A board game night is a great way for friends who have been banned from clubs and strip bars to hang out, but there are only so many times you can screw over your buddies in Settlers of Catan before you get a meeple shoved ... um ... let's just say before they get mad. But how do you pick a new board game from the tons of expensive ones out there?
I have no freaking idea. But I can tell you what games to avoid. I convinced some friends to play some of the worst board games I could find to determine if they were really as bad as they appeared, and while I don't want to spoil anything, I don't have friends anymore.
#7. Hotflash! The Menopause Game
Is there anything we could learn about menopause from a board game that bad sitcoms and hack stand-up comedians haven't already taught us? After I managed to convince everyone that this was a real product and not a fake box I creepily made in my garage, we found out!
Hotflash! is what happens when Snakes and Ladders gets vomited on by a health textbook. The goal is to reach Hormone-Free Haven while avoiding PMS Purgatory, Raging Hormones, and the Fallopian Tubes, and I think writing that sentence made me ovulate. I haven't seen this many stereotypes about women in one place since I visited a men's rights website.
"Blah blah SJW blah blah used to be funny blah blah." There, I took care of your terrible comment for you.
If you like rolling dice while revealing personal secrets, you're either a gambling alcoholic or the designer of this game. Landing on a "Hotflash!" circle forces you to answer an inane question or perform some sort of ridiculous challenge, which is how we were offering our beliefs on whether or not aliens exist one moment and giving each other back massages the next. Imagine your mother performing one of the following, and decide if you could still look her in the eye afterwards:
Clockwise from top left: yes, no, hell no, hell no.
The "Raging Hormones" circles move your piece forward or bump it back with cards that offer fun facts about menopause, empowering or embarrassing scenarios for middle-aged women, and completely arbitrary statements. I'm not certain why learning that an egg remains fertilizable for 48 hours is considered a setback while "a baby boomer reaches age 50 every eight seconds" puts you ahead, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that not a whole lot of thought was put into some of these:
If you get your menstrual woman to fart between two men who have hemorrhoids, you win the game instantly.
When a board game designer is forced to come up with dozens of good ideas for cards, but can't because they consider a menopause board game to be a good idea, you can notice their own biases start to creep in. Several cards bring up questions about space travel, and while most cards that mention famous women and female firsts move you forward, a fact about a Japanese empress sends you back.
"Try getting reincarnated into a better religion."
So my best guess is that this game was designed by a middle-aged woman who's enamored with the thought of space travel but frowns upon Buddhism and/or the Japanese. It's like if Monopoly had a community chest card that read "A Negro broke into your home and absconded with your valuables." I hate it when my menopause games get all political.
The game pieces include "chocolate," "wine glass," and "tampons," because those are all things you associate with women when you don't think about them for more than five seconds. If this game had an expansion pack, the pieces would be "nagging" and "pretending to have a headache." The box says, "If laughter is the best medicine, then Hotflash! is the best pill." Normally when that many words get used incorrectly, you end up with a BuzzFeed article.
"Don't be silly. Those cards have way higher word counts than our articles."
#6. Children's Bible Trivia
Bible trivia is for trivia enthusiasts who think Trivial Pursuit is too secular, and Children's Bible Trivia is for adults who are too dumb for regular Bible trivia. Any child who can actually win this game lives on a compound in Wyoming and thinks the Democratic Party is one of the circles of Hell.
After only a few questions, it became clear that I had invited my friends over to tell them that their souls are damned. There haven't been this many wrong answers since I asked an Ayn Rand fan how the government works. If we taught Sunday school, our answer to every question from a child would be "Jesus?" and our answer to every parent concerned by our teaching methods would be a smoke bomb. Speaking of incompetent, the board looks like it was the arts and crafts project of one of the kids who were badly Photoshopped onto the cover.
"Jesus died for our sins. Making this was one of those."
The goal is to move up the rainbow by answering a question from each category, and that's not a picture of the game in its early stages. While there are some gimme questions, most require a theological knowledge well beyond what we were taught by Rev. Lovejoy. For the first several questions about Bethesda, I thought they were references to the video game company.
I realized the difference when you weren't forced to get the answers with a separate DLC.
If it wasn't for the multiple choice questions, we would either still be playing this game or we would have pledged our allegiance to Satan. Asking a child to spell "Christmas," and then asking them how many fat cows the Pharaoh dreamed about is like asking them what they want for Christmas and then handing them the charred, urine-soaked remnants of said gift. There wasn't a difficulty curve, there was a difficulty sine wave.
We eventually triumphed thanks to the laziness of whoever wrote the questions -- it claims to have over 1000, but when one asks who laughed when God said his wife would have a baby and another asks how Abraham reacted when God said his wife would have a baby, it doesn't take a theology degree to puzzle the latter out. That would be like asking me how much money I spent on this game, and then asking me how I felt about wasting $20 on this game.
#5. Awkward Family Photos
Your first question is no doubt "why is there a board game based on a website that loses its novelty after 30 seconds?" and the answer is the same reason there's a Damn You Autocorrect game and a Storage Wars game -- bad board games are easy to make and grandparents who want to give their grandchildren a "hip" gift have deep pockets.
The goal, aside from mocking families who are obviously happier than us in order to feel less dead inside*, is to answer hypothetical questions about each photo. If you guessed that these questions are shallow, repetitive, and not the slightest bit thought-provoking, don't congratulate yourself. That was obvious, and this isn't some fucking kindergarten class where you get a gold star for showing up.
*I was later informed that all of my friends are happy and well-adjusted,
and I'm the only one with crippling emotional problems. So fuck those guys.
The game is played by drawing a photo and rolling a die to determine a question. The 20 questions include "What celebrity would be a great addition to this photo?" and "What would you rather be contributing to humanity instead of playing this?" Everyone writes an answer, one player picks their favorite and tries to guess who wrote what, and then you get offended when people keep assuming you wrote the racist answer.
If you guessed that 20 questions would get repetitive in a hurry, look three paragraphs up. It turns out that the answer to "What would make this photo even more awkward?" is pretty much always "boners." If you took a picture of a family trying to decide what important lesson could be learned from a photo of a dog shoving its junk into a cat's head, you would be able to use their photo in this game. And every player's answer would be, "We should take a break from family game night."
And for the blue jean family pictured, a break from each other.
Half the photos can only be called awkward in the sense that Zooey Deschanel calls herself awkward -- they're clearly not, but claiming otherwise increases sales. A picture of a baby isn't awkward, because it's a fucking baby. They cry and shit for a living. Pretending that Robert Downey, Jr. is holding him isn't going to change that. If the game wanted to include pictures of people who are actually awkward there would be a camera hidden in the lid that activated at checkout. "Some pictures are worth a thousand laughs," but only the pictures of people playing this and only to the game's manufacturers.
#4. Twilight: The Movie Board Game
If I know Cracked's readers, and I think I do, you're all a bunch of Twihards. There are multiple Twilight board games, because there are multiple sins that humanity has collectively committed, but this one in particular made me run around outside in the middle of the night checking the makes of the cars on my street. Why? A game card challenged me to guess three. What did that have to do with Twilight? If I could answer that, I'd also be taking credit for designing it.
I think even immortals could think of better things to do with their time.
The goal is to earn cards that represent eight different scenes from everyone's favorite movie. This is accomplished by either completing inane challenges or answering movie trivia. Fun fact: no one who played had seen the movie.
Second fun fact: this game is such bullshit. I collected four of the eight scenes before landing on a square that forced me to give them all up and backtrack across half the board because I couldn't name the two boys who asked Bella to prom. It's Mike and Eric, for the record, and now I will always remember that instead of one of my friend's birthdays. This was less of a trivia game and more of a Twilight-themed death march.
It was tough deciding between the blue, the light blue, the pale blue, and the purplish blue piece.
We managed to muddle our way to success, a term I use very relatively here, by besting challenges like "close your eyes and name three things on the walls," a skill vampires are famous for.
Boring others apparently being a close second.
But the final scenes required trivia knowledge, at which point it became like one of those 18-inning baseball games. Here are the cards we went through before someone got over that final hurdle:
We had to avert our gaze from Taylor Lautner's eyes. Watching us. Judging us.
If that doesn't look like a lot, let me put it another way: we almost played to a draw by running out. Eventually, someone was able to piece together a victory through lucky guessing on multiple choice questions and contextual knowledge from previous wrong answers, but this almost became a game where everyone lost, and since we were already losing by playing the game, it would have been a truly crushing defeat.
Smarter people than us would have watched the movie first, but if I was intelligent, you wouldn't be reading this article. We did, however, watch the movie afterwards and successfully anticipate practically every moment, and if there's a word to describe how sad that is, my thesaurus doesn't have it.