Follow TV Tropes

There are subjectives, and then there are these. While you may believe a work fits here, and you might be right, people tend to have rather vocal, differing opinions about this subject.
Please keep these off of the work's page.


Horrible / Tabletop Games

Go To

"[S]aying that this game should be burned is an insult to fire."
Jason Sartin, in his review of F.A.T.A.L.

You know those old board games, card games, and roleplaying games you keep in your closet or attic? Yeah... you might want to keep a few of those in your closet, lest somebody sees them and tries to use it against you in court... especially if it's one of these.

Important Note: Merely being offensive in its subject matter is not enough to justify a work as Horrible. Hard as it is to imagine at times, there is a market for all types of deviancy (no matter how small a niche it is). It has to fail to appeal even to that niche to qualify as this.


Examples (in more-or-less alphabetical order):

    open/close all folders 

    Tabletop RPG 
  • RTG released a Dragon Ball Z RPG. The execution was just as ludicrous as it sounds - stat blocks for the characters from the series had attacks that required rolling upwards of 30 dice... and that was just for the Saiyan Saga. The book itself was poorly written and poorly laid out, and it suffered from a lot of filler devoted to only marginally-relevant subjects, such as customizing action figures for use as game pieces. Three sourcebooks were released (with more cancelled), but the system was horribly suited to DBZ - the creators took a system with expected stat values between 1-10 (involving rolls of only 3d6 to resolve checks) and fed stats in the hundreds into it. "Power levels" amounted to nothing more than MP, but were used as the basis for gaining XP from a fight.
  • F.A.T.A.L. is, hands down, the all-time reigning champion of horrible RPGs. The rulebook consists of 800-1,000 (depending on the version) agonizing pages of poor mechanics, a massive number of ill-defined stats, violations of common sense, and all-around contempt for basic human decency. For example:
    • One of the most basic rolls in the game is 4d100/2-1. To break that down: roll a hundred-sided die four times, sum the results, divide in half, and subtract one...for all 17 of your stats, and anything else requiring a bell curve. The creators, on learning the flaw of this system, decided to "improve" it to 10d100/5-1. For the record, if you're using real dice, that requires 20 d10 rolls. Character creation takes a while in this system, especially since (at least in the first version) each stat had four sub-stats (requiring more than a hundred dice rolls), and at one point it calls for a 1d10,000,000 roll. For the record, that's either seven d10 rolls (one per digit), or one die that would be better for crushing Indiana Jones than for getting a random number.
    • Practicality is thrown out the window in favor of vulgarity and offense, a quality not helped by the creators' claim that only white, non-Christian people inhabit The 'Verse and their constant flip-flopping between claims that it's either "controversial humor" or "historically and mythically accurate" (which it obviously isn't).
    • Races are incredibly badly thought-out for player characters, and given that every race shown hates each other, it's unlikely that any sort of adventuring party would be formed.
    • Character stats are complex and include things like head size, social status, whether you're married (and whether or not the marriage is unhappy), and anal circumference. It's very possible to get ridiculous results via this method, and the first version of the game had it possible for a character to have zero anal circumference, or even negative.
    • That anal circumference stat is actually very important, because during combat your roll may cause you to accidentally start raping your opponent, and how much HP they lose depends on the mismatch between the circumference of your appendage and their orifice. Yes, in FATAL it's possible to accidentally rape an opponent to death during combat.
    • The sheer number of rules is ridiculous and makes the game incredibly difficult and annoying to play rather than giving a fun challenge. For instance, to calculate the results of sex, one must solve quadratic equations.
    • The class system is terribly thought-out - classes all earn experience points in different ways (and for some it's possible to die of old age before reaching Level 2), many classes are civilian jobs no player would think of taking, and most of the classes are just plain incomplete.
    • The magic system consists of spells nobody would use in normal play, spells too situational to be useful, spells that are time-consuming and impractical to cast, spells that will probably end badly for you, spells only useful for sexual situations, magical date-rape drugs (that only work on women, naturally), and a spell that kills everything on the world (mercifully ending the game). Oh, and said world-ending spell is part of the miscast table (along with various other bizarre effects), so it's entirely possible to accidentally cause the apocalypse when trying to determine whether or not you're pregnant.
    • On top of all this, the game is absolutely drowning in piles of misogyny, rape, and apologia for same. The most fleshed-out thing in the whole book is prostitution, and women are either housewives or whores. The game also seems to assume that you'll be playing it as a rapist asshole, and goes out of its way to provide you the opportunity to do so. (An example? Without getting graphic, the opening of the book blatantly tries to push the player into taking the worst possible option when interacting with a chained-up woman. It goes downhill from there.)
    • The first version of the game was even worse in this regard, including things like magic items themed around racist caricatures.
    • RPG Net reviewers Darren MacLennan and Jason Sartin have a far more detailed, and horrific, review if you're still tempted (NSFW). However, the theme song is pure comedy gold.
  • First appearing on the newsgroup as a series of posts by the author "C++", HYBRID purports itself to be a roleplaying game that "accurately models physical reality". The ever-expanding "rules" consist of a disjointed jumble of mathematical equations with undefined variables; allusions to social and political issues and pop culture; cross-references to other rules, nonexistent rules, and even rules from other games; misogynistic and other offensive statements; and much more. It is virtually impossible to make any kind of sense of the rules, much less actually create a character and play the game. RPG Net ranks this as the second-worst game of all time, with only FATAL ranking worse.
    • As you start to actually read the thing, you realize it doesn't have rules - it has word salads that seem like, at best, C++ flipped through a dictionary and picked out whatever words his finger landed on. At worst, it reads like stream-of-consciousness, if not outright logorrhea. Rule Number Zero is supposed to be an explanation on how C++ numbers his version histories, but starts to drift into an aside about Superman canon and quickly devolves into an Author Filibuster and conspiracy theory, eventually totaling over 1,500 words. To top it all off, C++ fails to follow his own version history numbering rule.
  • In 1985, FASA put out a Masters of the Universe RPG to cash in on the fad of the time... and it was close to being completely unplayable. Combat works by using an "attack" option vs. an opponent's "defend" skill. Important rules were left out (defending requires rolling 1d6 and adding their skill... but which skill is never given) or even directly contradicted (one monster is listed as having two "attack" options, only for the very next sentence in the book to note that it "always defends"), and even when there is an explanation it tends to be unnecessarily complicated (players have to consult a complex table to see how an enemy reacts to being hit before they can actually do damage). Stats are given for several characters from the show, but many of them give the impression that the writers had never watched the source material - Teela, for example, is a magic user despite being the Badass Normal of the Masters, and Orko, of all people, gets offensive spells. Worse yet, some of said spells didn't even have rules included for how they worked - later releases included a card that, rather than giving the rules, just said that they would be included in a future edition (which never came out). It was intended for 8- to 10-year-olds to introduce them to RPGs, but even adults with college degrees have expressed confusion over the mechanics.
  • Racial Holy War. The title speaks for itself, but the concept warrants a fuller explanation: in the future, the minorities have conquered the world under the guidance of their Jewish masters and reduced white people to a few small pockets of resistance. But now the whites are going to strike back... and you're going to play them. The material seriously reads like someone who just finished The Protocols of the Elders of Zion but didn't quite feel up to tackling Mein Kampf. And that is before you get to the horrible, broken, unfinished rules, including, but not limited to complete omission of rules regarding player-character attack resolution - that's right, the game actually forgot to tell you how to attack things. The Intimidation mechanic is utterly broken: since it involves adding up the Intimidation score of every combatant on each side, a handful of heavily-armed White Warriors would, in theory, be scared shitless by a hundred Jewish babies. The game's most ridiculous feature is that each enemy race has a Special Attack based on racial stereotypes, meaning the White Warriors are debilitated by Africans' body odor and will accept bribes from Jews in exchange for standing still in the middle of combat. Makes you wonder how the player race can claim to be "superior" if they suffer from the same physically-debilitating greed as the enemy races. In addition, the cover for the game is outright stolen from The Hills Have Eyes (1977) with little to no changes. 1d4chan considers this game to be worse than F.A.T.A.L. as the material lacks shock value, doesn't cross the line twice for them, and is too reprehensible and pitiful to be mocked. More info here.
  • Spawn of Fashan is a classic example from the early 1980s that has become one of the standards by which execrably-bad tabletop RPGs are measured. It was an incomplete release - even though it had an example world, it didn't include enough in that sample for full use of the system. It took a long time to create characters and run combat because the stat tables were poorly organized and poorly labeled.
  • Wraeththu: From Enchantment to Fulfilment. The RPG "adaptation" of Storm Constantine's fantasy series about post-apocalyptic mystical monoecious mutants with flower-like genitalia (no, seriously) ended up not realistically portraying the setting of the books at all, casting the player characters as pretentious and glamorous sociopaths, and going out of its way to be as unhelpful to the novice Game Master as possible. Of note are the gutwrenching mechanics: among other transgressions, chain mail transfers a statistical immunity to flamethrowers. Details here and here.

    Board Games 
  • Regardless of one's religious views, Intelligent Design Vs. Evolution fails at being a fun game, teaching about Intelligent Design, or encouraging non-believers to convert. It is a simple board game where two players or two teams must move their pieces to the end of the board, while gaining brain cards by answering questions. Unfortunately, there are only 250 question cards (by comparison, Trivial Pursuit has 1,000, with six questions each). The questions themselves either make cheap shots at evolution, use Ad Hominem, convince players to believe in the church, or are just random Bible quotes. Not only is the information on the cards misquoted, but they clearly weren't proofread. One card cites Wickipedia (sic, we're not joking) as a source. Another blatantly uses the No True Scotsman fallacy to explain why there are no hypocrites in "the Church". The blog Freaking Awesome takes a look at it here.
  • Jurassic Park III: Island Survival Game is an overly simplistic "roll and move" game whose primary failure is the utter lack of strategy designed into it. Two players control either the humans or the dinosaurs; the goal for the humans is to escape Isla Sorna, while the dinosaurs must kill the humans by attacking them to remove one life chip at a time. This setup, combined with the opportunity for the human player to roll an escape during the dino attacks which also allows them to move forward several spaces, puts the dinosaur player at an intrinsic disadvantage. The board is split into 5 portions based on the main action scenes from the film, and it's so linear that there is little motivation to choose one alternate path over another. Cards with certain effects are drawn when the human player lands on certain spaces, and strictly adhering to the rules means they must be used immediately rather than held for later strategic use. The win condition for the human player is achieved through further strategy-free luck: keep landing on the final space, drawing cards, and hoping that you pull the win card or else you must backtrack through the final section of the board. The physical and aesthetic craftsmanship is also lacking: while the modeled plastic dinosaur pieces are somewhat decent, the cards, life chips, and even the human character pieces are all made of cheap cardboard, while the game board itself features a low-detail illustration of the island. Critical Hits gave the game a 2/10, noting that the only potential fun to be had would be from ignoring the given rules and simply role-playing your own scenario with the pieces.
  • Oneupmanship: Mine's Bigger is a 2013 roll-and-move game. The goal is to be the first player to get $100,000 by investing in real estate, playing the stock market, gambling, and acquiring valuable items. That doesn't sound too bad, but there's a good reason Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower subtitled his review "How NOT to design a game." Components of the game are lazily designed and cheap-looking - especially the paper money, which looks like it was simply printed out on computer paper. It lifts several mechanics from Monopoly that only serve to make the experience worse, such as the space that forces you to pay 20% of everything you have note  and the "Free Parking Jackpot" House Rule (notorious for dragging out Monopoly games) is an actual rule. Other dubious mechanics include the fact that buying and upgrading buildings allows you to pay nothing on other buildings if yours is the tallest, and Chance-like cards where you can lose money by losing a thumb war to another opponent, lose a turn for not standing on one foot singing "The Star-Spangled Banner", or lose your pants for the rest of the game (you can instead lose a turn for that one). There are also some mechanics that make luck play an overly large role in the game - the worst one may be the "Do or Die" space, which lets you force another player into a wager where you bet all your properties on a die roll. Oh, and that thing about winning the game by getting $100,000? Another player can declare bankruptcy, which basically nullifies the victory as everyone else has to declare bankruptcy as well and the game has to be restarted. The designer advertised the game as a parody of big-business lifestyles, but even if that's true the humor is just as horrible as the game is.
  • Power Lunch. A variant on Rummy, players have to meld together cards of celebrities at a table in a restaurant. If the cards don't match any sets, the player must explain why they'd be sitting together and the opponents vote yes or no to it. There is no advantage for the opponents to agree with the set, so it's wiser to say no at all times. Moreover, the celebrities are whoever was popular at the time it was made (1994), so in a couple of decades the game can be quickly outdated with most players having no memory of most of these people. Only one version was made of this game and Board Game Geek gave it a rating of 2.60 out of 10.
  • Rap Rat is a board game for kids made in 1992 which used a VHS tape as part of the game. Kids would put in the tape and roll a color-coded die and move around the board. However, the board goes in a complete circle and does not end. Instead, they have to roll the same color as their piece, pretty much making the board useless (in the PAL version, the die is numbered, so the board actually serves a purpose), and each time they land on one of their color they get one part of a Cheese Jigsaw Puzzle, and they had to collect 10 pieces in order to win. While doing it, Rap Rat himself would repeatedly interrupt the game to shout out to the players to have them say and do stuff, and would act generally annoying with his pseudo-raps (which consist of him just skipping over the same word several times), all while eating the cheese on the screen. It would take him 10 minutes to finish the cheese on the screen, and if he eats it all before a player can collect 10 pieces, all players lose. Given the odds of rolling your color 10 times to get the puzzle pieces, it is extremely difficult to do it in 10 minutes and on top of that, sometimes he takes away pieces, making the game harder than it already is. Combined with Rap Rat being insufferable and downright creepy, the uselessness of the board part of the game, and lack of anything else, made the game absolutely unbearable. It really says something when the game's bad design and the creepiness of Rap Rat himself led to the creation of a creepypasta and the game is only remembered by said creepypasta. It happens that these were the people who brought you the horror-themed Nightmare/Atmosfear VHS board game series (A Couple 'A Cowboys, an Australia-based publisher)- but at least, in the case of Atmosfear's various iterations, you get at least forty minutes to play, which is more reasonable. And this is a kids' game. Matt Sall of the website Bell of Lost Souls reviews it here.

    Card Games 
  • Havic: the Bothering is a "parody" of Magic: The Gathering which actually predates the first official Magic Self-Parody set Unglued. The game itself plays exactly like an extremely dumbed-down version of Magic, so much so that "THIS IS A PARODY" was printed on the starter deck boxes and the rules card explicitly tells players not to build their own decks, all in an attempt to avoid legal issues from Wizards of the Coast. Didn't work, and the game's creators were banned from GenCon thanks to legal maneuvering by WotC. But beyond that the game itself is bad, with most cards being borderline or outright unplayable, a shallow card pool (96 cards!), terrible "artwork", and humor which nobody would find amusing. The rules were all printed on a single card included in each starter deck, which fails to explain certain mechanics, comes up short in explaining others, reads like a run-on sentence, and also abounds with misspellings. Certain cards also have misspelled words, which prove that a proofreader was not employed by the designers. You can check out the game and its history here.
  • Redakai was an attempt by SpinMaster to capitalize on the popularity of Bakugan, and wound up being a prime example of every design flaw a Collectible Card Game can have. Cards were made of clear plastic with lithographic designs that would "animate" when moved, allowing the cards to layer their effects by being stacked on each other. This was a Dancing Bear at best, but in execution was a massive detriment. There was no unified card back for obvious reasons, meaning decks had to be held in a specialized black container (sold separately of course)... which didn't work, since you could still see most of the top card. The extra material costs also meant starter decks and boosters were far more expensive than its competitors. Design aside, game balance itself was atrocious and clearly untested. There were several cards that could let you take an Extra Turn at no cost, as well as one-sided floodgates that would lock the opponent out of the game. There was even an infinite loop one-turn kill that could be done as early as turn 3, all the pieces of which were found in one starter deck. Throw in low-quality action figures, oodles of overpriced peripherals, and a So Okay, It's Average tie-in cartoon, and you have an utter flop. Despite the huge marketing push, Redakai floundered around for only six months before being cancelled entirely. Kohdok discusses it here.
  • Top Trumps is a very well-respected card game that has lasted for years with tons of expansions. However, its Space Phenomena pack is the worst of the lot. The game works by having 2-6 players compare a statistic on the cards with the highest one being the winner. The Space Phenomena cards have stats as "N/A" or an extremely low number and rapidly shift in measurements, meaning that most cards are straight-up unusable. This makes the game incredibly slow without House Rules. Even worse, some of the stats provided are in non-standard or just plain wrong units (such as "Earth Years" for speed) note  or change reference points (for instance, orbital period, or "speed", for planets is given relative to the Sun, while orbital period for the Sun and other objects is given relative to the galactic center), resulting in numbers that are insane, wildly inaccurate, and seemingly pulled out of nowhere. (Apparently, the Moon wasn't discovered until 1651 note , Venus wasn't discovered until 1990 note , and Halley's Comet is -6,000,000 Earth masses note .) Watch Ashens rip it apart here.
  • Spellfire, a CCG based on Dungeons & Dragons made in the Follow the Leader rush after Magic: The Gathering popularized the concept of collectible card games. Unfortunately, several factors helped kill the game - bad rules; artwork recycled from Dragon Magazine and old book covers; and very rare/powerful figures and items whose art were photographs of dressed-up employees, mundane items, and/or poorly-made models. When your cards being as flimsy as photo paper is the least of your concerns, you know you're in trouble.

  • The collectible trading game BreaKeys, whose main gimmick was literally breaking your opponent's game piece when they lost. BreaKeys pieces apparently came in bags of 20 for $20, which could be wasted in less than a minute in a game. Because the weaker pieces would always be the first ones to break, the law of collectible games, in which the rarer the game piece the stronger it is, does not apply here. Furthermore, the broken plastic pieces were fairly sharp and could cause messes and small injuries. And the icing on the cake: you could just feel, with your fingers, how strong each key was before using it. Watch CR review it here.

Alternative Title(s): Traditional Games