Hello again. It’s been a minute. Later this year House Rules is coming back to Kickstarter.
If you don’t know what House Rules is, the next few posts are going to bring us all (even me!) up to speed about the game.
House Rules began as a silly game where a group of friends was writing crazy things on cards, tinkering with mechanics, and figuring things out as they went. This is the soul of the game, but it has evolved; the rough areas sanded down, and become an experience focused on big moments and laughs.
One of the inspirations is Cards Against Humanity (CAH). The humor of the game struck me and inspired the weapon cards in House Rules. The weapons themselves are absurd, but when they are paired and clash together it evokes a great feeling just like in CAH.
At its core, CAH is a game about deciding between the least terrible of equally bad choices. A lot of the fun derived from the game is crafting super funny jokes, but without the accountability for the bad, and sometimes cruel humor. A player could throw things out like “Not giving a shit about the third world”, and it was okay because the joke didn’t belong to the player, it belonged to the game. This is one of the main criticisms against the game, and while I think its valid, it’s also the reason the game is so effective. This firewall exists in between player and game all the time, not just in CAH, and helps sustain the player fantasy; CAH just leverages it heavily.
In CAH, the game comes with white cards that are completely blank, and the intention is for enterprising players to write their own irreverent and funny cards that let people cut loose and be funny in their own way. In theory this is a great idea. It encourages players to get into the spirit of the game and impress their friends with their razor sharp wit.
I think in practice these blank cards fail for a couple reasons.
Writing funny jokes is REALLY HARD. CAH even acknowledges it in a tongue and cheek way and sells a pack of blank white and black cards called “Cards Against Humanity: Your Shitty Jokes.”
Using the blank cards also breaks the firewall between player and game that I mentioned earlier; the jokes don’t belong to the game anymore, they belong to you. It’s intimidating to write something that turns a fleeting thought into something that will exist forever in card form.
My main goal for House Rules is improving on the idea of the blank card. The weapons in the game are absurd and complete, but thrown into the mix are weapons with mad-lib style blank lines for the player to fill in themselves or complete blank slates that the player can go wild with:
I’ve even had playtests where people have drawn pictures.