Like many of you, I love games. Shocker, right? But even when you love something, small things about it might annoy you over time. Admittedly, I am someone who gets annoyed pretty easily. Still, I think I’ve found at least a few things we can all agree are some universal annoyances that would be quick turn offs in some games. Here, I am focusing on game-related aspects specifically, rather than anything to do with players.

10. Bland Player Colors

It’s #10 because it isn’t the biggest offender, but come on. Isn’t it just disappointing to open up a game and see that your only color choices are black, white, tan, or brown? No thank you. Honestly, when it’s not too much effort, I replace the bland colors with new pieces because those ugly choices just make me not want to play the game.

9. Components That Must Be Taken Apart

I really like components that add to a game’s table presence, like the coin holder in Nidavellir, or the temples in Ahau: Rulers of Yucatan. However, I hate when the built components don’t fit in the game box assembled! The trees in Everdell and Alderquest, the Mothership in FlipShips… I’m sure there’s plenty more. It’s annoying because it wears on the cardboard (usually what these are made out of) to continuously take them apart and rebuild them play after play. Sometimes I wonder if the fancy components are even worth it in these cases?

8. The Game Doesn’t Fit In The Box

Similar to #9, it’s always a minor peeve when a game’s box isn’t the best size for what’s inside. And that can mean a few things: A) the box is too big – I’m looking at you, Splendor. I know the bigger box is just to improve shelf presence, but it’s still annoying when the box could essentially hold 10 copies of the game in one. B) the box is too small – most recently I saw this with The Tree Trimming Game. Sometimes, once the components are all punched out and the cards are all un-shrinked, there is absolutely no getting them back into the box neatly. I hate having to finagle things into the box so they fit just perfectly; it’s a hassle. C) Finally, a bad insert always ruins a box. The cards spilling out of the slots, the slots having finger holes that don’t go all the way down… need I go on? Half the time, it’s easier to just chuck the insert all together and bag everything so that it fits better.

7. Confusing Expansion Content

When I really like a game, I love adding in expansions when I can for a “bigger” experience. My first annoyance with this is when expansion components, usually cards, don’t match the base game. I’ve seen it all – different colors, textures, size, all for the same deck – annoying. But, what is even worse is when the expansion components are not labelled at all. (Looking your way, Abyss). Sometimes, I don’t feel like playing with all the expansion stuff. Sometimes, I’m teaching someone new and want to give them the base game experience first. So now I have to rifle through all the decks and whatnot based on the minimal information from the component list to try and figure out what doesn’t belong? No thank you. Just put a star or a letter in the corner, please!

6. Excessively Long Games

Most people know I am not huge on longer games, but I don’t fault games just for being long. Sometimes, it makes sense a game is long based on the trajectory of the actions/overall flow. What I am annoyed by is when a game is waaaaayyyyy too long for what it brings to the table. If a game lasts 2 hours because you’re building an engine or improving your stats to get better at the game’s mechanisms – great. If a game lasts 2 hours because you’re doing the same thing over and over and OVER again, I quit. Gardens of Babylon comes to mind because it is super repetitive. Another I had a problem with was – and I know I’m in the minority here – Brass: Birmingham. I can not describe to you the utter confusion I felt to essentially clean up the first half of the game to just start from scratch for the second half. It felt insane to me.

5. Lack of Resources

I certainly don’t mind when a game limits resources. If there are 25 rocks and it tells me “if you run out of rocks, and must take one, you do not get one” that’s fine, because it forces players to think carefully about their actions and consider the potential of hoarding. What I don’t like is when the game includes 20 rocks, or whatever it is, and then tells me “if you run out of resources, use something else.” No! Why? Provide me with what I need to play! And those tokens that just say “5x” or “10x” on them aren’t doing anyone any favors. I think everyone finds them a little annoying or confusing, am I right? This goes double for money/coins. If a game has multiple denominations, but forces me to constantly be making change (i.e. turn 5 ones into a five as soon as I get them) I am instantly annoyed. Sorcerer’s Arena annoyed me with this so much that I just replaced the point tokens with gems and added so many extra. More than you will ever need. Please, just include enough resources/coins/etc.

4. Bad Quality Control

I wasn’t sure what else to call this other than this. This encompasses a few things that can ruin a game before play even starts. Stickers on the box that either leave behind residue or peel a layer off the box? I’m annoyed. Cards wrapped in plastic that doesn’t have the little tab to open easily? Annoyed. Poorly cut tokens that rip and tear when I go to punch them out? Annoyed! It just puts me in a sour mood as I go to learn how to play the game, and most of them seem so easy to avoid.

3. Lack of Reference Cards

Far too often I open a game, learn it up, and get all ready to play, only to realize the game lacks useful reference cards. It may seem insignificant, but as someone with a poor memory, I can’t memorize what all the symbology in a game means quickly, nor recall all the steps to go through when rounds have something like 10 different phases. I just want a little card that highlights the important information for me so I have easy access to it. I hate having to flip back to the rulebook over and over for every little question or reference need, when a simple reference card would be perfectly helpful.

2. Dishonest Player Counts

As someone who plays at 2 players a lot, I’ve learned I have to be careful not to blindly accept player counts on a game’s box. Just because a game says it plays “2 – X” players, does not at all mean that it is true. There will often be a variant, or a dummy player, or “special rules” that aren’t even mentioned until the very end of the rule book. I know it must be in an attempt to try and appeal to a larger audience, but realistically, you’re shrinking it by putting 2-players on the box, and then having a group of disappointed players instead of just putting 3 – 5 or 4 – 6 or whatever it may be. I’ve played a lot of games that I’ve said were boring or unbalanced at 2, but would be fine at 4+, but it ultimately leaves a bad impression on me because the box told me it would work at just 2.

1. Bad Rule Books

To me, there is nothing worse than a bad rule book. The rules are the base of the game – I can’t play the game if I can’t understand the rules, right? So, a bad rule book will immediately annoy me, and often completely turn me off from a game. There are a lot of ways a rule book can be bad. So many, that it could even be it’s own mini list….

  1. No Picturesplease give me pictures of set up and components, and more where applicable. I’m a visual learner and having to wade through only walls of text make it very difficult to learn.
  2. No Inventory – If your game has 5 different types of cards, please don’t tell me “70 cards.” Please tell me how many of each type I should have, and which are which.
  3. No Examples – Rules are great, but examples are even better. When turn examples, edge cases, or more aren’t outlined at least a little, it can be difficult to ensure you’re playing correctly.
  4. Too Much Flavor – I’m admittedly not big on flavor text in rules in general, but even more so if it actively distracts from learning. There doesn’t need to be a joke in every section, or a callback to the world the game is set in. Just teach the game rules.
  5. Inconsistent Language – I have seen a good number of rule books where they use words like “round” and “phase” interchangeably, or call a resource “food” and “grain” to mean the same thing. It’s unnecessarily confusing.
  6. ‘Fancy’ Fonts – Look, I love a gorgeous font as much as the next person, but if you make the words in your rules harder to read just for the sake of aesthetic, it’s going to annoy me to read those rules.
  7. Index Style – For lack of a better term. I want a rule book to flow along with how the game will flow, seems like the best/easiest way to learn, right? When a rule book is written more like an index of terms instead of how the game is played, I find myself flipping back and forth a lot just to get a grasp on the game.
  8. Make Your Own Rules – If a rule book says something like “if you don’t like this, make your own rule” or “do whatever you like” I am so annoyed. Tell me how to play the game. That’s what the rules are for.
  9. Cards – There is maybe nothing I hate more than a rule “book” printed on a series of cards. I can not even explain how annoying that is to me.
  10. Bad Writing – Just kidding, there is something I hate more than card books. If the writing/grammar is bad. I’m talking typos, misspellings, fragments, and more. If I have to reread every section of the rule book just to have a basic understanding of the game, I’m probably out.