Anyone that knows me knows that I’m an avid gamer including a board/card gamer and that I’m always interested in drawing friends, family or anyone else into the fray. The latest focus of my interest is a new game called Cards Against Humanity. It’s got such an ominous sound to it and it’s perfectly named. That said, first let me provide a bit of a flashback before I get to the specifics of this particular game.
There’s another game that came along that really helped bridge the gap between gamers and those who look at them as complete geeks. That game is Apples To Apples. Apples To Apples is a very simple “gateway” game—that is, it often leads participants to ask what else is out there like it. No other game that I own has more reliably led to people searching it out to buy for their own.
The concept is pretty simple. Everyone has a hand of mainly noun or pronoun cards. Examples span the range including things like, “The Solar System”, “Moldy Cheese” and “Bill Gates”. One player chooses a descriptive card from a different draw pile and the rest of the players choose a card from their hand that they believe best fits the description (from the eyes of the person who drew that descriptive card). Thus, as an example, say the main card reads, “Beautiful”. That player might receive the following array of cards from the players: “A Newborn Baby”, “A Rainbow”, “Angelina Jolie”, “A Starry Night”, “Ford Mustang”, “Rocky Road Ice Cream”.
The point is that the person whose turn it is (the one who played the description card) is then the one who selects what they feel (for them) best represents “Beautiful”. Thus, any of the above examples could be right. If they’re a car lover then it could be the Mustang. If they’re a new mom then maybe it’s the baby, etc. If your card is chosen you get to keep the descriptive card and the game continues until someone collects a pre-determined number of such cards. That’s it. The brilliance is in the fun nature of the combinations.
The biggest problem with Apples To Apples is that it’s viewed as far too basic and vanilla by most die-hard gamers. Like most things that become mainstream it’s now no longer cool to say you enjoy it. It’s just one step above admitting you enjoy playing Monopoly.
Out Of The Darkness Steps….
So, then out of nowhere we encountered a new twist on this concept and that’s the aforementioned Cards Against Humanity. It comes in a very nondescript shiny black box with plain white text. It could have only been more apropos if it shipped to me in plain brown paper bag. The game play is nearly identical to Apples To Apples (so much so that I wondered about a legal claim) but the magic is in the content. Here, I must admit, it’s a total guilty pleasure.
To give you an idea, its own description refers to it as, “A Party Game For Horrible People.” The reason for this is laid firmly in the fact that virtually any one of the cards has the ability to be viewed by many as out and out offensive or shocking at the least. This is not a game for the timid or for those who view themselves as above “that sort of thing.”
Let’s look at an example to give you the flavor.
The player who’s turn it is draws a comment/question card that states, “What are my parents hiding from me?” The other players fill in the blank with their cards and submit perhaps the following:
“Harry Potter erotica.”
“Peanut Butter Jelly Time.”
As you can see, the combinations can easily push the boundaries for many/most people. However, for those of us whose sense of humor isn’t trumped by our fear of being judged it’s a game that can provide hours of total gut-busting hilarity. In my most recent playing last night I was so overcome with tears of joy that I needed a moment just to come back to earth to read my own card.
Often a comment/question card can be answered by several, if not all, of the cards in your hand with nearly equal hilarity and that’s when I really lose it. I want to just play them all!
I should also mention that if you have a problem with sexual innuendo then this absolutely is not the game for you. What you’ll encounter here would best be described as absolute, in-your-face sexual “outuendo”.
There are also several rule variations that make the game more interesting. For example, there’s a Pick 2 component where a comment/question card has two blanks requiring the players to submit two cards instead of the normal one.
Players who are “certain” that they’ve provided the winning card can gamble one of their previously won cards. In doing so they’re allowed to submit a second card upping their chance for success. If they win, they win but if they lose then they forfeit the card wagered and are that much farther from winning the game.
There’s also a number of “house rules” that are all well thought out including my favorite that takes a random card from the draw pile and includes it in the choices for each play. Should the random player win everyone goes home in a state of everlasting shame. You’ll be shocked at just how often the random option is spot-on and that speaks to the excellent play testing that went into the game.
What’s it all cost? Well,if this does sound interesting to you then, believe it or not, you can play the game entirely free of charge. The publishers have made the game available as a free download on their website. You can take the PDF file they provide and print it out on your own printer or, for about $10, take it to any Staples or FedEx Office store and have them print it on thick card stock. It’s all explained on the site.
For those of us who like a nice, finished product the game can be bought on Amazon and elsewhere for $25. There’s also a new expansion set aptly named First Expansion (20 new black cards, 80 new white cards and some blanks) that can be yours for the small price of just $10. Be aware that the game sells out often so you may need some patience.
For me and many of my friends, this is exactly up our alley. The card combinations had us all falling off our chairs. It scales to almost any number of players but be aware that with more players you’ll want to keep the goal short. We played with 6 players with the winner being the first one to collect 6 cards (one for each player of course) and the game took nearly 3 hours. We barely noticed. That was due, in part, to another wonderful element of the game and that’s that people can jump in at any time (and will if they happen upon the fun). We started with 6, lost a player along the way and then gained three others to grow to 8 all without a hiccup.
My only complaint with the game comes from the full finished product. The mass-produced cards are extremely glossy and easily become covered in distracting fingerprints (especially on the black cards). They also feel a bit flimsier than I’d have liked. Other than that I have no complaints.
If you’ve got a wicked sense of humor and some similarly-minded friends then this is a must-have game.