Note: The opening images in this series aren’t of real games by the way. They’re just photoshopped pictures I’ve obtained through various websites. But they kind of emphasize that these games I’m featuring aren’t meant for families for various reasons.
You notice that a lot of the board games I feature in this series don’t actually feature a board. That’s because board games in this series usually refers to “not video” in the broadest sense. Now it’s not uncommon for a popular movie, book, TV show, or franchise to have their very own tie-in board game. A lot of these aren’t really good but I couldn’t include many of them since their family unfriendliness tends to pale in comparison to a lot of the games I have and will feature in this series. Of course, I had to include the two board games from The Hunger Games since they tend to glamorize on elements that the original trilogy condemns such as forcing kids to compete in a fight to the death on national television before degrading them further. But guess what the movies and the board games capitalize on? You guessed it, the violence, which is kind of a shame. Still, enough with my talking right now. So for your reading and family unfriendly pleasure, here is another installment of my series on family unfriendly board games.
31. Nuclear War
Category: Card, Political, Modern Warfare, Negotiation
Contents: Deck of cards
Object: Each player represents a major world power and attempts to gain global domination (or annihilation) through the strategic use of propaganda or nuclear weapons.
Why they thought it was a good idea: Well, it was released in 1965 which is 3 years after the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War.
Why it’s not: Seriously, this game makes light of the ideas of nuclear annihilation which isn’t supposed to be fun. In fact, it’s quite scary even in the 21st century.
Available?: Let’s hope it’s not still in print. But it did go through a few editions.
32. The Game of Happiness
Category: Roll/Spin, Set Collection
Contents: game board, spinners, 6 player tokens, 6 ladders of success, decks of cards, fake money, plastic stuff, square ladder tiles
Object: Players collect the keys of happiness and use them to build a ladder to climb to the rainbow of happiness. The keys are: Faith, Love, Money, Knowledge, Friendship, and Health. Each path is not easy to achieve.
Why they thought it was a good idea: Well, Milton Bradley did have Mansion of Happiness and the Game of Life so perhaps Happiness was just another idea to cash on that in the 1970s.
Why it’s not: Well, who was what these developers were on when they made this came. It’s just so bizarre and crazy. One person called it “a long, almost entirely random game which causes the total opposite of what the title would suggest.” Still, if there was a board game designed by hippies on powerful hallucinogenic drugs, then this would be it.
Available?: Probably out of print, thank God.
Category: Food/Cooking, Pick-Up and Deliver
Contents: large mousetrap, cheese pieces, cheese box, scoring track
Object: Players try to remove as much cheese from the pan as possible before the mouse trap goes swack. Player can take up to 3 pieces from the pan on any given turn. Large pieces earn 3 points while small pieces earn 1 point. If the trap springs, the unlucky player loses 10 points. Players take turns removing cheese until the trap springs, then all of it is replaced and the trap is reset. Game ends when the player reaches the end of the scoring track.
Why they thought it was a good idea: I don’t know. Guess it was inspired by the notion that kids have so many fingers that they could lose a few as long as they weren’t thumbs. Released in 1968.
Why it’s not: Let’s just say the obvious safety hazards involved. I mean this game isn’t friendly on the fingers.
34. The Suicide Bomber Card Game
Category: Card, Humor
Contents: Deck of cards, tokens
Object: Players compete to bomb as many of each other’s bystanders and civilians as possible.
Why they thought it was a good idea: Since it was created in 2003, I think it was mainly to cash in on 9/11, the War on Terror, and the Iraq War.
Why it’s not: For one, it’s a game making light of terrorism and horrific violence, particularly in the Middle East. Second, this concept is so offensive that the company had to leave a disclaimer in their product description. Anything else I need to explain?
Available?: Well, they sell it on Amazon.
35. Lie, Cheat, & Steal: The Game of Political Power
Category: Negotiation, Political, Simulation
Contents: game board, 2 dice, fake money, vote cards, 6 pawns, 16 black eye cards, 16 feather-in-your-cap cards, 24 money cards
Object: Players strive to be elected to political office. Players start with $50,000 and collect $20,000 every time they pass start. Unlike games based on how elections are supposed to be run, this one uses true methods like vote buying, libel, and under the table deals to advance to office. Players can also drop out of politics for awhile and enter private business or local politics in order to build up reputations. Can also find themselves subpoenaed to appear on the federal witness stand as a result of a Senate investigation. First player with 500 votes wins.
Why they thought it was a good idea: This was probably a satire of the political process which was published in 1971.
Why it’s not: Though recommended for ages 12 and up, I’m not sure a game teaching about dirty methods to get ahead is appropriate for a family game night. Sure it might be a more accurate game about the political process but let’s face it, you don’t want to ruin a child’s innocence that soon.
Available?: Probably not.
36. Uranium Rush
Category: Auction/Bidding, Mining, Economic, Educational, Electronic
Contents: game board, spinners, fake money, fake Geiger counter, wooden pegs, cards
Object: Players start with $15,000 and prospect for uranium in an area determined by the spinner on the board. Claims can be purchased for $1000 or auctioned off to be tested for uranium. Involves an electric “Geiger counter” producing a buzzing sound if uranium is discovered, which is sold to the federal government for $50,000. Players take turns until all the claims are staked. Player with the most money in the end wins.
Why they thought it was a good idea: This game was released in the 1950s when atomic energy was all the rage.
Why it’s not: Well, let’s just say that while nuclear power is seen as a viable energy source in some areas, it’s not necessarily a nice one. Also, uranium exposure won’t do you any favors and I’m sure the uranium isn’t just used for the power plants.
Available?: It’s no longer in print.
37. War on Terror: The Board Game
Category: Negotiation, War
Contents: game board, “Evil” Balaclava, Axis of Evil Spinner, Rules of Engagement, Card Appendix, 65 empire cards, 47 terrorist cards, 6 reference cards, 60 oil counters, 16 radiation counters, 300 empire counters, 100 terrorist counters, 2 oil dice, 1 action die, Secret Message Pad, lots of fake money
Object: The goal is to liberate the world, ridding it of fear and terrorism forever. So naturally the biggest empires are only up to the task and needs to prove a certain amount of dominance. Players start as an empire with a couple of villages and can settle anywhere in the world. Though peaceful, the politics start to form depending on what is discovered and how aggressive the initial settlement choice is. Players then spread over the planet grabbing available land with the best oil and most strategic boarders. Some may go for towns and cities, others on extra empire cards to build up their political options. But soon war will be declared and the terrorist will strike. Though possible to win with the players as empires, they’re more likely to be destroyed, bankrupted, or cave in and become terrorist players.
Why they thought it was a good idea: This was released in 2006 as a satire for the Middle East situation such as the War on Terror and the Iraq War.
Why it’s not: Let’s just say that this game has a troubled history, unsurprisingly. Its first release was met with a lot of criticism with businesses refusing to associate with it and being banned from a number of industry fairs around the world. The British police even confiscated it at one point. Still, tide has recently turned however. Nevertheless, while I can’t complain on accuracy about the geopolitics, I’m not sure if making light of terrorism is a good idea.
Available?: Yes, and has its own website. Also, is an online app.
38. Oy Vey!
Contents: game board, naches cards for good luck, tsouris cards for bad luck, 2 dice, color coded discs and pawns
Object: Game in which each player is a Jewish mother who has to get two sons to become doctors and two daughters to marry M.Ds.
Why they thought it was a good idea: I don’t know, trying to appeal to a Jewish demographic? May have been created by Jews themselves.
Why it’s not: For one, it perpetuates Jewish stereotypes. Second, it’s pretty sexist despite being released in the 1970s. Seriously, there are plenty of Jews out there who aren’t doctors, many of whom are Nobel Prize winners and Hollywood celebrities. Not to mention, how I’d see it play among non-Jewish audiences.
Available?: Hopefully not.
39. Puerto Rico
Category: City Building, Economic, Farming
Contents: 5 individual player boards, 1 governor card, 8 role cards (Settler, Mayor, Builder, Craftsman, Trader, Captain, 2 Prospectors), 1 game board, 49 building tiles (5 Large Violet, 24 Small Violet, 20 Non-Violet Production), 54 doubloons (46 x “1”, 8 x “5”), 58 island tiles (8 Quarry Tiles, 50 Plantation Tiles), 1 colonist ship, 100 colonists, 1 trading house, 50 goods (9 Coffee, 9 Tobacco, 10 Corn, 11 Sugar, 11 Indigo), 5 cargo ships, 50 victory point chips (32 x “1”, 18 x “5”)
Object: Players assume the roles of colonial governors of Puerto Rico. The aim is to amass victory points by shipping goods to Europe or by constructing buildings. Each player uses a separate small board with spaces for city buildings, plantations, and resources. Players share a three ships, a trading house, and a supply of resources and doubloons. Players earn victory points for owning buildings, for shipping goods, and for manned “large buildings.” During each round, each player selects a “role” card from the table in which every player gets to take the action to that role.
Why they thought it was a good idea: The developers probably wanted to show kids about the economics and thrill of Colonialism.
Why it’s not: Caused some controversy when it was first released in 2004 due to its less-than-subtle use of slaves (with dark colored chits, even) as a game resource. Civil Rights groups angrily protested game stores and Public Enemy even wrote a protest rap for it. Also, let’s just say Colonialism isn’t a fun time in history for Africans and indigenous people either.
Available?: Yes, it’s still in print and there’s even an online version, too.
Category: Strategy, City Building, Economic, Negotiation
Contents: game board, 1 linen bag, 1 year marker, 5 player aid cards, 85 building cards, 80 money cards, 90 shop tiles, 1 first player card, 150 ownership markets
Object: Players portray Chinese immigrants in New York during the 1960s. Players acquire ownership of city block sections then place tiles, representing businesses, onto the block-sections. At the end of each term, each tile a player has laid gives them some sort of payout, but completed businesses (formed of three to six connected tiles of the same type) pay better. But all resources are dealt to the players randomly, however.
Why they thought it was a good idea: Possibly the developers wanted to appeal to an Asian audience of some sort. Then again, martial arts movies.
Why it’s not: At its 1999 release, it provoked a great deal of indignation among Chinese Americans who were upset at the game’s rampant use of racial stereotypes. One organization even complained on 60 Minutes saying, “There is more to Chinese-American entrepreneurial spirit than dry cleaners and fish markets. And the Chinese guy on the box is straight out of central casting. No one dresses like that anymore.”
Available?: I’m sure it’s still in print as of today.