Nothing sums up Christmas quite like a round of board games. Bringing the family together for an afternoon of jovial merry making, incorporating chance and maybe a bit of skill, maybe some laughs, maybe some thrills, but ultimately just a nice and chilled afternoon of friendly competition, what could go wrong? Well…in theory nothing. However, the actual process of dragging everyone to crowd round a cramped coffee table, waiting whilst someone takes lead and explains the rules, and then waiting more as someone explains the “correct” rules, then finding that one of the pieces is missing, unsurprisingly ruffles a few feathers to say the least. Love them or hate them, here are my picks for the 5 most frustrating board games to play at Christmas.
It’s literally called frustration, how meta is that? It’s as if the creators of were taunting us before we even started playing. The object of the game is to be the first player to move all of your pieces around the game board and into your finish line. Along the way you also try to impede your opponent’s progress by landing on their pieces and then knocking them back to the start. That is why this game is called frustration; besides the counterproductive popper at the centre of the board which attempts to roll the dice for you, the fact that you can literally be one space away from winning and then get knocked back to the start by your opponents is enough to drive one insane.
Although technically not a board game, for anyone who has ever been the victim of the dreaded “pick up 4 and change the colour” card, you will understand why it is on this list. Uno is a game that my family and I have been playing every year for over fifteen years now and in that time it has sparked many a family feud. Each player gets 7 cards at the start of the game, and then taking turns to put down a singular card each turn, the first player to get rid of all their cards is the winner. Sounds simple enough, but beware! This is a game where your so called “friends” will show their true colours.
Has anyone ever actually sat down and played this game? I certainly didn’t, I played with it, but never actually played it. All you want to do when playing Mouse Trap is set up the trap and watch it go. It’s kind of similar to dominoes in that respect; there is a game there, but really what everyone wants to do is set it up and then knock it down. Even though I personally never played this game, I’ve still had some seriously frustrating moments with it. My brother got it for one Christmas from Santa one year and to this day we have been unable to successfully set up the trap and have it work successfully.
Who would have thought that letters could be so frustrating? In this mentally challenging game you use tiles with letters on them to create words and attempt to get a higher score than your opponent. The frustration here usually comes from disagreements over whether a word is a word or not, but thankfully nowadays someone will usually have a smartphone nearby to check. But also, at the risk of looking like an illiterate moron, if you get stuck with a “Q”, “Z” or worst of all an “X” prepare to get annoyed. There is no arguably no greater shame than adding an “S” to the end of someone else’s word in order to get some quick points.
Say goodbye to any past healthy relationships you may have had; it’s time for a game of Monopoly (or Exeter Monopoly if you want a local version). Whereas with most board games once you realise you have pretty much lost the game the actual game is over very quickly, in Monopoly this is not the case. You realise you are going to lose and then have to keep on playing, potentially for hours, as your opponent gradually takes you for everything that you own. Also, any skill is usually trumped by dumb luck. Monopoly is in theory a strategy-based game, yet forces outside of your control, such as the free parking space or the community chest cards, can turn the tide in an instant. Not to mention, this game drags; the longest ever continuous game of Monopoly lasted just over 70 days!