Some things just shouldn’t exist. Someone somewhere should have put a stop to it. Fair enough, you can’t help having a bad idea. We all think thoughts all the time. A few are excellent but most of them are garbage and should not be pursued.
And yet everything on this list really does exist. Someone thought it was a good idea and got other people to agree with them. They took the idea, developed it, and turned it into a board game. What follows, ladies and gentlemen is a list of the worst board games of all time.
Games that never should have seen the light of day. Some are ugly. Others are cringy. A few are confusing. All are terrible. Join us, as we discuss the 10 worst board games of all time.
Oneupmanship: Mine’s Bigger
Kicking off our list is the satirical board game Oneupmanship. It is without a doubt one of the worst-designed games of all time. The board itself looks like a cheap ripoff of Monopoly. The cards and components lack any style or quality.
And then there are the rules. The first player to get $100,000 wins. Easy enough. But everything is just so random. You’re supposed to play the stock market, invest in real estate and gamble your way to the top. But you gain and lose stocks for no reason, there are only 4 buildings to buy and gambling makes no sense at all.
Nothing in this game works. It’s ugly, it’s incoherent, and for a satirical game, it is incredibly unfunny.
If you want to try a great game that combines economic and negotiation mechanics, try Pax Pamir.
Time Control is not necessarily a bad idea. The concept is actually awesome and, with better execution, there is potentially a good game in there. Indeed, many people eagerly anticipated this game based on the concept alone. Unfortunately, the developers decided to develop one of the most confusing games ever made.
It’s not just that it’s confusing to non-gamers, but those who enjoy heavily-weighted games will struggle to understand the complex subtleties of Time Control. This game is literally unplayable. It is confusing to the point of contradiction and chaos. The rulebook makes no sense. It incorporates turn-based mechanics into a real-time experience.
Once the game gets moving it descends into near constant time-duels. So, not only is it confusing, it is boring and repetitive. That is not a good combination.
For an awesome game that incorporates time travel, try Anachrony instead.
The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Game
If your friend invited you over for board game night, you might think to yourself, “Sure, what’s the worst that can happen?”
Famous last words, my dear reader. It turns out they have decided to subject you to the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Game. What will follow is an evening of tedium, boredom, monotony, and ennui on a scale that is barely comprehensible.
The rules are simple. Roll the dice, answer a worst-case scenario question, and move your piece if you get it right. But the questions are so bad. One question may be about surviving deadly sharks but another is about how to fix a leaking radiator.
There could be some humor if you all got to vote on the best answers, but players can only choose between three terrible options and there is only one right answer, printed on a card. It’s not funny. It’s not logical. And it’s not clever.
For a genuinely fun trivia game, try Anomia. Or check out our best trivia board games list!
Blacks & Whites
And now for something a little controversial: A game based on race. Blacks and Whites is very similar to Monopoly in that all players start with some capital and try to buy as much property as possible. But, unlike Monopoly where everyone starts on equal footing, here some players have a major advantage.
You either play as a black family or a white family. White families start with a lot more money. Black families start with a fraction of the money and face an uphill battle from the start.
Published in 1970, this game was supposed to be a socially conscious game that would also affect change in the real world. But it also feeds into racial stereotypes.
Racially sensitive or insensitively racist? Who knows, but it is definitely contentious.
For a more equal player experience, just play the classic Monopoly.
What Shall I Be: The Exciting Game of Career Girls
Ah, the 60s. What a time to be alive. The Beatles, Woodstock, and um… a patriarchal society where women were subservient to men, worked in typically female professions, and had little chance at career progression. Released in 1966, to say that this game has aged badly would be a gross understatement.
It’s an ‘educational’ board game targeted at girls aged 6 and up. The first player to become a career girl wins. So, what kind of career are we talking? Engineer? CEO? Try model or air hostess.
Each profession requires certain qualities, like not being overweight or not having sloppy makeup. What Shall I Be is most definitely a sexist product of its time.
For a game that celebrates the achievement of women throughout history, try Herstory. Also, be sure to check out our list of the best Feminist board games!
Why do games try to copy Monopoly? Not only that, but why do they do it badly? Why do they take the worst elements of the game, repackage them and release it under a new name?
In Monopoly, the aim of the game is to buy up the most properties. In Global Survival, players aim to buy up the most countries. So, it’s like Monopoly on a global scale.
And like Monopoly, it includes money. But the money makes no sense. And like Monopoly, it includes advancing around the board. But in Global Survival, you advance around the board in perpetuity until players finally quit from sheer exhaustion and boredom.
How do you win? No one knows, because no one has ever actually completed a game.
If you want to try a game about global domination that is actually good, try Axis and Allies.
The Kids of Catan
What do you get if you take a classic board game, rip out everything that made it fun and challenging, and re-release it for young children?
You guessed it: Kids of Catan. This game basically takes everything that was great about Settlers of Catan and removes it. All in the name of creating an accessible version of Catan for young children and paving the way for a new generation of Catan addicts.
Objectively it’s a terrible gaming experience and a shadow of the actual game. Luckily, the target audience is far too young to realize they are playing a subpar game and will probably enjoy themselves. After being exposed to such mediocrity, the real version will blow their minds.
Instead of wasting time with this one, just wait until your kids are old enough and play Catan.
Intelligent Design vs. Evolution
Science vs religion. It makes for a good fight, and they have been battling it out through the ages. Now, they battle it out in the form of one of the worst board games of all time.
But what makes the game so bad? It’s not actually the theme. Regardless of whether you believe in evolution by natural selection or Intelligent Design, this is just a terrible game.
Actually, you can barely call it a game. Here, all players do is advance around a board answering creationist questions as they go. It’s propaganda in a box. And bad propaganda at that.
Proponents of Intelligent Design have put a lot of energy into coming across as serious academics in the pursuit of truth and would be embarrassed by this. If anything, this game hurts their cause.
For a fun game with a religious theme try Ora et Labora.
The name alone should give you some warning as to what you are getting into. Feeley Meeley just sounds weird. Maybe not outright disturbing, but definitely not normal.
Games should not be called Feeley Meeley. And if they are, you definitely shouldn’t buy them. But believe it or not, back in the 60s this was a popular game.
So what is Feeley Meeley? Feeley Meeley is a free-for-all. Players simultaneously shove their hands into a box and try to guess what they are touching.
The game comes with a number of objects, but the rules highly recommend that players add their own mysterious objects to the box. This will keep players on their toes and ensure everyone is (un)pleasantly surprised throughout.
For an excellent guessing game try Monikers instead.
When one thinks of Collectible Card Games (CCGs), one might think of Magic the Gathering, or Hearthstone. It’s unlikely you’ll think of Super Deck! And yet this game really did come out.
It was released all the way back in 1994 so the only possible excuse for the game is that CCGs were in their infancy and there were still some kinks to work out.
But it still doesn’t explain one of the worst gaming experiences known to humankind. Anyone who’s had the misfortune of playing this game will know that feeling of deep malaise, intensely aware that this is time they will never get back.
There’s just no point to it. It seems like you’re playing a game but there is no tension, no strategy, and definitely no fun to be found.
If you want to play a CCG classic, try Magic the Gathering instead.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the worst board games ever made! Have you actually played any of these games? We hope not. But you should definitely try some of our suggestions! Better yet, check out our other roundups and reviews for great games to try out!
Drop a comment below with your thoughts! We’d love to hear from you.
Ever since I first played Risk as an 8-year-old I’ve been hooked on board games. Growing up in rural Ireland there wasn’t much to do but luckily I’ve always been surrounded by board game addicts. Over two decades later I now write about what I love, which is totally awesome. Writing about all things board game related is literally the perfect job. When I’m not writing I still love a good board game night.