I backed The Catholic Card Game on Kickstarter, so I was recently rewarded for my efforts with a delivery of the game and the expansion pack. For those who are unaware, The Catholic Card Game is a Catholic version of the wildly popular but highly inappropriate “Cards Against Humanity” game. The creator of the game has not acknowledged that the game is a Catholic version of an already popular game (probably due to not wanting to be sued or compared to a game many find immoral). In any case, I want to tell you about it.
The game follows Cards Against Humanity’s minimalist design. White cards with plain writing are accompanied by yellow cards with plain writing as well. The yellow cards are essentially what the black cards are in Cards Against Humanity. I like the choice to go with yellow because it makes the two card colors in the game the two predominant colors on the Vatican flag. I do not know if that was intentional or not, but it is very fitting.
Gameplay flows as it normally does for any game like Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples. Players take turns reading off yellow cards, and everyone else plays white cards that they think best fits with that card. The player reading the yellow card and deciding who played the best white card(s) is called the Judge, a name with Biblical roots. There are even more biblical allusions in the game. Each player plays with seven cards in their hand (one for each day, the directions say), and play continues until a player collects seven yellow cards (Players keep the yellow cards for which their answer deemed the best).
There are also optional house rules that can be utilized. One includes punishing players who forget to draw up to seven cards after each round by making them play with fewer cards for the remainder of the game. My favorite was each round a random white card from the draw pile is played and competes with the other cards. This creates a situation where the game itself can collect seven yellow cards and defeat everyone playing.
The cards themselves are basically what you would expect from a Catholic card game based on Cards Against Humanity. There are plenty of biblical and Catholic spirituality/cultural references. There are even some “Catholic” celebrities, like Mark Wahlberg, and Catholic “celebrities,” like Matt Fradd featured on the cards. Some of the cards are funny in their own right (e.g. “An attractive seminarian”). Others are generic enough to be to be funny only in certain situations.
I must say, I am a little disappointed in the cards. There is not enough nuance to them. They are all Catholic references, and it causes the game to get tiresome rather quickly. Moreover, it makes the game only fun for people who are heavily steeped in Catholic culture. People who do not pay attention to Catholic social media accounts or simply do not have the time to learn about all of the popular topics and people in the Catholic bubble will not be able to fully enjoy this game. I would prefer if there were some secular, but not inappropriate, cards included as well. It would give the game an added dimension that would help broaden its appeal. I also felt the number of yellow cards was too small. Buying the expansions will help with this problem. Also, I spotted a typo on one of the cards. “Abrahams reaction to learning he had to circumcise himself” is missing an apostrophe. It should be “Abraham’s.” Not to be the spelling police, but it does reflect the quality of the product.
I feel the expansions add more nuance to the game, but most of them are disappointing. The Pints with Aquinas cards are far too Aquinas-heavy. If the cards are not shuffled well, you could end up with only Aquinas-related cards being played. The Catching Foxes cards and the Catholic Crunch Cards have some references to inside jokes on those podcasts which means nothing to people who don’t listen to those podcasts. There are also a couple of cards where those two podcasts make fun of each other which, again, alienates those who do not listen to those podcasts.
The best cards in The Catholic Card Game, however, come from the Tomics expansion cards. Not only are the pictures great, but they also have the best captions. My favorite card in the game is “Disappointed Jesus.” Also, is not the “Being attacked by swine” image terrifying?
I have three tips for those who play this game:
- Shuffle well. The game is a lot more fun and works better when there is a diversity of cards in play. The game comes with similar cards all grouped together which makes it hard to come up with entertaining responses to the yellow cards’ prompts.
- Play with a lot of people. Because of my impending deadline for my next EpicPew post, my event where I invited friends to help me test the game was last-minute, and it was sparsely attended. The game was a lot more entertaining when we started playing as multiple people. I, at one point, was playing on behalf of myself and three other imaginary people.
- Play with the right people. These types of games are only fun if you play with people who have the right personality for the game.
The Catholic Card Game is fun and worth trying. However, due to some of the limitations I mentioned above, it was somewhat disappointing. My rating of The Catholic Card Game might be unduly influenced by the unreasonably high expectations I had for this game. However, I still maintain that this game has the potential to be better, and this is something that can be improved through expansion packs.
P.S. If Matt Martinusen, the creator of The Catholic Card Game, is reading this, I have some great ideas to share for future expansion packs.