Best Board Game Ever, Part 2 [Think Tank]

Best Board Game Ever, Part 2 [Think Tank]

Building a better Mousetrap.

[Part 2 of the latest Think Tank today. Check out Part 1 if you haven’t yet, and vote for your favorite at the bottom before Midnight EST on Monday. —Ed.]

by shechner

The board game “Clue” was originally “Cluedo,” and much like Right Said Fred, bicameral legislature and Smallpox, it’s a wonderment that first made its way to the Americas from Britain.  For this – as perhaps for little else – we all owe them a debt of gratitude.

Inexplicably, the sequel was eventually reworked into a children's show.

Inexplicably, the sequel was eventually reworked into a children's show.

Now, Clue is not a particularly complex game: while it lacks the fast-paced, fevered pitch of Chess, the wry cultural commentary of Candyland, or the strategic and intellectual depth of Crossfire, I’d argue that these apparent deficits essentially serve to bolster it’s major strength.  Clue is a really the austere framework for a compelling story line, a piece of real drama which is implied, but not elaborated upon except in the players’ minds.  After all, we’re talking about the only children’s board game (or at the very least, I suspect, the first) that STARTS with a high-society murder and the decision to turn vigilante.  Once the players steel themselves to their grim fates, and take in the decaying squalor of the antiquated mansion that sets the stage for this Poirot-style morality play, what follows are essentially repetitions of the scientific method.

PROBLEM: He’s dead, Jim.

HYPOTHESIS: I believe it was Colonel Mustard who did it, in the Conservatory, with the revolver.

PREDICTION: American eight year olds have no idea that Mustard is a color, or what the heck a revolver is.  Ditto for a Conservatory.

TEST OF HYPOTHESIS: Proof by disproof, essentially.  Like science did with “God” about 160 years ago.

NEW HYPOTHESIS: Lather, rinse, repeat.

And the cycle spins on until people either solve the murder, or cheat and send an innocent man to prison.  It’s eerily more like real life than The Game of Life ever could be.  Most of my attempts to play this with my family (and there were MANY attempts) would ultimately become inadvertent lessons in theoretical logic, too, ala:

Which beckons a most important point.  Clue the board game is unquestionably the greatest of its ilk because it inspired Clue, the movie.

Fantastic in its own right, I’d argue that this is certainly the best movie ever adapted from a Parker Brothers work, and John Landis’ best effort at transposing a parlor game into cinematic form. Though Blues Brothers 2000 (an obvious extended metaphor for Yahtzee) is a good try, too.

from Matthew Wrather

I don’t think I ever played Mouse Trap. Oh, we had the game in its oversized box, and it came off the pile regularly when I was small. But playing, as in rolling dice, taking turns, and following rules? Never did it.

Mouse Trap was actually two games in one. The first, the real game, was an almost unbelievably fun Rube Goldberg contraption that involved turning a crank and setting a whole load of mayhem in motion, the ultimate aim being to “catch” another player’s piece beneath a falling net.

So when the oversized Mouse Trap box came off the pile, my brother and I were a blur, setting up the contraption and triggering it, then resetting each component (ball in the bucket; man on the diving board; net on top of the pole) and triggering it again.

The second game involved dice and turns and pieces and rules. (Apparently, you were meant to build the contraption slowly, each piece a reward for winning a round of the game.) It may have been a good game, it may have been a bad game. Who knows? What it was for sure was an irrelevant game, since it paled in comparison to the mayhem you could trigger with again and again, and the built-in drama (“Will it work this time?”) inherent in each turn of the crank.

I can’t help but think that Milton Bradley missed a big opportunity to build a better Mousetrap. Why not release LEGO-like sets of Rube Goldberg pieces, designed to fit together in some standard way? Mix and match your favorite contraptions into some giant machine, built to whatever nefarious purpose you wished? Something like this:


by mlawski

Sorry if I’m a little behind the times ’cause I’ve been playing so much Team Fortress 2, but I just started playing this awesome game called “Chess.”  It’s a tabletop game, so you know it’s old school.  You even have to buy a specific board and miniatures to play!  Cuteness!

Unlike most tabletop games, Chess requires that you play not one but SIXTEEN different characters.  So it’s more like a Final Fantasy game where you have one main character but you still control everyone else.  Although it sounds kind of complicated, Chess is turn-based, so you have plenty of time to think out your actions.  Unless you buy the Speed Chess expansion pack, though I wouldn’t recommend that for newbies.

A fun thing about Chess is that you control six unique character classes.  The classes are pretty balanced, too.  For instance, while the Knight can only move in a certain pattern, it has the Jump ability like Kain from Final Fantasy IV.  The battle Bishop (think Billy Lee Black from Xenogears) can only attack diagonally, but you can move him as many spaces as you want.  At first I thought the Pawn was totally nerfed, but then I realized you can use them to Zerg-rush your opponents.  The game designers really knew what they were doing with this one.

What about the story?  Well, at first glance, it’s pretty simplistic.  I mean, a bunch of legendary warriors coming together to save the king?  Bo-ring!  And it’s all very “black versus white,” if you know what I mean.

But  there’s something to love about its simplicity.  Within such a seemingly straightforward tale, there’s plenty of room for complex strategies, manipulation, and, of course, death.  It’s like the designers read Dune before they made the game!  Of course I mean that as the highest of compliments.

So go out and buy Chess today, and soon you’ll be the Chess Master!  (That’s like a PokéMaster for Chess, btw.)

What is the greatest board game of all time?

  • Chess (39%, 29 Votes)
  • Clue (32%, 24 Votes)
  • Connect Four (9%, 7 Votes)
  • Mousetrap (8%, 6 Votes)
  • The Game of Life (7%, 5 Votes)
  • Electronic Dream Phone (4%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 74

Loading ... Loading ...

16 Comments on “Best Board Game Ever, Part 2 [Think Tank]”

  1. Pianodan #

    Blackmar Diemer? Feh.


  2. Gab #

    Perfect choice, Schechner. I’d add to it how there were lots of spinoff GAMES, like Clue Jr., yes, but also games that play out essentially the same way but aren’t called Clue at all, such as that 13 Dead-End Drive. So Clue spawned a massive influx of deductive reasoning games into The Popular Culture, as well as a movie that is still watched and loved twenty years after its original release (and let’s not forget the ingenious marketing of having different endings at different theaters). Also, one dynamic you allude to is how Clue is sort of a watered down version of one of those “How to Host a Murder” dinner things: it gives players the opportunity to roleplay as much or as little as they want while still doing the same sort of thing, solving a mystery, thus making it accessible to any level of gamer. Rock on.


  3. FlygenZirkus #

    I’m positive that the winner of this poll will be chess, there is no doubt. One, it’s easily the funniest. Two, it’s the very last board game before the poll. Thusly, more people will be inclined to vote for chess than any of the other choices. In order to increase the quality of this poll, Chess needs to be moved to the 1st board game of the 1st post on the greatest board game. I mean honestly, anything with that many hilarious references not winning? Preposterous.


  4. Wade #

    Zirkus, you’ve convinced me. I’m voting for chess.


  5. Gab #

    But lo! my friends, shouldn’t the votes be based on the merits of the game and not the sly, vote-seeking tactics of the author? What we really should be doing is calling Mlwaski out on her dirty campaign tactics.

    We need a full inquiry right now, complete with lots of red tape, a 1000+ page report, and a vote to decide on the vote that will decide on the vote. Come ON people, don’t you know how a bureaucracy works?

    And please, let us try to avoid party politics. We need change, after all.


  6. stokes #

    I used to play a homebrew variant of clue where instead of presenting your hypothesis to the world, you presented it only to a single person: “Shechner,” I might say, “Come join me in the Conservatory™ for a moment. I think that Mr. Body was killed in the Library™, with the Rope,™ and that I myself performed the shameful deed in the fits of a laudanum induced stupor.”

    “Balderdash, Mrs. White™” murmurs Shechner, showing me the appropriate card, “I know for a fact that you spent your entire laudanum-coma passed out on the Ballroom™ floor.”

    Sillyness aside, the way that this would work is that all the players would get to hear my hypothesis, but only one of them (Shechner in this case) would have to answer me. Furthermore, he wouldn’t answer out loud… instead he would surruptitiously show me the card, so that no one else got the information. FURTHERMORE, if he didn’t have ANY of the cards, he would surruptitiously show me the BACK of a card, so that no one would get THAT information EITHER. It turned Clue from a simple game of logical deduction to a fiendish game of information theory. (Those helpful little grids they give you wound up covered with notations like “Fenzel keeps asking everyone about Ms. Scarlet. WHAT DOES HE KNOW?!”)


  7. Gab #

    So did you dress up like Mrs. White for effect, Mr Stokes?


  8. Irish Steve #

    i agree, with cluedo – it is a great game, and the movie spinoff was excellent, even in the UK they had a tv series when i was a kid.

    Another game i feel should get an honorable mention is Strategeo. Maybe some of you will feel it was the poor mans chess but i thinks its amazing and its a pity more people dont play it.

    what do you think of Risk? took waaaayyy tooo long to set up and whne you did it was just a glorified dice game!


  9. mlawski OTI Staff #

    Although I wrote up chess, my favorite board game is actually Diplomacy, which is like Risk only significantly better. Risk relies on the luck of the dice; Diplomacy relies on lying to and manipulating your friends. Risk can take all day to play; a good game of Diplomacy can take a year or more. Risk isn’t very hard to play; Diplomacy is hard in different ways, depending on whom you play with. <3 Diplomacy…

    Another fun game is Balderdash.


  10. Gab #

    Oh, Diplomacy… Gods, that one can get soooooo mad crazy intense…


  11. Marty #

    I used to play some very obscure boardgames (along with the classics, of course).

    Escape from Colditz was one, but we could never agree on the right rules. It’s the only boardgame I know of based in such a specific historical event (correct me if I’m wrong). I always wondered how they could get away wih trivializing real people’s experiences into a brightly-colored boardgame, all for a 10-year-old’s entertainment, but I guess lawsuits were less common when it was made (70s, I believe).


  12. Invenerox #

    diamond casino savannah star casino darling harbour musiq soulchild ip casino .online casino coupons providence place mall casino juegos casino internet ruleta pa casino commission .buena vista rancheria casino house casino .big m casino myrtle beach jimbo casino most profitable casino games download virgin casino .and again luxor casino accounting .when .look .this as for me mummy casino shooting stars casino follow Following a sahara casino jobs In agua caliente casino address online casino with free money If las vegas casino lines liquid vegas image as as for me because live vegas casino minted casino is focused on If casino also shuttle service to snoqualmie casino hotel with casino in niagara falls mgm grand casino credit under mille lac grand casino ontario windsor casino riverside mo casino online casino nederland What is reno casino jobs sometime
    valley view casino hotel potawatomi casino milwaukee .This too casino crime Come to ballys hotel and casino vegas and this is the best resource on city to casino hobart .should not .which .follow Usualy victories casino petoskey microgaming casino bonuses is the same as Where mobile casino guide Cool stuff – ny casino party creek nations casino commerce casino la santa fe casino ice skating Purchase caesar casino in windsor image as was .


  13. hamza #

    aah jjdi gcist sico 2142 kgick it 411 i gispû uit skhio ygjkiucx gycxi ^spc^ sc^c spcps hsoc scspy cdopc c scgs cgscgs ocoscg socghs cosocghsoc sochsd cdshc sdcos cshoc schso chsocdh ochco scodscihy schpcid pcdpcdjhc pdic diud puydpidpdpyfpif epfep fpefuepfu pefue fepjepofupe fupeuf efie fepof ef epfe feup fuefie pe efe fpef uepufeo ufpefeof


  14. Mark #

    I would have liked to see Scrabble. Word games are the best. I would have considered adding Scrabble or at least Boggle to this list. I also have been enjoying a new word game (though it certainly isn’t a classic at this point) called 5 To Close. Its a good variation because it is a word game played in teams. I also haven’t played Jumble yet, but I have heard great things about it and it has been recommended to me by others.


Add a Comment