back to article WINNER! Crush your loved ones at Connect Four this Christmas

With Christmas Day within sight, it’s time to dust off your Monopoly set and concentrate on your Settler’s strategy. Or, maybe, consider some new board-game purchases. It’s not just me caught up in this wave of nostalgia – venerated institution the Victoria and Albert Museum is hosting a major board game retrospective. Of late, …

  1. Kubla Cant

    What's the formula for gaining an advantage when playing Diplomacy then?

    1. Geoff May (no relation)

      Diplomacy: I'm going to kill my brother and then kill you on the pretext that your brother did it.

    2. BongoJoe

      Don't play Italy...

    3. Kane Silver badge

      "What's the formula for gaining an advantage when playing Diplomacy then?"

      Kill all the Diplomats?

      1. John G Imrie

        To win

        It pays to be honest and open, especially when you have a reputation for deceit.

        1. BongoJoe

          Re: To win

          I wonder how many of you chaps I have crossed swords with over a postal game -- which is the only way to really play Diplomacy.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: To win

            Fleet Sevastopol tries to hold,

            Fleet St Petersburg catches a cold.

            Atchoo! Atchoo! It's 1902.

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      The way to win at Diplomacy is to be really open, helpful and nice to everybody - right up to the point when you apologetically stab them in the back - explaining how it hurts you more than it hurts them, but that it's your only logical move. This helps them to keep feeling that you're honest in future.

      It's also really helpful to be able to lie with frightening consistency.

    5. Pen-y-gors

      Diplomacy: a strange game, where the only winning move is not to play.

      At least if you want to keep your friends...

    6. Robert Helpmann??

      Formula for gaining an advantage when playing Diplomacy


      I should also point out that when flipping a coin for a decision, the person flipping is not the one who guesses the outcome. And for a quick demo on how to beat someone a Rock-Paper-Scissors, I refer you to Penn Jillette (around 2:10).

  2. Wade Burchette


    I once bought a book on Monopoly strategies. I even read it all the way through and I, of course, still have it somewhere. I learned a very simple strategy for winning. Always buy the orange and red properties. For some reason, these are the most landed on properties in the game. Get those properties and put hotels up on them as fast as you can. Boardwalk and Park Place tend to be landed on infrequently, don't avoid them but you can use it as a bargaining chip to get properties which people land on more often.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Monopoly

      The orange and red frequency compared to others is higher because there are more cards that send a player to one of them, or ahead of them (including Jail and Purple in the first side) but even the "go back three spaces card". Combine this frequency with the most common value out of two dice being seven with eight a close second and the odds are stacked in their favour.

    2. BongoJoe

      Re: Monopoly

      If you're in jail you still have to throw the dice. If you roll a double then you're out and you move the number of spaces shown. So, a double three or double four will get you into trouble.

      And the Chance within the red set may send you back three spaces to Vine Street.

      My favourite set is the Old Kent Road/Whitechapel. They just nick Go Money nicely.

    3. BongoJoe

      Re: Monopoly

      Actually, the best way is NOT to build hotels but to keep everything at four houses if you can afford the repair bills.

      The name of the game, Monopoly, comes from the potential monopoly of the housing market and if there's not enough houses in the box then people can't build hotels. And, no, you can't just sling down £750 to build three hotels straight on the light blue set if there isn't twelve houses available in the box.

      That's one of the many rules that Most People Don't Know in the game which Everyone Thinks That They Know The Rules Of. And it's handy to spring on people after they've sat there for half an hour wondering why I never buy hotels.

  3. Locky

    It's not Christmas without a game of...

    Escape from Colditz


    1. Stevie

      Re: It's not Christmas without a game of...

      Mine a Million.

      Whoops! Was also a family favorite, and baby sister got me a perfect-nick copy last year.

      1. eldel

        Re: It's not Christmas without a game of...

        Mine a million. Ye gods, that takes me back a few decades. Just tossed the old battered box from my mum's loft last year. Now you've got me looking for a new copy :-)

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: It's not Christmas without a game of...

      Is Esacpe from Colditz any good though? I have nostalgic memories of playing it, but that was over 30 years ago, so although I recently found a copy, I've not played it yet.

    3. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: It's not Christmas without a game of...

      I'd forgotten all about Escape from Colditz...

    4. IR

      Re: It's not Christmas without a game of...

      A new version of Escape From Colditz has just been released as an anniversary edition. Should be easy to get a copy now.

    5. Isendel Steel

      Re: It's not Christmas without a game of...

      No-one wants to play the guards....

  4. TRT Silver badge

    I still play Risk...

    Good game.

    Stratego... now I've not played that in a while.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: I still play Risk...

      The problem with Risk is that it's always better to attack than defend - but if people haven't worked that out you can intimidate them with a big stack of units at a choke-point.

      If you like it though, there's a nice website out there called Conquer Club - that have loads of variants, of which my favourite was the New World one (I think it was called) where you're colonising the Americas. Which only works because you play it hidden movement.

  5. My other car is a Stryker LAV Silver badge

    Dealing with other people?

    If you want to play THOSE kinds of games, you can't avoid that other people suck sometimes.

    "People are a problem." -- Douglas Adams

    "The only winning move is not to play." -- WOPR, "Wargames"

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Dealing with other people?

      Make sure they get drunk fast.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It depends on what the 'point' of the game is

    In a family dynamic, there will clearly be a mixture of ages and therefore experience and capabilty, and each will be looking to take away something different from the game.

    For an adult with children, the aim is not to be 'competitive dad' and smash the weak opposition, rather to encourge participation, concentration, playing with others, having fun. 'Winning' the game for an adult is having a game with kids that they enjoyed and tried to do well in - the outcome of a win for the adult is not the most important part.

    Even in social gatherings of like minded, similarly competent people, the game is a means of social interaction and having a good time - nobody should care who wins at Monopoly or Risk EXCEPT if you all agree the point is to WIN - then you are all working from the same perspective (e.g. warhammer competitions or 'lets take this game of Risk seriously to see who's the best').

    One exception to this is where real money is at stake - games such as Poker. At no point is that implied everyone is in it for fun alone. Putting real cash in implies everyone is there to take it seriously as a game of skill. Even so, if the stakes are modest, enjoying a pint and talking shit during the game are just as important as winning the pot.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It depends on what the 'point' of the game is

      I bore my kids to death by (re)telling them that they are allowed to choose their own victory conditions, which do not have to be those stated in the rules, or those used by other players: just doing "better than usual" is fine. And I made up a space-race game with my son that deliberately has four different ways of "winning", all of which are used in each game, and which tend to be mutually exclusive. As we've never managed more than three players for it, it works out quite well :-)

    2. AIBailey

      Re: It depends on what the 'point' of the game is

      For an adult with children, the aim is not to be 'competitive dad' and smash the weak opposition

      Well, maybe not in your house....

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: It depends on what the 'point' of the game is

        "Well, maybe not in your house...."

        Exactly. The only reason to bring life into this world is to have someone whom you're guaranteed to be superior to, thereby boosting one's self esteem.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: into this world is to have someone whom you're guaranteed to be superior...

          Who will be choosing your retirement home...

  7. Andy00ff00

    I actually enjoyed a game on monopoly last weekend. Child #2 wanted to play, so i suggested we use the android version, and he could do all the clicks,rolls, admin etc - i.e. PRESS ALL THE BUTTONS. I got a good halfway through my book at the same time.

  8. Valeyard

    co-op games

    especially if there's some board game newcomers in the gathering we always play a few co-ops; flashpoint, pandemic etc, or lighter versus games like love letter, spyfall or codenames so the game is over quickly and they get another chance faster

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: co-op games

      I was a zombie in the graveyard in Spyfall 2 last week. You cannot imagine how hard it is not to just blurt out BRAAAAIINNZZZ for the cheap laugh, and give the whole game away. The other locations make sense, just not the graveyard - exactly what are you spying on there? Then again, how many spies are sent to amusement parks or theatres...

  9. TopBanana

    Does Munchkin count?

    If only someone could come up with a formula for winning at Munchkin. Teach your children that double crossing your opposition can be for fun as well as profit.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trouser pool


  11. Anonymous Coward

    I prefer pocket billiards...

  12. Valerion

    No need for strategy

    Every game of Monopoly I have ever played has always ended with either:

    a) One or more people getting bored and leaving, with nobody else really caring about who has the most


    b) A huge tantrum by one or more players resulting in storming out and/or the board being upended.

    The WOPR quote above is appropriate.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: No need for strategy

      That's the problem with Monopoly being so rubbish. Not only is there almost no strategy involved, but worse, it's also long. At least Connect 4 is over quickly - and is quite fun for a while if you're thinking 5 moves ahead. Even a long game like chess is fun if played quickly - if you haven't got a clock just sing the Countdown song at people, and disqalify them if they haven't moved by the end. The annoyance of that adds to the pressure to keep moving...

      There's some great games out there nowadays. From the simple and silly to the long and complex.

      I like the new version of Junta, where on election as El Presidente you get to wear the dark glasses of office. Until you're assassinated... Then you hand them over, and start plotting your revenge. I would have won, but accidentally murdered the President one turn too early. Ooops.

      Avalon: The Resistance, Spyfall, Cash n Guns are all good I'm not a fan of the Werewolf games as they're too random - but it's still fun to accuse your friends of being a secret werewolf, then having to act all apologetic after lynching them only to find out they were innocent after all.

      One of my favourite simple games is No Thanks. A bit like poker, there's a roughly optimal strategy to play the precentages, but then you have to deal with the fact that the people around you know that too.

      1. Helldesk Dogsbody

        Re: No need for strategy

        Munchkin is a classic for causing more fights than Monopoly while still being fun and relatively fast paced. Secret Hitler is a corker for sowing FUD amongst friends and family, Game of Blame is a newish one with some strategy and a lot of memory work to try and avoid shooting yourself in the foot.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: No need for strategy

          Not sure about Secret Hitler. Though I've only played it twice. But you can get into situations where even though you know who the bad guys are - there's nothing you can do to stop them. Which I think is a design failure. It's got some good game mechanics though.

          I think my favourite game of that type is till Avalon: The Resistance, because it seems to work best at allowing everyone a fair crack of the whip - and gives enough information to actually make intelligent decisions.

          Werewolf is too random, Battlestar Galactica is too bloody long, I haven't played Two Rooms and a Boom - but I've heard it basically all comes down to one decision - though I imagine it's also funny.

          Spyfall is excellent because of the opportunities for jokes and running gags. And the simplicity.

  13. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Poker with Maltesers

    I rather like playing poker with children using Maltesers as the thing being gambled. The game is over when all of the Maltesers have been eaten.

    Once the children have ventured beyond the safe (and losing position) of only betting when they have a good hand, it becomes quite fun. I'm usually doomed as well at this point.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Poker with Maltesers

      That's a game where I'd want to get into an early lead, then just eat. Although the downsides of handling the stakes is they become rather icky.

      I remember playing once with Fruit Polos. And they stuck together into stacks, so you might be forced to raise more than you wanted just because you couldn't separate them, and wanted to keep the untouched ones to eat.

  14. Stevie


    Board games I love but for which I cannot scare up players because of rules fright:

    AH Dune, Circus Maximus, Speed Circuit, Conquistadore, Search For The Nile, Diplomacy(!), or any of my old SPI games.

    Oh, and Colditz (mine's a Gibsons Games reprint).

    No youtube video explaining play, game off.

    Part of the problem is the piss-poor job game companies make of writing rulebooks these days. With the Case System you didn't have to know every bleeding rule by heart because you could find the one you needed in seconds when you needed it. Now RPG graphic art sensibilities trump usability.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My lottery strategy

    is to pick 1,2,3,4,5,6

    I know it is no more likely than any other set of numbers BUT if it does come up I won't be sharing it with anyone else..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My lottery strategy

      Hah. It's because of people like you that I make sure to pick them in reverse order - 6,5,4,3,2,1 - instead.

    2. SW10

      Re: My lottery strategy

      It is estimated that in each draw, 10,000 people choose the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.


    3. AIBailey

      Re: My lottery strategy

      I'd hazard a guess that 1,2,3,4,5,6 is probably the most popular number selection of all.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My lottery strategy

      That's amazing!

      I have the same combination on my luggage.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: My lottery strategy

        Snap! It's also the code to the vault where I work at the Bank of England.

        Then again, as Parker once picked the lock with one of Lady Penelope's hairpins, it's not like we're particularly worried about security.

    5. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: My lottery strategy

      If it does come up then you will be sharing with more people as it's in the birth date & month range.

  16. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Is there really an

    International Gaming Research Unit Psychology Division at Nottingham Trent University, ?

    1. Paul Kinsler

      Re: Is there really an ...

      If so, they didn't put a lot of thought into their acronym.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Is there really an ...

        Yeah, well acronyms do not really always have to form another word.

        Signed, Supreme Head of Interoffice Training

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re ... didn't put a lot of thought into their acronym...

        Or did they and were trying to appeal to Scrabble players?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Is there really an

      Yes. But he does get a bit lonely.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Family dynamic

    Forget board games, get a big jigsaw that everyone can collaborate on.

    1. Jim Mitchell

      Re: Family dynamic

      I really hope you meant "jigsaw puzzle". Not an actual jigsaw.

  18. Pen-y-gors

    Nuclear War

    Lovely board/card game. Aim is to assemble nuclear warheads and delivery systems and wipe out your opponents in a nuclear attack. Lovely game.

    The sting in the tail is that when someone loses they can launch all their remaining stuff back, which tends to wipe out the attacker.

    A very common result is that everyone ends up dead. Hmmm....

  19. BongoJoe


    Simply fun for all ages.

    Lots of fun. Loud fun.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shadows over Camelot?

    The second picture that purports to show a game of Settlers of Catan is definitely not Settlers.

    It appears actually to show the (dull and deeply flawed) cooperative boardgame Shadows over Camelot.

    I'm not so sure about the first picture of Settlers, for that matter ... it does seem to show Settlers, but what's the purply conical playing piece supposed to be?

    1. paulll

      Re: Shadows over Camelot?

      It's the Cities and Knights expansion (the only way to Catan). Purple conical thingy is the Merchant...

  21. BoldMan

    Nobody mentioned Arkham Asylum yet?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      That's just mad!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who plays Battleships ?

    Clarkson's sidekicks Hammond and May had a go at "car battleships" in the latest episode of the "The Grand Tour"

  23. Omgwtfbbqtime

    Post Christmas dinner is already planned

    Exploding Kittens (SFW version) with alcoholic coffee followed by King of New York and a bottle of Port.


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