Board games that have been banned

board games is generally considered harmless, even healthy, activity (frenzied games of winter dead and Sheriff of Nottingham aside). However, there are some board games that have been withdrawn from sale because they were deemed too offensive.

Also see: 7 Best Board Games for Adults

Some games on this list have been technically removed for copyright reasons. Others were so offensive that they caused a public outcry. There are a surprising number of board games that are difficult (or even impossible) to buy these days, mostly for very good reasons.

Some of these games have harmful stereotypes and deal with difficult stereotypes


8th Escape from Colditz

Already published in 1973, Escape from Colditz is a strategy game. Players can choose to play as allies and attempt to escape from the famous castle used as a prisoner of war camp in 1939. Or they can join the German team and try to stop the other players from escaping. The game was popular in the 70’s as was the BBC TV show, Colditzthat inspired the development of the game.

Understandably, Escape from Colditz caused a stir, especially in Germany. The original game had a swastika on the box. The rules for Nazi memorabilia, especially swastikas, are complicated in Germany and the game has been banned for this reason. Later versions had an imperial eagle on the box instead, and the game was updated and published by Osprey Games in 2016.

7 War on Terror

War on Terror is a satirical board game released in 2006. Inspired by the Iraq invasion, it’s a political strategy game in which players must control an empire. Players must liberate (or rather invade) lands in order to develop cities there. Where the gameplay becomes particularly controversial is in the terrorism aspect. Players can fund terrorist groups to attack their opponents, which is a touchy subject in general but especially so in 2006 when the game was first released, as the 2005 London bombings were very fresh at the time.

The game has been banned from major industry fairs including Essen, Nuremberg and New York. Some critics even went so far as to call the game “sick and ridiculous,” and British police even confiscated copies of the game. However, the game remains popular and has been described as “brilliant satire” by Amnesty International, according to TerrorBull Games.

6 Close to the limit

Released 2006, Close to the limit (which translates to “right on the border”) is a game about smuggling goods across the border. Players take turns taking on the role of border sheriff trying to catch the other players smuggling. It’s a game that involves a lot of bluffing, and it gets pretty silly, making it a great party game to play with friends.

Close to the limit was apparently banned in Brazil. Authorities argued that the game could encourage children to defy authority, which is an interesting twist on a light-hearted party game. The game was re-themed as Robin Hoodwhile keeping the same game mechanics.

5 social care

With the slogan “why bother making a living?” You can see why some people have found social care offensive. It’s a satire on the American welfare state monopoly-like game pitting working people against “high-performing welfare recipients” to see who gets the most after-tax money.

See also: The 15 Best WW2 Board Games

After an outcry (including criticism from then Health Secretary Patricia Harris, who called the game racist and sexist), a complicated court case ensued and some stores pulled the game from sale. It was re-released years later. Used copies can be found online, but most people find it pretty distasteful.

4 Search for the magic ring

Readers can probably figure out where this is going by just looking at the name! Search for the magic ring has been embroiled in a copyright dispute as it is based on – no surprises – Tolkien Lord of the Rings. The game has a large (and, it must be said, quite pretty) cardboard board on which players roll dice to move along the path, engaging in battles and trying to complete their tasks.

It’s no surprise that this sparked a copyright claim and hence copies are hard to come by. Copies that pop up from time to time are quite expensive and sought after by some Tolkien fanatics.

3 assassin

assassin (or Murderer) is a role-playing game. Players must “kill” their opponents, with the game taking place in real time. Players are given another player’s name and some sort of prop gun (like a squirt gun). When players kill their target, they adopt the defeated player’s target as their own, and it continues like this until a winner is left. It’s a fun party game that can last for days.

assassin has been banned from several college campuses over the years. Campus security teams have been implicated in some incidents where students brought squirt guns or Nerf guns into class. The police were called to games assassin in the past so you can see why college campuses want to avoid potentially dangerous situations accidentally occurring.

2 Serial Killers: The Board Game

Perhaps not surprising Serial Killers: The Board Game raised some eyebrows upon initial release. A dark and twisted game that sees players traveling around a map of the USA trying to kill people without getting caught (or at least avoiding capital punishment states).

The game has been banned in Canada. Perhaps unsurprising given the very dark content, and it’s currently out of print. It’s too morbid for most people to enjoy, although some players have created their own versions with slightly more tasteful themes, using the game’s core mechanics.

1 ghetto pole

ghetto pole is another obviously offensive board game. It’s a spin on monopoly, and it’s packed with racist stereotypes, with most players finding it distasteful at best. It was called “offensively racist” by a local section of the NAACP and was withdrawn by retailers such as Urban Outfitters.

Hasbro sued the game’s creator over the similarities to monopoly. The court awarded Hasbro $400,000 in damages. Many places refuse to stock it online, even second-hand, for obvious reasons.

More: The 7 Best Board Game Accessories Board games that have been banned


TaraSubramaniam is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. TaraSubramaniam joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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