Do you enjoy playing Apples to Apples?
Do you find yourself holding back on plays because your blend of humor might not go over well in mixed company?
Do you consider Helen Keller THE trump card?
Well, you either need to get some raunchier friends, or introduce them to this game: Cards Against Humanity. Apples To Apples’ slogan is “The Game of Hilarious Comparisons”. Cards Against Humanity’s slogan is “A Party Game for Horrible People”. If you’re a horrible person, it’s time you made the switch.
This party game is the inevitable end result of taking the benign nature of Apples to Apples to much more adult-themed table settings. The premise and the result are the same: to create absurd, awkward, and ultimately hysterical card combinations in order to figure out which of your friends have darker souls than you do.
Setup is simple. There are two decks of cards: white and black. White cards denote people, places, things, or actions. At the beginning each player is handed 10 of them. The black cards are statements or questions that require player contributions. These cards come in two different formats. The first is a question, such as “What does Dick Cheney prefer?” or “What’s that smell?” The second format is fill-in-the-blank cards, with great little gems like “During sex, I like to think about __________.”
The game works over a series of terrible, terrible rounds. One player is deemed the judge, flips over a card from the black card deck, and reads it aloud. Players respond by submitting cards from their hand face down. The judge then collects and shares the responses with the group, finally choosing a winner that suits their own twisted humor. Players then replenish their hand back to 10, and the judge role rotates to the next person.
But Wait – There’s More!
To avoid claims of being an Apples rip-off, it should be noted that they do have differences, besides the obvious subject matter. A great addition is the concept of submitting multiple cards at a time. For example, one fill-in-the-blank card is, “And the Academy Award for __________ goes to __________.” Asking for more than one answer adds a great new dimension to the game by not only forcing players to be more creative with their responses, but leading to more ridiculous answers.
Additionally there is the ability to bet your points (i.e. the black cards you’ve won for having the most tasteless wit during a previous round). By betting a card that you’ve won already, you get the opportunity to enter a second submission into a round if you feel you just can’t decide between two great responses – “How can I possibly choose between William Shatner AND Harry Potter Erotica?!?”. If you win the round, your risk pays off and you get your card back. If you lose, the actual winner gets it. This can be helpful in games where you’re dealing with lots of players. (The game scales very well size-wise even in excess of a dozen or more players.)
Lastly, the instructions to the game (which all fit on one page) also offer some extra rules for people to utilize if they need more variety and general shenanigans.
Cards Against Humanity is one of the best known early success stories of gaming and crowdsourcing: utilizing monetary contributions from strangers to produce your item on the promise of something in return. Yet the creators took it one step further: the game is available through a Creative Commons license. If you don’t want to pay the retail price of this game, you can legally make it yourself. This is encouraged by the creators enough that they post everything you need on their website – not only instructions on how to get the best Do-It-Yourself copy of the game, but the PDF also includes every card from the base set. They even suggest a specific storage box. When is the last time you wanted to play some awesome game that retailers were overcharging for, and you had the option of making a copy of the game yourself legally? (Magic: the Gathering proxies absolutely do not count).
Prudes Need Not Apply
Cards Against Humanity falls squarely into the Party Game category. This will be right in the wheelhouse for Socializers as an ideal game for a PG-13+ crowd. It’s a game that’s light on structure, depth and an emphasis on having fun rather than the clear need to win. (There is no actual rule on when the game ends, for example.) For those same reasons, Architects, Immersonists and Strikers may find the game lacking something to their tastes. That said, due to the ever-changing scenarios and participants, Daredevils can benefit by testing the limits of their own depraved humor on others. Also, much like Apples to Apples, it can be played with any assortment of appalling people, but being familiar with your participants will maximize entertaining rounds while avoiding card choices that may fall flat. Tacticians will certainly enjoy deciphering which players will enjoy a well-placed “Ronald Regan” card and which will instead prefer an obligatory Starcraft reference.
What started out as a Kickstarter in December 2010 has turned into a magnificent game that often cannot keep up with demand. At first look, Cards Against Humanity just looks like a nastier Apples clone, replacing family-friendly nouns like “Hummingbirds” and “Musicals”, and replacing them with much more terrible things like “Women’s Suffrage” and “Racially-biased SAT questions” (those are some of the tamer ones). The change in tone alone is nearly enough to justify adding it to your collection. This game can be played for hours on end, and the memorable, hilarious combinations that occur feel endless. The option to play it for free is certainly an added bonus, but the game is reasonably priced such that it won’t hurt your wallet by purchasing it outright and helping the warped game creators get the medication they clearly need.
For more information about the Creative Commons license that lets you DIY a set for yourself without “The Man” knocking down your door, visit www.creativecommons.org
Cardboard Republic Snapshot Scoring (Based on scale of 5):
Rules Clarity: 5
Replay Value: 5
Physical Quality 4.5
Overall Score: 5
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