Tag Archives: Cards Against Humanity

This is Not a Card Game

I finished yet another game! It’s called This is Not a Card Game, because it’s kind of a creativity exercise pack with a sort of card game as a framing device. It’s currently available on DriveThruCards for $14.99!

A while back I got around to ordering a copy of A Book of Surrealist Games, which had been on my Amazon wishlist for a while. It’s a collection of various creativity games as practiced by the surrealist artists of the 1920s, including familiar things like exquisite corpse and less well-known ones like automatism, where you engage in writing or drawing with such speed that you let some of your subconscious out onto the page. I’ve always found surrealism interesting, and it was one of the many places I’d looked for inspiration for Kagegami High. The strangeness of surrealism often has a very deliberate message, and the movement seems to come from an attempt to make sense of the chaos of a post-WW1 world. While we have a different set of challenges facing us today, it certainly feels like we need whatever we can get to help cope with the way our reality seems to be fraying. Also I am nothing if not prone to falling into patterns. I have literally had people come up to me on the street and tell me they can tell if they’re on time by my presence.

masson_automatic_drawing

I’ve also outgrown Cards Against Humanity. Encountering the game was a vital turning point for me, since it wound up being my gateway into board games, but the limitations of its “humor legos” and the questionable conceit of using a card game as an excuse to be “edgy” made it lose it luster for me. I made my own CAH-like game in i.hate.everyone, and although I think it’s better overall, it still suffers from much the same issues. The content is too much stuff from the cards, and if you play the game much it needs a regular influx of new cards to stay fresh (which the CAH folks are happy to sell you in the form of expansions, as are the people behind Crabs Adjust Humidity and entirely too many others). Of course, the limitations of that design space haven’t stopped a ridiculous number of shitty imitators from popping up, even though games like Snake Oil, Joking Hazard, Codenames, Slash, and Dixit (also my own Channel A maybe?) have shown that the genre can do vastly better. But CAH has become one of those things that’s kind of an institution. It’s made millions, and I suspect a lot of its fans are people who aren’t otherwise much into board games. The CAH company does some laudable things like donating some of the absurd quantities of money it rakes in to charity, but there’s a lot about it that deserves criticism and mockery. This is a company that sold literal bullshit for one Black Friday, which is sort of funny, but also a little too stupid for any amount of irony to fully cover up.

IHF-preview

There’s also the thing that DriveThruCards now has POD tuck boxes, which aren’t quite on the level of what you’d get from full-on professional printing, but still pretty good. Party card games are hard to mix with POD, because with POD printing the base cost for cards is around 8 cents (9 or 9½ cents for premium cardstock), making it very hard to give a card game a reasonable price if it has much more than 100-some cards. The largest size of tuck boxes DTC is offering holds 120, so I figured I’d try to make a game around that size.

2017-06-10 15.50.27

This is Not a Card Game is what came from those three things coming together. It uses the CAH/Apples to Apples type of party game format, but the cards regularly divert you into odd creative exercises. You might play a card to answer the question, “What is the worst kind of art?” one turn, use a card as the start of a 2-minute automatic writing frenzy the next, and do a weird drawing exercise after that. That lets the game have quite a bit more variety in 120 cards than the format would normally allow, and in taking that approach it’s more or less the opposite of CAH on a creative level. It has a lot of references to surrealism and fine art in general (starting with the game’s title being a reference to Magritte’s The Treachery of Images), and while knowing some of those references wouldn’t hurt, mostly it serves to take the piss out of highbrow art, something I think the surrealists would’ve approved of.

Once I had the game text completed and polished and did some playtesting, it was pretty easy to put together the files for POD printing. Where CAH uses Helvetica Neue, I went with Futura for TINACG. Futura descends from Bauhaus rather than surrealism, but it’s both contemporaneous with surrealism and not as extensively used as Helvetica. Helvetica is an amazing font that I’ve been using a lot lately, but it’s also what Target uses for every scrap of their signage. (That’s probably not why Target is the only brick and mortar retailer that CAH officially sells through, but still.) Futura is readable but more geometric, and has odd flourishes with things like its squiggle of a question mark. It’s also the font they used for most of the interior text of AD&D1e, though I couldn’t tell you why they went that route. I also went with CAH’s black and white color scheme, partly to highlight how TINACG is a CAH piss take, and partly because it’s genuinely an elegant graphic design conceit.

TINACG also has two cards that involve modifying/damaging those cards, and I kind of want to play around with that sort of thing. I hit on the idea of a sequel of sorts to TINACG, called “Wreck This Game” (maybe a little too close to Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal, though that’s an obvious source of inspiration) or some such. It wouldn’t really work to have it cost $14.99, and a PNP version is a distinct possibility, though I’d also like to look into getting it printed on basic cardstock, making a cheap and disposable card game.

Anyway, TINACG was generally fun to make (apart from some frustrations in the production process), and I hope you enjoy it.

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More on i.hate.everyone

The other day I brought my prototype of i.hate.everyone along when I went to hang out with some friends, kind of on a whim and kind of because it’s so much lighter than my Cards Against Humanity set.[1] That in turn led to me getting inspired to work on i.h.e more, and in particular to try to finish up a functional prototype of i.hate.fandom, the geeky alternate set I’d started working on a while back. My experience with creating cards on geeky subjects for CAH was that it was very easy to come up with cards that made sense to me but were alien to a lot of my friends, which was part of the inspiration for having flavor text (a la Apples to Apples) in i.h.e, though it was a lot less necessary for general stuff than for geeky stuff (hence the ones in i.h.e wound up being more of an avenue for sarcastic jokes). Limiting the selection to stuff that was reasonably widely known also made it harder to come up with geeky cards, though I did finally manage to put together an initial set, if one that overdoes certain topics.

IMG_0981[1]

I posted the current prototype of i.hate.everyone ages ago (some of the more topical cards feel out of date; Tebowing isn’t exactly making headlines these days). The rules are so far unchanged from then, but here are the current decks for i.hate.fandom. I make these decks by printing the Status Cards on yellow cardstock and the Comment Cards on white cardstock, since otherwise they’d be hard to distinguish.

i.hate.fandom Status Cards
i.hate.fandom Comment Cards

I also finally got around to playing We Didn’t Playtest This At All, a silly party game from Asmadi Games. It turns nonsensical, pointless, time-wasting gameplay into an artform. To get the full effect you have to play several games, during which players will routinely be made to lose by random card effects. What pushes it into Japanese game show territory is things like how certain cards make you not use certain pronouns (even when they appear on cards!). At one point two of my friends were in a duel where they couldn’t use I, me, my, you, your, they, or their, and resorted to silent pantomime to play out the rest of the game. I want to keep the effects in i.h.e a bit less crazy (less “you lose,” more “discard a card” or “lose 1 Like”), but having random constraints on what players are allowed to do can have amazing results and generally help a game live up to being a “party” game. It’s also the main thing that keeps i.h.e from just being a CAH clone, so I want it to be interesting and prevalent in play.

Presently my plan for i.h.e is to make it into a series of DriveThruCards products, with both full, independently playable base sets (the core i.hate.everyone plus i.hate.fandom being the first of these), and mini-expansions that I can easily create and keep topical. Like a lot of other similar games, making new content is basically a matter of putting text on cards, and POD will let me make all kinds of weird little sets for very specific groups if I want, and pretty quickly too. I asked Clay Gardner to make card designs for me, since this will be fronts and backs for two types of cards and nothing else, rather than the logo-making nightmares of Channel A. With some playtesting I should be ready to move to the “fancy prototype” stage fairly soon.


[1]Which is partly my own fault for insisting on getting all of the expansions, plus Crabs Adjust Humidity, plus making some cards of my own.

i.hate.everyone

Not too long ago I was in contact with a game publisher who was interested in a game in the general style of Cards Against Humanity, a tasteless drinking game type of thing. I got a good start designing and testing such a game, but the publisher went with something else. I don’t bear them any ill will (I will admit to being disappointed), but I like the game I created enough to want to share it. I may eventually pursue publication, but I have enough other projects going on that without a publisher lined up I’m going to shelve it for the time being.

i.hate.everyone is a game of social media whoring. It follows the query/response from a card format of Apples to Apples and CAH, but everyone plays a response, and everyone votes by giving a Like token to the player whose response they liked best. Cards can also have special effects, ranging from reading cards in a French accent to various shenanigans with the cards. For me and my friends the silliness with drawing and discarding cards fixes the single biggest issue with the game’s predecessors, namely the tendency to get stuck with a lousy hand.

I picked the name “i.hate.everyone” partly because I feel it conveys about the right sentiment, and partly because it leaves it wide open for expansions and alternate versions called “i.hate.[something].” I already started on one called i.hate.fandom, which was the game I was kinda sorta thinking about doing before the aforementioned publisher came into the picture.

To play you’ll need to print out the cards on cardstock, preferably with a different color for the Status Cards, and you’ll need a decent supply of tokens of some kind. I find bingo chips or sorting chips work well, but pretty much anything will do as long as you have at least 100 or so. You can also pretty seamlessly shuffle them in with the print and play version of CAH if you want.

Players: 3-8
Play Time: 30+ minutes
Recommended for Ages 17+

i.hate.everyone Rules PDF
i.hate.everyone Status Cards PDF
i.hate.everyone Comment Cards PDF

Cards Against Humanity

I don’t normally go in for card or board games, but Cards Against Humanity works entirely too well for me. It’s basically Apples to Apples with weird and twisted shit on the cards. One person plays a question card, everyone else plays an answer card, the first person picks their favorite, the person who played the favorite card gets a point, repeat.

A few hours after playing the first time I hit on the idea of making my own expansion full of stuff from anime fandom called “Weeaboo Bullshit.” The next day I started working on it, and also came up with another expansion of RPG stuff called “Grognards Against Humanity.” These only really work if you know their respective fandoms reasonably well (the Grognards set will make the most sense if you follow grognards.txt and RPGnet in-jokes), though the official CAH sets also have some specific/topical stuff in them.[1] Cards Against Humanity is recommended for ages 17+, and I tried to keep in the general spirit of that, so the Weeaboo expansion especially has some… unsavory stuff in it. At some point I might have to see about making a friendlier card game in the general CAH/Apples to Apples/Dixit/Once Upon a Time style, more about laughter and creativity than game mechanics.

CAH’s First Expansion has 100 cards, but each of my expansions has 108 cards, basically because I want to get full-sized versions printed for myself to go with the set I got from Amazon, and most POD printers do cards in increments of 18. The particular Creative Commons license they used means I can’t sell them, but whenever I get around to getting those ready I’ll post up the files so you can get your own made if you want. OTOH the CC license means you can do whatever you like with my cards too, as long as it’s non-commercial and you give credit.[2]

Here are the PDFs. They’re in the same format as the print and play version from the CAH website; follow the instructions on the first page of that one to print these.

Weeaboo Bullshit PDF
Grognards Against Humanity PDF

I also put together a set of tiff files for getting the cards printed via Superior POD so that they match the commercially available CAH set. Go to their Poker Size Custom Card Decks page and upload the tiff files (there are instructions in the rar file). Each 108-card expansion will cost $9.24 plus (rather expensive) shipping. I’m pretty happy with the results (you can see some photos here), though now my CAH mega-set (with the two official expansions and my two expansions) is about 1,000 cards.

Weeaboo Bullshit/Grognards Against Humanity tiff Files

Also, here are some other CAH resources:

[1]OpalCat’s page linked below suggests an optional rule that you can discard a card you don’t understand, but only after reading it aloud to the rest of the group.

[2]Speaking of credit, Clay Gardner gave some nice suggestions as I was finishing up the Grognards set.