Boardgame moments

That One Bad Game (BG Moment)

It’s an awkward conversational topic for some boardgamers, but everyone owns one or two. A bad game. And there are lots of different reasons for a game to be classified as bad, be it on an individual basis or the unanimous agreement of all gamers. I’d love to be objective here and say that one person’s bad game is another one’s favourite… but maybe there are some that are indescribably bad.

I’m not one to usually moan about any boardgames, I’d argue I’m pretty positive! If it’s fun, makes sense, and holds my attention, I’ll usually have a pretty positive outlook on it, if not I can find at least one or two positives to it.. If there are no redeeming qualities there must be something amiss. And I may be stereotyping here but I’m assuming most bad games are the results of overly promised Kickstarters, which is a shame really as I’d imagine a fair few backers may have been over sold the concept and would be highly disappointed with the lack of weight to what they’d been promised. The other reason I assume Kickstarter is because it’s the only sort of platform where having a silver tongue (as they’d say) wouldn’t cause problems until the last moment when the product was received and the backers could see the cracks more clearly.

I’m very lucky that most of the Kickstarters I’ve backed have had little to no issues, nor have they outright lied or oversold certain elements of the game. Sure some things may become more apparent when you receive it and it may be frustrating, but it’s never made me say “Shouldn’t have backed that one!”… Except one. It did what it said it would on the tin, it played as it said it would, the components came as they should have… But it’s so bad in my opinion!

My bad game is Petopia: The Backyard War. A game that, nowadays, I wouldn’t even consider backing on Kickstarter. This was backed in the height of my kickstarter addiction (I say height, I’m still well into my addiction, this was when I backed without checking!). There’s no reason for me to have backed it other than I saw the words early bird, competitive and free shipping. The holy trinity of bad decisions on Kickstarters. So the game’s concept is simple, play cards and bluff about them to reduce your opponents health so you win as the last man standing. Every turn a player draws a card, plays a card in front of another player, they guess whether it’s a trap or not and the card is resolved. There are reaction cards, effect cards and each player gets a character that grants a buff to their play. And yet it’s so bad! We spent the game playing a guessing game with little to no tactics, targeting one player at a time and questioning what the rules were trying to infer. The game is by a Thai company so you’d understand one or two miscommunications, but it feels like the entire rule book needs to be read aloud to be understood. On top of this, the artwork in the rule book looks like it’s a superimposed photo as opposed to inserted artwork. It’s a frustratingly bad attempt at a rule set that should have worked well, but didn’t. Then there’s the component quality… I’ve admitted I can be a card snob sometimes, but the quality is terrible! Very flimsy and soft. The counters to track health seem to be very durable, but that quality doesn’t redeem the rest of the game’s faults.

I really hate to moan, but it is a game we got out, learned, played a few times, then hid for the rest of time. There are no silver linings on this one, it was just a straight up moan! So bad, unremarkable and very forgettable. I’m allowed one. Do you have any terrible games you play?