June 4, 2016
Mad Libs: The Game is a very entertaining take on the idea of prompt-and-answer-style card games like Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity. It’s exceedingly fast to learn and provides a wonderful blend of innocent fun and clever (and sometimes shockingly inappropriate!) creative gameplay. This new card-based take on the old classic written-word game can be played by between three and eight players, and a game will generally last about 20-40 minutes, depending on the number of players. Each game is played over the course of multiple rounds, with the focus of each round to make a sentence. The ultimate goal of the game is to be the first player to get three points. Though – to be clear – the ultimate goal of the game is really to make the funniest or wackiest sentences possible, and keeping score ends up being quite secondary to that.
During each round, a Sentence card is revealed and all players choose appropriate Word cards to fill in the blanks. Each Sentence card has a number of blank spaces to which Word cards must be applied. For example, a Sentence card could be “Roses are [Adjective], [Plural Noun] are blue, [Plural Noun] are [Adjective], and so are you!”. Each Word card offers a different word used to fill in the blanks, with all variations of that word being color coded according to its grammatical part of speech. So an example Word card might feature “Imagine: Imagine (v); Imaginarily (adv); Imaginary (adj); Imagination(s) (n)”. Keeping the goal in mind of making the funniest sentence possible, each player chooses the Word cards from their hand that best fills the gaps in the featured Sentence card and puts those cards down in front of them. In our example above, a completed sentence could be: “Roses are imaginary, pizzas are blue, questions are frustrating, and so are you!”. All completed sentences are then read out loud by their owners and voted upon afterward by simply pointing at their favorite one. Each vote for a favorite sentence grants a point to the player who created it. (Pro-tip: because reading is done by the player who made their own sentence, you can use humorous enunciation in order to get the best effect out of your sentence instead of having to worry about how someone else might interpret your play).
One very minor issue that may crop up is that the Word cards can’t fit every possible iteration of a given word. This means that you might be in a situation where using the word “Shorts” would be hilarious, but the closest iteration on the “Short” card is “Shorties”. Since players read their own sentences, though, we’ve found that’s it’s acceptable to fudge the rules a little and sneak other word variations in as long as everyone is okay with that as a house rule. It also sometimes feels that having a hand-size of only seven Word cards is a little restrictive, so increasing each hand to ten might be a bit more more conducive to good plays. (The official rule of being able to discard and redraw any number of cards from your hand at the end of a round does mitigate this issue, though, and really adds a lot to gameplay). None of these tiny issues are a big deal, however, nor did they impact the fun-factor of any round of Mad Libs that we played. I found myself laughing out loud throughout most of the games, and enjoying the creative anticipation of playing my cards as well as the unexpectedness of other players’ answers.
Mad Libs: The Game is especially fantastic for younger players for a number of reasons. For one, the game certainly does not have to be taken in a crude direction. There are no Word cards that on their own that are politically-incorrect or designed for shock value. (If you are worried about Mad Libs: The Game being inappropriate or are simply curious about its contents, the official website has a complete card list available). It’s also excellent for teaching younger players about sentence structure – perhaps even better than the original Mad Libs. As both the Sentence and Word cards have color-coding based on parts of speech, players can quickly see the different forms of a word and understand how they relate to their use in the sentence. As a child, I certainly used the original Mad Libs to help learn about sentence structure, and I really wish this game had been around at that time!
Conversely, Mad Libs: The Game can also be very appealing to a more mature group of players with the interest of “twisting” the card meanings a bit. The game has no blatantly risqué cards, but if you’re playing with folks that enjoy double entendres and suggestive content, creative sentences that lean in that direction can definitely be created. We’ve found that in games like Cards Against Humanity, almost all the cards have intentional shock value which can end up getting stale, so having to be creative with things adds an element of investment in the game. Mad Libs also has a decent number of blank cards, so you can easily create your own Word and Sentence cards if you like – whether innocent, racy, or especially erudite.
Overall, Mad Libs: The Game is a great take on the card-matching party game, and it literally brings a lot of great things to the table. It especially shines as fast and fun family game that’s a really great way to unwind. It’s easy to get pretty much anyone to join in, and it’s likewise a simple matter to get new players to join in the next round at parties and gatherings, making it an excellent tool for making new friends.