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  1. #1
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    Cards Against Humanity - the actual game discussion thread

    Right, the other thread is covering all the issues about the accusations and such, but a few people have offered an opinion on the game in there, and so did the original article, and I thought it might be nice to discuss it without the rest of the baggage. Because I think it's a genuinely brilliant design and Rab's review entirely misses the point, as have a lot of other people. Basics of it are, someone plays a card with a phrase with a blank in it. Everyone else plays a card with a word to fill in the blank, and then that person picks the funniest one, and that person wins a point.

    Here's what Rab said, and where he gets it entirely wrong, and completely misses the genius of the game:

    When you look at your hand of cards, all youíre really doing is reading a string of jokes and choosing the funniest one.
    The key word in there, is 'funniest'. Because 'funniest' is not objective. CAH is best played with people who have very different senses of humour. I can see why the game would fall flat if, for example, Rab was playing with his co-writers on his sketch show, that got together in the first place because they have a very similar sense of what's funny. The game doesn't really work then. It's like playing Dixit with three couples, where people easily work out their partner's answer and never get anyone elses.

    Because the genius of CAH is you don't choose the card that makes the funniest phrase to you. Or even the card that makes the funniest phrase to 'the group' (because in group situations, the 'funniest' tends to 'lowest common denominator'). You choose the card that makes the funniest phrase to the person judging that round.

    And that one little rule is utter genius. Quick caveat: you have to play it right, and you have to be honest. When the cards come out, if everyone at the table laughs really loudly at one, but you found a different one funnier, and you're judging, you have to pick the one you liked and not give in to the general consensus. And similarly, you have to play to win, you have to pick the card you think will make the current judge laugh the most, not the card that will make the rest of your friends piss themselves.

    Once you start playing that way, it becomes a wonderful game of trying to read your friends, trying to get into their heads and on their level. The 'sick' element adds an entire extra layer to this, as you have to ask, how far is too far? If you play a card and three of your friends burst out laughing but the judge of the round goes 'eww' and you don't win, then you screwed up. And that beautiful moment when you pick a card that is going too far for you, but you think the judge will find it funny because he's a sick bastard, then he reads the card and looks like someone just strangled his cat and you realised you read him utterly wrongly.

    Of course, for this to all work, you need to be playing with friends who know each other fairly well. I really don't recommend it as an ice-breaker at a party of strangers. In those cases, it tends to devolve to the lowest common denominator again. It also needs people to be aware that they will have their limits pushed and things will go over their line, and be willing to deal with that without getting upset. And it tends to work better in mixed sex groups, as single gender groups tend to be more likely to devolve into 'who can be the most sick' competitions far more often.

    There's a game called Dominion, it's a deck builder, where you buy cards frpm the middle in order to get special powers in your hand to allow you to buy more expensive cards and improve your deck over time, until you can buy the victory point cards. The ten cards in the centre are randomized each time, but you always get the victory point cards, and Gold, Silver and Bronze for buying stuff. There's a popular strategy called 'big money' which is pretty simple: buy only Silver/Gold until you can buy victory point cards, then buy them. Ignore the rest. It's not the strongest strategy, it can be beat, but it's better than buying stuff from the middle if you don't really know what you're doing 99% of the time. But if everyone plays 'big money' the game is really boring and entirely a matter of luck on the card draws. And no fun at all. When people tell me they played CAH and all it was was people trying to make the sickest joke possible every round, I can't help but think they're playing it wrong. Just like the Dominion game where they play 'big money' and say it was no fun.

  2. #2
    Moderator QuantaCat's Avatar
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    True, all of the above, I dont really care about winning however and I still have a good time.
    - Tom De Roeck.

    monochrom & verse publications

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  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    I think the fundamental problem sometimes is that people think a lot of Board Games are meant to be "won" when a lot of times in Board Gaming there are many games where the point is to have "fun". And a lot of times my favourite games have become these type of games because its all about inclusion and just having a good time. Cards Against Humanity I have had a good time with and I'm sure I'll have more good times with it and to me its then done its job.

  4. #4
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    I have a great time with games whether I win or not, but most games require players to play to win, or they fall apart. I'd argue CAH falls into that category (though it can still be fun as an activity if you don't, Rab is right in that it falls apart as a game if people just go for funnies).

    There's a difference between playing to win, and needing to win to have fun of course. But one person not playing to win can ruin most games as they inevitably end up accidentally king-making.

    [Side note - I bloody loved one of our games of Risk: Legacy, where I'd just won two games in a row, so clearly everyone was set against me, and they made it clear I was not going to win that game, so had enormous fun just messing around and screwing with people.]

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mickygor's Avatar
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    Almost every game of Twilight Imperium I've played has left me clearly unable to win by turn 4 or 5, which has a habit of me targeting the person that did something that offended my race's sensibilities the most and ensuring they don't win. So long as a game has a win condition, I don't think players need to play to win for it to qualify as a game.
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  6. #6
    Moderator QuantaCat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mickygor View Post
    Almost every game of Twilight Imperium I've played has left me clearly unable to win by turn 4 or 5, which has a habit of me targeting the person that did something that offended my race's sensibilities the most and ensuring they don't win. So long as a game has a win condition, I don't think players need to play to win for it to qualify as a game.
    Twilight is just insane, however. If you have the bad luck of playing with a very indecisive player, games take up to 16 hours.
    - Tom De Roeck.

    monochrom & verse publications

    "Quantacat's name is still recognised even if he watches on with detached eyes like Peter Molyneux over a cube in 3D space, staring at it with tears in his eyes, softly whispering... Someday they'll get it."

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mickygor's Avatar
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    One of my friends has incredibly severe analysis paralysis. He has a habit of winning though, so it clearly works for him.

    Fortunately CAH doesn't really have that problem, since there's not much to analyse ;)
    Itsbastiat, Dawngate
    Bastiat, Planetside 2, Miller NC
    Therin Katta, FFXIV, Cerberus

  8. #8
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    Its Adult Apple to Apples.

    It is good fun at a party.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xercies View Post
    I think the fundamental problem sometimes is that people think a lot of Board Games are meant to be "won" when a lot of times in Board Gaming there are many games where the point is to have "fun". And a lot of times my favourite games have become these type of games because its all about inclusion and just having a good time. Cards Against Humanity I have had a good time with and I'm sure I'll have more good times with it and to me its then done its job.
    Exactly. Many board games we played with as a kid were fun and had little to no strategy.

    I love playing Redneck Life, which is basically Life - Redneck Edition. There might be like 2-3 decisions that could impact the game, but other than that the fun is the dice roll and how many Darylls someone ends up with.

  10. #10
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    I was tempted to get this until I read that they deliberately removed all the rape jokes very early on, and I'm not sure I want to play a politically correct game about finding offensive jokes.

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