Alternatives to Cards Against Humanity

However, that careful trepidation into going obscene is actually a descent into who can be the most offensive. It’s at that point that you stop playing a game that is charming and it becomes a competition in vulgarity.

It’s also, and I’m sorry to break it to you. Not a very good game. Objectively, it requires barely any strategy and simply playing the top card of the deck alongside your own entries will see the deck of cards picking up points as quickly as any human player. It’s a punchline generator but how much of that joke have you truly participated in?

Apples to Apples

If you like dem apples

Look, I don’t want to include Apples to Apples here but I’d be completely remiss to leave it out. It’s the game Cards Against Humanity is based and is, therefore, the most obvious replacement. The gameplay is exactly the same as players take turns being a judge and trying to make the best match. The judge picks a winner and that player gets a point.

Because of the more family-friendly theme this game works perfectly for younger players you might have in your group. It also plays four to ten people so scales well enough that it fits into our good alternative to Cards Against Humanity. Probably not for everyone though so we’ll move on.


If you fancy Dixit its here

Dixit is an absolutely beautiful game full of oversized cards each depicting a unique and ambiguous image. On your turn you say something about your chosen card, it can be a sound, a sentence, a word, a sonnet, pretty much anything you want to say about it. Then each player submits their own card secretly into a stack that is shuffled and then revealed. The game is then to guess which card the original player chose. 

The scoring has an interesting element because if everyone guesses your card or no one guesses your card you gain zero points. Instead, if there’s a situation between those two you gain three points and anyone else’s card got a guess gains one point. The game continues until the deck is empty and the winner is the player with the most points.

Dixit doesn’t scale to as many players as Cards Against Humanity , only playing for three to six players but it allows you to flex your creativity and deduction skills. Over the past few years, Dixit has been surpassed by Mysterium, a similar style of game that adds a layer of complexity to the game, which while welcome adds a level of thinking that perhaps pushes it beyond this category of alternatives.

Cash N Guns

Want to spend some cash? Its here

Cash N Guns is another older game that may have fallen out of favour that you should give another look to. Gameplay is very different to Cards Against Humanity, however, it really ticks the boxes that allow for more players and most importantly, lots of shouting at your friends.

The game sees you play the role of a gangster after a successful heist. Now you just have to split the loot up. Shouldn’t be too hard right? Aside from the fact you’re all armed and your greed demands you walk away with the lions share.

The main mechanic is bluffing your way out of trouble. You can defend your cash grab with your foam gun. Unfortunately, you’ve spent half a round during the heist, with only three bullets and some duds, can you manage to convince your colleagues to back out of the fight to avoid being shot?

It’s a silly game for four to eight players and lasts around 30 minutes but the silliness and volume of the game can truly escalate in that time.


Fancy your own copy? Its here

In recent years, Codenames would easily sit in this spot as a fun team game that sits well in the six to eight-player category. But Decrypto changed it up, levelling out the difficulty and allowing the laughs to be shared with the entire team rather than sitting on the edge of the table, alone with only your inner monologue as your companion.

You see in Decrypto, you split into teams and have four secret words that the other team is trying to guess. Each turn, one player on the team gets a secret code with three numbers relating to those words. That player on the team then has to give one-word clues to allude to the code. Before your own team can guess though, the other team has a chance and if they are successful they gain a point. First to two correct guesses wins. However, part of the beauty of the game is that if your team fails to guess correctly you gain an incorrect token. Similarly, if you fail twice, you lose the game.

So there’s a tightrope of trying to be discreet enough that the other team can’t guess your clue but still manage to get your team (who a reminder, can see the original words) to understand you.

It requires a lot more thought than the other games in this list but manages to be absolutely hilarious and games are very quick allowing for mixing up the teams and just one more game.

Say Anything

Obligatory Shopping Link Here

Finally, in my list of alternatives, we arrive at Say Anything. A fun party game that just unleashes your own in-jokes, wit and intelligence in a game where you are the brains behind the answers and therefore deserves the praise for your funny quips, retorts and remarks.

The game plays for three to eight and on each turn a different play poses a question. It’s then up to the other players to answer that question secretly on a mini dry-erase board. Then in turn each player reveals their answer (hopefully to much hilarity). Then, the question-poser (probably not the official term) secretly selects their favourite answer. The other players bid on the winner. They have two tokens allowing them to spread their bets or go all in. The favourite answer is then revealed and points are dished out.

This game is pure fun. It allows you to say anything (sorrynotsorry) in response to a varied set of questions and that freedom of expression is what makes it surpass the punchline generator of Cards Against Humanity. 


There’s more games you could look to; Spyfall, Exploding Kittens, Wits and Wagers, Resistance Avalon and more but the main point is, there are fun alternatives to play. These alternatives will not only let you avoid the murky and quite frankly tired jokes you’ve made before but give you a sense of accomplishment for the great jokes, the great plays and the great times you have playing with your friends.


You Didn’t Play CAH, They Played You.

Over the years it has cemented itself in the bestseller lists and very few come close to how impactful it’s been in tabletop gaming. Considering its success, it’s interesting how unassuming and unknown the makers of the game are to the general public.

And it’s because, like a marketing agency nefariously operating in the background, so are the creators of Cards Against Humanity. Why is that? Well, the eight creators behind CAH aren’t in fact game designers, they are a marketing company.

If you truly think about it, Cards Against Humanity isn’t a game, it’s a PR stunt. For the past couple of decades, PR agencies across the world have been “remixing” things to generate attention for their clients. Whether that’s pizza for bees, Christmas dinner but in a can (twice), Greggs upscaling as Gregory & Gregory or selling Apples to Apples but with dark-humoured answers.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s done so often because it works. And more importantly, it’s worked very well for the CAH company. These marketers are bloody good at their job. Can you honestly name a tabletop marketing campaign? Off the top of my head, all I know are the ones that CAH did. 

Just as tabletop gaming was becoming more mainstream (thank goodness) they made more noise and drove more attention to themselves through a slew of PR stunts than any other company has ever attempted.

Not only have they managed to make noise, they’ve done it annually on Black Friday. On a day when all companies are vying for your attention, CAH marketing has risen above the rest and got noticed.

The First Stunt

It first started in 2013, with many companies racing to the bottom with their prices to shift stock, Cards Against Humanity, zigged when everyone else zagged. They, actually, raised the price for their game by $5.

The result? Articles in The Guardian, USA Today, Polygon, Buzzfeed and more. And wide-spread attention on Reddit, a key target audience for the product.

One of the designers of CAH, Max Temkin blogged about their first Black Friday ‘anti-sale’ on Tumblr, sadly now deleted but still accessible via the web archive. In it, Temkin says it took a while to convince his colleagues, but the resulting sales for the day were “A little better than last year” [2012] and managed to hold onto the top spot in Amazon’s Best Sellers charts. Not only that, they saw a bump in sales the day after as buyers were waiting for the price to return to normal. 

With quoting Max Temkin, it needs to be stated he was the subject of a number of serious allegations which saw the rest of the CAH management team issue a strong statement in response, launching internal investigations and saw Temkin leave the company.

Senseless Stunts

You could consider that if that first stunt hadn’t worked, there wouldn’t be any bigger, greater attempts. But it did work. The attention that stunt generated enticed the CAH team to create an annual event, doubling down on being pointless, yet news-worthy.

The next year saw a brand new sale. To buy bullshit. Actual, real-life excitement from a bull. Which sold out in under two hours. That meant 30,000 people received boxes of shit.

That’s right. 30,000 people actually agreed to this.

It’s said people were surprised to find out what they had bought…was actually what they had bought.

There is an interesting twist to this stunt though. This is the first year CAH donates money to charity and while I’m cynical enough to believe it might be for the added media attention it does add a more lovable roguish aspect to the stunts. 

I won’t go into detail of all the stunts, from 2015 onwards, CAH has allowed people to give the team $5, allowed people to pay to dig a big hole, released a Pringle’s knock-off named Prongles, had a 99% sale off of items CAH had around their office and last year pitted their writing team versus an artificial intelligence to see who was funnier.

As the years have progressed, so has their revenue. Last year’s AI battle brought in over $170,000 to the company on the day and I’m sure countless sales of the two expansions that were created from it.

Quantity and Quality.

2017 things get more interesting. The makers of CAH take it up a notch with two additional campaigns that get them noticed.

The first is a continuation of their classic stunt playbook. The day after the Superbowl they post an article about the failure of their Superbowl ad. Not only does it poke fun at traditional advertising strategies but also names one of the world’s largest agencies, Wieden+Kennedy and claims they were “burdened by conventional thinking”.

Of course, the stunt being, they never actually aired a Superbowl ad. 

If ever there was a moment to announce you’re opening up as an agency, this was it. Yet, they didn’t. They drew a lot of attention and then went back to the drawing boards to see what they could come up with next.

And once they had got their traditional Black Friday shenanigans out of the way with, they started with the second of their additional campaigns this year. With a much loftier goal:

Cards Against Humanity Saves America

With a taste for bigger and bolder, CAH struck again with a bigger marketing campaign called Cards Against Humanity Saves America which shifts gears to be a more purposeful campaign. Which, if you’ve ever been to a PR or Marketing panel event in 2017 (or since, I mean seriously…) you’ll know was all the rage. 

It was simple, you pay $15 and you’ll get a tiny bit of land  at the Mexican and American border to disrupt Trump’s border wall plan along with six more surprises.

However, to be fair to them, they weren’t tepid in their language. They went into it in full force.

Donald Trump is a preposterous golem who is afraid of Mexicans. He is so afraid that he wants to build a twenty-billion dollar wall that everyone knows will accomplish nothing.

CAH Press Release

In many cases, brands will make the mistake of trying to be progressive without actually taking any real action or using a completely beige language.

Your marketing experts did neither.

And it worked. They saved America got lots of media attention and sold out after a few hours. 

If you’re interested the campaign website is still live today and you can read more about the surprises, which all tackled pertinent issues at the time. However, it seems to be the last politically driven campaign the company has released. Whether the work that went into it didn’t equate to sales, or if the partisan tone didn’t sit well with half of their audience, who knows.

Cards Against Familiarity

With 2020 offering a wealth of inspiration, what’s next for the party game for terrible people? When you’ve offended everyone there is to upset to get noticed, promoted stunts that haven’t happened and seen your game stocked by every major retailer on the high-street where’s left to go?

You can enjoy the print and play version for free here

For the game that set itself apart as the party game for horrible people, it’s a little jarring to see it rebooted as a family-friendly title, but with blockbuster films, video games and mainstream all targeting the lucrative PG13 audience.

A smart agency would certainly be pitching something similar, it’s marketing 101 to expand your audience segment but surely stems outside the boundaries of the company’s core values. 

What’s more interesting though, is this comes out a couple of months after the company got into the news for allegations of a sexist and racist workplace. News that may have bypassed the many parents who have heard about CAH in passing & can now buy a version that all can play during the coming holidays.

Whatever your feelings towards the game, not only has it consistently sold, the people behind the game have out-marketed the rest of the tabletop industry for years. And it’s not the product that’s achieved that. The one lesson all the edge-y games on Kickstarter who hope to repeat their success should learn is, having some dark humour in your game doesn’t guarantee success. 

No, it’s the years and years of wild marketing ploys, schemes and stunts that keeps people talking about you.

You thought you played Cards Against Humanity? Think again, they played you.