The choices presented to me were many, and diverse. Do I go mystical, or practical? Malevolent or morbid? After much contemplation, I determined that it's my ability to actually steal candy from a baby.
So said the cards.
How was this question answered (and posed in the first place)? Through the best party game I've come across that doesn't require—but strongly encourages the consumption of—alcohol: Cards Against Humanity.
What is this game I speak of? There are lots ways to describe it:
The comparative way: It's like Apples to Apples, but totally devoid of any of the cuteness you'd associated with this kid-friendly let's-all-play-a-game-after-Thanksgiving-dinner game.
The official way: The nondescript box it comes in simply states that it's meant to be played by "horrible people."
The way you'll describe it after playing: I didn't know I was capable of such depraved thoughts and statements.
However you choose to describe Cards Against Humanity, there's no denying it's a game that brings out the best and worst in its participants. It's like I Never, but without having to admit to your wealth or dearth of bad choices. Just bad thoughts.
OK, some simple rules: Each player is dealt 10 white cards that have a variety of words or statements. Then, in a rotation around the table, one player draws a black card that has either a sentence that has a blank in it or a question. The other players each choose the white card they think best represents what the black card is missing or asking for. The black card holder then reads, in random order and out loud, each of the white cards' info as it pertains to the black card.
The black card reader then chooses the most apropos white card offering, and whoever's white card is picked wins that black card. Get 10 blacks and you win the game. (Despite what you think, the game isn't derived from slave times)
In actuality, though, everyone wins. Seeing that person you thought was a badass suddenly turn bright red in embarrassment, or hear some of the most NSFW words uttered deadpan by someone you thought was the most buttoned-up personality is the gift that keeps on giving.
I first was exposed to Cards Against Humanity about 18 months ago, when my brother introduced it to the game night my wife and I regularly attend at her high school classmate's home. These events often involve 10 or more people, making it hard to find games that everyone can play at once and that keep everyone interested.
Cards Against Humanity was the perfect fit, since it's best experienced with as many participants as possible. And preferably, a group with a cross-section of varying levels of dirty minds, sick senses of humor and — maybe most important—a propensity to blush.
Last weekend was our latest CAH game, with myself and eight others gathering to see who could combine the most whites and blacks for victory.
Yes, this game IS about racial harmony, among many other far worse things. Most of us had played it before, but one unsuspecting couple was about to get indoctrinated—and we couldn't wait to see their reactions.
Some examples of the winning combinations from the game:
Black card: As part of his daily regimen, Anderson Cooper sets aside 15 minutes for BLANK. Winning selection: My manservant Claude.
Black card: Yeah, I killed BLANK. How? With BLANK. Winning selection: Yeah, I killed a mime having a stroke. How? With silence.
Black card: BLANK is really just about BLANK. Winning selection: Kids with ass cancer is really just about dead babies.
Yeah, it went there. And much darker places.
For every great winner, there were thrice that many choices that could have won. It all depends on the selectors, their sense of humor and level of depravity. Often, the white card you draw to replace the one you played works just as well, if not better, than what you just got rid of.
Others just don't fit with anything, but are still darn funny, like:
Home video of Oprah crying into a Lean Cuisine.
Soup that is too hot.
Morgan Freeman's voice.
Dropping a chandelier on your enemy and riding the rope up.
Wearing underwear inside-out to avoid doing laundry.
There are also a few running themes to be found in the white answer cards, such as a distinct lean to the political left—Glenn Beck is a particularly popular target—and a rather unhealthy obsession with big, bigger and the biggest of African-American male genitalia.
I'm sure it's no surprise that CAH is not the creation of any of the mainstream game makers, like Hasbro or Milton Bradley. If so, it would be MUCH more tame. It would be Apples and Apples, which is from Mattel.
Instead, CAH is the brainchild of friends who went to high school together in Illinois and put together something fun to play for a New Year's Eve party. Funded through a Kickstarter campaign that exceeded its goal by 300 percent and distributed through a Creative Commons license, the game has spawned several expansion packs and holiday versions. Fan submissions for white and black cards have been included in these expansions, along with blank cards that you can put your own ideas on for at-home play.
The game has gotten rave reviews for the way it can be as politically incorrect as possible, which earned my seal of approval even before I first played it.
If you've never had the pleasure of playing a round of CAH, I highly recommend it. I'll even come to your game night and share its wonderment, provided you have good food and beer.