Cards Against Humanity

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Cards Against Humanity
Cards Against Humanity logo 2009.svg
DesignersJosh Dillon
Daniel Dranove
Eli Halpern
Ben Hantoot
David Munk
David Pinsof
Max Temkin
Eliot Weinstein
PublisherCards Against Humanity LLC
Release dateMay 2011; 11 years ago (2011-05)
Players3 – 20+
Age range17+
Cards550 (1.0), 600 (2.0)[a] (base set)
Playing time30 min – 90 min Edit this at Wikidata

Cards Against Humanity is an adult party game in which players complete fill-in-the-blank statements using words or phrases typically deemed offensive, risqué or politically incorrect printed on playing cards. It has been compared to the 1999 card game Apples to Apples[1] and originated from a Kickstarter campaign in 2011. Its title refers to the phrase "crimes against humanity", reflecting its politically incorrect content.[2]


Cards Against Humanity was created by a group of eight Highland Park High School alumni.[3] Heavily influenced by the popular Apples to Apples card game, it was initially named Cardenfreude[4] (a pun on Schadenfreude) 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.[5] 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.[6]

The game was financed with a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and influenced by a previous crowd-funded campaign for a book on the design of then-President of the United States Barack Obama's campaign.[7] The campaign started on December 1, 2010; it met its goal of $4,000 in two weeks.[8] 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.[9]


A black "question" card and a white "answer" card

To start the game, each player draws seven white cards.

According to the rule book provided with the game, the person who most recently defecated (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 7 white cards.[10]

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.

A game of Cards Against Humanity in progress

Release and sales[edit]

A stack of Cards Against Humanity boxes at Fan Expo Canada 2013

After six months of development, Cards Against Humanity was officially released in May 2011. A month later, it became the number one game on Amazon.[11] 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.[12]

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 announced.[13] In November 2011, the expansion was released. It sold out in three days. The first expansion contained 100 new cards and 12 blank cards.[14]

The base game cards are licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 license and can be downloaded at their website.

Black Friday promotions[edit]

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. Despite its higher price, the game maintained its best-selling status on Amazon and experienced a minor spike in sales during that period.[15]

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 each.[16] Over 30,000 boxes were sold.[17]

The 2016 Holiday Hole being dug

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".[18] 11,248 customers spent $71,145 on the offer during the campaign. The money was 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 charities.[19]

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 did not state 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.[20][21] Later in the week, the hole was filled back in and reseeded.[22]

Prior to Black Friday in 2017, a brand of potato chips known as "Original Prongles" (a parody of Pringles) were spotted in multiple Target stores, with packaging featuring a pig mascot and the slogan "Once You Pop... That's Great!". On Black Friday, the Cards Against Humanity website was redirected to, which announced that the creators of Cards Against Humanity had exited the gaming industry in favor of snack food, with a commitment to "bold flavors and bold thinking". In a interview, Max Temkin and Josh Dillon (who referred to themselves as Prongles' "chief flavor officers") stated that Prongles and its pig mascot were inspired by US president Donald Trump, adding that "if you love President Donald J. Trump, we guarantee you will love the tangy onion and thick cream flavors of Original Prongles. That's why we promise to Make America CRUNCH Again™! [sic]"[23][24][25]

In 2018, the creators held a "99 Percent Off Sale", selling random items (such as a used 2015 Ford Fiesta, medieval weapons, and even cash) for 99% off, with a new item every 10 minutes. The creators stated that the promotion was "100% real and possibly a very bad idea."[26][27]

In 2019, the creators held a "Black Friday A.I. Challenge", pitting the company's writers against a machine learning algorithm, producing two themed card packs: the Human Pack and the A.I. Pack. If the Human Pack sold more, the writers would get a $5,000 bonus and if the A.I. won, the writers would be fired. The Human Pack ultimately sold over $1,000 more than the A.I. Pack.[28]

For 2020, in lieu of doing a prank, Cards Against Humanity donated the $250,000 set aside for a Black Friday promotion to five charities: the Equal Justice Initiative, the New Georgia Project, National Low Income Housing Coalition, Brave Space Alliance, and the Laughing At My Nightmare COVID-19 Relief Fund.[29]

In 2021, the creators held a "Cards Against Humanity Pays You $5 Sale", in which the creators would pay $5 and up to site visitors for doing various tasks, ranging from asking Hellmann's to bring back "CLAM-O-NAISE", to donating teeth, to helping the creators figure out what program they saw Patrick Fischler in (Nash Bridges). Some tasks, like getting the COVID-19 vaccine that day, would reward $100, while other tasks, like guessing how many jelly beans have been put inside a 1993 Cadillac Allanté, would reward $10,000 to one person.[30]

Expansions and additional products[edit]

Cards Against Humanity comes as a base set, with six separate commercially available expansions, nine themed packs, and one additional accessory. There are also three international editions and twenty limited availability releases.

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 "seven dirty words". All proceeds were donated to the Chicago Design Museum.[31]

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 female pro-choice Democratic 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.[32]

Political involvement and the Nuisance Committee[edit]

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 the Clinton campaign regardless.[33] The group began posting billboards under a political action committee called the Nuisance Committee.[34] Temkin named the PAC in honor of his grandfather, a Jewish prisoner of war in World War II who formed a "nuisance committee" to try to annoy their Nazi captors without getting killed.[35] In September, the group advertised on a billboard in Chicago with the words: "If Trump is so rich, how come he didn't buy this billboard?"[36] 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".[37][38][39] An Overwatch-themed anti-Trump billboard was also posted in Orlando, Florida.[40]

In November 2018, the Nuisance Committee posted billboards against incumbent Illinois representative Peter Roskam.[34]

In mid-November 2017, the creators announced a campaign, Cards Against Humanity Saves America, in protest of the Trump administration and Donald Trump's proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, arguing that Trump was "a preposterous golem who is afraid of anything. He is so afraid that he wants to build a $20 billion wall that everyone knows will accomplish nothing." It was revealed that the creators had purchased vacant land along the wall and "retained a law firm specializing in eminent domain to make it as time-consuming and expensive as possible for the wall to get built". It was also announced that those who made a $15 donation for the campaign would receive six "surprises" throughout December, including additional cards and a map of the aforementioned land plot.[41] One of the surprises was the redistribution of the money paid, including 10,000 refunds, and issuing $1,000 cheques to 100 donors they determined to be the most in need.[42]


The game was praised as "Simple, yet well-executed" by the Chicago Tribune "Puzzler",[43] "pretty amazing" by The A.V. Club, and "the game your party deserves" by Thrillist.[44] 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.[45]

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."[5] Criticism of 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.[46]

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 ... 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?[47]

Brooks' editorial received attention from media sources such as The A.V. Club and PJ Media.[48]


In 2014 a 19-year-old transgender man from Boston posted a photo of a burning game card, featuring the text "Passable transvestites."[49] After the post quickly spread, game creator Max Temkin apologized, saying "I regret writing this card, it was a mean cheap joke. We took it out a while ago".[50]

A 2016 analysis of the game showed a strong racial bias in the cards. One-fifth of the original card deck included answers involving race. Of those cards, only 11 percent of white cards were racially charged compared to 60 percent of black cards, 60 percent of Hispanic cards, 80 percent of Asian cards, and 100 percent of Native American cards. Cards were coded as "racially charged" if they spoke to a historical or contemporary oppressive event or stereotype, for example, "The Trail of Tears," "The hard working Mexican," or "Helplessly giggling at the mention of Hutus and Tutsis," all of which are actual cards from the deck.[51]

The game has also been criticized for its use of misogyny, rape, and child abuse for humor.[52] Cards such as "Child abuse," "This year's mass shooting," and "Holding down a child and farting all over him" remain in the original deck of the game.[53] Jokes involving rape were pointed out early in the game's history and were subsequently removed, but "Surprise sex!," "Copping a feel," and "Coathanger abortions" remain in the game.[54]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Version 2.0 of Cards Against Humanity expanded the base set to 600 cards.


  1. ^ Chu, Arthur (July 29, 2014). "The Case Against Cards Against Humanity: Is Max Temkin a Horrible Person?". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on November 25, 2017.
  2. ^ "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. December 24, 2014. Archived from the original on December 25, 2014.
  3. ^ Weinberger, Matt (February 14, 2017). "The creators of 'Cards Against Humanity' explain the secret of staying funny even after the 'punk rock authenticity' is gone". Business Insider. Archived from the original on February 17, 2017.
  4. ^ "A Brief History of Cards Against Humanity - Best Play". Best Play. February 4, 2017. Archived from the original on February 5, 2017. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "A Card Game For Assholes". Interview with The Onion AV Club. Archived from the original on June 24, 2012. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  6. ^ "Cards Against Humanity: An Offensive Interview". Dice Hate Me Interview. Archived from the original on August 2, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  7. ^ Best Play (February 4, 2017), The Brief History of Cards Against Humanity, archived from the original on February 10, 2017, retrieved February 4, 2017
  8. ^ Kimball, Diana. "Case Study: Cards Against Humanity". Kickstarter. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  9. ^ "Cards Against Humanity Page on Kickstarter". Kickstarter Page For Cards Against Humanity. Archived from the original on August 9, 2011. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
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  11. ^ "Amazon Best Sellers, Toys and Games". Archived from the original on February 2, 2016.
  12. ^ Megan Graham (May 16, 2014). "Eight nerds get rich off a game where Oprah sobs into a Lean Cuisine". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on December 20, 2014. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  13. ^ "IndieCade Big Games 2011". Archived from the original on October 16, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
  14. ^ "Cards Against Humanity Expansion Sells Out in Three Days". Cards Against Humanity. Archived from the original on February 2, 2016.
  15. ^ Carlson, Nicholas. "Look What Happened When This Games Company Offered An Absurd '$5 More' Black Friday Deal". Business Insider. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  16. ^ "Cards Against Humanity calls bull**** on Black Friday, sells cow feces". Ars Technica. November 28, 2014. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  17. ^ Landau, Joel (December 16, 2014). "Cards Against Humanity sells 30,000 boxes of actual bull poop on Black Friday". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on December 16, 2014. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  18. ^ "Cards Against Humanity Has Made Over $54K Selling Nothing On Black Friday". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on November 27, 2016. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
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  21. ^ "Cards Against Humanity raises $100,000 to dig 'tremendous hole'". The Guardian. November 28, 2016. Archived from the original on November 29, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  22. ^ "Cards Against Humanity has filled in its giant hole to nowhere". CNET. Archived from the original on December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  23. ^ "Cards Against Humanity Sold Trump-Hating Potato Chips at Target for Black Friday". Adweek. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  24. ^ Saelinger, Tracy. "The maker of Pringles-style 'Prongles' chips is finally revealed". Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  25. ^ Crowrey, Chris (November 22, 2017). "Target Is Apparently Selling These 'Prongles' — and Nobody Knows Why". Grub Street. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  26. ^ Buckley, Sean. "Cards Against Humanity sells diamonds, TVs, actual money and more for 99% off". CNET. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  27. ^ "'This is 100% real and possibly a very bad idea': Cards Against Humanity is selling used cars, medieval weapons, TVs, and even $100 bills for 99% off". Business Insider. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  28. ^ "Cards Against Humanity's Black Friday A.I. Challenge". Cards Against Humanity. Retrieved March 14, 2022.
  29. ^ Passy, Jacob. "Cards Against Humanity skipped its annual Black Friday critique of capitalism and found something new". MarketWatch. Retrieved March 14, 2022.
  30. ^ "Cards Against Humanity Pays You $5 Sale". Cards Against Humanity Pays You $5 Sale. Retrieved March 14, 2022.
  31. ^ "Cards Against Humanity offers Carlin's 7 bad words for good cause". Archived from the original on February 2, 2016.
  32. ^ Sarkar, Samit (July 11, 2017). "Cards Against Humanity takes on the pink tax with 'for Her' box". Polygon. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
  33. ^ "Cards Against Humanity Release 'Hillary' and 'Trump' Expansions". Wired. Archived from the original on September 7, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  34. ^ a b "SWEET: Roskam faces super PAC billboards from 'The Nuisance Committee'". Archived from the original on October 11, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  35. ^ "Cards Against Humanity's super PAC buys anti-Trump billboard". September 29, 2016. Archived from the original on October 11, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  36. ^ Yerak, Becky. "Cards Against Humanity group put up 90-foot taunt of Donald Trump". Archived from the original on October 11, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  37. ^ Samuelson, Kate. "Anti-Trump Billboard With Arabic Message Erected in Michigan". Time. Archived from the original on December 22, 2016. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  38. ^ Jr, Cleve R. Wootson (October 18, 2016). "The billboard mocking Donald Trump: 'He can't read this'". Archived from the original on October 11, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017 – via
  39. ^ "The Cards Against Humanity super PAC posted a brilliant Trump takedown — in Arabic". October 18, 2016. Archived from the original on October 11, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  40. ^ "One of 2016's Coolest Anti-Trump Ads Has a Headline Most of You Won't Understand". Archived from the original on October 11, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  41. ^ Koerber, Brian. "Cards Against Humanity buys piece of the U.S. border so Trump can't build his wall". Mashable. Archived from the original on November 14, 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  42. ^ "Game Company 'Redistributes Wealth' in Latest Promotion". NBC Chicago. Retrieved December 10, 2017.
  43. ^ "Cards Against Humanity". Chicago Tribune Puzzler review. Archived from the original on February 25, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  44. ^ "Cards Against Humanity". Thrillist review. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  45. ^ "Cards Against Humanity page on BoardGameGeek". Archived from the original on June 7, 2011.
  46. ^ "Cards Against Humanity: A Party Game For Horrible People (UK Edition) Review" Archived April 7, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Games & Tea. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  47. ^ Brooks, Dan (October 7, 2016). "Letter of Complaint: Cards Against Humanity". The New York Times Magazine. Archived from the original on October 18, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2016.
  48. ^ Adamczyk, Laura (October 7, 2016). "A writer rails against Cards Against Humanity". The A.V. Club. The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on October 26, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2016.
  49. ^ Roy, Jessica. "'Cards Against Humanity' Co-Creator: Sorry for Transphobic Card". Splinter News. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  50. ^ Kleeman, Sophie. "The Absolute Worst "Cards Against Humanity" Card Has Been Discovered". Mic. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  51. ^ Strmic-Pawl, Hephzibah V.; Wilson, Rai-ya (July 24, 2016). "Equal Opportunity Racism? Review of Cards Against Humanity, Created by Josh Dillon, Daniel Dranove, Eli Halpern, Ben Hantoot, David Munk, David Pinsof, Max Temkin, and Eliot Weinstein, Distributed by Cards Against Humanity LLC". Humanity & Society. 40 (3): 361–364. doi:10.1177/0160597616653154. S2CID 147960292.
  52. ^ Director, Samuel (February 7, 2018). "The Inhumanity of Cards Against Humanity". Think. 17 (48): 39–50. doi:10.1017/S1477175617000318. S2CID 233360262.
  53. ^ "Cards Against Humanity". Cards Against Humanity. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  54. ^ Saxena, Jaya (December 17, 2014). "Why I quit playing Cards Against Humanity". The Daily Dot. Retrieved October 29, 2019.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]