Monday, 23 May 2016

The Cards Against Humanity Effect

I once went to a gaming cafe for an MMO meet-up and after the thrill of getting 40-odd strangers together with nothing more than a guild in common with each other we all sort of settled down into our cliques and waited the day out. One group called out that familiar "Who wants to play Cards Against Humanity!?" to which quarter of the room joined in with what was a fuster-cluck of a game where half of the 10 players couldn't hear what was going on and completely dis-regarded the end game in favor of getting those shining moments.

You know the moments right? The moments that you will share later on in geeky discussions as part of a round table of funny memories. The moments you share out whenever you talk about your favorite games with like-minded people. Cards Against Humanity is built around this factor, its the whole game. A certain black card comes down and suddenly you're back to the day you first slapped down the greatest white card ever and the whole table gasped in "I shouldn't laugh but I am" horror and for those glorious 15 seconds, you were the worst human being in the room.

Now, I hate Cards Against Humanity but I can respect it's effect. I hate it because it is a game without end and it's very much a game that's waiting for the card combos that get highlighted whenever other groups play it. "Winning the game" doesn't matter as much as "What's the most horrible &/or funniest random white card I have". I've played MTG multiplayer games that went on for 6 hours where no one was winning or progressing to end-game, I've played Apocalypse 40K games that lasted FOREVER and quite frankly, I've done my time. Playing a game that doesn't end simply stops being fun for me and it dilutes the simple joy of tabletop gaming.

What I can respect though is the Cards Against Humanity effect, where a game becomes more than just a decent way to spend time. RPGs are ruthless in this regard, as are most tabletop games where special moments are collected in one's mind and are brought forward by geeky discussions and continue to multiply with each proceeding game.
A Munchkin game where my friend ended up with 3 arms that were holding a total of three one-handed weapons and another 2 handed weapon (Due to the "Cheating" card) and absolutely wreaking everything in his path with no way to screw him over.
Take Malifaux, where the Red Joker absolutely saved or ruined a game, those times where a Black joker has occurred only to turn into the Red Joker because the attack still got through or how a certain upgrade made one model an absolute beast against a certain opposing model. 
My recent games of AMP where my friend's character "Dr Chaos" in a chase scene I lovingly crafted as a finale to a session was ended by him dumping all resources into an attack then crit'ed that MOFO rendering the THREE trucks Two-Dimensional by sheer power of Force Blast. A fine way to end a day of critical fails and subsequent dice shaming.
My Gf's character "Dr Hu" (Yes, jokes were made) in the session before that rained down hot death in a basement brawl. She managed to roll really high steamrolling my difficulty modifiers thus enabling her to stab a needle directly into a clones brain via eardrum. Next turn managing to tear said needle from this guys ear, ripping through another clone's jugular and ending the needle stabbed into a third clone's face.

(Pro-tip, if my Gf ever has free reign to do anything without consequence, don't piss her off.)

It's these stories that stay in our mind and proliferate in our discussions of gaming memories with friends and strangers alike. These creations of nothing more than our own imaginations getting a jump-start from rule sets and game designers; something you don't get in such magnitude from video games or movies. It's a great thing that stimulates the mind when you get together again with friends old and new. This is what, in my mind, makes C.A.H such a resounding force of getting complete strangers to get together, that simple joy of sitting down and creating "happy" memories.

That and generally allowing everyone to be an awful person without consequence or blame. "What would Grandma find disturbing, yet oddly charming?"  "Big Black Dick" What? It's Cards against Humanity!

Don't let the demons get out and have fun out there.

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