In general sequels don’t get a lot of respect. From movies to books to even video games, sequels rarely live up to the originals. For every Empire Strikes Back there are many more awful sequels that we wish we could erase from our minds. While there are very few traditional sequels in board games, there are plenty of examples of a publisher creating another game in a popular franchise in order to make a quick buck. Usually these games are pretty bad or barely distinguish themselves from the original game. While rare there are occasionally some board game sequels that do eclipse the original game.
Before I begin I want to clarify a few things. Pretty much every popular board game ever created has had a spinoff or expansion released at some point. For this list I am only looking at full games (no expansions) that share most of the mechanics with the original game. I also tried to focus on more mainstream games that most people would recognize. With that said lets take a look at five board game sequels that are better than the original game that inspired them.
Clue vs Clue Master Detective
Clue is the classic “Who Done It?” game that almost everyone has played at least once in their lives. The goal of the game is to figure out which suspect killed Mr. Boddy, with which weapon, and in which room. Each player is given an equal number of cards. Players move around the board and ask questions of the other players to figure out what cards the other players are holding. By using a process of elimination the players are able figure out which three cards were set aside at the beginning of the game. The first player to solve the case wins the game.
Most people are familiar with the original Clue but they are much less familiar with some of the sequel and spinoff games. The card games do a good job of streamlining the original game to just the deduction element. I think Clue Master Detective is the best Clue sequel though as it takes Clue and just makes it bigger and better. Clue Master Detective differs from the original game in a couple different ways. It adds snoop spaces which allows a player to look at a random card from one of the other players when they land on it or move through it. The game also adds three additional rooms, four additional suspects, and two more weapons. While this doesn’t drastically change the gameplay, it does makes the mystery more compelling as the players have to figure out more information. Basically I see Clue Master Detective as Advanced Clue and is a great change of pace for people that want more of a challenge. For more information on Clue Master Detective be sure to check out my full review of the game.
Trivial Pursuit vs. Trivial Pursuit Team Edition and Trivial Pursuit Party
When people think of trivia games, the first game likely to come to their mind is the 1981 game Trivial Pursuit. I have always had mixed feelings about Trivial Pursuit. In general I like trivia games and Trivial Pursuit can have some really good trivia questions. There are things that I never liked about Trivial Pursuit though. First the game tends to rely on a lot of really specific questions where you have to be quite knowledgeable about a topic to know the answer. As there are no choices to choose from, you either know the answer or you don’t. The traditional Trivial Pursuit games also tend to rely on a lot of categories that I don’t particularly have a lot of interest in, which makes them even more difficult. Even if you are able to answer the questions, you have to rely on landing on specific spaces in order to acquire all of the wedges needed to win the game. All of this issues combine together to create a game that seems like it is never going to end.
With how Trivial Pursuit is basically synonymous with the trivia game genre at this point, it is not surprising that there have been a ton of Trivial Pursuit games created over the years. Most of these are just re-themed games which focus on a specific topic. Many of them barely change the original gameplay. There are a couple sequels to Trivial Pursuit though that have actually improved on the original game.
If you are looking for the Trivial Pursuit sequel that promotes teamwork, I would recommend Trivial Pursuit Team Edition. In Team Edition all of the players break up into teams. The game was designed to be shorter than the original game as it is capped at four rounds with specific trivia cards used for each game. What is truly original about Team Edition is that the game actually adds some variety to the original game. Instead of every question being a generic trivia question, Team Edition adds a few different types of questions. No longer are questions all or nothing. Players can score more points by answering a string of related questions, answering quicker, providing more answers, or choosing to answer a more difficult question. This makes the game more accessible, quicker and just a more enjoyable experience.
If you are looking for more of a solo experience, I would check out Trivial Pursuit Party. Trivial Pursuit Party plays a lot like the original game. Players still move around the board answering questions and acquiring wedges. Trivial Pursuit Party improves upon the original game in a couple ways though. First the game adds the mechanic of being able to ask another player for help. If the player helps you get the question right, they will also receive the corresponding color wedge. Second the questions are considerably easier. You could argue that the game is a little too easy at times, but at least it won’t make you feel stupid like the original game. Finally the game just plays faster than the original game as the designers found ways to streamline the original game. For more information on Trivial Pursuit Party check out our full review.
Guess Who? vs. Guess Who? Extra and Guess Who? Mix and Match
When I was a kid one of my favorite board games was Guess Who?. I really liked the game when I was a kid because it was quick and easy to play. For those of you who have never played the game before, players take turns asking yes or no questions about the appearance of the character the other person chose to try and figure out their hidden identity. While I really liked the game as a child, as I grew up I noticed some of the problems with the game. The original versions of the game were kind of racist and sexist as there is only one African American and only five women/girls in the entire game. The bigger problem is that there is an optimal strategy to the game which could potentially win you the game within six turns. After you figure out how to optimally play the game, Guess Who? loses a lot of its appeal. To try and fix these problems, a couple different Guess Who? sequels have been released. Two of the sequels in particular deserve some attention as they might not fix all of the problems but they are clearly superior to the original game.
For a more traditional Guess Who? experience I would recommend Guess Who? Extra. The main gameplay is exactly the same as the original Guess Who?. You are still asking yes or no questions in order to narrow down who the other player chose. Instead of having just one set of characters though, Guess Who? Extra has six different sets of characters. Most of these are just different humans but the game also includes a set that includes animals and household objects. In addition to the variety, these additional cards force you to ask different questions than what you would ask in the original game. You have to come up with some clever questions to do well in these rounds. I think the biggest improvement the game makes though is the addition of four different variant games. Most of the variants don’t add a lot to the game. I really liked the variant of choosing two different characters at the same time though, as it makes the game considerably more challenging as you have to figure out both at the same time. For more information on Guess Who? Extra check out our full review.
The other Guess Who? sequel that I would recommend is Guess Who? Mix ‘n Mash. Guess Who? Mix ‘n Mash at first glance looks quite a bit different than the original Clue. Instead of picking a character, each player picks a head, eyes and mouth card and assembles their creation without looking at it. Players then have to figure out which three parts make up their character by asking yes or no questions to the other players. While it looks a lot different than the normal Guess Who?, it plays a lot like the original game. What I like about Guess Who? Mix ‘n Mash is that it actually adds quite a bit of variety and depth to the original game. You are still asking yes or no questions but you have to use quite a bit more creativity in coming up with your questions. This makes it is much harder to come up with a winning strategy. It may look silly but I honestly think Guess Who? Mix ‘n Mash plays like an advanced Guess Who?. For more information on Guess Who? Mix ‘n Mash check out our full review.
Mastermind vs Ultimate Mastermind
When I was growing up one of my favorite board games was Mastermind. The idea behind the game is quite simple and yet kind of elegant at the same time. The premise behind Mastermind is that one player creates a secret four color code that another player then has to figure out. The guessing player places four color pegs on the gameboard, and the player who created the code will indicate how many correct colors they chose along with how many pegs are in the correct place. Through deduction the player has to try to figure out the code within ten guesses.
While I loved Mastermind when I was a kid, it kind of loses most of its appeal when you figure out that the game is solved. This basically means that there is a strategy that you can follow which will figure out the code for you within ten guesses. There are formulas that can get you a victory within five guesses but if you are not a mathematician you might not be able to follow them. There are some more basic strategies that anyone can follow though that will still guarantee you a victory. In a future post I am going to explain my process for automatically winning a game of Mastermind. While you could avoid using one of these strategies, it is hard not to use it once you have learned it.
The creators of Mastermind realized this problem pretty quickly which has lead to quite a few different spinoff games. Some of these spinoff games ended up using letters, numbers or different shapes. The most popular spinoff is probably Ultimate Mastermind though as it keeps the gameplay of the original game while adding in more challenge. Ultimate Mastermind is more challenging than the original Mastermind for two reasons. First the game gives you eight different colors instead of the six from the original game. It also increases the length of the code from four spaces to five spaces. Ultimate Mastermind is clearly superior to the original game because it provides you with more of a challenge. If you ever wanted to go back to the original game you could easily adjust Ultimate Mastermind by removing two of the colors and not using one of the code spaces.
Balderdash vs Beyond Balderdash
Dictionary was a pretty popular public domain game for quite a few years. Then in 1984 the game was officially packaged as the mainstream game Balderdash. We took a look at Balderdash a couple years ago and enjoyed it quite a bit as it is a great party game. For those of you who have never played Balderdash before, the premise is simple. The round begins with the players drawing a card that has an obscure but real word printed on it. As it is unlikely that any of the players actually know what the word means, each player writes down their own definition for the word. Players want to make their definition believable as the goal is to get other players to think your definition is the actual definition for the word. After everyone has wrote down their definitions, all of the answers are gathered and combined with the real definition. One player then reads off all of the definitions and each player gets to vote on which definition they think is correct. Players will score points for each player who picks their fake definition, and they will also score points if they can choose the correct definition.
In 1993 the sequel to Balderdash was released which was aptly called Beyond Balderdash. Beyond Balderdash takes the premise from the original game and expands on it. Instead of just making up definitions to obscure words, players can make up answers for other categories. The other categories include: making up the plot to a real movie title, saying what happened on a specific date, describing why a person is famous, or coming up with what a group of initials stand for. The UK version of the game, Absolute Balderdash, switches out the date category for a law category where you get to make up the rest of a real law.
While the original Balderdash is a great game, Beyond Balderdash is basically superior in every way. Beyond Balderdash is the true definition of a sequel as it takes everything that people liked from the original game and just makes it better. While it is fun making up bogus definitions for words, the other categories in Beyond Balderdash bring a lot of variety to the game. The movie category in particular is really enjoyable as it is fun coming up with ridiculous plots for movies. After playing Beyond Balderdash I really see no point of playing the original Balderdash.
Mattel must have agreed since in 2006 Mattel decided to abandon the original Balderdash entirely and started publishing Beyond Balderdash under the original name of Balderdash. The one change was to take the laws category from the UK version and ditch the date category. If you only have an older version of Balderdash (pre-2006), I would highly recommend picking up Beyond Balderdash or one of the newer versions of Balderdash.
Do you disagree or agree with my choices? Are there any great board game sequels that you think I missed? Leave a comment with your thoughts.