Like most things in the 21st century, it’s now possible to play Cards Against Humanity online with friends and family without spending a single penny. All that’s required is a computer or smartphone, an internet connection, a webcam and some friends to play with. I guess that’s me out then…
For those unaware of the hugely popular playing card game, Cards Against Humanity challenges players to come up with the funniest quote possible, with the most inappropriate often being the winner of the round. It’s not a science - there’s no need for brains or foreplanning - just try and create the most hilarious, outlandish statement you can.
You can buy the cards, and a bunch of expansions, via the Cards Against Humanity site in the UK, US and Australia, and the company also offers a free downloadable PDF that lets you create your own set of playing cards at home - perfect for the Coronavirus pandemic.
But what about your quarantine buddies? You can’t exactly pop round for a quick game when you’re supposed to be socially isolating. That’s where the joy of the internet comes into play: you can access Cards Against Humanity online in various forms, and we outline the best right here.
Cards Against Humanity Lab
Pro: Gives you a glimpse at upcoming expansion themes.
Con: Single-player only.
Yes, there is an official way to play Cards Against Humanity online, but it’s not the social experience you’d expect.
You see, Cards Against Humanity Lab allows you to play one-on-one with an AI. Once presented with your black and white cards, you’ll have to select your favourite or declare that none are funny and request a few more.
The point, unlike with the main game, isn’t for you to have fun. Instead, it’s teaching the AI which cards are best, and it’s likely that this information will be used when selecting new cards for expansions in future - there are certainly cards in the Lab that aren’t available in any current expansion, and that can break up the monotony if you’re a CAH veteran.
Although the early access nature means that some of them are a bit of a ‘swing-and-a-miss’, the AI can do a great job at serving up some pretty spectacular combinations, so there’s still something to like here. But, as mentioned, it’s a one-player experience so not ideal if you want to virtually meet up and have a game with friends. For that, you’ll have to opt for a third-party option.
Pro: Multiplayer support - up to 6 players.
Con: Lack of autonomy can make it annoying to play after a while.
If you’re looking for a simplistic Cards Against Humanity experience with up to six players, playingcards.io’s Remote Insensitivity is probably the best choice.
We know it’s not the name of the game in question, but as the site explains on Twitter, the name change was necessary to comply with the Cards Against Humanity trademark. Crucially, the CAH card text is being licensed under Creative Commons so Remote Insensitivity has the same cards as the main game, making it a valid way of playing CAH with friends online.
To access the game, head to playingcards.io and select Remote Insensitivity to get started. From there, click Start Game, share the link with friends or family members and select Enter Game to get started.
The UI itself is very simplistic: you’ll see a digital board with black and white cards near the top - with discard piles - along with a space to play the white cards in the middle, winning piles for black cards to the left and right and, finally, a large white box at the bottom of the screen. While other players can see cards just about everywhere on the board, the white box is your private area where you can analyse your cards away from prying eyes.
The simplistic nature is continued with the mechanics; unlike most online card games, you have to do almost everything yourself, whether that’s dealing cards, discarding them, placing them on the board and more. Some could argue it makes the experience more lifelike, but it can get a bit annoying after a while.
Still, it is a free way to enjoy the base Cards Against Humanity game, even if it isn’t actually called Cards Against Humanity.
Pretend You’re Xyzzy
Pro: Features base cards and all expansions too.
Con: Complicated UI.
While Remote Insensitivity is a great start for those of you that want to play CAH against friends online, the six-member limit can be a bit, well, limiting. That’s where Pretend You’re Xyzzy comes in. Like Remote Insensitivity, it boasts different branding due to licensing issues, but Pretend You’re Xyzzy features the same cards as the base game, and all the expansions too.
Head to the website, input a unique username, click Create Game, share the URL with your friends and customise the game rules while you wait for the room to populate. It’s certainly not the best-looking UI and it can be downright confusing at times, but it provides more depth than other options, making it a great option for veteran players.
You can add expansion packs mid-game, tweak the rules whenever you like and even let people be spectators, watching the fun without actually getting involved themselves. And, for those without a microphone or webcam, there’s also a chat log for talking to friends.