Critical Play: Bluffing, Judging and Getting Vulnerable… — Allie Littleton

I played Cards Against Humanity, a card game created by Josh Dillon, Daniel Dranove, Eli Halpern, Ben Hantoot, David Munk, David Pinsof, Max Temkin, and Eliot Weinstein. The target audience is anyone ages 17+, due to the mature content of the cards.

The game requires at least 3 players, but can accommodate any reasonable number. At the beginning, each player draws 7 white cards (“answer cards”), which have a complete phrase on them. One player starts as the decider and draws a black card (“question card”), and lays it face up on the table. Each question card has a partial phrase with a blank to be filled in. Each of the other players then chooses one of their white cards to use to fill in the blank, and plays it face down on the table. The decider shuffles these answer cards to keep them anonymous, reads them aloud to the group, and then chooses a winner. Whoever played the winning card gets a point, and everyone who played a card draws a new one. The person to the left of the current decider becomes the new decider, and one round ends when everyone has been the decider once.

The main type of fun involved with this game is Fellowship. The primary goal is to make everyone laugh with outrageous phrases and mental images, so it fosters good feelings amongst the players. The elements of reading each card allowed and taking turns deciding also make it very inclusive, further creating a sense of Fellowship. Also, because it is anonymous, players do not have to worry about social pressures, making it easy to enjoy.

This game works because it is so social and creative. Any combination of question/answer cards is guaranteed to elicit some laughter and conversation, making it perfect for a group looking for light-hearted fun. Even though there is only a finite number of cards, there are so many possible sentence combinations that it is hard to get bored. One way it could be improved is by publishing a more current version of the game, since some of the cards have become outdated even in the 10ish years since it has been published.

Like other Judging Games, Cards Against Humanity is entirely subjective in nature — the decider is told to choose whichever card they find the funniest in the context of the question card, but this can mean any number of things. Because of this, I found myself catering my answer to the sense of humor of the person deciding. When I have played Apples to Apples, a very similar game, I have also noticed this to be the case.

I have also found that with games of this genre, there is usually a good amount involved. In Apples to Apples, you are much more likely to win if you have an answer card that fits with the question card. In Cards Against Humanity, this is often true, although the cards are all so outrageous and creative that there is usually some way to fit any answer card with a given question card. Because of this, I enjoy Cards Against Humanity more than Apples to Apples, although they cater to different audiences: CAH works best in a group of friends, usually college+ aged, while Apples to Apples is much more family friendly.

In CAH, you do not need to get very vulnerable. It develops social relationships through laughter, rather than sharing personal stories/secrets. As a result, it probably does not foster relationships as deeply as some other games, especially in the Getting to Know You genre, but it fills an important role as an easy-to-enjoy, inclusive game.


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