Kennedy Assassination game where you could save the president or beat Oswald to the punch. Or the Lone Gunman. Or Carmen Miranda — whoever you think did it.

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Looks like they beat ME to the punch.

Do you get extra points for saving the band? Or babies? Can the men dress up as women and try to get on a life boat? Can you shoot another passenger who’s getting in your way? Maybe this game isn’t so bad after all. Questionable taste, be damned.

Niki is a comedian and not a board game cheater. Mostly. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for board game cheating tips.

Written by

Weird Girl, thrift store owl collector, heartbreaker, lush, aspiring adult. IG: DocJohnnyFever nikimarinis@gmail.com

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