Cards Against Humanity
|"A party game for horrible people."|
|Designer(s)||Josh Dillon, Daniel Dranove, Eli Halpern, Ben Hantoot, David Munk, David Pinsof, Max Temkin, Eliot Weinstein|
|Publisher(s)||Cards Against Humanity, LLC|
|Publication date||May 2011|
|Setup time||1–2 minutes|
|Playing time||30–90 minutes|
Cards Against Humanity is a party game using cards. It is available as a free download that players can print to create their own cards, and also available to purchase in published hardcopy. Its development originated from a successful Kickstarter campaign and has received acclaim for its simple concept backed up by its satirical, mature content. The game is available under a non-free Creative Commons license BY-NC-SA. Its title references the phrase "crimes against humanity", reflecting its politically incorrect content.
Cards Against Humanity was created by a group of Highland Park High School alumni as a party game for a New Year's Eve celebration. It was initially named "Hyper-theticals" and involved a group of players writing out the most abstract and, often, humorous response to the topic question. The name was later changed to Cards Against Humanity, with the answers pre-written on the white cards known today. In an interview with co-creator Ben Hantoot, he states that the game was inspired through experience with various games such as Magic: The Gathering, Balderdash, and Charades. He further states that the game was developed by "8 of us who are the core writer-creators, 5 or 6 additional 'part time' developers" and "dozens of friends and acquaintances who have played the game".
Cards Against Humanity was financed through the website Kickstarter, in a campaign that went live on December 1, 2010; it met its goal of $4,000 in just two weeks. The campaign concluded on January 30, 2011, with the project raising over $15,000; just under 400% of its original goal. With this enormous amount of money raised towards the game, the creators added fifty more cards to the game itself. Cards Against Humanity is printed by AdMagic Inc. As of 2014, Cards Against Humanity is available only in North America, Australia and Britain.
The Cards Against Humanity website describes the rules of the game:
To start the game, each player draws ten white "answer" cards. One randomly chosen player begins as the Card Czar, and plays a black "question" card. The Card Czar reads the question out to the group. Each player answers the question by passing one white "answer" card, face down, to the Card Czar. The Card Czar shuffles all of the answers, reads them out loud in a humorous fashion, and picks their favorite. Whoever played that answer gets to keep the Black Card as one Awesome Point. After each round, a new player becomes the Card Czar, and every player draws back up to ten cards.
The part of speech of a white card is either a noun or a gerund, including both single words and phrase constructions. Black cards either present fill-in-the-blank statements, or they directly ask a question. Both white and black cards break these rules on rare occasions.
The rules in Cards Against Humanity are flexible and can be altered with the many house rules (which are listed in the manual and website) that players can incorporate (e.g., winning cards are chosen democratically, ability to trade points for cards, points given by ranks, etc.). The game also incorporates rules for so-called "Pick 2's" and "Pick 3's"; black question cards that are answered with multiple white answer cards. The official rules include additional provisions for gambling previously won "Awesome Points" for the right to play additional white cards during a round.
Release and sales
After six months of development, Cards Against Humanity officially released in May 2011. A month later, it was announced that Cards Against Humanity was the number-one game on Amazon.com. Since its release, CAH has gradually become more popular and has seen a rise of sales throughout the years. Megan Graham of the Chicago Sun-Times estimated that Cards Against Humanity earned at least $12 million in profit, and according to the company customers have downloaded the PDF file 1.5 million times in the year since they began tracking the numbers. Cards Against Humanity has no plans to sell in retail as co-creator, Max Temkin, states that he doesn't want retail shoppers to "cheapen their brand." In October 2011, the game was exhibited as part of the "Big Games" area of the annual IndieCade games festival in Culver City, where the release of a first expansion was officially announced. The first expansion, which contained 100 new cards and 12 blank cards, was released in November 2011 and sold out in three days. On March 15, 2012, they re-released an updated base set as well as the first expansion and sold out almost immediately, becoming the top two products in Amazon's Toys & Games category in the process. The second expansion set was released in August 2012 at PAX Prime and included 25 new black cards, 75 new white cards, and 12 blank cards. The third expansion pack was announced via email from the Cards Against Humanity team on March 22, 2013, during PAX East. Like the second expansion pack, it included 25 new black cards, 75 new white cards, and 12 blank cards. Following that, the fourth expansion was released on November 21, 2013.
On Black Friday 2013, the creators unveiled an "anti-sale" where the price was raised five dollars much to the enjoyment and popularity of fans and media. Despite its higher price, the game went on to maintain its best-selling status on Amazon.com and even experienced a minor spike in sales during that period. The following year, to "help you experience the ultimate savings on Cards Against Humanity", the game and its expansions were removed from the online store and replaced by "Bullshit"—a box containing actual, sterilized bull feces. Over 30,000 boxes were sold.
Expansions and additional products
Cards Against Humanity comes as a base set with five separate commercially-available expansions, three themed packs, and one additional accessory.
- Cards Against Humanity - 550 cards (460 white, 90 black)
- Cards Against Humanity: First Expansion - 112 cards (80 white, 20 black, + 8 white, 4 black blank cards)
- Cards Against Humanity: Second Expansion - 112 cards (75 white, 25 black, + 8 white, 4 black blank cards)
- Cards Against Humanity: Third Expansion - 112 cards (75 white, 25 black, + 8 white, 4 black blank cards)
- Cards Against Humanity: Fourth Expansion - 112 cards (70 white, 30 black, + 8 white, 4 black blank cards)
- Cards Against Humanity: Fifth Expansion - 112 cards (75 white, 25 black, + 8 white, 4 black blank cards)
- 2012 Holiday Pack - 30 cards, (23 white, 7 black) profits donated to the Wikimedia Foundation
- 2013 Holiday Pack - 30 cards (21 white, 9 black), profits donated to DonorsChoose.org
- 90s Nostalgia Pack - 30 cards (23 white, 7 black), 1990s themed
- Science Pack - 30 cards (will be available for purchase early 2015)
- The Bigger, Blacker Box - Foam filler, card dividers, 50 blank cards (40 white, 10 black), the Box Expansion (20 white/black cards related to boxes), and a card hidden under the inside paper lining of the box cover
There have been ten limited or unevenly distributed expansions:
- Reject Pack - 24 cards (each co-creator picks three cards that were rejected from print)
- House of Cards Pack - 25 cards (16 white, 9 black) (cards are all associated with the Netflix series House of Cards)
- TableTop Expansion Pack - 15 cards (12 white, 3 black) (a $20 contribution reward for the TableTop Indiegogo campaign)
- PAX East 2013 Promo Packs - 30 cards total (24 white, 6 black) over three packs labeled "A" "B" & "C". Each pack contains 10 cards (8 white, 2 black).
- PAX Prime 2013 Promo Packs - 44 cards total, randomly given out booster packs
- PAX East 2014 Promo Packs - 27 cards total, randomly inserted booster packs within packets of oatmeal
- PAX East 2014 Panel Pack - 10 cards (5 white, 5 black), given out for attending the Cards Against Humanity panel
- PAX Prime 2014 Panel Pack - 10 cards (5 white, 5 black), given out for attending the Cards Against Humanity panel
- Ten Days or Whatever of Kwanzaa - limited to 250,000 people for the 2014 holiday season.
- Cards Against Humanity Base Set: Australian Edition - 550 total cards (460 white, 90 black), in which "we rewrote about 15% of the game, swapping gross Americanisms for fair dinkum Aussie corkers"
The creators of Cards Against Humanity have done charity work in affiliation with the game. In December 2012, Cards Against Humanity released a special holiday expansion pack and allowed users to choose their price. The average amount paid was $3.89 (with the majority of contributors paying $5) which resulted in an overall profit of $70,066.27, which the makers donated to the Wikimedia Foundation. The following year, in December 2013, the creators released a "12 Days of Holiday Bullshit" promotion where contributors would pay $12 to receive 12 random presents over a span of 12 days. On the tenth day, Cards Against Humanity donated $1 for every person who contributed to this deal, amassing a grand total of $100,249.94 that was donated to several educational projects via DonorsChoose.
Critical and popular reception of Cards Against Humanity has been positive. The game was praised as "Simple, yet well-executed" by the Chicago Tribune "Puzzler", "pretty amazing" by The Onion AV Club, and "the game your party deserves" by Thrillist. The game review and discussion website Dice Hate Me reviewed the game as well, stating it was "Brilliantly crafted," though warned that the game was "not for the faint of heart, nor the easily offended," citing the often offensive nature of the cards. The game was generally well received by BoardGameGeek, garnering a 6.77/10 review as of December 2014. Reviews tend to note the similarity between the game's core mechanic (match answers from each player's hand to a shared question) to that of the 1999 family card game Apples to Apples (match nouns from each player's hand to a shared adjective). The Onion AV Club interview calls the game "a sort of Apples To Apples for the crass and jaded." Criticism for the game stems from its enjoyment primarily depending on the number of players participating as well as many reviewers' concern that its politically incorrect content may offend certain audiences.
- "Cards Against Humanity Creative Commons License". Cards Against Humanity. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
- "Cards Against Humanity buys remote Maine island, calls it 'Hawaii 2' - The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram". The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.
- "A Card Game For Assholes". Interview with The Onion AV Club. Archived from the original on 2013-01-30. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
- "Cards Against Humanity: An Offensive Interview". Dice Hate Me Interview. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
- Kimball, Diana. "Case Study: Cards Against Humanity". Kickstarter. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
- "Cards Against Humanity Page on Kickstarter". Kickstarter Page For Cards Against Humanity. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
- "Cards Against Humanity Printed by AdMagic Inc".
- "Cards Against Humanity Website". Cards Against Humanity. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
- Megan Graham (May 16, 2014). "Eight nerds get rich off a game where Oprah sobs into a Lean Cuisine". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
- Lagorio-Chafkin, Christine. "The Humans Behind Cards Against Humanity". Inc. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
- "IndieCade Big Games 2011". IndieCade Big Games 2011.
- "Cards Against Humanity Expansion Sells Out in Three Days". Facebook Post.
- "Cards For Humanity?". Blog Post.
- Carlson, Nicholas. "Look What Happened When This Games Company Offered An Absurd '$5 More' Black Friday Deal". Business Insider. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
- "Cards Against Humanity calls bull**** on Black Friday, sells cow feces". Ars Technica. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
- Landau, Joel (16 December 2014). "Cards Against Humanity sells 30,000 boxes of actual bull poop on Black Friday". New York Daily News. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- "Bigger, Blacker Box Page". Cards Against Humanity. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
- Rules Insert, AU Edition
- "Cards Against Humanity pay-what-you-want holiday pack". Cards Against Humanity. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
- "Cards Against Humanity 2013 DonorsChoose.org Classroom Shopping Spree". Cards Against Humanity. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
- "Cards Against Humanity". Chicago Tribune Puzzler review. Archived from the original on 2013-01-29. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
- "Cards Against Humanity". Thrillist review. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
- "Cards Against Humanity page on BoardGameGeek".
- "Cards Against Humanity: A Party Game For Horrible People (UK Edition) Review". Games & Tea. Retrieved April 3, 2014.