Every Week It's Wibbley-Wobbley Timey-Wimey Pookie-Reviewery...

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Wicked. Witty. Wrong.

Cards Against Humanity is probably the least politically correct card game I have ever played.

Cards Against Humanity is probably the funniest card game I have ever played.

Cards Against Humanity is probably the vilest card game I have ever played.

Cards Against Humanity: A party game for horrible people is an incredibly simple game of answering innocent questions with horridly hilarious and impishly inappropriate answers. It is easy to learn, plays for anywhere between thirty and ninety minutes, and can be played by between five and twenty players. In playing you will probably either overawe or offend your friends, if not both with the obscene nature of your answers.

Published by Cards Against Humanity, LLC, Cards Against Humanity comes in a chunky little black and white box inside of which can be found a simple rules pamphlet and approximately six hundred cards. Some ninety or so of these are Black Cards, each of which contains a question or statement such as “What did I bring back from Mexico?” or “Alternative medicine is now embracing the curative powers of _____________.” Some Black Cards have two blank spaces, such as “That’s right, I killed _____________. How, you ask? _____________.”. The remaining cards are White Cards, each of which contains a word or phrase, such as “The Chinese gymnastics team,” “Guys who don’t call,” and “Binging and purging.” The White Cards are used to answer the question or fill in the blank, or blanks if the Black Card has more than one, presented on the Black Cards.

Game play is very simple. At game start, each player is dealt a hand of ten White Cards. One person starts the game as “Card Czar” and draws a Black Card and reads out question or phrase on the card aloud. Every other player selects a White Card from his hand which he thinks is the most suitable – the wittiest, funniest, most offensive, or will be appreciated the most by the Card Czar – and passes it to the Card Czar face down. The Card Czar shuffles the White Cards that he has been given and then reads out the question or phrase on his Black Card, each time answering the question or filling in the blank in the phrase with a word or phrase from the White Cards. Once all of the White Cards have been read out, the Card Czar chooses his favourite answer from the White Cards. Whomever played the winning White Card receives the Black Card as an Awesome Point. Then the next player becomes the Card Czar, everyone draws back up to ten White Cards, and a new round begins.
So for example, as Card Czar, Michelle draws a Black Card and reads it aloud: “Life for American Indians was forever changed when the White Man introduced them to _____________.” Going round the table, Dave plays “Unfathomable Stupidity.”, Anthony plays “Cheating in the Special Olympics.”, Hugh plays “A Gypsy curse.”, and I play “Britney at 55.” Michele takes these White Cards and after shuffling them, reads them out as follows:
  • “Life for American Indians was forever changed when the White Man introduced them to ‘Cheating in the Special Olympics.’”
  • “Life for American Indians was forever changed when the White Man introduced them to ‘Unfathomable Stupidity.’”
  • “Life for American Indians was forever changed when the White Man introduced them to ‘Britney at 55.’”
  • “Life for American Indians was forever changed when the White Man introduced them to ‘A Gypsy curse.’”
Michelle looks the White Cards over and after a moment or two’s deliberation chooses “Britney at 55.” as the most appropriate answer. I get to keep the Black Card as an Awesome Point.
Play progresses in this fashion until the game ends. This can either be when all of the Black Cards in the game have been played, in which case the player with the most Awesome Points win; or when a player gains enough Awesome Points to reach a previously agreed upon total and thus win the game.

Physically, Cards Against Humanity is very simply presented. The cards are all two tone, black and white. None of them are illustrated. The text on each one is easy to read and the rules are similarly as easy to read.

Cards Against Humanity is huge fun to play, even if the examples given above do not wholly capture how much fun it is. Part of the issue with that is the fact that were I to include some of the answers given on the White Cards, I would attract undue attention from search engines. They can often be of an adult nature and that does not fall within the remit of Reviews from R’lyeh. That issue though is more to do with this site rather the game itself.

The most obvious fact about Cards Against Humanity is that it plays in a very similar fashion to Apples to Apples in that each turn one player has to match answers from each of the other player's hand to a given question. Which is something of a problem. Apples to Apples includes hundreds of questions and thousands of answers, so it offers plenty of replay value. Even then I tend to find its game play a little too light and unsatisfying if played too often. Cards Against Humanity contains fewer cards so suffers from the same problem, though probably to a greater degree, and playing it too often will spoil its crass charms. That said, in addition to the simple rules provided, the rule pamphlet gives rules for upping the stakes each round as well as eight house rules that can be added for variety.

One obvious problem with Cards Against Humanity is that it is an American game – then again, so was Apples to Apples originally, although it has since received versions in other languages and specifically for other nations. Some of the answers on the White Cards are specifically American such as “Dental dams.”, “Aaron Burr.”, and “Shaquille O’Neal’s acting career.” There is no way around this, bar creating your own cards, which is perfectly possible given that Cards Against Humanity can actually be downloaded from the publisher’s website and printed out for free. In the meantime, we will only have to wait for nation specific cards.

Further, its very American nature is not helped by its lack of availability. The game sells out very quickly it is true, but it is only available in the USA or in Canada. Where it is available internationally, the prices can be exorbitant. Nor is it available internationally via Amazon.com, which would have been the easiest of solutions to the problem. (In case you were wondering, I did buy it via Amazon.com and then had it shipped from the USA by a friend).

The biggest problem though with Cards Against Humanity is its humour. Putting the answers on the White Cards together with the Black Cards can give results that make you wince at their tastelessness and whoop with laughter at the same time. Many of the answers refer to sexual acts – hence the game having a minimum playing age of seventeen years – and other adult references. This is not a game for anyone of a “conservative with a small ‘c’” persuasion as Cards Against Humanity will easily offend them. Nor is it for anyone of a “Conservative with a big ‘C’” persuasion as Cards Against Humanity does have a Left Wing bias. Or at least the designers just have a deep and abiding hatred of Glenn Beck. (In all likelihood, to balance this out in a rare case of political balance, it appears from the rules that the game’s designers have hired Former Vice President Dick Cheney to handle their complaints and legal department).

Once you have a copy of Cards Against Humanity, you will chortle, you will cry, and you will cringe. Not necessarily a game to play with your family, Cards Against Humanity needs likeminded people who share its humour to get the most out of it, but it should not be overplayed or it will lose its appeal. Although slightly heavy to carry around, it works well as a convention game and as a pick-up game, possibly at the bar or just with a drink to hand. Going where almost no card game has gone before, Cards Against Humanity is a sublimely sinful satire.