It is possible to burn out with Magic the Gathering. I mean, it’s a great game! But the people are often frustrating, and the further you are from this invisible white, cisgendered, heterosexual, privileged, male norm, the more likely it is that you’re going to be put in a shitty position by randoms. For a while I found solace in retreating to Commander, because it’s an easy format to allow for you to make the most of the social aspects of the game, but trying to keep up with the sets and the buzz in the community still leaves a person susceptible to the drip drop of mansplaining, objectified women in art and in costume, know-it-all nerds, and people who are apparently incapable of an apology.

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It’s enough to drive a lady mad, I say. Mad! But instead, it’s driven me to take yet another step back from all the chaos. So, this week I am going to take some time to talk about Cards Against Humanity.

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What is Cards Against Humanity? I am so glad I asked. You asked. Whatever the conceit here is. Anyway, it’s a crowdsourced and crowdfunded take on Apples to Apples, which itself held the pole position for première party game in my crowd for a fairly long time.  In both games, the goal is to play with word associations, although Cards Against Humanity takes the loose “flip an adjective and respond with a noun card” theme of Apples to Apples and makes it into a sharper, more Mad Libs style game. The person who flips the prompt card (black cards in Cards Against Humanity, green cards in Apples to Apples) then waits until everyone has responded (with white and red cards respectively), and then judges which card is the best based on what is usually a deeply personal criteria.

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Some people I know try to play these games straight down the line, but personally I always went for the most hilariously wrong association. Cards Against Humanity takes that quirk of playing Apples to Apples, and basically makes it into the whole game. Here, let me show you some examples from my last game:

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Basically, this game is either going to be the most amazing thing you’ve ever played, or not your cup of tea. There’s not much in the way of a middle ground in a game that has cards for “Heteronormativity,” “YOU MUST CONSTRUCT ADDITIONAL PYLONS,” and “Michael Jackson.” Or, perhaps it’s not the middle ground that worries you. That’s fair! Some of these cards are pretty twisted, and when you add in the prompt, you can truly create some offensive scenarios.

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Of course, you can also end up inadvertently being way more emotionally honest than you had intended. All’s fair in party games, after all. It’s the perfect game for when your inhibitions have been slightly lowered, but you’re still in control of all your mental faculties, or at least close enough to have fun. Physical ones, ehhhh….it’s not exactly a physically demanding scenario. It’s just drawing and playing cards.

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The coolest thing by far, though, is that Cards Against Humanity is not only Creative Commons licensed, but it’s also available for free online at their site. I mean, in that case you have to actually print out the cards yourself and then either glue them to cardstock or hope your printer is better than mine is, but it’s still rare to find something this cool available for free in a legal form on the internet. And, if you ask me, it’s worth paying the $25 to get a set of your own. The cards are glossy and the card stock takes well to a good shuffling. The box that the game comes in is fairly solid and fits all the cards well (which the wooden Apples to Apples box we have weirdly never did).  And there are four expansion sets out already, which means whenever you’re feeling the base set has gotten a little stale you can add more cards in to jazz it all up!

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But what I like the most about the game is how it plays in a more intimate setting. I was playing it on New Year’s Eve with two friends and my Dana, and it was the perfect way for us to spend time waiting for the fireworks. Just four women, sitting around a living room, mildly lit and pleasantly full from a good dinner. It was the best night out I’ve had in ages. I recommend it unconditionally.

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