17 Board Game Facts to Amaze Your Play Pals With in 2023
Updated · Mar 06, 2023
In this day and age, preparing for different Doomsday scenarios is not completely far-fetched and implausible. Yet… whatever essentials we might stockpile in our safe havens, one item will definitely sit on the shelves next to the tuna cans and gas masks.
That would be a board game, of course!
If you’re new to the board game world or simply want to stack up on trivia for an upcoming fun quiz, then shuffle your cards, roll the dice, and read on for some hand-picked board game facts.
Interesting Facts About Board Games (Editor’s Choice)
- Board games can make you smarter and strengthen your memory capacity even when you’re older.
- The Nazis were tricked by prisoners using a random board game.
- There used to be a “Trump” board game, which has since been discontinued.
- The “Home Alone” game is much darker than the movie.
- Board games were played as early as 5,000 years ago (that we know of).
- Chess was the preferred mental sport for European aristocrats, even though it was created in India.
- The most expensive board game will set you back a “mere” $9.8 million.
- Candy Land has a sad but beautiful history of helping children in hospital wards.
- Not all words in the English dictionary can be played in Scrabble.
Board Games Trivia
Ready to nerd it out?
1. Board games are like a gym for your brain.
Next time your parents or friends make a fuss about the amount of time you “waste” on D&D, feel free to regale them with these fun facts about board games, and how helpful, essential even, they are for brain development.
Board games not only make our brains brighter and bigger (metaphorically), but they also help release happiness hormones, reduce overall stress, and also teach patience and strategic thinking.
2. Sometimes board games are a matter of life or death.
We’ve stumbled upon a really interesting fact from classic board game trivia that is surprisingly connected to WWII, of all things.
In some POW camps, the Nazis would allow Allied soldiers to play board games like “Monopoly.” Some would even provide the games.
The British state was clever enough to exploit that opportunity. They didn’t send standard Monopoly game boards and pieces. Instead, they placed compasses, banknotes, and real-world maps for POWs to use for escape.
And escape they did.
3. Board game fun facts: how long can you last in “Monopoly”?
Speaking of “Monopoly,” it seems that players rarely give up even if they have to play red-eyed into the wee hours of the night. One party seemed so intent on finishing their round that they played 70 days to complete it!
Other astonishing “Monopoly” records include: longest underwater game—50 full days (it was played by a total of 1,200 people, though), longest game played in a bathtub (99 hours), a treehouse (286 hours), underground (100 hours), and upside down (36 hours).
4. Not all board games are created equal.
Obviously, there are tons of these out there. We’d like to share with you our collection of the best obscure board games we could find. Enjoy!
The winner is “Mr. Bacon’s Big Adventure,” a spin-off of the iconic “Game of Life.” Your goal is to pass quickly through the board and jump right into the frying pan!
Next—“Monikers.” Pretty simple to start but much harder as you go. You need a pen and paper to write down whatever you can think of and then play out the reference.
The third one, “Shadows In The Forest,” is played in full darkness, with only a lantern to guide your way through the ghastly woods.
5. What is the #1 board game in the world?
This one is extremely subjective, with no two lists or opinions agreeing on a clear winner.
However, without relying on bland statistics, chess is likely the most played board game in the world.
Yes, probably everyone owns a “Monopoly” but you can hardly beat more than two millennia of chess gameplay.
Other popular games include “Stratego,” “Jenga,” “CandyLand,” “Cards Against Humanity,” to name a few. It really boils down to personal choice.
6. If you like big bucks and cannot lie, play like Trump.
Confession time! We totally googled “most bizarre board games,” like laymen, and boy, were we in for a ride.
Turns out there is a “Trump” board game modeled after “Monopoly.” You don’t get to roleplay as the crazy (-haired) ex-president but you can buy properties like a lunatic and strike deals using your “Trump” cards.
7. The “Home Alone” game you’d likely use as kindling.
The “Home Alone” board game also gathers dust on the world’s most unknown board games shelf… thankfully. In what looks like a (barely legal) rip-off of the “Mouse trap,” you enter the game as the bad guys. You can claim victory only if you perch on a Kevin square, thus… killing him, supposedly.
8. Two simulation games sound eerily real.
Just when you thought these could not get any weirder…
A game called “Public Assistance” puts you at life’s (apparently) greatest crossroads—to slave away in a 9-to-5 job or be a welfare leech. The game constantly spurs you on towards morally dubious choices and even if you progress, it still feels like you’re losing.
Another one of these unusual board games is lovingly named “Lie, Cheat & Steal.”
Quite motivational, especially if you plan on landing the job of a con artist. In it, you can rig elections all you like (unless you get caught). You can probably think of a few famous individuals who have already mastered it without playing even once.
The History of Board Games
Many modern board games rely on sophisticated design and prime materials, but things started in a simpler fashion.
9. But when were board games invented?
(Source: Interaction Design Foundation)
No one knows exactly. Historians would wager that the oldest games would be 5,000 years old by now.
They were played, if not invented, by the ancient Egyptians, with the oldest known board game called “Senet.”
Also, the Chinese were playing their own board games in 200 BCE, while Celts pondered over the game of Tafl (a chess predecessor) in 400 BCE.
10. Before chess, there was chaturanga.
Speaking of chess, the Game of Kings has been played for more than 1,400 years now. Its earliest traces can be found in India where it was called “chaturanga.”
Although the board is very similar, the rules might have been somewhat different. Queens, for one, were called counselors (kind of a let-down) and there were no Indian bishops, obviously, but elephants.
The game embarked upon a tenacious journey to Persia and the Arab peninsula as well as China and Japan. Belatedly, it reached Europe where it remains one of the most popular and ancient board games still played today.
In the Middle Ages through the Renaissance, kings and knights reveled in the game, and considered knowledge of chess a mark of nobility. At one point, the Catholic Church even set out to ban chess as its players could become over-excited (and likely inebriated).
11. Board games continue to be a timeless past-time in the Middle East.
Arab cafes usually have three essentials in-store—black coffee, strong shisha, and… you guessed it, board games. Many of these games have remained a favorite hobby for cafe visitors for centuries.
One of the most played Middle Eastern board games is called “tawla” and is quite similar to the Western backgammon. Another one—“dama”—looks a lot like checkers but plays quite differently.
12. The most expensive board game in the world costs half a Bugatti.
Which roughly translates to “loads and loads of cash.” $9.8 million, to be more precise.
The Jewel Royale chessboard and pieces would feel quite heavy to the average chess aficionado. Made of pure gold and encrusted with diamonds and other precious gems, this chess set looks almost too magnificent to be played with.
Popular Board Games
We bet you’ve heard and probably played some of the most popular board games.
13. Battleship initially had land patches, not just water.
Battleship remains a linchpin of board game culture. Played on paper or plastic, it allows two players to strike down each other’s warships placed on opposing grids.
The early history of the Battleship board game is debatable. Some place it as a French game called “L’Attaque” popular on WWI fronts, whereas others claim Russian officers were playing it even prior to the Great War.
The game was first sold by Starex under the name “Salvo” in 1931. Later in the decade, it was refurbished by the Strathmore Company, Milton Bradley, and Maurice L. Freedman.
14. “Connect 4” was created by a teacher who thought himself “too dumb.”
(Source: Fordham News)
In retrospect, he would probably take those words back.
The idea behind the classic game feels like child’s play—rather than playing on a horizontal board, you get to play checkers on a vertical plane.
But just when was “Connect Four” invented? Though it was completed by 1973, it did not go on sale until 1978, being rejected by more than 10 game-making companies.
15. They sure knew how to party in the 80s.
(Source: Rediscover the 80s)
Some popular 80s board games include “Hungry Hungry Hippos” and “Mouse Trap.”
In the former, you use hippos to collect marbles, while in the latter, you build a mousetrap together and then attempt to capture the mouse figureheads of other players. It sounds simple enough—if your fingers are small and nimble, that is.
16. Candy Land was a game-changer for polio victims.
(Source: The Atlantic)
Quarantine is teaching us the simple pleasure of staying at home, shuffling Scrabble decks, and whiling time away with our nearest and dearest.
Yet, in the 1940s, the formidable poliovirus was stalking child hospital wards leaving children stranded on beds or within iron lungs (Inquisition-like contraptions confining the whole body) away from family and loved ones.
In came Candy Land, a board game invented in 1949 for polio victims by US school teacher Eleanor Abbott. Candy Land features a linear pathway through tantalizing candy spots, with players propelling forward by the cards they draw. The polio vaccine might have vanquished the virus in the US, but Candy Land is still going strong.
Another interesting board game trivia is the fact that 94% of US mothers know the game, and more than 60% of US households with children aged five and younger still have it.
17. Some words are easier said than Scrabble-d .
One of the 13 words impossible to play in “Scrabble” is “pizzazz.” Though, most mortals would likely use “glamor” or “vitality” to say that, nevertheless.
Relentless Redditors have expanded the 13-word list to 20 and beyond. Words that cannot be used in Scrabble include those with duplicate or triple “z”-s, more than seven “s”-s, and ones that go beyond 15 letter tiles.
Because then you’d go overboard. I’ll get my coat.
There is no end to exciting board game trivia.
From the classy look of chess through the family fun of “Scrabble” to the poignant history of “CandyLand,” board games are here to stay. They come in all shapes and sizes, colors and rules, and have something for everyone.
What is more, many board games have transitioned already to mobile phones, swelling the number of players, even further.
So, were those board game facts an eye-opener for you, or are you already a board game master?
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