6 Great Board Games (For Ruining Friendships)

I played a lot of board games growing up, because I was an aggressively unathletic kid who appreciated any socially acceptable excuse to play with toys, and games are essentially toys with rules (this is a phase I have yet to grow out of). And competition is an integral part of most games, so a certain amount of skullduggery among friends is to be expected. However, there are some games, regardless of how fun or awesome they may be, that seem to have been designed for the explicit purpose of ruining friendships. The following board games are virtually guaranteed to leave you and your friends feeling so bitter that the rules might as well read "Stuff corpse shit into an electric toaster and leave it cooking in the center of the table while players take turns screaming racism into each other's open mouths until both slots pop up and scald everyone's faces with zombie diarrhea."

#6. Risk

Parker Brothers/Hasbro via YouTube

Risk (or alternately Risk! back when conversations about the game were apparently intended to include a lot of declarative shouting) is the game of global domination. You assume command of an army of ambiguous nature and intent and attempt to take control of the entire world, crushing those who oppose you under your war-mongering boot heel. There's no room for diplomacy in Risk -- it's a steel cage match between Jeff Hardy, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, and a shimmering leprechaun cauldron of pure crystal meth. The only victory condition possible is total fucking elimination.

Parker Brothers/Hasbro via Target.com
With an exclamation point.

The problem is, the only people who ever suggest playing Risk are the ones who have never lost a game of Risk. It's like a shorter version of Monopoly, only without the equalizing element of chance. Consequently, the only way to win is to actually be good at the game, and the only people who are good at Risk tend to be cartwheeling douchegoblins about it. Just keeping a copy in your house is like hanging a picture of the time you ran into Shia LaBeouf at Hooters in a frame above your television. It is an accomplishment the rest of us neither envy nor need to be constantly reminded of.

Parker Brothers/Hasbro via YouTube
"Man, Johnny even has an exit strategy. He's too good."

More importantly, it's impossible to get better at Risk -- you either start out bad and get progressively worse each time or win every single game. So, inviting a group of friends to your apartment and then saying "Hey, everyone, let's play Risk!" is essentially the same as Channing Tatum getting a bunch of people together to watch him do stomach crunches for two to three hours. I know your abs are better than mine, Channing. I don't need you to flex me into submission while I'm stuck in Australia earning two goddamned armies each turn.

Parker Brothers/Hasbro via YouTube
What you're seeing here is essentially the plot of Rambo III.

#5. Fireball Island

Milton Bradley/Hasbro via YouTube

Fireball Island is a 3D board game wherein you try to beat your friends in a frantic race up the side of an angry Polynesian volcano god to steal his magical jewel and claim victory. The commercial offers a breathtaking glimpse into a bygone era when people would set fire to elaborate jungle film sets in order to sell board games to children.

Milton Bradley/Hasbro via YouTube

Milton Bradley/Hasbro via YouTube
And dress a kid up like Paul Freeman in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The volcano constantly spits out fireballs, hence the title, and if your piece gets knocked over, you have to go all the way back down the trail and start over. But the volcano doesn't act on its own -- you and your friends play cards to aim the screaming demon mouth and spew forth its blazing ammunition.

Milton Bradley/Hasbro via YouTube

Milton Bradley/Hasbro via YouTube

So really, the game is less about who can beat whom up the side of the mountain and more about who can be the biggest festering asshole and knock everyone into a rocky canyon or off the lip of a seaside cliff with the judicious application of molten vengeance. Nobody gives a shit about the jewel five minutes into a game of Fireball Island. It's all about blasting your friends with fireballs until everyone gets sick of it and quits to go play Sega.

Milton Bradley/Hasbro via YouTube
"I only invited you because my mom made me, Tina. Take your plastic gemstone and get the hell out of my house."

#4. HeroQuest

Milton Bradley/Hasbro/Games Workshop via YouTube

HeroQuest is a board game of heroic fantasy that has everyone playing together on a team against one person, because somebody has to control all the monsters and dungeon traps and essentially act as the game's referee, even though sports-related terms are generally a terrifying spider web of confounding uncertainty for kids who spend their free time throwing polyhedral dice at tiny plastic doom lords. The hero players work together to hew their way through swarms of monsters in a cursed keep, patiently accepting the monster player's rulings with grace and good humor, and at the end of the game everyone high-fives and skateboards down to 7-Eleven for a congratulatory round of best-friend Slurpees.

Milton Bradley/Hasbro/Games Workshop via YouTube
Just look at the camaraderie exploding from this picture.

At least that's what it says on the box. An actual game of HeroQuest is a two-hour screaming match over whether your dwarf actually stumbled through a door into a head-cleaving booby trap or was merely considering stumbling through a door into a head-cleaving booby trap.

Milton Bradley/Hasbro/Games Workshop via YouTube
"Bullshit! My dwarf totally sees that guy!"

It isn't uncommon for a session of HeroQuest to devolve into threats of physical violence over whether enough of the Skeleton King's resplendent bonefinger crown was sticking out from around a corner for your wizard to spot him and blast a face-detonating mystical fireball into his undead eye socket. It's like a clinic teaching burgeoning sociopaths how to get the most out of a verbally abusive relationship.

Milton Bradley/Hasbro/Games Workshop via YouTube
"I swear to God, Timmy, if you don't move that monster the hell out of my way, I will shit on my fist and punch you in the teeth."

Since the hero team is typically three to four people strong and the monster team only ever consists of one person, the game seems to be actively encouraging the heroes to bully their way through a series of explosive personal-attack-laden arguments that are typically resolved by the monster player quitting and pedaling his or her bicycle home in tearful indignation. My father once rage-quit a game of HeroQuest, back when I was in elementary school and he was 40 fucking years old. It's a brutal game best reserved for those occasions when you want to completely sabotage your relationship with a single friend or relative.

Milton Bradley/Hasbro/Games Workshop via YouTube

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