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So it's New Year's Eve,I'm attending a small party involving close friends and my daughter (nearly 2 years old)...and someone suggests we play a game...my friend suggests cards against humanity but quickly declared we could only play it once little one was asleep...he was right!
...the idea of the game is to nominate a dealer that gives each player ten cards and then selects ten dealer cards for themselves. Each of their cards has a statement on but with a "blank". The idea being that one at a time you choose a word/phrase from one of your cards to fill the blank. The dealer then chooses who's card was the winner and they get given the relevant dealer card...the person with the most cards at the end,wins! Simple!
Obviously it tends to be the player that got the biggest laugh that wins the round...
This provides hours of fun,especially when you've had a few drinks and everyone's feeling that much more silly! There is a wide variety of statements to fill the blanks including celebrity names,lesser known sex acts and some politically inspired.
I'm not going to give an example as once you've the answers once,even in another blank space they're simply not as funny...good thing the creators have released expansions packs to provide even more hours of entertainment. This game appears to be holding its value even in the second hand market so do t expect to grab a bargain with this one! One person (the friend that owned it) had played before and within a few rounds every other adult present wanted to buy the game and tell others about it!
At several points throughout the game,I laughed so much that I cried! However,you will not enjoy this game if you are easily offended or if you don't generally enjoy getting involved heavily in a game as the point is to be as inappropriate as possible! I have to say,as someone that enjoys humour that's often a little close to the mark,I was still shocked by some of the answers you could give and how some of them were approved for public release I'll never know!
You must be relaxed,not too serious and certainly not in the presence of children when you play this!
Card games are often a tradition at social gatherings. If your shindigs consist of a vigorous game of bridge, a rousing game of canasta, pegging it out with cribbage or a wild game of gin rummy then I can categorically tell you that the latest card game to hit the streets "Cards Against Humanity", made by Cards Against Humanity LLC (a most amusing company - you can look for little jokes on their website, on their product description pages from their distributors and in their instruction booklet), will absolutely, positively, irrevocably NOT be for you. If you and your friends enjoy a spot of devil worshipping and laughing at people falling over in the street then this is most definitely the game for you. What you get is a smallish box of 17.8cm x 8.9cm x 11.4cm containing 460 white and 90 black cards and an instruction booklet which doesn't really sound like much but trust me - it will warp your brain. Some genuine statistics to back this up - "with 6 players there are over 13 duodecillion possible rounds (10^40)". Shut the front door.
==How it works==
It is simple but fiendishly clever. The idea is to play for 30-90 minutes but in reality you can play for as long as the magic lasts and there are two types of cards - Black Cards which contain fill-in-the-blank sentences and White Cards containing phrases with which to fill in the blank(s). Each player (the recommended number at 4 - 20+ players, though I think 20+ would make the game a tad tedious) draws 10 White Cards at the beginning and then each player will take it in turn to be the Card Czar (the first Czar decided by however you like e.g. the youngest player, first alphabetically, shoe size, bra size etc) who will pick a Black Card and read it out. A Black Card can have 1, 2 or 3 blanks to fill in and each non-Czar player will take it in turn clockwise or counter-clockwise to choose from their selection of White Cards the phrases they think will best complete the Black Card. The Czar is then supposed to read out all the different options, pick the winner, and that player keeps the Black Card which represents an Awesome Point. The players then replenish their white card stockpile and rinse and repeat until all the Black Cards have been read out and the winner naturally is the player with the highest amount of Awesome Points at the end.
==So where's the crime against humanity I hear you ask?==
The crime, my friends, is with the despicable nature of the card writers who have created some tremendously outrageous and often shockingly vile phrases that can only have come from dangerously unhinged minds. Allow me to demonstrate my point with some example rounds:
Black Card: "If God didn't want us to enjoy ________ he wouldn't have given us ________"
White Cards: "Heartwarming orphans" + "Dying of dysentery"
Black Card: "Charades was ruined forever when my mom had to act out ________"
White Cards: "Incest"
Black Card: "In Michael Jackson's final moments, he thought about ________"
White Cards: "Getting naked and watching Nickelodeon"
Oh! My! God! Trust me, this is just me skimming the surface...it gets a whole lot darker and more disturbing..."Flying sex snakes"..."A homoerotic volleyball montage"..."Picking up girls at the abortion clinic"...the sheer depravity and often just pure randomness - "Wearing an octopus for a hat" - is mind-bending and yet somehow still provides hours of decadent entertainment. Some of the phrases are a touch Americanised due to this being an American game and so can go over your head - "Glenn Beck catching his scrotum on a curtain hook". No idea who he is but the imagery is...umm...interesting. I think you've probably got the picture by now so I'll torture you no further.
As you can imagine, when people manage to get some truly horrendous matches to the Black Card there is a fantastic assortment of reactions from the players - extreme laughter, a symphony of groans, self-loathing and disgust but always in good spirits. I've played this game so many times with a whole array of different people and it always elicits the same positive response from everybody and without fail they are more the merrier than before they started. Each time is different, and you will learn a lot about your friends by how vulgar and scandalous they are willing to be just to snag some Awesome Points and also by their displays of ignorance about certain words. Although I myself am clearly incredibly naïve as I shamed myself with my lack of knowledge about what queefing was. If you don't know, do not, I repeat, do not look it up. Honestly - I'm still traumatised by certain friends of mine and their gutter-minds. I would therefore suggest playing with any relatives of a sensitive nature, especially those of an elderly nature, would be a grave mistake that could cause you to be ostracised for life so this is not a suitable game for those tedious familial gatherings.
Some rounds will inevitably better than others as sometimes nobody has anything that works particularly well with the current Black Card and in these instances you can take the opportunity to just tactically dump some rubbish cards from your stockpile to hopefully improve things in later rounds. You can also find yourself playing what you think is a winning card and having someone swoop in with something so majestic it cannot be denied and then you wish you'd kept that card for a later round when it would have been perfect but c'est la vie that's the Law of Sod at work! The fact that people have so many cards at a time also means that despite playing the game many many times new cards still pop up occasionally and surprise you since people can hoard them the whole way through without ever using them which I think keeps the game really fresh.
Despite the simple nature of the game you can pretty much play it how you like and ignore the rules if you want. We tend to break the first rule and read our White Card responses ourselves rather than making the Card Czar do it as it's just simpler that way, and you can really get people hamming it up which adds to the hilarity. The makers of the game also suggest a lot of other twists you can try out if you can be bothered:
*Gambling - if you think you have two cards that are equally good you can wager one of your Awesome points that one of them will be chosen by the Card Czar; if you win you get both Awesome Points at stake, but if you fail the winner bags both points for themselves.
*Happy Ending - to finish the game you play the "Make a haiku" card so everyone puts down three cards - apparently it doesn't have to be in the 5-7-5 form but must be read dramatically.
*Rebooting the Universe - at any point players can trade in one of their Awesome Points to replace as many of the White Cards from the main pack in the hopes to improve their selection.
* Packing heat - for any Black Card with the Pick 2s+ option (i.e. two blanks) you can allow each player to pick an extra White Card first.
* Rando Cardrissian - this is a fake character who has their own pile of White Cards and every round they take part and if they win then all players must bow their heads in shame.
* God is Dead - play without a Card Czar and choose the winner by democracy - honestly you're only leaving yourself open to bribery and corruption.
* Survival of the Fittest - players take it in turn to remove the selected White Cards from all players and the last one standing is the winner - again open to tactical play and backstabbing.
* Serious Business - change the scoring system to a ranked one where the winner gets 3 Awesome Points, second place gets two and third place gets one - this one requires you to keep a running tally though and who can be bothered with that especially where alcohol is involved.
* Never Have I Ever - a player can discard a card they don't understand but to avoid a penalty they must confess their ignorance to the room and accept the public humiliation.
To be honest, we don't really play any of these twists - the game offers enough entertainment by itself without having to worry about sticking to extra rules. So in conclusion, this is an absolutely brilliant party game (as long as you have no morals, are not thin-skinned and are preferably evil) which is entertaining from beginning to end without ever really flagging despite being played for hours at a time. It is random, unpredictable and ridiculously enjoyable in a completely wrong kind of way. If you don't fully embrace the twisted nature of the game you may feel deeply offended as some White Cards are truly disturbed / disturbing, but if you give yourself over to the dark side I can guarantee you will have a fantastic time.
The only real downside to this demonic game is the fact it is American and is not the easiest game to get hold of (at least at the time I got it where it was about £40 on Amazon plus P+P). It looks like you can now get it for the more reasonable amount of £29.11 which is better but still on the expensive side although I think for the longevity and pure entertainment value it's not an awful price. There are also currently three expansion packs with varying numbers of additional white and black cards including blank ones to write your own crazy attempts of crimes against humanity but these are going at around £23 a pop so it could be expensive becoming obsessed with this game. However, on their website they offer the chance to print your own set free on license that will cost you $10 - not sure I understand that contradictory statement - but I think the laminated cards are a safer and better alternative so forking out for the professional copy is a good idea unless you are a skinflint. Despite the cost - this game is completely recommended.
I'd like to start this review by stating upfront that it may well contain phrases some readers may find in bad taste and possibly offensive. As these are examples of cards combinations within the game, I make no apologies for the inclusion of these phrases as I feel the review would not be complete without them. With that said, if you know yourself to be easily offended, this review may not be for you.
~Studies show that lab rats navigate mazes 50% faster after being exposed to anal bleaching~
Cards Against Humanity is a card game for 4-20 players, with an age recommendation of 17+. That, combined with the warning above should give you some indication that this isn't just a game of top trumps or whist, but if not, the box (minimally designed in black and white) comes with the words 'A card game for horrible people' just under the game title. Opening up the box reveals 550 glossy cards, each the size of an average playing card. 90 of these are the black question cards, whilst the other 490 are the white answer cards. Also contained in the box is a small rule sheet - it's all very brief, and one of the wonderful things about this game is the amount of flexibility when it comes to playing.
To start playing, you'll need a table or coffee table to pop your cards on. The first time out of the box you won't need to shuffle anything, though you may wish to on later play throughs just to minimise the repetition of previously played cards. Pop your black deck on the table face down with the CAH logo showing, and leave your box of white cards next to it for people to select from at random. I'd also recommend having the lid on the table to hold white cards already played. Then gather a few of your friends, preferably ones you know to have a good sense of humour, and you're ready to begin!
~But before I kill you Mr Bond, I must show you the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy~
The rules are simple. I'm not going to go into them at great length, as there isn't any great length to them. Essentially each player selects 10 white cards at random, at which they can have a good peek, without showing them to anyone else. One player then selects a black card, and reads out the statement or question on that card . Every player then selects an answer from their white card pile- either the one they think best fits, or the funniest. The player who read out the black card then repeats the statement again, this time answering it or filling in the gaps with the white cards provided, and he then selects the best answer, handing the black question card to the winner as the prize. The first to collect 10 black cards is the winner, with people taking turns to read out the black cards.
So far, so incredibly simple. And not particularly interesting - until you realise what kinds of things are written on the cards. To demonstrate, I'm going to select a random black card and write it out, along with four possible answers, below.
Black Card: MTV'S new reality show features eight washed up celebrities living with (blank).
Not reciprocating oral sex.
A snapping turtle biting the end of your penis.
As you can see, the answers are a little unusual. It seems quite dry written down, but imagine a group of food friends playing together, perhaps after a few drinks, with the cards being read out in silly/dramatic voices, and it really can be quite hilarious, as the concept of using tasteful sideboob as a currency, or of Barack Obama using altar boys to help him unwind gets discussed! The judging of the cards is by far the funniest part of the game, even more so when playing with someone a little more innocent who may need the cards explaining to them. I spent a very amusing few minutes trying to describe what assless chaps are to my 60 year old father.
~White people like eating all the cookies before the AIDS bake sale~
Whilst the game is undoubtedly hilarious (the more players you have, the more fun it gets) there are a few downsides. Some of the cards, for example, are more relevant to America than to the UK, and just get met with looks of confusion as nobody knows what Geico is, who Billy Mays is, or indeed what the NRA stands for. I'd certainly recommend perhaps separating these cards out and not using them if they cause confusion.
The other downside of course is that they may cause offence, and I do think it is important to consider not only who you are playing with, but also (if playing down the pub, for example) who might overhear and not appreciate it. Whilst my friends and I are all comfortable making jokes that many might consider in incredibly poor taste with each other, the family that have just rocked up for Sunday lunch might not appreciate their 5 year old asking them what anal bleaching is. You will often find however that people wonder over and ask to join in the game.
I also think that at £32.99 from amazon.co.uk the box set is a little expensive. Don't get me wrong, I've had, and will continue to have, countless giggles with this game, but it just seems a lot for what is essentially a lot of cards. However, at www.cardsagainsthumanity.com , the makers website, there is an option to download and print your own set. Unfortunately the preprinted game is not available to order from the website for those outside the US and Canada. You can also find several unofficial sites where you can try the game out for yourself online.
I think the game is fantastic. I've played with family, with friends, and strangers, and everyone I've ever played with has said they've enjoyed it, with a couple of my friends even buying their own sets. I think the age limit is about right, and a like the minimalist classy design of the set. I give the game 4 stars, one off for the manufacturers themselves not offering the game in the UK, which means sadly I paid more than my overseas chums for my set (£33 vs $25).
I shall leave you with a few closing statements, courtesy of randomly selecting from the deck. Two midgets shitting into a bucket ended my last relationship, I'm going to die in a raptor attack, and during Picasso's often overlooked brown period, he produced hundreds of paintings of my vagina!