I have dozens of packs of cards: one in every handbag, one in most coats and a cupboard full of packs missing various essentials, as if I intend to one day combine them into one giant Frankenpack. As a family its our go-to when we’re out: in a pub or restaurant we’ll usually get out a pack of cards while waiting for an order and play a few rounds of dog whist, or crazy eights.
Nevertheless, I somehow managed to make it into town for a day out without a pack of cards! The horror. Obviously, this would not do, so I found a place that sells games and popped in for a pack. This is when my son saw The Emoji Game (by Ginger Fox Games).
I’ll be honest, it didn’t appeal to me. I’m an (ahem) year old novelist who uses the following emojis on the regular: smiley face, sad face, wow face and occasionally sick face. That’s it. My son however, insisted that this would be the best game ever, because ‘emojis’ and frankly I’m a sucker for his big blue eyes so, instead of a pack of cards, I came out with The Emoji Game.
I figured we’d play it for this one day and then it would go in the ‘emergencies only’ games cupboard (I currently have four games cupboards, ranging in title from ’our favourites’ to ‘emergencies only’) and that I’d be able to get out of buying him anything else for a while by saying ‘I bought you that awful game you wanted, remember?’.
Boy was I wrong (not only in that my son remained unbowed by the ‘I already bought you something argument’ when he got to the Warhammer shop) but also in that the game would be designated emergencies only. It’s actually a great little party game!
If you like emojis then you’ll enjoy the emoji theme and, if you consider them the work of the devil (like my even more clueless than I am husband) then ignore the ‘emoji’ gimmick – the emojis don’t have a role in the game except as a way of distinguishing sets of cards.
Basically, the aim of the game is to collect a set of five of the same emoji (confused, sad, loved up, cheeky, happy, poorly, scared, rage or cool), these are also distinguished from one another by colour. You do this by taking turns to pick up a card from the emoji pack and choosing whether to keep or discard it. There are also wild cards (called ‘I’m feeling all mixed up’) which you can add to any emoji set to complete your set.
So far, so normal and dead easy. However, there’s a twist. On each of your turns you also pick an Action card which, in most cases, you act on immediately.
These can range from actions to do with your cards (e.g. pass to the left, look at other player’s hands, discard your hand and replace with new cards etc), actions to do with your turn (e.g. miss a turn), or, and this is where it gets fun, actions that enable you to ‘win’ or ‘lose’ prizes such as miss a turn, discard your hand, pick more emoji cards etc. Be careful - these actions can induce mass hilarity.
Cards include activities such as copy the movements of the person on your right (what can the kids get Daddy to do to himself?), stand on one leg and touch your nose until your next turn, thumb war against another player, Rock-Paper-Scissors, pretending you all work in a drive through, adding hashtags to everything you say etc. It’s fun to see how competitively certain friends / family members take the ‘strike a pose’ card - my husband has turned out to be quite the contortionist.
A particular family favourite is the one that forces you to do everything in slow-motion for a whole round, especially if it is then combined with someone else picking the one where everyone has to be a cat, or do a monkey impression (just take a moment to imagine this).
The game is designed for 3-6 players (so no good if there’s just two of you). It says it’s suitable for ages 8+, but I can’t see why a younger child would have a problem playing it, my two certainly would have been able to. It usually doesn’t take long to play – unless someone is taking the slow-motion card VERY seriously, but you can play several rounds. It is easy to learn and to play and it’s good for a laugh. I’m glad I forgot my pack of ordinary cards on that day out.