What do you do with you kids when you are in a creative mood? Draw a wonky house? Get play dough on every bit of sofa? Maybe get a bit more ambitious and try a paper mache hot air balloon that resembles a deflated set of bag pipes? Well Inka and Marcus Brand of Exit The Game fame, make games with their children. Right? I know!
Lukas and Emely, the talented children in the Brand family designed Cheating Moth, a family friendly card game that was released in 2011. Not a bad achievement for two children. Makes my sons Lego brick garden feel somewhat less impressive! But is the game any good?
Everyone is dealt a hand of eight cards. The remaining cards are left in a stack as a draw pile with one turned over to start the discard pile. Then in turns, you play a car from your hand, one higher or lower to the card in the discard pile where possible. The first player to place their last card wins. Simple right? To make it more fun, there are cards with different effects that come into play when they are laid. Some allow you to give another card to a player of your choosing.
Another lets you place another card of the same number on top. One is a race to slap the card, the last player to do so gets a card from all the other players. All allowing you to get rid of your cards pretty quickly! As such games are very quick, frenetic and a lot of fun. But none of this sounds that original so I am sure you are thinking, how did this get so popular? Well there is a twist. You can cheat. Cheating is allowed. In fact, it is positively encouraged!
A Bugs Life!
One player acts as the guard bug and it is their job to stop the other players from cheating. If they see someone cheat who did indeed try to unlawfully get rid of a card, then that person takes back the card they tried to dispose of, plus another card from given to you from the Guard’s own hand. They then take on the responsibilities of the guard bug themselves. This process is a riot! Telling children especially that this game wants you to cheat!
Oh my. It is a joy to see and play. We regularly end games with cards in the most unusual of places. My favourite recently being when, two hours after finishing playing, I went to change my clothes, and found one of my sons cards stuffed inside my trousers, unknown to me! Cards end up everywhere and after each game we are searching the rooms, house, each other, sometimes garden to find where all the cards have ended up!
The only rule is that only one card can be disposed of at a time. You can never hide a card when two other players are discussing a previous cheating incident! And you must not hide your final card, that must be placed legally.
We usually play the same amount of times as players so each person has the chance to start as the guard bug. As we have got quite adept at cheating as a family now! Often the starting guard bug remains as such throughout the entire game as players get more and more creative with their cheating tactic. When playing with a new player who has not got the hang of the cheating yet, you see a lot of chance cheating as more experienced players abuse the poor new guard.
Players dispose of their cards with the care of duty of a life guard looking over a deserted frozen swimming pool. The look on the face of a new player when they go to play there 5th card and think others still have a few left and realise everyone else is down to one! Great fun.
Being the guard means you cannot cheat yourself, but it is also the only time you can legally lay the cheating moth card. And of course, if you catch someone else cheating, you can give them one of your cards. So it balances out well.
I would recommend this game to anyone who plays with their family, or wants a quick fun filler game for a group that enjoys bending the rules! You cannot be too precious about the cards as they are thrown, hidden and tucked away in all sorts of places. But the stock is good enough that they hold firm, mostly!
Congratulations to Emely and Lukas Brand, you have created a really fun game. One that has become a firm family favourite of ours, and I am sure will follow us on many holidays to come. I just hope we don’t lose to many cards!