6 Board Games That Ruined It for Everyone

Why is it that board games have such a terrible reputation with the general public? According to Cracked.com, the problem is so many of the perennially-popular family games are very poor examples of game design, and bad memories of wet Saturday afternoons have coloured perceptions so much that nobody is aware that far better games exist.

6 Board Games That Ruined It for Everyone starts out by eviscerating Snakes and Ladders

Snakes and Ladders is the original sin of board games, the first mistake that curses innocents with the knowledge that things suck. It takes the infinite imagination engines that are children and makes them to do the same thing over and over until they’re done or done even trying. The last person to destroy fantasy worlds so brutally was Sauron.

But saves it’s worst for that horror of horrors, Monopoly:

The whole point of the game is proving that capitalism is utterly broken and unfair, and people still play it to get their go at winning. Parents would be better off buying their kids a rack and a My Little Inquisition scalpel set. There’s the same aspect of taking turns to torture each other, and at least that way the kids learn about anatomy.

The author then goes on to suggest other, better games, amongst them Settlers of Catan and Power Grid.

Saying that, designing a good family game, as opposed to one aimed at boardgame enthusiasts isn’t easy. Gamers are comfortable with complex rules and games that take all day to play. Also hobby games don’t need to remain playable with a group of players of widely-variable skill, which probably the main reason why so many family games rely heavily on luck rather than on strategy.

So what is the reason Monopoly remains a popular seller, and why haven’t games like Settlers of Catan superceded it?

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5 Responses to 6 Board Games That Ruined It for Everyone

  1. Chris Hall says:

    What about Sorry?

  2. Tim Hall says:

    I knew you’d say that :)

  3. Scott says:

    Actually, Catan has sold a HUGE amount of copies. Maybe not Monopoly level, but probably in the tens of millions.

  4. John P says:

    Simply, Monopoly has decades of inertia marketing behind it and snakes & ladders has even more than that. Parents played them when they were kids and so now they play them with their own kids. No doubt in 100 years, someone will be asking the same questions about today’s games – if anyone remembers them at all.

    My favourite Monopoly anecdote. There was an era when playing marathon games for charity was common. One game was in danger of running out of money so they wired the manufacturer for $1m in Monopoly money in order to keep things moving. The manufacturer obliged and put the money on a plane. On arrival it was met by a Brinks Mat security van with armed guards to take it to the venue. Somebody in marketing was on the ball that day.

  5. Michael Orton says:

    I remember the news item (John Craven’s newsround?) about an underwater monopoly game being played for charity with specially waterproofed bits.

    I further remember playing with an Australian set back in 1978. The cards did not send you to the same relative places as the UK set, which changed the values for them that I was used to. Back then the superior “Eurogames” we have now were not available and therefore I did take Monopoly, and the like, quite seriously. I’m confident I would have won had we not ran out of time, but in fact I was actually playing the game with the primary objective of getting to know the other players a bit better.

    I’m sure our family set of Monopoly will get played again, but I do have Cattan and most of the expansions and I expect they will get played more.