This year at PAX East, I spent quite a bit of time in the Tabletop Gaming section. Yes, there was the required game of Battlestar: Galactica, but probably the most fun I had was playing a card game a friend had brought: Cards Against Humanity.
Turns out, my table wasn’t the only one busting out this game; pass a table with some particularly cackling laughter, and chances are they were playing Cards Against Humanity too. And at least a dozen people stopped by my table to ask, “Hey! Where did you get that? It’s not on sale here, is it?!” Sadly, it wasn’t, but just the same, it was a large part of the PAX experience. But perhaps you’re like me, and you haven’t come across it yourself yet.
No Need for a Euphemism
Cards Against Humanity can most easily be described as a “Fill in the blank” game, or perhaps “Apples to Apples for filthy-minded adults.” One black card is read aloud, with a blank (an actual example: “Anthropologists have discovered a primitive tribe that worships ______.”). You have a hand of white cards with options ranging from “A balanced breakfast” to “Getting really high” to “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” (and way worse ones I don’t want to mention for fear of waking the spam bots). You choose the one you feel best fits (or is simply the funniest) and toss it in a pile, and everyone does the same. The answers are read aloud, usually to a few guffaws, and the person who originally read the black card (the Card Czar) chooses their favorite, awarding a point to the one who struck the Czar’s funny bone. Everyone takes turns being the Card Czar.
This is definitely a PG-13 game at the least (the very, very least). You don’t automatically win by being the most offensive; each person has their own taste in humor, and sometimes the picks for favorite are surprising. Still, you will have offensive cards in your hand, and at some point, you will have to play them. Plus, when you’re acting as Card Czar, you have to read out everyone else’s choices to the entire group. Thus, if you’re going to be cringing, either because of your own sensibilities or those of the people in your group, this isn’t the right game for that situation. In other words, don’t play this with Grandma, unless Grandma’s down with the scatological humor.
One of the really neat things about Cards Against Humanity is that it’s an indie game, developed by a group of people and financed through Kickstarter. You can buy an official copy of the game for a reasonable price ($25) from Amazon, when it’s in stock – most of the time it’s sold clean out. Another option, however, is to utilize their free, official PDF and print a copy for yourself. Granted, if you’re looking for a shiny, nice, reusable copy it might be cheaper in the long run to wait and get a pre-made version when it’s available, but the option is available.
Cards Against Humanity was only released in 2011, but pop culture references move quickly, and humor can always be refined. As such, the set has already been updated once, and there’s an expansion set, too. Hopefully the expansion sets will keep on coming; though the replay value is high, more options leads to more unexpected humor. Plus, these games always seem to grow – you’ll start a game with 5 or 6 players and by the time you’re done you’re up in the teens.
Ultimately, Cards Against Humanity was one of my favorite finds from PAX East – and it was something that was purely person-to-person buzz.
So how about you? Have you played this game? Are you eagerly waiting, like I am, for it to be in stock? And what other racy games should I be checking out?