Good Natured, Humiliating, Bloody Good Time: Card Game Edition


by Kevin Rigdon

Are you just a little demented?  Do you find that Bridge, Rook, Go Fish or Crazy 8’s are not what you’re looking for in good, wholesome family entertainment?  Here are a couple of card games that are fun for the whole family, or your weird friends, or the jerks who come over and eat all your Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

“Guillotine” by Wizards of the Coast

Contents: 50-card Nobles deck and a 60-card action deck, a cardboard Guillotine and rules booklet.

Homemade Tagline: Guillotine: Because who doesn’t love the French Revolution and playing the part of an executioner trying to cleave more French noggins than your rival executioners?

Few events throughout history inspire as much hilarity and fun as bitter and bloody revolutions.  Welcome to Guillotine, the card game based on the French Revolution.  In this game for 2–5 players, each player takes the role of an executioner.  The object of the game is quite simple: gain the most points by putting heads into your basket.  But the tricky bit is that other players are trying to collect the most influential heads while messing with yours at the same time.

Play begins with 12 Nobles placed face-up, all lined up leading to the cardboard stand-up guillotine (the version I have has the guillotine).  But it’s not all Marie Antoinettes and Robes Pierres.  Sometimes there are innocent people that get dragged up to the chopping block, and woe betide the hapless headsman who takes the heads of the innocent.  Our executioners have to be discriminating in their head-chop-offing.  Through playing action cards on your turn, you get to make changes to the line, and hopefully collect the head of the Bad Nun instead of the Tragic Figure or Martyr.  Play continues through 3 ‘days,’ or turns.  A day ends when there are no Nobles left in line to behead.  So the next day (turn), 12 new Nobles are marched up.  You gain positive points for the Nobles, but negative points for the innocent people you behead.  So, the end of the 3 days, the executioner with the most points wins.  It’s history made fun!

“Lunch Money” by Atlas Games

Contents: Two 55-card decks and rules. For more than 4 players, 2 core sets are required.

Homemade Tagline: Lunch Money: Playing cards just isn’t fun unless you’re beating the crap out of each other and stealing loose change.

As a nerdling, I was always on the bruised side of fights.  Well, it seems the guys over at Atlas Games similarly suffered many bruisings, but they found a creative way to deal with that pain.  They’ve created a card game with a wickedly delightful premise: all the players are kids on the playground, and the object is to knock everyone else unconscious and take their lunch money.  Each player begins with 15 counters (your lunch money), and are dealt 5 cards.  The cards are various types of kicks, punches, blocks, weapons, and so forth.  Each card has a number associated with it and on a successfully landed attack, you take that number of counters from your victim.

Part of the fun of this game, other than the satisfying thought of a roundhouse kick to the face (executed through playing cards, of course), is the cards themselves.  Aside from some delightfully disturbing imagery is some fantastic flavor text.  I’m listing two of my favorites:

Humiliation (during play, you are encouraged to go into as much detail as possible to humiliate the victim of this card): “Jesus hates you and so do I.”

Stomp: “I shall stomp upon all who oppose me.  The stomping shall be swift.  The stomping shall be painful.  And I shall show no mercy in all of my stomping.  Amen.”

Games, and games designers, have come a long way.  Not only are the mechanics of these games simple to learn, they are quite deceptive because they allow for great combinations and strategies.  And because they are not collectable, you won’t have to worry about having all the best cards.  Everything is included in the core set.  Atlas Games’ Lunch Money even has an expansion called Sticks and Stones.  So, branch out.  Enjoy a little nerdy humor with your strategy, and infuse a little card-flavored violence into your next game night.

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