There are two schools of thought when it comes to Cards Against Humanity: one school says ‘it’s okay, we can say that, we’re amongst friends, it’s not really offensive and you know I don’t mean it’; the other says ‘look, that’s just not funny, you can’t make a joke about that and besides… it’s not a very good game.’ Now, I confess that I will happily take part in a game of CAH and have witnessed some truly shocking and inspired combinations but I will also say… it’s not that amazing as a game.
So for all those in the second school who really can’t CAH and those of the first school who want to expand their horizons, here are seven games to play with mates who can take a joke (and possibly a punch)…
For an experience that is fairly close to CAH but not quite so contentious, you can’t beat a bit of Disturbed Friends. If you can remember Scruples from the 80s, it’s a bit like that with a wedge of American Pie-style embarrassment thrown in for good measure. Each player takes it in turn to draw a question card from the deck and read it and three possible answers to the question. These questions range from the political, such as ‘If it meant ending the war in the middle east, I would give up…’ to the personal, such as ‘I would most likely die from…’ and the answers range from the sensible to the [redacted].
The players then choose which answer they think the reader would give and vote accordingly. Points are given for correct guesses and insults are thrown for obvious lies to make the reader look better than they clearly are. Then it’s on to the next player to open themselves up to public ridicule until someone reaches the winning number of points. The points cards are colourful and questionable, the questions are just the sort of thing you start asking when you’ve been ‘drinking responsibly’ and the answers are… no, really? No one does that, do they? Silly, vulgar and very funny.
The Voting Game
Take the theme of Disturbed Friends, switch it around a bit and put it in a stylish black and white box and you have The Voting Game. Actually, to be fair, this is a bit different and works best when you have a group of friends that really know each other well. Players take it in turns to read out a question, which will ask ‘who is…” followed by any number of awkward statements such as ‘… friends with someone they’d rather be dating?’ or ‘… smarter than they think?’ – like I said, this works best with good friends… which makes it all the more hazardous/humorous.
Players then vote on who they think best answers the question – whoever gets the most votes, wins the card and play moves on. Whoever gets to so many cards first, wins. I would say be very careful with this game – you could end up finding out stuff about yourself and your friends that you weren’t quite ready for. Dangerous fun.
Cash N Guns
Maybe you don’t want to put your friendships in jeopardy through questions of popularity or personality defects… so how about shoving a gun in their face? Yes, if you are not familiar with Cash and Guns, this is THE game of Mexican stand-offs and great for fans of the works of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. You are a group of hoodlums dividing up the spoils of a successful heist only… none of you want to share.
So each turn sees you load up (metaphorically) your foam rubber gun (literally) with either a blank or live round and point it at one of your pals – they can back down or call you out, meaning they either get a share of the loot, to live another day or a case of lead poisoning. Plenty of opportunity for silliness, quoting cool movies endlessly and using adult language whilst waving around a toy gun. Be careful where you play it though…
We Didn’t Playtest This At All
The three previous games can take a while to play, and sometimes you don’t have that luxury… or maybe you have friends that are notorious for being bad losers (not guilty). If this is the case, why not have a couple of dozen games of WDPTTAA? Similar to CAH and The Voting Game, this has a lovely black and white aesthetic and a very simple goal: the idea of the game is to win; if you don’t win, you have lost.
To put more flesh on those bones, this is a game similar to Fluxx in that the rules are made up as you go along (you start with draw a card, play a card) but seeing as cards will often have directions such as ‘you have won’ or ‘cake or death: everyone who says cake loses’. Yeah, not quite as elaborate as Fluxx can get. Games last on average about thirty seconds and if you don’t win this one… well, maybe the next. Or the next. Or the next. There’s a lot of witty flavour text on the cards as well, so even if it is hardly Scythe, you’ll be able to get a few laughs out of it.
Epic Spell Wars of The Battle Wizards
Epic Spell Wars of The Battle Wizards may or may not work depending on how game-friendly your group is – if you can persuade your friends to stop insulting each other for five minutes and look at the gorgeously lurid artwork and single-entendres, goddammit, you might get a game! Ahem, yes. There are plenty of versions of this to choose from - the latest being one that introduces Magically Transmitted Diseases (MTDs – yeah, they went there) like Gorgonhorrea and Genital Harpies – but the play is the same: a grown-up gross-out game of consequences where you try and match symbols to get extra dice to do extra damage whilst shouting out ridiculous spell names in stupid voices. Like I said, if everyone is on the same grimoire page, this can be a lot of fun in a childish, geeky manner – avoid playing in pubs where they’re trying to watch the football though…
Throw Throw Burrito
Another game to avoid playing in pubs full stop as this will result in pints being spilled, punches being thrown and mayhem being ensued, and not the good kind either. TTB is in essence happy families with ballistics. Everyone plays at once and takes cards from the player on one side, gives to the player on the other side and when they have three throw burrito cards that match they can either nominate two players to throw burritos at each other, have a duel or declare all-out war and hide under the table.
It’s very fast and will result in someone getting smacked in the face with a foam rubber burrito, potentially with a fist wrapped around it (remember what I said about staying out of the pub and being able to take a punch? Good), but if you have enough space to play and not too many breakables around (hide the Hummels) it’s all good, man.
This may divide the critics – I know a lot of people who don’t like this game but as a fun, stitch up your mates, laugh at their plans going awry and finally get got by your own set up, Exploding Kittens is the game to scratch that post. Best described as Russian roulette with cards but without the serious clean up on aisle three, you can play as many cards from your hand as you like, including matching kitten cards to steal other player’s cards, skipping turns and shuffling the deck (there are also ‘nope’ cards for stopping these actions), but the last thing you must do, unless you have drawn a card to prevent it, is to draw a card.
If you don’t draw a kitten, all is well; if you do, you can defuse it if you have a ‘defuse’ card and put it back in the deck (anywhere in the deck… ah-ha-ha); if you have no defuse… it’s boom time. You play until the last player standing… and no, you don’t refresh the deck, so it’s always fun when you get down to two cards and YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE. There’s a NSFW version if you like butt jokes and swearing, but I am sure you can generate your own butt jokes and swearing if you’d prefer the standard ‘family friendly’ one.
Over to You
This is not a comprehensive list – if you like silly, you could go for Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza, if you like stories, go for Gloom, if you like stitching up your mates, then Don’t Get Got is a lot of fun – plus, you’ve got games based around Cyanide and Happiness and The Profanosaurus if you want some bad taste. There’s plenty of stuff to choose from – try something new. Who knows, you might find a whole new different way to offend your mates...