Every so often a game comes along that re-writes the rules, manages to combine beautiful physical design with intuitive gameplay and balanced and clear winning conditions so that every game raises your potential, your self-worth, your very being… But whilst you’re waiting for that game, you can always play a couple of dozen hands of We Didn’t Playtest This At All.
Don’t worry, you’ll pick it up as you go along… not that that will help you at all.
What Do You Mean I’ve Lost? No-One’s Played A Card Yet…
The objective of We Didn't Playtest This At All (designed by Chris Cieslik) is simple: you have to win. If you don’t win, you have lost, and if you have lost, you are out. If you are the only one not out, you have won! There, simple.
The rules are simple too: you start with two cards; you draw a card; you play a card and do whatever the card says; play passes to the left. All good so far? Excellent.
But the cards… the cards. They fall into a number of categories, each capable of letting you win (or lose) in the most arbitrary fashion possible. Here are some of the joyous possibilities on offer:
- Bomb cards – Too many of these on the table will make everyone lose, but if you have Bomb Party you can blow everyone else to kingdom come and come out smelling of roses. And gunpowder.
- Numbers – Everyone chooses a number, and depending on the card they can lose, win or just wave fingers at each other.
- Rock, Paper, Scissors - See numbers, only with more finger waving.
- Cake or Death - Cake may also bring death.
- Presents - Could be kittens, could be poison...could be Schrodinger making the ultimate comeback!
- The Forbidden Words - The Words you should not say....no the other ones... for fear of losing.
- Nose - Everyone touches their nose. Or doesn't. You choose.
- You Win/Lose - Yes, seriously.
- Various Random Items - Some kill, some cure, some just....are.
- Points - Everyone love points, and what do points make? Potential copyright infringements!
- Strange Noises, Actions, Accents - There is even a card praising Comic Sans, for goodness sake.
There is also an expansion included, The Chaos Pack, which adds further conditions to play, like being polite, sudden death or utensil… all very serious, all leading to delicious arbitrary victories or defeats.
Games usually last about a round (all of 30 seconds at times) and usually result in much amusement and some-one saying “that was totally unfair… damn right we’re playing again.” And again. And again…
Final Thoughts on We Didn't Playtest This At All
We Didn't Playtest This At All is not a sensible game (the title kind of suggests that) but it does demonstrate more attention to playability than it suggests. In fact, the gameplay should be very familiar to all those fans of Fluxx – the game builds itself but on a much shorter timescale.
The design (which is what first drew me to it) is very similar to Cards Against Humanity (CAH) and if you enjoyed that, you will probably enjoy this as, though it is not a brutal and offensive as CAH can be, it is very funny, playing on a lot of ‘serious gaming’ tropes (the standalone expansion, WDPT: Themes, really goes to town on this, taking pot shots at zombie, space, time-travel, pirate, fantasy and monkey-based games) and you’ll probably spend more time reading the comments at the bottom of the cards (which are very amusing) than you will actually playing the cards.
The game is very self-aware of its shortcomings, positively making a virtue of them, making it akin to a quirky friend of a game; it’s the sort of game you can introduce to your non-gaming friends, safe in the knowledge that it will not care if it is as dumb as a bag of hammers.
It is, however, a very short play. Very. And this could make it outstay its welcome, though that’s not the point. It also has nothing in the way of strategy, but that’s not the point either. This is the game you bring to the table purely to annoy your armchair Patton friend, or your rules queen… to be taken in good humour. It’s a bit like Numberwang or Monington Crescent or, at an intellectual push, Just a Minute - it may not make sense, but it’s a hoot.
The main thing is that We Didn't Playtest This At All is fun and will hopefully lead to longer, deeper games… but could be pulled out if someone is suffering from a serious case of analysis paralysis in Twilight Imperium.
‘Cos we do this for fun, don’t we? Yeah?