Sometimes playing games helps build friendships; cooperative games and RPGs build team spirit, social and party games help find common ground between players and even head-to-head 2 player games (like Magic: the Gathering and X-Wing) allow people to bond over common passions.
These games, however, have probably done more to ruin relationships than save them, whether intentionally or not. These games are almost better played with strangers, where no relationship exists to possibly crash and burn in the aftermath.
Diplomacy, released in 1953, is both an Origins and Games Magazine Hall of Famer and has a (well-founded) reputation for destroying relationships.
In the game, you play one of the “Seven Great Powers of Europe” during the 19th century: Great Britain, France, Austria-Hungry, Germany, Italy, Russia, or Turkey. Players try to jockey for power and position by leveraging and maneuvering their military. Each player has a limited number of options for their forces: they can move into an adjoining territory, support allied unit’s attack on an adjoining territory, help defend an allied unit in an adjoining territory, or hold their position in a territory they occupy. There is virtually no luck involved in this game. Strength and support is what determines success of an action.
In lieu of luck, a random (and volatile) element is used: people. Before orders are written and units are moved, a timed negotiation phase is played, where players break off and mingle to make background deals, plans, and promises to each other for support in their designs for world domination. There is no plan or promise that a player can be held to. Lying is expected, as is betrayal.
It is a game of social leverage and manipulation, skinned in European history. It’s fun, challenging, and certainly not for players who take getting stabbed in the back by their friends personally.
Image Credit: Smirk and Dagger (Fair Use)
Imagine a game of D&D, except only the person who makes the killing blow earns the gold and experience of the encounter. But you simply can’t fight these monsters on your own (they will kill you handily). Add your friends into the mix, who are able to disrupt your actions as much as you are able to disrupt theirs, and you have an idea of how Cutthroat Caverns plays.
While kill-stealing is the name of the game, survival is the only way to win. You are competing for prestige and as it turns, out, dead men have little to brag about. If nobody survives, there is no winner.
It’s a game that encourages betraying fellow party members; of course it ended up on this list.
To a gamer, the words, “trust me, I’m not the werewolf,” are the equivalent of a relationship landmine.
I’m reasonably certain I’m not the only one who has seen significant relationships fall apart because of Werewolf. This game is perfect for playing as a social icebreaker with a group of strangers, but is the equivalent of relationship Russian roulette when playing with close friends.
In case you’re not familiar with this game, players are randomly and secretly given roles (usually by cards): one is a seer, two are werewolves, and the rest are villagers. All roles are kept secret. The game’s moderator walks the players through the various blind phases, represented in-game by night.
At night, all players close their eyes. In the first night phase, werewolves reveal themselves and indicate to the moderator which villager they’d like to kill. They then return to closing their eyes. In the next phase the seer can point to a player and the moderator can indicate silently if they are a werewolf or not. Day then breaks, the moderator reveals which villager has been killed and the living players (including the seer and the werewolves) vote on which player to lynch. During the voting stage, anything and everything can be said by any player to sway the vote. A majority of the players need to agree which player is to be lynched and and after that unpleasantness, night falls again.
Imagine for a moment being the person whose tiebreaking vote lynches one of your friends. Or being the seer and knowing your friend is the werewolf and they’re casually (and convincingly) lying to your face.
The real irony of games such as these is that they are fantastic to play with family. It turns out it’s somewhat liberating to play with people you have to love and who have to love you no matter the outcome.
What do you think of our list? Have any to add? Let us know in comments!