How To Win At Every Board Game (And Likely Alienate All Your Friends)

Over 5.7K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of How To Win At Every Board Game (And Likely Alienate All Your Friends)
Voting Rules
Vote up the strategies you most look forward to using in your next game night.

There's nothing better than getting together with a group of friends you love and utterly ruining them in a game. Conversely, losing sucks, so it'd be great if there were some easy board game cheats, or at least tricks for playing games that would ensure victory every time. Fret not. Many classic board games have just that.

Stop buying hotels in Monopoly, stop trying to play big words that are well beyond your vocabulary in Scrabble, and keep careful tabs on your Clue rivals. Every game leaves something to be exploited and it's time to start taking advantage.

Here are tips and tricks to win a bunch of classic games, and they're all (pretty much) legal. You won't lose ever again... unless your friends have read this, too.

Photo: user uploaded image

  • How To Win Monopoly: Only Build Houses
    Photo: Horst Frank / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Though it sounds counterintuitive, you don't ever want to build a hotel in Monopoly; just houses. For that matter, you actually only want three houses on each property you own, and only one color group on each side of the board (unless you're trying to block someone else from completing a color group). Also, you shouldn't buy utilities (unless you can get them for cheap).

    Just focus on railroads and completing color groups with three houses on each property, which turns out to be the most efficient use of your money. Staying in jail isn't always a bad thing either, as you can avoid opponents's monopolies and actually save money. Make sure you've done some purchasing already, though, so you can build up your bank. Monopoly enthusiast Tim Darling can give you all the nitty-gritty nuts and bolts of it certain victory.

    3,538 votes
  • There's one easy and crafty way to cut out half of your opponent's characters on the first move. According to Dr. Matt Prtichard: ask “Does their name start with a letter A to G?” Of course, then you want to ask about gender, and you'll halve the board again. Another great question is to ask if your opponent's character has facial hair, as that's a trait actually shared by eight characters. 

    The game is designed so that at least five people share most physical traits, so whatever you can do to take out as many people at once the better off you are. Obviously. Your opponent is going to see how effective these questions are and start copying you, but you're already ahead, so they're already screwed.

    1,891 votes
  • 3
    1,503 VOTES

    How To Win Connect 4 Every Time: Always Go First

    Going first in Connect Four is half the battle to ensuring victory. As long as you drop your first disc in the center column, allowing you to subsequently take at least three of the five center spots, you cannot be beaten.

    Assuming your opponent also plays perfectly, the game at this point will end in 41 turns, and you will win with four across. If your opponent doesn't play perfectly, they'll probably lose much sooner. It's as simple as that! Although, it's not simple at all. It's quite complex mathematics. Numberphile can tell you all about that in the video.

    1,503 votes
  • There's no guarantee that you'll be able to win a game of chess with a classic maneuver called the Scholar's Mate, but it's always worth trying.

    1. Move your E2 pawn to E4.
    2. Then F1 Bishop to C4. 
    3. Queen to H5.
    4. Queen to F7.

    If you're playing a wizened chess player, there's a good chance they're familiar with this move, so it probably won't work. However, against most of your friends, you'll destroy them in four moves and feel like a genius.

    1,762 votes
  • President of DataGenetics Nick Berry has a pretty simple suggestion for anyone trying to win a game of Battleship. All you need to do is imagine the playing field like a checkerboard, and make sure to only guess one "color" square until you hit a ship. In other words, leave a space between each miss.

    Once you do get a hit, abandon this strategy and start guessing only adjacent tiles to the one you hit. The checkerboard approach, if done for the entire board, would cut your random guessing in half, so it's a must-do.

    1,033 votes
  • There's no way to guarantee victory in Jenga since the biggest factor is the steadiness of each player's hands, but there are approaches that can give you an extreme advantage.

    1. Push blocks, do not pull.
    2. Take the center blocks whenever possible.
    3. Once you're out of center blocks, pinch side blocks towards the middle.
    4. If you take a block from the right side, place it on the left on top, and vice versa.
    5. Pay attention to the thickness of blocks as they vary, and remove the thinner ones when possible.

    Plentifun has a few more tricks for you, but those should get the job done. 

    797 votes