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The Board Game Christmas Naughty List


I've heard a rumour that Santa Clause is coming to town. He is presently in the process of making a list, checking it twice, and finding out who's naughty and nice.

Well, at Zatu we have made out own naughty and nice lists. Of board games that is.

Today we have put together the naughty list. A list of games that have a naughty element in them whether that be “take that” mechanics, backstabbing, lying, betrayal, blocking and so on. There are a load of ways that board games get players to be mean to each other. If, like me you love causing mischief in games then read on!

Game of Thrones the Board Game (2nd Ed)

Game of Thrones the board game is one of the biggest, longest, most cutthroat games I've played. Each player takes on the role of one of the six main families of Westeros. The goal of the game if to control seven territories by the time the game ends.

There can be only one winner, but any one family will struggle to win without joining forces with the opposing families. Diplomacy and negotiation are a massive part of this game. It's not uncommon for secret notes to be passed between players or people to even leave the room to broker a private deal.

During each round, there is a phase in the game where players selectively give orders to their forces in each region. Only when these tokens are flipped will you see whether your pact had held firm or you have been double-crossed.

There's nothing like the feeling of pulling off a stupendous double-cross just before they would have done the same thing to you anyway.
It is very very mean, and very very fun. This game does a great job of creating the drama of Game of Thrones as each house jostles for power in an ever-changing landscape.

The Godfather: Corleone's Empire

This is one of my favourite games ever. The Godfather: Corleone's Empire contains all the mechanics I love: set collection, worker placement, area control and card drafting. It also has some if the most Earth-shattering take-that I've seen in a game.

Each player is a criminal family doing whatever it takes to win the favour of Don Corleone. To be able to move into an area to take the actions you need, and control districts, you are going to have to bump off your competitors. Pull off a drive-by and leave their miniatures swimming with the fishes in the Hudson River. There is the ever-present danger of a well timed car bomb. This most powerful of actions can secure your victory and quite literally wipe your opponents off the map.


Coup is a fast-paced social deduction and deception card game for up to six players. It's so quick you will be able to play multiple rounds in a session. Each player starts with two character (Influence) cards in front of them. Each card has a special ability they can use to help them win the game. The winner is the last person to have cards remaining.

Each turn the player says which character they have and resolves that cards ability. The game is the fact that you can lie about the cards you hold and so claim to be able to take an action for a card you do not hold. Being able to lie about the actions you can take is key to winning the game, but be warned, you might be called out. Any player can challenge another to prove they are who they say. If they are found to be lying they loose one influence card. If they are proved to be telling the truth they get to change their card to a new one and the challenger loses a card instead.

On top of this, some character abilities have counter actions, allowing them to block the action of a certain character. Players can also lie about this ability leading to situations where both players are lying and both are at risk of getting busted and losing influence.

The pocket sizes party game is a must for social deduction game fans.

Dead of Winter: The Long Night

This is a Stand-alone Expansion to Dead of Winter. You can play it by itself or add it to your existing copy of Dead of Winter to bulk up the game with more cards, characters and gameplay variety.

Dead of Winter is a brilliant semi-cooperative zombie survival game. Your goal is to keep your colony of post-zombie-apocalypse survivors alive. Scavenge for supplies, keep everyone fed, react to crises and fend off zombie attacks. The clever “crossroads cards” mechanic creates a variable narrative to the game that triggers extra scenarios depending on the game state, keeping things fresh and unpredictable.

The Naughty part of the game is that one play around the table may be a betrayer, subtly working to undermine the group and force them to fail. Can you trust your friends? Or will your paranoia cause you to banish an innocent person out into the frozen wastes?

Dead of Winter is one of my favourite cooperative games. The long night is essentially the same game but all the cards are different so it can be combined with the original. New modules and a few extra rules crank the drama up another notch. Why not jump straight in and pick up this wonderful nightmare of a game.

Saboteur & Saboteur Duel

Saboteur is a route building card game where players are dwarves working together to dig a mine in pursuit of gold. Hi-ho Hi-ho and all that. Except it's not all wholesome digging and singing. There are secretly saboteurs on your midst. Where the good dwarfs are working cooperatively to win gold, the saboteurs are only out for themselves. They win if they reach the gold first, and they will cause rock falls, send you the wrong way, block routes, and destroy your equipment to prevent you from winning. As players are limited in what cards they can play, doubt will start to spread through the group. Is that player a saboteur, or do they just have lousy cards? Saboteur is easy to teach and takes up to ten players. A great choice for groups.

Saboteur The Duel, on the other hand, is a two-player version that basically removes the niceties of the original. It strips the game back to a race to find as much gold as you can while doing whatever in your power you can to ruin your opponents day. So, if you have one friend and you love being mean to each other then give this a go.


Gloom has to be on this list! Why? Well because its a game where the aim is for your characters to have the worst day imaginable. Gloom is a card driven storytelling game where each player takes on the role of one of four families.

As the day progresses you play modifier cards on to the character cards, telling a story about the terrible things that happened to them and reducing their self worth. At the same time you will spoil your opponent's miserable plans by trying to make them have a good time. This costs them the negative points they need. Modifiers can raise and lower the self worth of your characters, then when things can't get any worse for them, you bump them off, locking in the points. This is a really nice approach to making the take-that mechanic enjoyable with a constant back and forth and fun storytelling aspect. It's a pocket-sized game that adds something new and innovative to the game collection.

Bah-Humbug Every One!