Have you ever received something for your birthday that you really didn’t like? For me, it was clothes…every year, one or two of my presents would be clothes. I also received a stuffed animal once…I was thirteen. To be fair, I did get quite a few video games for the NES, though looking back…I’d qualify “Where’s Waldo” and “Bible Adventures” to be crappy birthday presents, even if I didn’t know it at the time. It’s the thought that counts though, right?
Crappy Birthday is a light card game that tasks players to do one thing and one thing only…to laugh. Okay, there’s a bit more to it than that…but nonetheless, laughing is the ultimate goal. Players will be taking turns becoming the Birthday Judge and will be receiving presents from other players. Points are awarded throughout the game as the current Birthday Judge picks the one that they dislike the most. Before we go any further, I’d like to thank Luke Warren from North Star Games for sending me a free review copy.
Let’s take a quick look at what came in the box and how the game is played.
Cards – Each card is a realistic (and humorous) photo of something, designed to be the gifts that players will be giving the Birthday Judge.
Each player is dealt a hand of five random cards and one person is chosen as the Birthday Judge. The rest of the players at that point will be known as the Gift Givers.
Each Gift Giver picks a card from their hand, one that they think the Birthday Judge will really dislike, and places it face down on the table. The Birthday Judge mixes up those cards before looking at them, reads them aloud, and chooses one of them. The players who originally owned that card will receive a point.
Players clean up the round by placing the gifts that were given into the discard pile and draw up to five cards. The role of the Birthday Judge moves around the table in a clockwise fashion as rounds are completed. The first person to earn three points wins the game!
The above is simply an overview of the game. To read more about the game in detail, you can check out the manual here:
Editor’s Note: The above manual is different from the one I received. The manual I linked is a 2nd edition that includes a few new rules. It should be noted that my review below includes these new rules, as we liked them better. The new rules call for the Birthday Judge to pick one they really like and one they really dislike. Points are awarded accordingly and the first to five points wins.
First, I’d like to say that I was very impressed by the realism on the cards. All of us really got a kick out of looking at the cards as they were revealed. After we were done playing our first game, we couldn’t help but go through the deck to look at all of them. This went on for a good ten, maybe twenty minutes, pausing briefly in between to let the inappropriate comments fly (don’t worry, they were PG-ish).
The game’s learning curve is practically non-existant…players will be able to pick up and play without giving the rules a second thought. Those who have played Apples to Apples will see a lot of similarities in terms of gameplay mechanics and social interaction. Players won’t need to come up with game breaking strategies to win…they’ll just need to be familiar with the people in the group. By the same token, playing this game with a complete group of strangers is a great way to make some new friends.
My only concern is that if you play with the same group of people over a long period of time, the cards will eventually recycle and they won’t be as funny. I hope that the folks at North Star Games have something in the works by way of expansion packs. We ran into similar problems when playing Apples to Apples at home, but we purchased a few different versions of the game and swapped them out from time to time to keep the cards semi-fresh. In the meantime, there’s a variant available on BoardGameGeek to help keep things interesting. For example, when playing with three or four players, Gift Givers can give the Birthday Judge two cards instead of one, though this potentially shortens the game as players can earn up to two points every round instead of one. If you go this route, my advice is to up the points needed to win to ten…it worked for us. For the record, we all enjoyed the two card rule over the one card rule.
Overall, Crappy Birthday is a great way to lighten the mood. It would make a great game to play at parties…the more people playing, the better. This game is user-friendly and would appeal to just about anyone. The only people to whom this game wouldn’t appeal are those who don’t have a sense of humor, so be sure to leave your SpongeBob CrabbyPants at home. If you’re a fan of games like Say Anything and Apples to Apples, then give this game a look!
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can read more about “Crappy Birthday” by visiting the North Star Games website and BoardGameGeek here: