Classic Board Games You Should NEVER Play! There are a lot of classic games that have stood the test of time because they are genuinely good, fun games….then there are those games that seem to only be still played because of the rose-colored tint our brain puts on memories. These games are painful and slow. Just say NO! Below you’ll find the classic games you should forego for newer better games!
[Stephanie’s note: If the voice sounds different it’s because this post was written by Tyler, my husband, and originally published on Kidsloveboardgames.com which is now defunct!]
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Pin this round-up of classic games to skip with this photo or link!
Games you don’t really need to play (and what to play instead):
When you’re shopping for games, consider looking on Facebook marketplace for secondhand, buying from your local, small board game shop/toy shop, searching on Ebay, or checking Kidizen for used games. These are linked to Amazon for convenience but we’d much prefer you shop secondhand and/or small when you’re able!
Monopoly is the epitome of this list so of course it comes first! I honestly can’t remember ever finishing a game of Monopoly. I’m sure it happened once, but at that point I must have been delirious from 2 straight days of gaming. I do however remember lots of games of Monopoly ending because two or more of the players were board. Or because of someone throwing a fit regarding an unlucky roll.
The crazy thing is, Monopoly has hoodwinked so many people into thinking they love it that they have produced approximately 7000 different versions of it. While some of the versions are better than others, I definitely don’t think any of my time spent playing Monopoly has enriched me beyond providing mental fortitude against bad beats.
Play instead… Settlers of Catan
Settlers of Catan takes a lot of the fun aspects from Monopoly and puts them into a game that is fun and can actually be finished. In Catan players build settlements, roads, and cities to allow them to claim resources. These resources are used to expand your settlements and eventually win the game by earning enough victory points.
Catan is similar to Monopoly in that it allows for trading and bartering between players. The game formalizes this process which makes it much more streamlined (and more useful to the game). Players still roll dice each turn keeping the random luck aspect that is so important to Monopoly. Catan also gives you the same empire building feeling as you expand your settlements (equivalent to building houses) and grow those settlements into cities (similar to hotels).
Settlers of Catan also does a lot of things better than Monop0ly. For one, the game has a set end point, and rarely drags on past an hour of play time. Additionally, due to the trading phase in each turn, other player’s turns are just as engaging as your own turn! The best aspect is that players aren’t eliminated before the end of the game. Even if you don’t win, it’s a lot more fun to get to at least finish the game.
I am going to go ahead and lump these together as they feel like the same game to me. I never could have imagined a game where I would try and cheat…to lose faster. Playing Trouble with my kids sent me down that rabbit hole! This game has a way of dragging on and on and on and on and on. While the kids do get great joy from sending pieces other players’ pieces back to the start…by the time someone does win, it feels more like a celebration of finishing the game more than celebrating the winner.
The thing kids, and probably a lot of parents, enjoy from Trouble is thwarting other players by landing on top of them. Kaboom takes this to a new level! Rather than having to roll the needed number to sabotage your competitors, you get to launch cannonballs at them as they try to construct towers for points. This keeps everyone engaged in every turn and keeps the game to a much shorter playtime as pieces aren’t continually sent back to the beginning.
Mouse Trap can be fun, but its issue is how anticlimactic it is. Once you’ve run the trap once it become a monotonous cycle of rolling and moving and resetting the trap. Building the trap is fun, but the game tends to drag out once you get to the actual trapping of mice. The kids tend to remember the fun of building and forget how long it took to actually finish the game. So they ask to play it again and again, each time being less interested in finishing the actual game.
Play instead…Engineering Ants
Engineering Ants takes all the fun of building the mouse trap and combines it with fun and fast gameplay. What we really love about Engineering Ants is it doesn’t just ask the kids to follow a set of instructions to build something cool, it taps into their creativity and challenges them to invent solutions to obstacles they run into when trying to rescue their ant brothers and sisters.
The other aspect that’s awesome about Engineering Ants is the cooperative gameplay. Rather than setting kids up trying to eliminate the other players, Engineering Ants asks them to work together to create! Maybe best of all, this game plays in less than thirty minutes, and often results in our kids asking if they can free play to build more after the game ends.
A lot of classic board games have one fatal flaw in common, they take WAY to long to play. I don’t really have that gripe with Chutes and Ladders. My issue with Chutes and Ladders is it doesn’t really challenge kids to use their brain beyond counting spaces on the board. While the younger board gamers Chutes and Ladders is geared at don’t need a complex strategy game, they should be challenged to use their brain and make some decisions.
Play Instead…Mole Rats in Space
Mole Rats in Space is a cooperative game. Players control the mole rats to collect the spaceship parts and get to the ship before getting bitten by snakes. The game has smooth mechanics for moving players and snakes as well as introducing new snakes. Players have to climb ladders to get to the space ship and try to send the snakes out the chutes and into space. The game challenges players to make simple decisions regarding the direction the move to avoid being snake bitten or falling into space.
I love all the strategy involved in Risk, but the mechanics make it a clunky, lengthy game. The other aspect of Risk that drove me nuts was how the strategy is so one-dimensional. There are very few twists and while the dice help to add some luck and randomness, as some point the during game play, it begins to feel very repetitive.
Play instead…Small World
Small World is conceptually very similar to Risk. Use your soldiers to take over territory from other players and try to control as much territory as possible. What makes Small World interesting is each player controls different types of soldiers (Ogres, Wizards, etc.) and those soldiers have different abilities. These combos of soldiers and abilities introduces loads of different strategies into the game. Certain soldiers like Trolls are very good at controlling an area of the board, while other like Gypsies are made to run around the board and terrorize other players. The game is built around a certain number of rounds which rather than total control which helps keep play time under an hour.
I’ll probably get bashed for this one, as I know a lot of people love Trivial Pursuit…but for those of us who aren’t trivia buffs, Trivial Pursuit is so painful! The worst thing about it in my book, is it is so skewed to adults, it is almost unplayable. There are newer versions that try to address this, but you quickly realize the mechanics still leave a lot to be desired.
Play instead…Wits and Wagers
Wits and Wagers is still a trivia based game, but rather than having to know the specific answer, questions are numbers based and every player guesses the answer on a white board. Then players wager on which answer they think is right. The player whose guess was the closest wins points, and the players who wager correctly also win points.
I have never understood this game. Or what is fun about it…let’s all spin and count and pretend to do very mundane adult things? Oh and also let’s teach our kids that winning the game of life is based on how much money the earned? Come on! The idea of story telling as you explore a game is cool, but there is so many better options out there! Like…
Play instead…Tales of Arabian Nights
This is the ultimate story telling game in my opinion. There is a small amount of strategy involved, but mostly this game is all about having adventures! You win the game by having the best adventures and earning story and destiny points. Isn’t that a better lesson to kids then ‘earn the most money’? Much of the story is based on folk tales from the mideast which makes for a great history lesson to! As a warning there is a sex change card in this game that may require some explaining with the kids!
Where Do You Stand on Classic Board Games?
What do you think of these classic board games? Comment below!