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Strangest Board Games

Aug. 18 2009, Published 7:51 a.m. ET

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Board games and table-top games have been around for at least 5,000 years, so it's understandable that some of the best ideas like Chess, Checkers, and even Monopoly were used up pretty early. But that still doesn't explain the bizarre minds that came up with the 12 weirdest board games ever. Counting down to the strangest:

Click here to see photos of all the games

12. QUACKSHOT: Goliath B.V., 2001.

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Ready! Aim! Fowl! With a 4-way setup, players aim plastic arrows at color targets around a spinning centerpiece. A direct hit will cause the targets to blow up. For real. Miss, however, and someone may lose an eye. Wonder how this one passed safety-standards.


Played on a handy table-top, this game included dice with the letters C-A-M-E-L and corresponding Camel cards. Players then attempted to match their rolled letters with a selected card. Smokin' fun, right? But that's not what's so strange: the game came packaged in a giant cigarette hardpack!

10. POP YER TOP: Milton Bradley, 1968.

Players took a chance on this late 1960s Milton Bradley concoction that forced them to progress a Koo-Koo bird across the board just as many spaces as they dare before causing the top of the Koo-Koo’s head to blow off. Extinction awareness, anyone?

9. ANT FARM GAME: Uncle Milton, 1969.

Now this is more like it, environmentally sound craziness. In this classic, plastic ants were used to simulate an ant farm. Putting a pair of tweezers into young player’s hands, the object was to move over-sized plastic ants along a “subterranean” colony game board. Spin the dial and advance your ants through the underground hospital, do dirty laundry, go to the underground theater, and prevail past turn stopping “cave ins.” 

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8. POISON IVY: Ideal, 1969.

Kids were itching to play this game that had them picking green leaves from a plastic patch, hoping they didn’t get a red stemmed leaf with poison ivy. Plucking the ivy meant placing a white thimble (a bandage) on their fingertip.

7. CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: Hammerhead Enterprises, 1981.

What were they thinking?  Capital Punishment offers 4 players the grizzly job of cleaning up our violent streets. With pardoning liberals at your disposal and “innocent” victims at stake, the first player to imprison all felons on Death Row – or send them to the electric chair – wins. (Warning: handcuffs not included).

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6. OH, NUTS!: IDEAL, 1989.

Kids had to sort through identical plastic walnuts to collect an assortment of marbles concealed inside them. Gather 3 matching marbles and you win. How many kids lost their marbles trying to act like squirrels? Not enough to make this one a hit.

5. POPPIN HOPPIES: Ideal, 1968.

This trippy game featured spring loaded, suction cupped “hoppies” (dome-headed plastic with eyes) that, when squashed, would pop up for players to catch. For every caught hoppie, the player received a plastic piece used to assemble a man. The first one to make the man was the winner. Dunno  what the guys were on when they came up with this.

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This “14 and older” board game puts your wits (and queasiness) to the test. As a surgeon, you have to bolster your patient’s health before performing numerous surgeries. Meanwhile, competing players are enlisted to make your patient sicker! The patient wasn't the only thing sick about this one!

3. SMESS: THE NINNY'S CHESS: Parker Brothers, 1970.

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A whacked-out version of chess, players had to take the other player’s “brain” piece (or king). With the help of single-space moving Ninny’s (like pawns) and multiple moving Numskull pieces (like castles and bishops), players followed directional arrows printed on each square. So why not just play chess? A  classic ‘no brainer.’

2. I VANT TO BITE YOUR FINGER: Hasbro, 1979.

Time is of the essence in this vampire inspired dice-roller in which players have to hope “Dracula” doesn’t wake up. Taking turns turning ahead the hands of a clock, inevitably the vampire electronically awakens to claim his next victim – your fingertip! Doomed players must stick a finger in his mouth to receive twin bites from an actual red marker. While surely one of the most pointless games of all time, it definitely made an impression.

1. SWACK!: Ideal, 1968.

Definitely not for the squeamish, this game required players to test their nerve against the board itself, which was a giant, functioning mousetrap! Like mice, players attempted to retrieve a piece of plastic cheese from the unpredictable snapping trap. Successfully removing cheese meant points, but getting caught meant a “swack” from the trap.



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