Launched in 1999 this game was fun and simple to pick up, one person draws a card from the deck on the table and the rest of the of the players try to find the best match from their own hands leading to many hilarious and unexpected combinations. It soon found its way onto many players shelves and was brought out at many a party and used to fill the gap between the bigger much more serious fare. The game I am talking about is called apples to apples and fell onto hard times around 2008 when a new game hit the scene called ‘Say Anything’. The basic premise remained the same but the players were no longer beholden to the cards in their hand but instead had to rely on their own wit and intuition as the centre card was turned over, the best question selected and the race to scribble down your answer began.
This is a small little anecdote in no way related to the game I shall be reviewing today called ‘Cards against Humanity’.
Cards Against Humanity is currently one of the highest selling table top games and has won many over with its simple easy to understand rules, fairly cheap price and very dark sense of humour. One player must turn over a card from the deck placed in the centre and read aloud the question at which point the other players must select the best answer from their own hands and place the selected card face down on the table. Once these are mixed to avoid associating the card with the owner they are revealed and the player who read the question must select their favourite answer. The box comes with a few variants of these rules such as the option of placing down more than one card and betting, but the basic mechanics remain the same.
I would be lying if I said I did not enjoy CaH but there were two major problems I found with the game. The first was the games sense of humour.
I enjoy black comedy, I have a great taste for the macbre but before the game was done I had amassed a decent collection of cards at the back of my hand that were not going to be used. While there is a good deal of light hearted comedy in the game a wide selection of the cards seem to cross the border into dead baby comedy, especially when played in conjunction with some of the questions on offer.
For those wondering, dead baby comedy is the knowledge that one should not mention, nor joke about, dead babies. However they will do so anyway knowing that the subject is more often than not crass and tasteless thus it becomes comedy. It works a lot like modern irony. In other words say what you like about who you like and if anyone complains just say you did it “ironically”.
This notion of irony is perhaps the reason the game suffers from the next and main problem and that is that you can, in theory, say any joke you want as long as you meant it “ironically”. Likewise you can play any card you want because you didn’t say it, the card did. I find it hard to believe that the game would work as “Say Anything against Humanity”. Let’s picture it shall we, a game where instead of just turning over the top card and reading it out but instead picking one of the questions such as what is the gay agenda or how did I lose my virginity?
After this can you imagine anyone writing down aushwitz or the Hillsburough disaster. If you wrote this down you would be called out almost instantaneously as an insensitive jerk but seen as how you were being “ironic” or because you just playing the cards in front of you, you can get away with it.
However I don’t think this was the biggest problem I had with the game. Going back to the tale at the start of the review the game does seem something of a step backwards after games like Say anything and Dixit. More than once during the game players would struggle to find an answer that fit grammatically to the question on offer and I don’t think some of them were pulling their punches like I was, in terms of taste.
While I can see the humour on offer outlasting a deck of munchkin due to the large number of cards and variety in teaming them up with the questions I can still see several of the cards starting to loose their shine before too long after all something can only be shocking for so long before it starts to drag and the gameplay is not the reason to come back. Whilst expansions can help keep the game going I can see it going the way of most memes before too long and fading back into the dark recesses of the internet from whence it came.
All in all I would call it a decent game to play with a few drinks and some good friends all working on the same wavelength I would be wary of who I would play it with and would recommend it as a filler game only.