Some games lend themselves beautifully to peaceful, enjoyable game nights where everyone gets along.
And then…there are the board games that ruin friendships: the ones that lead to rules-lawyering, rage-quitting, table-flipping, and the occasional shouting match. Yes, folks, I’m talking about our favorite friendship-ending board games. The ones where someone swears they’re never going to play games with you again…and then they’re back again next week.
Most of you have probably played each game at least once. Some of you are probably proud to say you play them regularly. A couple are even extremely popular gateway games (pro tip — go easy on the newbies for the first game; then eviscerate them) and another couple you probably won’t ever play again, at least not with that one person after that one time.
This list is based exclusively on anecdotal evidence compiled from the Internet, which means it’s absolutely 100% true and indisputable, with each game rated on a 1-10 scale for its friendship-ruining capabilities and its replay value.
A classic and a good gateway game, to boot, Carcassonne is my favorite game on this list. The gameplay is pretty simple:
Lay down tiles. Claim your fields, roads, cloisters, and cities. Get points. Lay down more tiles. Steal someone else’s road (or city) and steal their points. Call each other names and spend the rest of the game trying to build another castle to add on to the one you lost and reclaim your territory, only to have someone else beat you to it. (Actual true story, that one.) And so on and so forth.
Just be warned: someone else is going to get that one single tile you needed to complete your city, and they’re not going to help you out.
Players: 2-5 | Playtime: 30-45 minutes | Ages: 8+
2. The Resistance
Here, we have the first of several games that are all about purposely screwing each other over: The Resistance. Quick and dirty, this is the perfect game to teach your friends that no, you really are that good at bluffing and maybe they shouldn’t underestimate just how evil you can be.
Spies have infiltrated the Resistance in an attempt to sabotage their efforts. In each round, you choose a team leader and vote on the success of the individual mission — just be prepared never to trust your significant other again.
For a twist, incorporate the Avalon, Hidden Agenda, or Hostile Intent expansions.
Players: 5-10 | Playtime: 30 minutes | Ages: 13+
Friendship-Ending Factor: 8 | Replay Value: 9
3. The Settlers of Catan
Catan is probably the ultimate gateway board game, despite its contentious nature. You and your friends settle an island and start collecting resources needed to turn it into a proper civilization. Build roads and settlements, stop your friends from building their roads, and be sure to move the robber to wherever it will do the most damage to your opponents.
When things go south, start offering ridiculous trades to screw over whoever’s in the lead. Where did all that wheat come from? Wood for sheep, anyone?
To keep things fresh and make sure you always have nothing new to argue over, make sure you rotate in the various expansions.
Players: 2-6 | Playtime: 60-120 minutes | Ages: 10+
Friendship-Ending Factor: 9 | Replay Value: 10
Another game specifically designed for you and your friends to screw each other over. Highly reminiscent of Dungeons & Dragons, but instead of the DM raining misery down upon all of you, all of your friends can gang up on you at once, because the whole point of the game is actually just to keep someone else from winning.
Expect cheating and aggressive negotiations (“Let me help you, or something really bad is going to happen”). Lots of variations (pirates, superheroes, and zombies, to name a few) and even a special blender deck help you create the most awesome mashups in existence.
Players: 3-6 | Playtime: 60 minutes | Ages: 10+
Friendship-Ending Factor: 9 | Replay Value: 10
The classic game for strategists that will end in an inevitable showdown between Australia and Asia, where someone will either roll a few epic failures or crush their opponent without mercy, while everyone else watches on in smug satisfaction.
Unless of course, you play one of the variations — which can still get just as ugly, but might play out a bit differently. If you and your friends rage-quit weekly, Risk Legacy is the perfect choice.
Players: 2-6 | Playtime: 120 minutes | Ages: 10+
Friendship-Ending Factor: 10 | Replay Value: 8
If you have no shortage of time and a vindictive capitalistic attitude, you’re sure to have a blast with Monopoly, the beloved (or nightmare) game of many a childhood.
Once you’ve stopped fighting over who gets to be the car and dog, it’s time to start the real fun: Buy up the best properties, raise the rents to ridiculous rates, and bankrupt each of your friends. Keep your eye on the banker, and don’t forget to offer the occasional loan on very “generous” terms.
Players: 2-8 | Playtime: 120 minutes | Ages: 8+
Friendship-Ending Factor: 10 | Replay Value: 6
Not a great choice for the self-conscious, Quelf is the epitome of friendship-ending games. Expect to sing, dance, bark at people, and test the limits of your creativity, all while answering painfully awkward questions in a weird truth-or-dare type situation.
This game is particularly prone to rules-lawyering and the occasional awkward statement that crosses a line you didn’t know exists. If you and your friends are the shameless types, this could be a blast. Or a total disaster. Or both!
Players: 3-8 | Playtime: 60 minutes | Ages: 12+
Friendship-Ending Factor: 11 | Replay Value: 4
Which one of these has ruined a friendship for you? Leave a comment let us know if we missed any games!