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Play This, Not That: Board game edition

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Has Pictionary stopped being a pleasure? Trivial Pursuit lost its thrill? We hear you. Popular though they are, classic board games can be, in fact, pretty boring.

The good news is that for every classic game taking up space in your games closet, there's a suitable upgrade waiting at the local store. Switch things up with these five games that capture the appeal of the classics, but throw in twists that make all the difference.

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Ditch: Pictionary
Play: Creationary

Pictionary's great -- if you can draw. If, on the other hand, your stick men resemble the aftermath of some horrible chainsaw accident, fear not: there's hope out there in the form of Creationary. If your Lego skills are up to par, that is.

Instead of sketching a word for others to guess, you build it using Lego bricks. While the game contains plenty of blocks, it's all the better if you have a few of your own to throw in (the trickier the word, the more blocks you'll probably need.) And you don't even need to hunt down a pencil.

Ditch: Monopoly
Play: For Sale

Who's up for a game of Monopoly? While it often sounds like a good idea -- it's not the world's best-selling game for nothing -- it doesn't take long for a good-natured game of Monopoly to turn into a mean-spirited, long-winded exercise in tedium.

So if you find yourself wishing Monopoly's real-estate wheeling and dealing could fit into a smaller package (and we're willing to bet that's most of you), try For Sale. Over in well under an hour, it's a straightforward property auctioning game that has much of the fun of Monopoly, but none of the tendency to swallow up the whole evening.

Ditch: Clue
Play: Kill Doctor Lucky...and His Little Dog, Too!

Whodunnit Clue has a special place in the hearts of many board-gamers, but it's not exactly the most varied of games. If you simply can't face one more accusation, try Kill Doctor Lucky instead. Think of it as Clue turned on its head -- except here you're the ones trying to commit the murder, not identify the culprit. Can you successfully dispatch the Doctor, or will he successfully evade all your traps?

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Ditch: Trivial Pursuit
Play: Wits & Wagers

Though Trivial Pursuit's simple rules and pop culture questions have earned it a well-deserved place in the ranks of the world's most popular pastimes, it's not the be-all and end-all of trivia games. What if you everyone answered every question...and you could gamble points on each other's responses?

That's the premise behind Wits & Wagers, easily one of the best party games of the last few years. It's just as much fun whether you know the answers or not, and with only seven questions per game, it's never going to drag on too long. Even MENSA was sufficiently impressed to name it 2006's best mind game. We'll wager you'll like it, too.

Ditch: Risk
Play: Ikusa

Critics haven't been kind to the classic world domination game, Risk. Some feel it favors the lucky rather than the strategic; some feel the map isn't balanced; some find over-defensive players can turn a game into a multi-hour slog.

If that sounds familiar, or even if you just feel like a change from the same old Risk, give Ikusa a go. A remake of a classic 80s Milton Bradley game called Shogun, Ikusa takes place in feudal Japan, and introduces an assortment of different troop types, ninja assassins, and generals who gain in strength as they win battles. It's way deeper than Risk, and although it isn't necessarily any shorter, it sure feels a lot less tedious.

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