Finding a holiday activity that will please everyone in the family can be a tricky task. Your overachieving brother needs an activity that scratches his competitive itch, Dad refuses to do anything where he can’t wear sweatpants, and the annual family game of touch football has been canceled due to last year’s “unpleasantness.” Luckily, everyone is happy to play board games. But if family unity and harmony are what you’re after this holiday season, you’d best steer clear of these board games.
1. Settlers of Catan This game, in which players earn points by trading for resources and building cities, has built a cult following. However, it gets to be less fun when Uncle Bobby starts hoarding all the brick, and your sister and her husband refuse to trade their ore for your wheat because they’re still mad that you dented their car last summer. If your family is prone to deceptive trading practices and covert alliance-making, keep this game in the box.
2. Cards Against Humanity It’s just like Apples to Apples—but with an NC-17 rating. The makers themselves describe it as “a party game for horrible people,” and who are we to disagree? Scatalogical jokes abound, although there’s enough offensive material in the deck to offend everyone in your family several times over.
3. Pandemic In this game, players draw and play cards to find cures to global diseases. Don’t be fooled by the cooperative nature of the gameplay, though; working as a team simply means that there are more people to blame when you inevitably lose. Plus, do you really want to play a game that gives your parents the opportunity to remind you of the fact that your younger cousin is now a successful doctor?
4. Saboteur Another game of cooperation where teams of miners build paths toward gold nuggets. The catch? Undercover saboteurs who use lies and manipulation to thwart them. Not recommended for families sensitive to distrust, dishonesty or mining danger.
5. Monopoly Sure, paying anything less than $2,000 rent in any major city might seem appealing to you, but in post-recession America, the idea of Mom and Dad as landlords may hit a little too close to home. Also, in highly partisan families, the concept of a flat, 10 percent income tax that maxes out at $200, even for the highest earners, is sure to stir up tensions. Anyone for Scrabble instead?