There are two types of people. Upon being taught the basic rules of A Game for Good Christians the first group will say, “so it plays like Apples to Apples” and the second group will say, “so it is like Cards against Humanity.” Both games share a similar rule structure with this one. Apples to Apples is an innocent game of funny word mashups. Cards against Humanity is anything but innocent. It relies on crude wordplay and shock value humor would make most “good Christians” blush. It may come as something as a surprise then that between those two extremes A Game for Good Christians is more like the crude game . It may be an even bigger surprise that despite that, this is still a game for good Christians. This game manages to be deeply rooted in the truth of scriptures while making a fair share of poop jokes. This is an incredibly unexpected game that delivers an experience unlike anything else. The question is if this is a game for good Christians, then is it a game for you?
A Game for Good Christians is a party game. From experience it seems that five to seven is about the ideal number of players. There are enough cards to support more, but the games gets a bit unwieldy when the player count gets too high. The game consists of two decks of cards. The black cards are judge cards and the white cards, called canon cards, are scriptural based answer cards . This game is a “judging game” which is a common game type that has really risen in popularity.
Each player will take turns being a the judge. The judge will reveal the top card of the judge deck, and this card will have a blank to be filled in. For example the Judge card might say “Jesus wept for _____.” or “The next self help book for Good Christians is about _____.” The other players will then pick one of the seven cards from their hands to fill in the blank.
The white cards that are used to fill in the blank all draw their inspiration from scripture. In fact the vast majority of these cards are paraphrases straight from the Bible, and they include the scripture reference. For instance Leviticus 18:7 states: “Do not dishonor your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; do not have relations with her.” The card in this game states it more bluntly:
All of the chosen cards are mixed up and then revealed, often to comedic effect. The judge pick the answer they like the best. The game recommends some specific criteria that can be used such as which statement makes the best sermon topic or which statement is the most biblically accurate. Whoever played the picked card gets to keep the black card as a point.
The next player around the table will become the new judge, and draws a new card for the other players to fill in the blank. The game continues until one player collects five points.
What I Liked
Several other party games have a very similar rule structure, and there is a good reason for that. This game is extremely accessible. Even someone who rarely plays games will have not have any problems jumping right into this game. The barrier to entry is low, and judging games like this are some of the best games at getting everyone engaged.
The best element of this game are the canon cards. It is obvious that a lot of work went into these cards, and they are well done. Nearly all of these cards paraphrase scripture in a way that is suggestive or snarky. The genius part is that despite a few missteps the cards are by and large true to scripture. The intentional care taken in making these card show that the designers have a deep respect for the holy scriptures. This game is actually a bit of a commentary on how Christians treat the bible. We tend to sugar coat it and we try too hard to smooth out the rough edges. This game elevates the rough edges, it refuses to cover up how real the scripture is, and it lifts up that the Bible is a messy book written for faithful people trying to live in a messy world. Playing this game will almost always bring up questions of “Is that really in there?” This is a frivolous party game, but it is one that can easily lead to deeper conversation. That makes this game something truly remarkable.
What I Did Not Like
The rules of this game are accessible, but that does not necessarily mean that the rules are great. This and other judging games tend to be fragile. Not every card answer card works for every fill in the blank. Usually for every round one or two answers are really funny, and the other answers tend to be throwaways. This game is humor by randomness. Randomness can be funny, but often it is inane and not really humorous. When a player goes three or four rounds with feeling like they have junk cards it becomes less engaging. Another issue with the humor in this game is it tends to play to the lowest common denominator. All groups are different, but it has been my experience that if a card makes reference to genitalia, sex, or bodily waste it is more likely to win. After several rounds of this, it can begin to all feel a bit eye roll inducing.
This problem hints at what I think is the biggest problem with the game. I played this with a group of college students in a church small group setting. It was an overall great, memorable, and honestly educational experience. After it was all done one of the students said, “It’s fun, but it’s not for everyone.”
That is an extremely valid critique of this game. While it is playable by all, this game is really meant for people who are Christian or at least well versed in and appreciate the Bible. The reality is that there are Christians who are not going to like playing this game because of the off-color jokes the game tries to set up. For some of those people the decision to avoid that kind of humor is an intentional one as part of living a more holy life. This game is for a fairly limited audience, and it might be hard to find a group that really connects with and enjoys the experience.
Chances are if you are even considering getting this game, your probably already have a good idea if it is a good game for you. This game is not for everyone, but for those good Christians who’s conscious allows them to get a little crass in their humor this game can be fun. More importantly, this game will almost always be educational and illuminating. I personally will probably not get it out that often because it does require the right group. However, I am looking forward to a denominational clergy gathering because I know that it will be a blast to play this game with some of my clergy colleagues. A Game for Good Christians as a MSRP of $35 and it is available from www.agameforgoodchristians.com