Games Have Titles for a Reason – Cards Against Humanity Review

A recent review of Cards Against Humanity made me give so much side eye, the computer screen nearly bent. I will thank them for getting my fingers back to the keyboard! Players and creators agree the game is going to offend people. I won’t go into the reviewers’ cringe-worthy use of the word “privilege” or needing a “trigger warning”. I am going to review the game fairly as a lover of games. If my ethics breach the words, it’s no more than what those reviewers did. There’s your warning. 🙂

Cards Against Humanity is a controversial card game with a specific audience understanding absurd humor. It is not family-friendly. I generally play with a group of friends who are accepting of those who don’t know a new friend’s life story. Seems obvious. The game play is very simple. You try to piece together the best joke you can with the cards you drew. Often I find the game to be tricky because your hand may not lend itself to much humor usually for being too random to fit the prompting card. There are cards that people will find goofy. There are cards that people will find “offensive”. Offense is simply one’s interpretation of another’s words or actions. It can’t be avoided short of mind control. (This should NOT be confused with aggression. i.e. rape or assault is not just offensive, but aggressive and criminal. However, joking about it will just hurt some feelings. Simply remove yourself from that company if you’re offended.)

Tasteful. It's tasteful sideboob. Totally different.
Tasteful. It’s tasteful sideboob. Totally different.

In Cards Against Humanity, like the well known Apples to Apples, you are playing the judge rather than the game. Is your judge a grandparent? A bro? A bro-ny? A timid girl meeting your friends for the first time a few weeks into a new romantic relationship with you? …that’s not describing anyone in particular. Your judge is how you determine what card is best. I accidentally upset someone in a game of Apples to Apples because I played “Car crash” and the judge whom I didn’t know had recently been in a terrible car accident. Just goes to show you can’t please everyone. Games designed like this can be a challenge, but they provide an interesting variable to the otherwise obvious structure of players vs. each other or players vs. game. Like Pandemic. Freaking Pandemic.

Rules: There are black cards (I’m sorry, oppressed African American cards?) with prompts, and white cards (oops, privileged cis racist cards–okay okay, I’m done) with responses. The judge draws and plays a prompt card. The players play their response cards face down or hand them to the judge. The judge decides which card wins and that concludes the round. So simple it’s almost necessary to be drunk!

There's your trigger warning.
There’s your trigger warning.

Pros: The first time you play the game, playing with one pack–there are six expansions at this point–will give you plenty of laughs. Just keep adding expansions for more laughs. The game was designed to be controlled by its fanbase; people are encouraged to print their own versions. I lol’d in real life to spot a libertarian version of Cards Against Humanity.

The game accommodates a lot of players and doesn’t require too much thought, making it a great party game. It’s a very simple fill in the blank style game.

A new group of people brings a new challenge with each game. Every judge will like something a little different unless you only play with groups of college frat boys. Pixelated bukake is the trump card to college frat boys.

Cons: This is a very social and unrelenting game. It’s not for people uncomfortable with bawdy humor and extroverts. If you don’t know your company’s humor well, winning is a shot in the dark. Again, definitely not describing anyone in particular.

The prompts can feel limiting based on the phrasing and based on the luck of your draw. It can get especially difficult with the multiple option prompts. Despite 10 cards in your hand, mixing and matching for a winning combination is tricky. Sometimes it’s just luck. That’s what you get with such a simplistic design.

The game is a bit like being a drug addict. The more you play, even with expansions, the more the jokes become predictable and you crave variety. If you can no longer turn to more expansions for your fix, you’re probably just going to turn to more alcohol.

Conclusion: I’m not a huge fan of crude humor and I’m not the “funny guy” of my friends so Cards Against Humanity isn’t one of my favorites. I don’t play well. It’s still a good time when the stars align just right. You end up with treasures like “How Does Obama Unwind After A Long Day?” “Swimming in a pool of children’s tears.” Those precision drone strikes…

Happy gaming!