What makes a good party game? First of all, it should probably be explainable in 5 minutes – when you’re hanging out with a big group of people, you need to play something that can be learned quickly and is easy to remember. Getting 10 people to do anything is like herding cats. Secondly, you need something that engages every player, and is fun for all types of people. Some people in your group are going to be outgoing and bombastic – these people will dominate a social game that involves being loud or being outgoing. Others in your group are going to be more reserved and shy, and perhaps not as comfortable with the concept of a social game. A good party game caters to both groups and will keep them engaged throughout the game.
How much of a game does a party game need to be? In my experience, the less of a game the game is, the better. Sure, it should be somewhat competitive, but as you’ll see with other entries in Party Game Month, it isn’t necessary that there be a winner or a loser. Most of all, you want a party game to be an experience that will be remembered after it is done. I’ve played tons of forgettable trivia games, but the time I played Two Rooms and a Boom will sit with me for a long time.
Cards Against Humanity stepped into the rather shallow waters of Party Game territory about 3 years ago. It was sorely needed. While it’s a pretty blatant rip off of Apples to Apples and other games of that ilk, it pushed the party game genre forward to an interesting area: black, non sequitur comedy. When most board games try to be funny, it sucks. Forcing humor is probably the quickest way to losing the joke. When you play Munchkin, for instance, the humor always feels a bit forced or cliched. Cards Against Humanity does the right thing and gives the players the tools for hilarity, without forcing the issue.
In the game, you have a hand of cards, each with an idea, thing, etc. The player whose turn it is will reveal a topic card – something like, “_____. Good to the last drop.” The rest of the players fill in the blank from their hands – usually in horrifying and funny ways – and then the player who revealed the topic card will read out every answer, pick the one they like the best, and then the player whose answer was picked gets to reveal a new topic card. See what I did there? I explained the game in a minute. It’s easy and quick to grasp – get to the playing, leave aside the complication.
My main criticism of Cards Against Humanity is that it can last longer than the fun, and that eventually it stops being funny- mostly because you start to see cards over and over again. The magic fades away, and you take it out less often. That being said, the first few playthroughs of the game are great, and it’s always fun introducing the game to someone who hasn’t played it.
Remember up there when I said that it was important to include all kinds of players? Cards Against Humanity does that. Since every player has to do the same thing, and every answer to every question is pretty ridiculous, every player gets in on the silliness. Also, there’s nothing more to the game than picking a card and reading out some answers, so the shier amongst your group don’t have to leave their comfort zone.
Do I recommend the purchase of Cards Against Humanity? Not really. There are other things that have taken the place of CAH, but if you haven’t played it, and your group hasn’t played it either, then you should probably pick it up, but maybe you should wait for some of my other suggestions this week and see how it goes.
Do you have a party game you want me to discuss? LET ME KNOW! There’s still a slot in January for one more review of a party game!