Christmas is a time for family, and when you're with your family, there's almost nothing worse than having to talk to them. But they insist. Sometimes they even turn off the telly and sit down in a circle, then take turns saying words and all earnestly pretending they're interested in each other.
Of course, once conversation runs dry, there're always board games – because your family are too old to just grow up and buy an Xbox like proper human beings – and people seem convinced that they'll be fun, this time, unlike all the other horrible times you've played them. Well, they're wrong. Here's what we hate about Christmas games, and some suggestions of some new ones to play instead.
Don't play Monopoly. 'You know what, Grandma? FUCK YOU. FUCK THIS GAME. All I wanted was to establish a small real-estate empire in London, which is difficult, because I am a SHOE. And you get LUCKY in the opening stages of the game and buy up Park Lane and Mayfair and it's ALL HOTELS.
Well listen up, bitch, I don't want to stay in your fancy hotel. I'm tired of your bullshit. I'm not paying your rent, and I'm running straight past go and collecting £200, which might just keep my existing creditors off my FUCKING BACK before they find a way to pin me down and rip out my SHOE KIDNEYS to sell on the black market.
DON'T YOU START CRYING. You knew what you were getting into when you opened the box.'
Instead, try: The Big Idea. Never mind property acquisition - this is the game of slick marketing pitches and convincing people they want something when they actually don't. You're dealt a hand of random adjectives and nouns, and it's up to you to fashion them into a saleable product and pitch it to the other players - so you end up with shit like "Tropical Robo-Butler" and "Inflatable Car" and "Erotic Virus." Geninunely funnier than it sounds.
Don't play Boggle. What a vocabulary-based dick-waving contest this is. Do you know how many words we know? Fuck all, and we write a magazine. Turns out our elderly relatives have spent all of their seventy-two years relentlessly honing their pattern-matching skills so even after three glasses of sherry they can trounce us in what was supposed to be a fun game, laughing quietly through their false teeth.
Instead, try: Betrayal at House on the Hill. This has almost no connection to Boggle at all, but we had to shoehorn it in somewhere as it's great. We suppose they begin with the same letter, which sould count for something. Explore a haunted house, fight evil, and screw each other over in thirty different B-Movie horror scenarios. Excellent stuff for when the nephews have gone to bed and you need something to do whilst powering through a bottle of discount festive scotch.
Don't play Pictionary. There is only one person in any given family that can draw, and they're sure as shit not going to end up on your team. What is that your teammate's drawing? A helicopter? An abortion? A helicopter having an abortion? No?
No? No. Oh. It was 'Angst'.
Instead, try: Once Upon A Time. This card game takes bedtime stories and weaponises them into a collaborative race to the Happily Ever After. You're dealt a hand of cards with things like 'A Prince', 'A Dragon', 'An Ancient Castle' on them and you need to work them into the group story before some bastard steals narrative control off you and shafts you utterly. Top-draw stuff, and a great way to arbitrate inevitable arguments.
Picture by Dan Zen on Flickr
Don't play Chess. Oh, shit, you're in too deep. Too deep. The moustachioed uncle who convinced you to play against him clearly does this as some sort of hobby, rather than just an exercise in passing time, and he's toying with you. How else are you still playing after three hours?
What takes three hours? Fucking nothing, aside from the Lord of the Rings films, and we've already watched one of those. He's like a cat toying with an injured mouse, drawing you out. Maybe this is how old people have fun. By making you suffer. It would explain the way they drive and how they behave at cashpoints.
Come on, old man! Take the Queen! She's laying wide open for his frontal assault, and he's ignoring her! Is she not good enough for him? END THIS.
Instead, try: Arkham Horror. You thought Chess was a bit complicated? Man, you ain't seen nothing yet. Arkham Horror is produced by Fantasy Flight Games, the world's largest producer of superfluous counters, and it kicks arse.
You play a group of desperate investigators trying to avert the end of the world as hungry extra-dimensional Gods hover ominously close to our plane of reality. Will you survive? And, more importantly, will you get past turn three before you give up and get wankered on Bailey's instead? We can't say. But managing to complete a game is a true mark of boardgame courage.
We realise this isn't vanilla Cluedo, but we couldn't find a picture of that
Don't play Cluedo. 'Oh, it was Colonel Mustard! In that room. With that object. He did a murder. Yes. What a jolly time we've all had. This game only highlights how we've wasted that last hour, and how we're all growing inexorably closer to death with each sonorous ring of the grandfather clock. Excuse me, I'm going out for a bit to take up smoking again and hasten the... whole process.'
Instead, try: Kill Doctor Lucky. Ever wonder what led up to the events in Cluedo? Find out in Kill Doctor Lucky, where you'll try to efficiently and brutally murder the titular Doctor whilst staying out of sight of the other players. Genuine fun and comes with none of the boring bits of Cluedo where no-one talks to each other for fear of giving anything away.