Critical Play – We Didn’t Playtest This At All

Well, at least they were honest with the title of their game. I played “We Didn’t Playtest This At All!” a number of times and I really struggled to find much enjoyment with the game. The premise is simply that there are a number of wacky cards with different sets of effects that dictate whether or not a player wins or loses. You draw a card at the start of your turn and can only play one card per turn. You win if you reach a win condition dictated by a card or if everyone else in the game has hit a lose condition. Win condition cards include things like “you win if your birthday is this month”, and also “you win if every other player in the game is still wearing blue”, and lose condition cards can be things like “if you say they, their, or they’re you lose”. 

The instructions stated the game was for 2-10 people, so I began by playing with just 2 people. Games lasted no more than 3 turns, and it was perhaps the least interesting experience I have ever had. A mechanic that centers around an instant win with no counterplay and a condition that is largely luck-based is supposed to create zany and surprising moments, but at least for my plays it just felt awful. Many of these mechanics took all agency away from a player – contrast this against something like Fluxx, where although changing the ruleset can negatively impact you and take your options away, you at the very least always have something you can do.  

This was further exacerbated by the fact that only having 2 players makes conditions like “if you are the shortest player remaining” essentially trivial. While there are cards that can prevent losing, I never encountered it. All the silly social aspects of the game also tended to fall flat as a result – saying “ahh zombies” is supposed to be funny, but when you’re doing it just so that you can still play the game, it ends up feeling like a chore. Playing with more people (4 instead of 2) felt slightly better, but many of those issues still remained – losing games instantly off of a coin flip on the first turn then having to sit on the sidelines while other people got to play wasn’t much better. 

My issue with cards like these is not that they are random like the description so snarkily implies, but that the punishment for losing to randomness is just too large. Now, I’m sure that I didn’t experience every permutation of interesting cards, and the groups that I played with were small, so perhaps I didn’t get the full experience. And not to say that there were no fun moments – certain cards led to interesting interactions where the group playing was able to get a good laugh out of the absurdity of some of the cards. However, at the end of the day, those moments for me were few and far between, and shoved in between sessions of sitting out or reshuffling the deck because the game ended before many cards could get played at all. I think the primary mechanic of instant win/loss would have benefited from something that’s less completely binary, and have the loss instead be some form of small punishment, maybe a task or silly thing to do that the whole group can get a laugh out of. Overall, I wish they would’ve playtested the game a little more 🙂

About the author

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.