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Reviews of board and table games.

Clue (Hasbro)
Clue is the perfect game for creeps like me who like getting away with murder, and who also like tiny, dangerous objects, like a teeny candlestick and revolver, which would make really cute earrings if I ever felt crafty. I have an older set, which is way better, because the newer one swaps out classic characters for boring ones, like washed-up celebrities and video-game moguls. If you’re taking the time to play a board game, you don’t actually wanna be reminded of internet culture, you feel me? As you move your token around the board, you have to guess the suspect, weapon, and location of the crime, keeping track of your discoveries in your “Detective Notes.” I love playing as Miss Scarlet, the femme fatale. I also like to put on the movie while I play—Tim Curry is the butler, and it’s as good as The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Anyway, I love killing people in a fictional way. —Arabelle

Operation (Hasbro)
Operation is terrifying. It is the stuff of nightmares. The board itself is an operating table, complete with a naked, horrified-looking patient whose insides are both exposed and electrified. Your job, as a player, is to carefully remove body parts from the patient using a set of tweezers, and without setting off the buzzer (his nose) by touching the sides of his open orifices. If you successfully remove a body part, you are paid for your services, but if you screw up, your opponent can try for twice the reward. I’ve never met anyone who actually played the game the proper way, so I’m not the most trustworthy source. What I can tell you is that it’s a game of steady hands. Honestly, crew? I had to dissect a rat in 10th grade and that haunts me far less than the face of Cavity Sam staring up at me while I tried to remove his funny bone. Although I must say that if you can pull off a “Cavity Sam” Halloween costume, you’ll probably be the hero at any party you go to. —Pixie

Apples to Apples (Mattel)
The first time my friends tried to get me to play Apples to Apples, I was skeptical: “I’m not playing some WHOLESOME game about apples!” But I was wrong. DEAD WRONG. Apples to Apples is B-A-N-A-N-A-S (hehe). An hour into it, I was convinced that my friends and I were subversive geniuses. The game is simple, and works best if you have six or more players. (But it gets a little unwieldy with more than 12.) There’s a deck of red cards and a deck of green cards. Each player draws seven red cards, which list a person, place, thing, action, or event, so you might draw: my high school prom, ear wax, lollipops, giving a hug, Chernobyl explosion, cleaning the bathroom, and Bill Murray. Each player takes a turn as the judge, and that person draws a green card. Green cards have adjectives on them, like clueless, fragrant, or relaxing. The judge puts the green card face-up on the table, and everyone has to quickly pick a red card from their hand that would be the most hilarious, witty, appropriate, or inappropriate match for the green card. This is super fun if you are playing with a group of friends, because you can tailor your moves to their sense of humor. Sick and twisted things will happen. Once, a fight erupted because one of my friends chose “atomic bombs” as the best match for addicting, and we had to put Apples to Apples on hiatus for a few months. If you are feeling extra creative, you can make your own red cards. One time, during a beach outing, I chose “my crotch” as the best match for sandy, ’CAUSE WE WERE AT THE BEACH, HAR HAR HAR. This game makes you think like a poet, enables you to make absurd, brilliant, and sometimes incredibly offensive connections, and basically serves like a gateway drug to inside jokes. GO PLAY IT NOW, YOU GENIUSES. —Jenny

Scene It? (Screenlife/Mattel)
If you’re a movie trivia fanatic, like the type that immediately pulls up the IMDb trivia for every movie RIGHT after you’ve seen it, which is me after every movie, then this is the game for you. The game’s rules are pretty straightforward: roll an eight-sided die to figure out what your challenge will be. These can range from a trivia question to a DVD challenge. DVD challenges are crazy. It could be a clip from Annie Hall, and the question could be anything from “What year was this movie released?” to something about the dialogue from the clip, so you have to pay SUPER CLOSE ATTENTION. Other DVD challenges are more abstract, like a movie poster that comes together like a puzzle, so you have to try and guess what it is before your opponents. I always know Kill Bill within one second, from only the yellow background (not that I’m bragging or anything). The worst part about this game is that when you play it with friends, people can never help wandering into the room and yelling out answers at the screen (“WAIT! OMG! BOOGIE NIGHTS!”), because people always want to prove how superior they are at movie trivia. The best part about this game is that there are genre-, movie-, and TV-specific editions, so you can get a Seinfeld-centric one, or The OC, or the ’80s. I’ve played this game so many times, and I’m STILL getting stumped. —Hazel

Balderdash (Mattel)
This is one of those games you either love or hate. I grew up playing it, so I looooove it, but it’s not always easy to find people who feel the same way. It’s a game of obscure words, and here’s how you play: one person in a group of at least four draws a card with rare words on it. That player (the leader) then rolls a die to figure out which word to give everyone. Let’s say it’s Skoptsy—the leader reads it out loud, and everyone else has to write either the definition, if they know it, or their best guess/fake definition. You pass your answers to the leader, who reads the definitions, including the actual one (in this case: self-castrators) in random order. The more people who choose your definition, the more points you get, so you want your invented definition to sound legit. Pros: If you’re good with words, this game makes sure everyone knows it (it’s really good to play with someone you have a crush on, because it’s like wearing a T-shirt that says GOD I’M WITTY). And you can make up filthy definitions if you get bored. Cons: Balderdash takes awhile. And it needs to be played by people who are honestly interested. It is also annoying to play with your father, who is a scientist, and can think up legit-sounding scientific definitions without even trying very hard. —Krista

Taboo (Hasbro)
A good game, like a good soundtrack, can take over everything, until it’s not the occasion you remember, it’s just the crazy things someone said while trying to get their partner to guess “Joan Rivers.” Case in point: I went to the Berkshires with some friends six years ago. It rained a lot, but other than that, all that sticks with me is: “It’s like a helmet for your phalanges!” (Thimble.) For anyone who hasn’t played, the goal of Taboo is to describe the word or person on your card (Carl Weathers, socks, pagers) without using the five most common clues, which are likewise printed on the card. If you do, someone is there with the buzzer—which makes a flatulent noise, because the batteries are always dying—to disqualify you. I also recall a New Year’s that included: “Last name: flies through the air and shits indiscriminately.” Answer: “Bird. Larry Bird!” Obviously, people who know each other really well have an advantage, because they can rely on inside jokes or give obscure clues like, “That thing that you hate that we saw this morning.” (Butterflies.) But it’s more fun the other way. What’s disappointing is that Hasbro doesn’t sell refill cards, or none that I can find, which is why we are still playing with Carl Weathers and pagers. —Phoebe

Monopoly (Hasbro)
I’m new to Monopoly (very new, as the origins of the game can be traced back to more than a century ago). I was at a house party a few months ago when someone suggested that we play. As someone who not only can’t stand math, but is also hopeless at it, the idea of a game about finance, mortgages, and yucky real estate prices terrified me. But that’s the best thing about Monopoly—HAVING PAPER MONEY. You don’t have to start stressing, because IT’S NOT REAL! It’s also much simpler than I thought it would be: someone is the banker, and they deal out the money. You choose a novelty token and move around the board according to the roll of the dice. You can buy property and then collect rent when people land on it (yay!), but then you also have to give away money when you land on their property. You can end up in jail, or worse, BANKRUPT (boo). By the end of the night, my friends and I were seriously battling it out to get the best squares, and the game dragged on for hours. I’ve been trying to play online ever since, and my dreams are filled with chocolate monopoly sets. There is also a $2,000,000 set made of 23-carat gold, which, if you can afford, suggests to me that you’ve already won at Monopoly, or just the game of life. —Caitlin

Dream Phone (Milton Bradley)
Dream Phone is the greatest game of all time. My high school crew and I spent many a dumb Friday night eating crap, talking about actual boys, and laughing at the jerk-hunks of Dream Phone, who would help you figure out the identity of your dream date by giving you hints when you dialed their numbers on the game’s main attraction: the giant electronic phone. The hints allow you to eliminate certain dudes based on their preferences: a typical clue is something like “He’ll wear almost anything…except yellow.” (On occasion, you dial a creep who’ll say, “I know who it is, but I’m not telling, ha ha.” That guy is the worst!) In any case, the winner usually ended up with a dude named Brad or Trevor or Todd, who was immediately dumped back into the box until we decided to play again. Sorry, Todd. I’m not into guys who will eat almost anything…except pizza. Who doesn’t eat pizza? You are so dumped. —Pixie

Boggle (Parker Brothers)
Oh my god, Boggle forever. In high school, I ran with a crew of three or four other kids who would convene in a field at an office park and play Boggle until it got too dark to see the letter cubes. It was a wild time in my life. Boggle is addictive, because it’s like a more frenzied version of Scrabble. You have three minutes to make as many words as you can out of the board, which changes with every round. Because it’s so quick, it’s easy to get sucked in for hours on end. You haven’t lived until you’ve missed curfew because of a game for word nerds. —Amy Rose

Scruples (High Game)
Scruples advertises itself as “the game of moral dilemmas.” It could just as easily be “the game that causes friends to get pretty testy with each other.” It’s the risk you take, but it’s perfect for those of you who like picking at scabs and finding out what people are really made of. Scruples offers moral-dilemma questions that can be answered with a “yes,” “no,” or “depends.” (Example: “You are asked to go on television to discuss your views on abortion. Do you?”) At any given time, each player has a card with only one of those three answers, and five cards with the aforementioned predicaments. In order to win, you need to ask a question to an opponent that you think will answer according to the answer card you’re holding, which can mean directing the question to the friend that you feel pretty sure would steal a cab from somebody else, or boycott the birthday party of an ex. This is where people can get offended. Players can also challenge each other’s answers, and back up their arguments with real-life examples of a person’s moral fiber. That’s where things can get even worse. Still, there’s a strategy—you have to guess what your opponent thinks you will say, and try to answer otherwise (but be prepared to make a convincing case for why you wouldn’t hold the elevator for an elderly person). It’s fun if you want to play at being a TV lawyer, or a jerk. —Phoebe

Mystery at Hogwarts (Mattel)
Mystery at Hogwarts is like Clue, except much, much cooler, because there’s magic. Someone has cast a spell in one of the classrooms at Hogwarts, and it’s your job to figure out who it is, which spell they cast, and in what classroom the spell was conjured. At the start of the game, you draw three cards and put them in an envelope with a picture of Fluffy on it. The remaining cards are dealt to the players, and you sleuth around from classroom to classroom, making accusations and asking your friends, one eyebrow raised, if they can prove you wrong. Unlike Clue, the board is a little more interactive. There are shortcuts and secret passageways to uncover, and players can use the ghost that sits in front of the Great Hall to block people’s way, or send them back to the center of the board. The only drawback of the game is that instead of getting to choose a character, you’re just a little witch’s hat. However, it’s kind of nice to not argue over who has to play Colonel Mustard. Also, if only for a little bit, you get to pretend that you attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which means you’re halfway to being able to make something levitate with your mind. —Katherine

Ouija (various)
I believe. That’s pretty much all there is to it. Once, in third grade, I played with my mom, and we asked the board if I would get any Valentine’s Day cards. It said I would, and when I asked from whom, it spelled out A-N-O. Clearly, it meant “anonymous,” and sure enough, a few days later, I got a card from a secret admirer whom I’m certain was Terrence, and not my mother doing her best boy-handwriting. As if this wasn’t proof enough, in high school, I took the board to a slumber party in order to communicate with the recently deceased River Phoenix. I read that quoting the person can help, and according to Tiger Beat, River’s mantra was: “Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.” (I’m not sure about the fact-checking at Tiger Beat, but it looks like this was a quote from his band, Aleka’s Attic.) Anyway, with our fingers on the planchette, my friends and I repeated this over and over again, and what should happen? The phone rang. And nobody was there. Clearly, it was River Phoenix. We contacted him through the board, and he called me. That’s the only explanation. —Phoebe

Checkers (various)
Ah, good ol’ Checkers. I feel like this game is unfairly maligned for being “boring,” which it ISN’T AT ALL. DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT FUN IS, PEOPLE? Fun is never moving your back row of pieces until the other person wants to throttle you, because they’re stuck without any kings. Fun is tricking some sucker into thinking they have a prime move, because you sneakily prompted them to jump you only once just to be IMMEDIATELY hit with a sick triple-jump that you’ve been orchestrating for the past three moves. Fun is chess for stupid people, like me, so fun is checkers. Now you know. —Amy Rose

The Game of Life (Hasbro)
Life is one of my favorite games because it provides endless opportunity for shenanigans with your friends. There’s no strategy and no point to it, really. You just get in your car, spin the spinner, and decide whether you go to college or not. Then you just make your way through the board game while it decides how many children you’re going to have or adopt, and whether or not you get to buy a second home, and whether you lose everything in a fire. It doesn’t sound super fun, but it is when you get really involved and create complicated narratives for yourself and your friends. In the end, I think whoever has the most money wins, but who even knows, because winning at Life is relative, JUST LIKE REAL LIFE. —Laia

Mall Madness (Hasbro)
Mall Madness—which you can still buy on Amazon or eBay—is an electronic board game that basically teaches you the fun of conspicuous consumption while also, I guess, teaching you how to be a smarter shopper. The game is controlled by an electronic voice that dictates how many spaces you’re allowed to move at any given time. Every so often, the voice will announce a sale, which is important, because getting a deal will help you cross another item off of your shopping list without going broke or having to waste time going to the ATM, and the goal is to be the first one to finish your shopping and leave. It is totally ridiculous and fun and almost like an actual trip to the mall, except nobody shoplifts from Claire’s or buys one tube of mascara for the specific purpose of getting the Clinique gift bag. —Pixie

Guess Who? (Hasbro)
This is a two-player guessing game in which you each pick a character on a card, and the other person has to guess who it is! The best part of this game is the board you each get, filled with cute cartoon faces with fun little traits. You ask a yes-or-no question like, “Is this a man?” If the answer is no, you can flip down the faces of all the men, and it makes a satisfactory clicking noise. If you guess correctly before the other person, you feel superior and decide to begin a career as a private investigator. —Naomi

Therapy: The Game (Pressman Toys)
This is another personality-driven game. Each player moves around the board as a couch (hee), and in order to win, you must get a peg from each of the six stages of life, from Infancy to Seniority. Mainly, this means answering trivia questions based on (somewhat outdated) psychiatric studies. Occasionally, you will have to go into therapy with another player. Your “therapist” will ask you a question about yourself (“On a scale of one to 10, how much pleasure do you take in the downfall of your enemies?”), or about other players (“Which player is best at keeping a secret?”), and the object is to have your answer match. Other questions involve Thinkblots, Rorschach-style drawings, and answering incorrectly can send you into Psychosis. It’s a great ice-breaker if you want to skip all the small talk and get straight to how screwed up you are. —Phoebe ♦


  • catpower44 October 22nd, 2012 11:03 PM


  • Antionette October 22nd, 2012 11:15 PM

    If you like Apples to Apples you will love Cards Against Humanity. Seriously. Check it out. Hilarity ensues and ensured.

    • resonance October 23rd, 2012 12:27 AM

      YES. Cards Against Humanity is simultaneously the best and worst game ever created, oh my god.

    • periwinkle_dreams October 23rd, 2012 2:15 AM

      You have to be careful what kind of crowd you’re with when you pull that one out, though – it can be hilarious, but it’s also pretty sexual, often weirdly so. It can be fun, but also frustrating if, for example, you’re playing at a prom after party with mostly guys and they tell your friend Kaitlyn she “just HAS to play this game!”, even though she feels uncomfortable reading some of the cards out loud and gets embarrassed when you have to quietly explain to her what some of the phrases mean. So, long story short, if you want CAH to be epic and not awkward, know your friends.

    • streaked lights October 23rd, 2012 4:21 AM

      Omg I just googled it and it looks amazing. Apples to Apples was always a bit too… tame?
      IDK. I know what my friends and I are doing this weekend!

      • Skatapus October 23rd, 2012 2:57 PM

        What’s also fun is to just make your own decks of cards with your friends. That way they can be super specific to your group and you can just include loads of inside jokes and all of the pop culture references that interest you. :D

  • Skatapus October 22nd, 2012 11:17 PM

    Oh my god, Dream Phone, no way! I can’t believe that it’s on there! Pixie, my experiences with it have been pretty much identical to yours. “I know who it is, but I’m not telling, ha ha.” is now a total inside joke with all of my friends. The best decision that we ever made was to stop actually pushing the buttons on the phone, and instead designate one person to dole out the clues. Eg. “He looks good in whatever he wears, he’s not wearing pants!” or “He’s allergic to squirrels, he’s not in the park!” I strongly recommend that anyone who still has this kicking around in a closet digs it back out! :D

  • CeciliaCecilia October 22nd, 2012 11:17 PM

    i didn’t know there was a board game called puerto rico! haha and that’s where i live!

  • Whatsername October 22nd, 2012 11:19 PM

    Apples to Apples is the best when you’re not actually playing by the rules.

    {Also I have the exact same ouija board. I found it in my dead grandpa’s closet and got to keep it. Creepy right? Hasn’t ever worked.}

  • Eryn October 22nd, 2012 11:22 PM

    Taboo is SO much fun!!

  • puffling October 22nd, 2012 11:29 PM

    I find it an endless source of fascination that you call Cluedo “Clue” in the US. Why did they ditch the -do? I want answers!

    • Cerise October 23rd, 2012 12:47 AM

      According to Google, it’s likely because the board game Ludo is not exactly well-known in the US, “Cluedo” apparently being a sort of pun formed from “Ludo” and “clue.”

      Not sure if that’s actually true or not…hmmmmmm

  • jessica j October 22nd, 2012 11:29 PM

    mall madness is an amazing game!

    also- about the game puerto rico: it sounds messed up to play a game that seems like it’s about white people taking resources from people of color…? colonization was and still is a bad thing, so how is it fun and “civilized”?

    • Tavi October 23rd, 2012 12:11 AM

      You’re completely right, and we should have caught this before it went up. I’m sorry! We’re deleting it from the post.

  • thelionheartedgirl October 22nd, 2012 11:32 PM

    I love being Mrs. Peacock on Clue. I actually love board games more than the average 21-y-o not because it’s omg so cool but because I’m an only child and never had anyone to play them with while I was growing up.

    The Game Of Life is also really amazing, and I like playing the one my friend has, which is the Simpsons version. Smithers’ job is the highest paid one! lmao

  • jenaimarley October 22nd, 2012 11:45 PM

    Does BANANAGRAMS count as a board game? Because it rocks!

    • Julianne October 22nd, 2012 11:54 PM

      Yes! I love Bananagrams (and it’s the only game where I always win). My friends and I played “Dirty Bananagrams” (only sexual words or swear words allowed) over the weekend and it was so much fun to see where everyone’s mind went.

    • all-art-is-quite-useless October 23rd, 2012 1:22 PM

      BANANAGRAMS IS THE BEST! remember, extra points for rude words!

  • anisarose October 22nd, 2012 11:47 PM

    my favorite board game of all time- Madeline’s Race to the Attic! It wasn’t particularly fun or interesting but it was the one thing that I knew I would always beat my older sister at!

  • sheena October 23rd, 2012 12:11 AM

    Dream Phone! ohhhmygoodness! 555-7557 was the first boy I ever really truly cared about… His hair was parted in the best way… His shirt was the most perfect shade of orange… His jacket was so… beautifully casual. My sister and I played this game SOOO many times, and not once did he ever say, “you’re right! I really like you.” …. first of many unrequited loves, I guess.

    • cicconeyouth October 23rd, 2012 7:15 PM

      I think my Dream Phone boyfriend had a blazer with shoulder pads and some type of mullet. #notjoking

  • cherrycola27 October 23rd, 2012 12:15 AM

    I looooove Balderdash! We used to play it in my English class in high school. I usually don’t win, but I think my definitions are great! Ha.
    Another great game that my sister just introduced me to is Mastermind. My first try I figured out the pattern in four turns. That game is addicting.

  • resonance October 23rd, 2012 12:26 AM

    Clue is my favorite board game! I play it with my boyfriend whenever he comes over. I don’t think I could ever get tired of it.

  • Kathryn October 23rd, 2012 12:38 AM

    I’ve played most of these and love them! I am always wishing more people would play board games with me. I also reccommend phase 10, though it’s a card game and not a board game.
    I have so much love for games everyone seems to hate, like balderdash and boggle! So glad you mentioned them. Also I HAVE SO MANY CLINIQUE GIFT BAGS YOU KNOW ME SO WELL.

    • cicconeyouth October 23rd, 2012 7:14 PM

      OH GOD, THE GIFT BAGS ARE ADDICTIVE! I have way too many of those Chubby Stick lip balms because I only want the gift bag. Have you guys ever noticed that the gift bags pretty much always have the exact same products in them? And I fall for it a few times a year!

  • Megan Anne October 23rd, 2012 1:20 AM

    oh mannn yes all of these are so spot on. I spent many an hour messing up the rules for mystery at hogwarts…

  • HeatherB October 23rd, 2012 1:27 AM

    APPLES TO APPLES. My cousins and I are fond of the “pond scum” card. It trumps all. Always.

  • baberunner13 October 23rd, 2012 2:29 AM

    Pretty Pretty Princess anyone?

    • rhymeswithorange October 24th, 2012 9:49 PM

      YES. Confession, I used to play this game with my dad when I was 5

    • Kathryn October 25th, 2012 10:57 PM

      YES FAVORITE. I would always make my brother play with me, hehe.

  • eastdragon42 October 23rd, 2012 2:30 AM

    “If you’re a movie trivia fanatic, like the type that immediately pulls up the IMDb trivia for every movie RIGHT after you’ve seen it, which is me after every movie, then this is the game for you.” — Wow, that describes me so perfectly. Guess I’m going to have to try this game out some time..! :)

    Nice collection of games reviewed, including some of my more obscure favorites (Taboo & Therapy…& I totally agree that refill cards for Taboo should be made..!). Though I am surprised some of the classic games aren’t reviewed, such as Pictionary, chess, or Uno.

  • taste test October 23rd, 2012 2:40 AM

    Krista, I feel your pain. balderdash is my favorite game ever and none of my friends have the patience to play it with me. so I can only play it with family. so many possible dirty definitions I’m missing out on…

    also, oh my god, apples to apples. in my sophomore year, my friend group dissolved in infighting but we were able to keep sitting together at lunch for over a month through the magic of apples to apples. we didn’t really talk to each other, just played a game every day. our favorite card was Pulling Weeds because it made everything vaguely dirty.

  • kittenmix October 23rd, 2012 3:05 AM

    Woah can’t believe you guys just straight up skipped Spellbound. Just kidding! That game is terrible and it tore my family apart, a la risk. STICK TO GUESS WHO KIDS!!!!

  • RXLWK October 23rd, 2012 5:26 AM

    Ohhhh I wish you had reviewed Hotels! Best game ever.

  • Isil October 23rd, 2012 6:01 AM

    Where is trivial pursuit :( When I was in high school we have always played trivial pursuit when our lessons were free, teacher was sick, etc. Sometimes we convinced our teachers and we played the game with her/him or we made them coaches or something.

    I suggest all Rookies to play Dixit, it is the most creative game I’ve ever played.

  • connie October 23rd, 2012 7:24 AM

    i play board games every week at a board game night in a pub downtown and it amazes me everytime simply how many board games there are out there. I mostly play board games you’d be likely to find in a comic book shop or a fantasy and sci fi store, and some of them are so good, so classic and such great ideas for games that i can’t imagine why more people don’t know about them and play them like clue or monopoly.
    these are a few of my all time favourite board games:
    - citadels
    - dominion
    - lords of waterdeep
    - elfinland
    - carcassonne
    - settlers of catan: settlers of america
    - arkham horror
    - notre dame
    - a game of thrones: the board game (2nd edition)
    - death angel: the space hulk
    - dracula
    - pandemic
    - zombies!!!

  • teabo October 23rd, 2012 9:04 AM

    So let me get this straight.. Puerto Rico, the one legit, grown up strategy board game on a list of basically kids toys, and it gets removed because its about colonial Puerto Rico…?

    Has the commenter played the game? Definitely not, or they would know that it is a near abstract economic game. As long as we’re protesting games, please remove Clue, because murder is not and has never been OK. Also please remove Monopoly, because being a monopolistic slum lord is not and has never been OK.

    Sorry to be a little snarky, but in all seriousness it would be impossible to play a game representing almost any period in human history without confronting some memory of past unpleasantness. Puerto Rico is not a role playing game. It is simply a game set in a historical context. If we put Stratego on this list would people be offended due to the horror of Napoleonic the

    • teabo October 23rd, 2012 9:11 AM

      My last comment did not get finished before accidentally submitting. I was making some awesome point about Stratego. Anyway, if you guys insist on removing PR, please put something on this list to let people know that there is more to board games than the stuff we all played as children. Board games can be very enjoyable as a stimulating social passtime and not just a nostalgia thing.

      In case you don’t put any of these games up, if anyone reading this is interested I recommend Ticket to Ride, Acquire, Carcassonne, Stone Age and The Settlers of Catan as starting points.

    • puffling October 23rd, 2012 5:29 PM

      I think the main difference between the Puerto Rico game and the examples that you gave is that Puerto Rico is a real place, where a real indigenous people were enslaved and exterminated, and the country and its people are still suffering the consequences of its colonisation.

      It’s not “abstract” or “just a game” for the Puerto Ricans.

      Plenty of economic strategy games exist where we don’t play as the historical oppressors and enslavers of a people, so I support the decision to remove the endorsement of the Puerto Rico game.

      • Steve October 23rd, 2012 7:10 PM

        Glad you and Jessica J brought this to people’s attention. If you go to the wikipedia (discussion) page for the game, you’ll see that an entire Controversy section was deleted after some Eurocentric privilege hogs had a fit. There was also a bit about how the counters that ran plantations and buildings were called ‘slaves’, but renamed to ‘colonists’ for obvious reasons (despite being slaves, historically).

        Anyway, the board game nerds I know don’t even play Puerto Rico anymore, so I can say that there are tons of alternatives (like a lot of fantasy/sci-fi stuff with creative backstories).

        • teabo October 23rd, 2012 7:46 PM

          First of all, the question here is not whether Puerto Rico is the best game ever or the game of choice for game geeks. The question is should a recommendation be censored.

          Secondly, those colonist tokens were never called slaves in any edition of the game. At best you can accuse them of fudging the translation of the craftsman action tile. In any case, you remain confronted with a good, abstract economic engine building game with a perhaps ill-chosen setting. The controversy and white guilt PC fervor is over the top.

      • teabo October 23rd, 2012 7:22 PM

        First off, people should really play this game before judging and getting up in arms. It’s on the heavier end of the strategy game spectrum but there is a good iPad app out there.

        Secondly, I would like to stress that this game is not a simulation. It is an economic engine building game with role selection and resource management set in, yes, colonial Puerto Rico.

        A great deal of art, film, literature, all flavors of media including games are set in historical contexts. If this was a list of films I really don’t think this conversation would be happening, as we are all quite familiar with many films of all genres set in all kind of historical places and times and that deal with a huge variety of subject matter. Perhaps because games are often thought of as toys for kids this is somehow seen differently?

        Or perhaps people see it as different because in a game we participate in the action? Well, for those who have played this game I can tell you, there is a far greater disconnect and objectivity in a mathy game like Puerto Rico than in a book or film.

        I’ll grant that even in the boardgame community there has been some mild grumbling on occasion about the theme of Puerto Rico. I’ll even grant that it’s selection of theme might have been a mistake (this game was likely, like many games in its genre, designed without this particular theme). But what really bugs me is that rather than read and learn about one of the most lauded modern board games in the world, we are instead ignoring it and every other game of its type in favor of the contents of the Walmart boardgames isle.

        • teabo October 23rd, 2012 7:22 PM


          Play the game first, then judge.

        • Tavi October 23rd, 2012 8:12 PM

          Sorry that none of our editors had time to play every game on this list before approving them.

          If you’re upset because I deleted what you call the only adult game on this list, well, this isn’t a website for adults. This is a post of board game reviews, much like our candy, ice cream, and deodorant reviews. This month’s theme is “Play.” Next month’s theme is “Invention,” so maybe that one will be less insulting to your intellect.

          PR wasn’t deleted because it’s strategic, it was deleted because if an article on Rookie is to start a respectful discussion about colonialism, this isn’t the appropriate one.

  • all-art-is-quite-useless October 23rd, 2012 1:24 PM

    omg where is trivial pursuit? This game is amazing.

  • NotReallyChristian October 23rd, 2012 1:25 PM

    Mystery at Hogwarts is TOO HARD. It has loads of extra rules and that makes it super-complicated.
    My favourite game is Articulate, which is kind of like taboo except you have to describe as many words to your partner as you can – then you get to move that many spaces round the board. The best rounds are sudden death, when you have to describe a word to all the teams at once – because you want your partner to get it, you have to try and describe it in a way only they will get. My biggest triumph (and I am so good at this game, not to brag but to brag) was “a speedo is a banana what??”

    (Also, Apples to Apples sounds really fun, but is the Chernobyl Disaster really on there, because that’s awful. The Chernobyl disaster is still affecting Eastern Europe today – cancer is a shitty disease, and thousands of people have been affected. Two of my favourite Soviet/Russian gymnasts (Olessia Dudnik and Elena Zamolodchikova) lost parents because of it. Would 9/11 be in a board game to laughed at?)

  • GlitterKitty October 23rd, 2012 5:57 PM

    WHY HAVE I NEVER HEARD OF MYSTERY AT HOGWARTS?? MUST HAVE!! But Mall Madness is the best game around simply because of the annoying voice. But this game was also the downfall of my belief in Santa Claus when I got it for Christmas one year. And I totally agree that the old Clue is the best. My friend has the original edition (from when his mom was a kid) and it is quite cool looking. Except it’s falling apart. :(

  • cicconeyouth October 23rd, 2012 7:11 PM

    Mall Madness is responsible for my excessive amounts of consumerism!!!!

    J/K – It was such a weird, rad game. The electronic voice was LOUD, as was the buzzer that went along with it. My favorite part was putting your credit card into the slot when you were “purchasing” an item. That’s also probably my favorite part of shopping in the real world now…

    My favorite memory of Mall Madness is being 7 or 8 at a family reunion. There weren’t really any kids my age there, so my professional skater punk teenage cousins ended up playing with me. I felt infinitely cool at that moment.

  • Sputnick October 23rd, 2012 8:26 PM

    We used to play Balderdash with just a dictionary. It’s word nerd fun at its finest, but super hard to find people who will play, &an actual, tangible dictionary.

  • Juli October 23rd, 2012 10:54 PM

    I love Clue like no other! I totally agree, those mini props are so fun!

    Oh, I forgot about the Hogwarts game, and I can only vaguely remember it now. Probably because I wasn’t playing it right.

  • rhymeswithorange October 24th, 2012 9:52 PM

    SCATTEGORIES. I swear every time my friends and I play it, we get the category “things with balls” and we just use some boy.

  • Chloe October 28th, 2012 5:25 PM

    I agree oh so much with Jenny on this one… Apples to apples is truly the best board game.

  • Lydia Jane November 15th, 2012 11:00 PM

    Ah yay! Clue and Apples to Apples are my favorites. I also love Scrabble and Scattergories :)