Cards Against Humanity
|Designers||Josh Dillon, Daniel Dranove, Eli Halpern, Ben Hantoot, David Munk, David Pinsof, Max Temkin, Eliot Weinstein|
|Publisher||Cards Against Humanity LLC|
|Release date||May 2011|
|Cards||550[a] (base set)|
|Playing time||25–90 minutes|
Cards Against Humanity is a party game in which players complete fill-in-the-blank statements using words or phrases typically deemed as offensive, risqué or politically incorrect printed on playing cards. The game is available as a free download that players can print to create their own cards, and also available to purchase as a published hard copy. It has been compared to the Apples to Apples card game, originated from a Kickstarter campaign, and has received media acclaim. The game is available under a Creative Commons license BY-NC-SA. Its title references the phrase "crimes against humanity", reflecting its politically incorrect content.
As of 2017, Cards Against Humanity is available in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Cards Against Humanity was created by a group of eight Highland Park High School alumni, including Ben Hantoot and Max Temkin, as a party game for a New Year's Eve celebration. Heavily influenced by the popular Apples to Apples card game, it was initially named Cardenfreude 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. Co-creator Ben Hantoot cited experiences with various games such as Magic: The Gathering, Balderdash, and Charades as inspiration, also noting that Mad Libs was "the most direct influence" for the game
The game was financed with a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and influenced by a previous crowd-funded campaign for a book on the design of the Obama campaign. The campaign started on December 1, 2010; it met its goal of $4,000 in two weeks. The campaign ended on January 30, 2011 and raised over $15,000; just under 400% of its original goal. With this additional money raised towards the game, the creators added fifty more cards to the game itself.
To start the game, each player draws ten white cards.
According to the rule book provided with the game, the person who most recently "pooped" (a form of primitive randomization) begins as the "Card Czar" (or "Card Tsar") and plays a black card, face up. The Card Czar then reads the question or fill-in-the-blanks phrase on the black card out loud.
The other players answer the question or fill in the blanks by each passing one white card (or however many required by the black card), face down, to the Card Czar.
The Card Czar shuffles all of the answers and shares each card combination with the group. For full effect, the Card Czar should usually re-read the black card before presenting each answer. The Card Czar then picks the funniest play, and whoever submitted it gets one "Awesome Point".
After the round, a new player becomes the Card Czar, and everyone draws back up to 10 white cards.
The part of speech of a white card is a noun or gerund, including both single words and phrase constructions. Black cards are either fill-in-the-blank statements or questions. Both white and black cards break these rules on rare occasions.
The rules do not state how to win the game—the object being simply to have fun.
The rules in Cards Against Humanity are flexible and can be altered with the many house rules (which are listed in the rules) that players can incorporate (e.g. winning cards are chosen democratically, ability to trade points for cards, points given by ranks, etc.). 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 became 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. The Chicago Sun-Times estimated that CAH 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. Despite co-creator Max Temkin stating in a 2014 interview that he did not want retail shoppers to 'cheapen our brand', the game and expansion packs are currently being sold in select Target retail locations, as of January 2017.
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. In November 2011, the expansion was released. It sold out in three days. The first expansion contained 100 new cards and 12 blank cards.
Black Friday promotions
Since 2013, the creators of Cards Against Humanity have held satirical promotions on Black Friday. In 2013, an "anti-sale" was held in which the game's cost was raised by $5 USD. Despite its higher price, the game went on to maintain its best-selling status on Amazon and experienced a minor spike in sales during that period.
In 2014, 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"—boxes containing sterilized bull feces, sold at $6 USD each. Over 30,000 boxes were sold.
In 2015, the game's online store was replaced by an order form with an offer to "Give Cards Against Humanity $5" and receive nothing in return. The offer was justified by claiming that "the greatest Black Friday gift of all is buying nothing. We're offering that for the rock-bottom price of $5. How can you afford NOT to seize this incredible opportunity?", and that what the money would be used for would be announced "soon" 11,248 customers spent $71,145 on the offer during the campaign. The money was ultimately divided equally among the Cards Against Humanity team members, who were asked to report back what they spent their money on. Many of them made donations to different charities.
For 2016, the creators began to live stream the excavation of a "Holiday Hole", located in Oregon, Illinois and stated that they would continue to dig the hole as long as they continue to receive donations. The creators have not stated any reason for the hole nor any planned use of the money, and explicitly ruled out charity in a FAQ by asking the reader, "why aren't YOU giving all this money to charity? It's your money." $100,573 was collected. Later in the week, the hole was filled back up and reseeded.
Expansions and additional products
Cards Against Humanity comes as a base set, with six separate commercially available expansions, nine themed packs, and one additional accessory. There are also 3 international editions and 20 limited availability releases.
|Pack||Release date||Total cards||White cards||Black cards||Notes|
|Cards Against Humanity||550||460||—||90||—||The original game
Only available in the US
|Canadian Edition||550||460||—||90||—||Replaces some American-centric jokes with ones targeted toward Canadians.
Only available in Canada
|(Bulldog)||UK Edition||550||460||—||90||—||Replaces some American-centric jokes with ones targeted toward British people.
Only available in the UK
|(Emu)||Australian Edition||550||460||—||90||—||Replaces some American-centric jokes with ones targeted toward Australians.
Only available in Australia and New Zealand
|1||First Expansion||112||80||8||20||4||No longer available (superseded by the Red Box)|
|4||Fourth Expansion||112||70||8||30||4||No longer available (superseded by the Blue Box)|
|◆||Red Box||300||230||—||70||—||Contains the same cards as Expansions 1, 2 and 3 (without blank cards)|
|▲||Blue Box||300||220||—||80||—||Contains the same cards as Expansions 4, 5 and 6 (without blank cards)|
|●||Green Box||November 2016||300||245||—||55||—|
|Smaller Themed Packs|
|The Bigger Blacker Box||51||21||40||—||10||An empty storage case that can hold Cards Against Humanity and every expansion; also contains blank cards, the Box Expansion, 10 card dividers, foam filler, and a card hidden under the inside paper lining of the lid
No longer available (superseded by the New Bigger Blacker Box)
|New Bigger Blacker Box||November 2016||53||23||40||—||10||Larger version of the previous Bigger Blacker Box; contains everything in the Bigger Blacker Box except foam blocks and dividers, also contains a procedually generated card and a card hidden under the inside paper lining of the bottom as well as within the top cover.|
|❄||2012 Holiday Pack||2012||30||23||—||7||—||Profits donated to the Wikimedia Foundation|
|(Santa hat)||2013 Holiday Pack||2013||30||21||—||9||—||Profits donated to DonorsChoose.org|
|(Bauble)||2014 Holiday Pack||2014||30||24||—||6||—||Profits donated to Sunlight Foundation|
|90||90s Nostalgia Pack||30||23||—||7||—||1990s themed|
|Canadian Conversion Kit||26||21||—||5||—||Contained two instruction cards with suggestions on how to swap out American cards from the US base set with Canadian ones
No longer available (superseded by the Canadian Edition base set)
|(Abstract symbol)||Design Pack||30||30||—||—||—||Fully illustrated by different graphic designers; profits donated to the Chicago Design Museum|
|(Crisscrossed knife and spoon)||Food Pack||30||24||—||6||—||Co-written with Lucky Peach magazine|
|(Hitachi Magic Wand)||Fantasy Pack||32||26||—||6||—||Profits donated to Pat Rothfuss’ Worldbuilders charity|
|(D-pad)||Geek Pack||30||24||—||6||—||Previously released at PAX East and PAX Prime in 2013 and 2014|
|✡︎||Jew Pack||2015||30||25||—||5||—||Originally released as the 2015 Holiday Pack, with 150,000 copies sent to people signed up for "Eight Sensible Gifts for Hanukkah"|
|☢||Post-Trump Pack||30||25||—||5||—||Previously released in the "Donald Trump Bug-Out Bag"|
|🚀||Sci-Fi Pack||December 2016||30||23||—||7||—||Profits donated to Worldbuilders|
|Science Pack||30||23||—||7||—||Profits donated to the Science Ambassador Scholarship|
|Vote for Hillary Pack||August 2016||15||12||—||3||—||Hillary Clinton–themed; originally released as part of "America Votes with Cards Against Humanity" during the 2016 US presidential election|
|Vote for Trump Pack||August 2016||15||12||—||3||—||Donald Trump–themed; originally released as part of "America Votes with Cards Against Humanity" during the 2016 US presidential election|
|@||World Wide Web Pack||30||21||—||9||—||Cards written with anonymous users of Reddit; profits donated to the Electronic Frontier Foundation|
|Your Shitty Jokes||November 2016||50||—||40||—||10||Blank cards|
|(Marijuana leaf)||Weed Pack||July 2017||30||25||—||5||—||Profits donated to the Marijuana Policy Project|
|(Three blood drops)||Period Pack||July 2017||30||24||—||6||—||Comes with a few surprises for your special time.|
|(Graduation Cap)||College Pack||July 2018||30||24||—||6||—||Comes with a special 18" x 24" poster for your dorm room.|
|Limited Release Packs|
|👎||Reject Pack||24||16||—||8||—||Each co-creator picked three cards that were rejected from print|
|👎||Reject Pack 2||34||24||—||10||—||Given out for attending Concert Against Humanity at Gen Con 2015|
|House of Cards Against Humanity||25||16||—||9||—||Based on House of Cards
10,000 copies (sold out in 45 minutes)
|(A meeple)||TableTop Expansion Pack||15||12||—||3||—||A $20 contribution reward for the TableTop Indiegogo campaign. It also came with a white pin with the words "+20 to making TableTop" on it|
|PAX Prime 2012 Goof Pack||14||9||—||5||—||Given out to replace misprints in v1.2; also included new cards (since included in v1.3)|
|X||PAX East 2013 Promo Packs||10||8||—||2||—||Pack A|
|X||PAX Prime 2013 Promo Packs||44||37||—||7||—||Randomly given out booster packs|
|X||PAX East 2014 Promo Packs||27||22||—||5||—||Randomly inserted booster packs within packets of oatmeal|
|X||PAX East 2014 Panel Pack||10||8||—||2||—||Given out for attending the Cards Against Humanity panel|
|X||PAX Prime 2014 Panel Pack||10||5||—||5||—||Given out for attending the Cards Against Humanity panel|
|PAX Prime 2015 Food Pack Pre-release||30||24||—||6||—||Contained one different card from final release, given out inside a popsicle in three different flavors (cherry, coconut and mango). The packs were distributed from a re-purposed ice cream truck with Cards Against Humanity insignia (Cards Popsicle Humanity). Each of the three Food Pack parts were sold for $3.|
|(A person opening a safe)||Ten Days or Whatever of Kwanzaa Safe Opener Card
Being the crazy person who opened the safe.
|1||1||—||—||—||12 copies found in the safe on Hawaii 2 island|
|Ten Days or Whatever of Kwanzaa Sloth Card||1||1||—||—||—||250,000 copies found in the safe on Hawaii 2 island|
|(Paper shopping bag)||The Retail Pack||5||3||—||2||—||Special pack of cards only available through independent brick and mortar retailers approved to sell the game|
|Hanukkah LOL Pack||7||7||—||—||—||Only been printed 3 times|
|Fascism Pack||17||15||—||2||—||A $30 contribution reward for the Secret Hitler Kickstarter campaign; in an exclusive foil pack|
|☢||Trump Bug Out Pack||25||22||—||3||—||Packaged with the Donald Trump Bug-Out Bag|
|💰||Retail Product Pack||20||19||—||1||—||Silver Pack Sold at Exclusive Target Stores (Includes $1 bill inside package)|
|Please Do Not Buy This Product||1||1||—||—||—||69-inch box containing a single, metallic foil card.|
|Mass Effect Pack||14||10||—||4||—||Cards about valuable intellectual property "Mass Effect®".|
|👁️||Hidden Compartment Pack||July 2017||15||15||—||—||—||Special pack of cards only available through Target's in-store display of CAH and Exploding Kittens demo.|
In addition, with the help of the Cards Against Humanity team, the 2014 MIT Mystery Hunt held a Cards Against Wonderland event with MIT and Wonderland themed decks of 416 cards (346 white, 70 black). Some of the cards consisted of the Presidential family of 129 B.C committing incest (for the winsest) with aliens. A limited number of decks were printed for the event, but PDF versions of the cards were provided to all teams after the event ended.
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In December 2012, Cards Against Humanity released a special holiday expansion pack. Proceeds were donated to the Wikimedia Foundation. Individuals chose how much to pay for the pack. The average amount paid was $3.89 (with the majority of contributors paying $5) which resulted in an overall profit of $70,066.27.
In December 2013, the creators released a "12 Days of Holiday Bullshit" holiday promotion. Individuals paid $12 to receive 12 random presents for 12 days. On the tenth day, Cards Against Humanity donated $1 for every person who contributed to this deal, amassing $100,249.94 that was donated to several educational projects via DonorsChoose.
Cards Against Humanity announced a science-themed expansion pack in 2015, which promised to donate the profits to scholarships for women going into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The pack has raised over $500,000 for the scholarship.
On July 28, 2015, Cards Against Humanity announced a design-themed expansion pack, featuring 30 cards that were created by famous designers riffing on comedian George Carlin’s legendary “seven dirty words.” All proceeds were donated to the Chicago Design Museum.
On November 19, 2015, Cards Against Humanity announced a fantasy-themed expansion pack, written by various fantasy authors including Patrick Rothfuss. For the first two weeks of the sale of this pack all of the proceeds were promised to be donated to Worldbuilders, in support of Heifer International. Worldbuilders is a charity organization started by Pat Rothfuss.
In December 2015, Cards Against Humanity launched their holiday gift campaign with "Eight Sensible Gifts for Hanukkah" in which humorous gifts were sent out over the course of the Hanukkah holiday. The first three gifts were pairs of socks, with later gifts including a year-long membership to Chicago public radio station WBEZ, as well as a week of paid vacation for their Chinese-based manufacturing plant staff.
In July 2017, a special edition of the base game, Cards Against Humanity For Her, was unveiled, in support of EMILY's List—a U.S. political action committee that aims to help elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates to office. As a satire of the "pink tax", it is exactly the same, except $5 more expensive and with a pink-colored box.
On July 30, 2017, the Hidden Compartment Pack was released at Target to coincide with the release of the Exploding Kittens Party Pack. It contains 15 new white CAH cards in addition to 5 cards of the new Exploding Kittens mechanic, Blind as a Bat. The pack's name within Target is CARDHOLE.LOL and costs $4.
On August 29, 2017, the Back to School Bundle was released, which included Cards Against Humanity 2.0 as well as additional cards and gear for students.
Political involvement and the Nuisance Committee
In August 2016, Cards Against Humanity released two "America Votes" packs for the two presidential candidates: Vote for Hillary Pack and Vote for Trump Pack. Each pack contains 15 cards of jokes about the candidate. Designer Max Temkin said that the proceeds for both packs would go to Clinton's campaign regardless. The group began posting billboards under a PAC called the Nuisance Committee. Temkin named the PAC after his grandfather who was a Jewish POW in World War II, who formed a "nuisance committee" to try to annoy their Nazi captors without getting killed. In September the group posted a billboard in Chicago with the words: "If Trump is so rich, how come he didn't buy this billboard?". In October 2016, the Nuisance Committee posted a billboard in Dearborn, Michigan which was printed in Arabic text on a black background, reading "Donald Trump can’t read this, but he is scared of it". An Overwatch-themed Anti-Trump billboard was also posted in Orlando, Florida.
The game was praised as "Simple, yet well-executed" by the Chicago Tribune "Puzzler", "pretty amazing" by The A.V. Club, and "the game your party deserves" by Thrillist. However, in December 2015, the game received a rating of 6.48/10 in reviews on BoardGameGeek. The score earned it a ranking of 146 in party games.
Reviews note the similarity between Cards Against Humanity and the 1999 family card game Apples to Apples. The A.V. 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.
In a letter of complaint to The New York Times Magazine, writer Dan Brooks argued:
Like America’s most successful brands, Cards Against Humanity positions itself against the masses, when in fact it is mass taste distilled. It is the product of a culture in which transgressing social norms has become an agreed-on social norm.
...That may be because Cards Against Humanity isn’t really transgressive at all. It is a game of naughty giggling for people who think the phrase 'black people' is inherently funny.
...The awful thing is that it works. The reliability of Cards Against Humanity as an activity most people will enjoy only makes it more depressing to those of us immune to its charms. It is, in the end, a party game for horrible people. But who else is there to party with?
In mid-2014, a popular Tumblr post wherein the poster burns a Cards Against Humanity card featuring a transphobic joke spurred an apology from Max Temkin. "I regret writing this card, it was a mean, cheap joke. We took it out of the game a while ago", Temkin replied on his own Tumblr. Cards Against Humanity occasionally releases new versions of the game where certain cards are removed or added in order to stay up to date.
- Apples to Apples, a similar game
- Dixit, a similar game using pictures
- Comedy Against Humanity
- Joking Hazard
- Version 2.0 of Cards Against Humanity expanded the base set to 600 cards.
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- 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 November 30, 2014.
- Landau, Joel (December 16, 2014). "Cards Against Humanity sells 30,000 boxes of actual bull poop on Black Friday". New York Daily News. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
- "Cards Against Humanity Has Made Over $54K Selling Nothing On Black Friday". TechCrunch. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
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- "Cards Against Humanity Scholarship For Women In STEM Raised Over $500K". The Mary Sue.
- "Cards Against Humanity offers Carlin's 7 bad words for good cause". ChicagoTribune.com.
- "Cards Against Humanity: Fantasy Pack". Patrick Rothfuss Blog.
- "Eight Sensible Gifts for Hanukkah Donation to WBEZ".
- "Eight Sensible Gifts for Hanukkah Factory Workers' Week Off".
- Sarkar, Samit (July 11, 2017). "Cards Against Humanity takes on the pink tax with ‘for Her’ box". Polygon. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
- Formichelli, Linda (July 28, 2017). "Target Unleashes Over 50 New Exclusive Games For The 2017 Holiday Season". Forbes. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
- Scelzo, Samantha. "Cards Against Humanity is back with a whole new deck to destroy your next party". Mashable. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
- "SWEET: Roskam faces super PAC billboards from 'The Nuisance Committee'". suntimes.com. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- "Cards Against Humanity's super PAC buys anti-Trump billboard". abc7ny.com. September 29, 2016. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- Yerak, Becky. "Cards Against Humanity group put up 90-foot taunt of Donald Trump". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- Samuelson, Kate. "Anti-Trump Billboard With Arabic Message Erected in Michigan". Time. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- Jr, Cleve R. Wootson (October 18, 2016). "The billboard mocking Donald Trump: ‘He can’t read this’". Retrieved October 11, 2017 – via www.washingtonpost.com.
- "The Cards Against Humanity super PAC posted a brilliant Trump takedown — in Arabic". theweek.com. October 18, 2016. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- "One of 2016's Coolest Anti-Trump Ads Has a Headline Most of You Won't Understand". adweek.com. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
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