I don’t want to be accused of not covering all bases on Tabletop Tales. So it’s time to take a break from heavier titles and have a look at the more accessible games that are fun for all – the party game.
As I have discussed before, board games are very much back in vogue and the industry is seeing unprecedented levels of engagement. Spearheading that assault on the mainstream is the party game subgenre. These games tend to be heavily focused on player interaction, can accommodate many more players than the average 2-5 of most games and tend to be wickedly amusing.
No doubt many readers will be familiar with the insanely popular Cards Against Humanities (CAH) – many of you will have likely played it as well. Those who haven’t, have you been living under a rock for the past 5 years?!
CAH was born from a successful Kickstarter campaign in January 2011 and is a rude, crude and politically incorrect fill-in-the-blank card game that is essentially a twisted reworking of the Apples to Apples game. Self described as “a game for horrible people”, CAH has been an overwhelming commercial juggernaut, and brought demand back to the party game genre. They even give the game away as free as a downloadable PDF on their website, so its very easy to try before you buy.
While it’s a great gaming experience, the real success was its igneous marketing campaigns that drew global attention to the title, and to the gaming world as whole. Each year they run a Black Friday campaign. One year they literally sold nothing for $5 a go and raised an incredible $71,145 with it all being donated to charity. The following year they increased all their prices by $5 for the day, with charity once again reaping the benefits. And if that doesn’t impress you enough, in 2014 to mark the Black Friday craze they sold the “Bullshit expansion” for $6 which was a little box containing the faeces of a male cow – and raised $180,000!!
In fact, CAH has donated over $4m to charities since its inception and that good will, and along with the PR antics, have brought more and more people to the game. This in turn has lead to millions of people Googling “games like Cards Against Humanities” and hundreds of clone games being spawned from around the globe.
CAH aside, the party game subgenre is truly at the top of the pile just now as Codenames, a party game designed by Vlaada Chvatil, has just won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres for 2016 – basically the Oscar for best board game!
However, for this weeks Tabletop Tales I want to focus on a somewhat hidden gem of a party game that appeared in the aftermath of CAH’s march to global domination. Its so good that it is actually one of my favourite games ever: Funemployed.
So simple, yet so mind-blowing brilliant, Funemployed is composed from a beautifully simplistic recipe:
- Take 72 real life professions cards.
- Provide 320 randomly bizarre qualification cards.
- Add in a sprinkle of over exuberant thespian infused Charades.
- Utilise a job interview scenario.
- Laugh yourself silly.
- Get hired for your dream job!
- Rinse and repeat!
Boundless fun from less than 400 playing cards! Where other games similar in style to CAH start to become repetitive over time as you learn the cards, Funemployed is kept fresh by the whole Charades process of applying for the job and the horrible acting that accompanies it.
It’s tag line is simply: “The satirical job application party game. Real jobs. Unreal qualifications.”
Designer Anthony Costa brought Funemployed to Kickstarter in 2014 and following its successful campaign was quickly snapped up by Rob Daviau and his IronWall Games company who brought it back to Kickstarter for its second, much more successful, print run in 2015 and eventual general sale.
So what are some of the cards? Well the jobs are very much the real deal – everything from astronaut, to lawyer to celebrity impersonator is included in the game – with a few more less common but highly desirable jobs like fortune cookie writer also available. And the skills? Well one of my personal favourite is the ability to speak panda and think that perfectly sums up the scope of what we are dealing with. Its all about selling it to fit your story – explain why a having your own soundproof room makes you qualified to be a priest!
The mechanics of the game also bring a refreshing dynamic to the “fill in the black” gameplay. Each “candidate” is dealt four skill cards by the employer and a further ten cards are dealt face up in the centre of the play area – we call this the “University of Life”. The employer then sets a time for preparing for your interview – as long or as little as they see fit – and in this time each player can swap out any of his skill cards for one from the ten in the centre. Naturally, this causes a lot of jostling and swapping of cards. When the time is up, the employer calls potential employees one by one and each player must pitch on why they should get the job, playing the four skill cards in their hand to direct their appeal.
This game is perfect for those family get-togethers where you are looking for something that can entertain your cousins hyper active 8-year old as well as your great aunt Mavis. While there are definitely more risqué cards within the deck that can be removed to make it more child friendly, the emphasis is more on the execution and delivery of the skill cards and that’s were the PG certificate can very easily go out the window. Sure, play it with a group of friends while having a drink or two and this can descend into something as rude and crude as CAH could ever hope to be. Its overwhelming mass appeal is that players set the tone of the game.
Funemployed is fantastic. It takes little bits of things that are just OK, and smashes them together into a clever, accessible and hilarious game. Not restricted by any over stringent rules, its a very natural game that moulds itself around the players. While my first few times playing CAH sent me into uncontrollable fits of laughter, the humour in Funemployed feels much more organic. Not only is it putting funny cards together, it is the desperate act of pulling that randomness into a coherent structure.
If you are a very reserved individual, this game won’t be for you. The more flamboyant and outrageous you are, the more you will fall head over heels for this game. If you fall into the later, get this game. You will not regret it.
And who knows, you may just pick up on invaluable interview practises, or realise that you are naturally suited to a profession you never imagined, like and altar boy or stripper!
Next week on Tabletop Tales I will be putting my Pirating Dominatrix profession to the text as I take a look at the evolution of Snakes & Ladders with a pirate themed gateway game…