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What Only Hardcore Gamers Know About The Board Games On The Big Bang Theory

The long-running sitcom The Big Bang Theory is rich in pop-culture references, from Sheldon's (Jim Parsons) plentiful T-shirt collection to the action figure-littered set to every other line of dialogue the guys say. It's a lot of details to get right, and they usually do, but there's one area the show doesn't always nail: board games.

On occasion, the characters chat over a board game — sometimes it's just for looks, but can also be played as the butt of a joke. Some of the games they play don't exist, like Klingon Boggle, but others are definitely real, like Ticket to Ride. However, for all their supposed nerd cred, the guys apparently don't know how to play even the most basic strategy board game: Settlers of Catan. Maybe it's not the most confusing Big Bang Theory moment in the series' history, but their playstyle is certainly confusing for any hardcore gamers watching.

There must have been a missing connection between the games' rule books and everyone on set because there are at least a few instances of onscreen mistakes. A smaller moment happens in season 6 when the guys play the train-based game Ticket to Ride. They spend the entire time simply drawing cards and rearranging their hands, barely doing any real gameplay. However, it appears that they're each only drawing one card per turn, which any Ticket to Ride fan knows is wrong — players draw two (unless it's a rainbow).

The guys aren't playing Catan right at all

The real board game grievance comes in the season 5 episode, "The Recombination Hypothesis," when Sheldon, Raj (Kunal Nayyar), and Howard (Simon Helberg) play Settlers of Catan while Leonard (Johnny Galecki) frets about having dinner with Penny (Kaley Cuoco). Any gamer would notice that they're not exactly playing by the rules. First off, there's only one white settlement piece on the board, when every player starts with two. Secondly, the desert tile has a number on it, which goes against the game's rules — you can't get any resources from the desert.

Thirdly, Sheldon rolls the dice and immediately picks up a wheat card. A real Catan game involves calling out the number, everyone searching the board to see if they're settled on said number, and then picking up their corresponding cards — it's a whole event. Plus, the jokes written about the game are exclusively about Sheldon's wood. Clearly, Raj and Howard have never played this game before if they can't stop snickering at the mere mention of one of the game's vital resources. Finally, by the time Leonard comes back from dinner sometime later, they've made very little progress in the game; they must have gotten up and done something else for an hour in the middle of playing.

For a little background information: Catan and Ticket to Ride are far from the strangest board games to exist, as they're both considered light on the strategy side. They're great gateways for newcomers to strategy board games, though plenty of veteran players can still enjoy them. However, The Big Bang Theory's guys would be completely outmatched by any real board gamers.