Is there a more 2020 turn of phrase than SHIT HAPPENS?? In a year in which pretty much everything has sucked, a game about those bad things that happen is pretty much the perfect thing to come out right now.
SHIT HAPPENS from Goliath Games is a social party card game for 2+ players – the goal is to rank bad situations from the least crappy to the worst. Unlike many other social games in which you are appealing to a player to determine which answer wins, SHIT HAPPENS relies on a ‘scientific’ misery index to rank the cards.
How to play: Each player gets three cards. Each card has an event and a misery index score on it. You place the cards face up in front of you from lowest to highest. The player to your right will read a card and you have to place it in the proper place in your ‘line of pain.’ If you get it right, you add it to your line. If you get it wrong, the player to you left can steal it by placing it in the right spot in his/her line of pain. The first player to snag ten cards wins.
The Convention Collectives’ Darren Shulman was lucky enough to not only get his hands on some review copies of the games but also talk to Goliath’s Director Of Marketing, Mary Higbe, about why SHIT HAPPENS very possibly could be the most relevant game we could all be playing in 2020…
The components: I tested SHIT HAPPENS, SHIT HAPPENS AT WORK, and the LITTLE SHITS Expansion. The first two are full boxes with 200 situation cards and can be played on their own or combined. The boxes are sturdy high-quality cones with a plastic insert to hold your cards and a small instruction manual. The LITTLE SHITS expansion is a smaller set of 100 cards and comes in a paper tuck box similar to other card game expansions.
There’s nothing wrong with the box, but my fat fingers tore the top when I was trying to open it. This set is intended to be played with one of the main sets, but you could probably make a go of it with just the expansion if you wanted to. The quality of the cards is excellent – they are thick and have a nice finish to them. In another nice touch, the expansion sets are clearly marked so you can separate out your decks after you play if that is your thing.
Expansions and Free Print and Play: There are additional sets available if you want to expand your game further. In recognition of the suckiness of 2020, the game maker made a free print and play set to help people stuck inside due to stay at home orders filled with the types of 2020 shelter in place references we have all unfortunately come to know and hate.
Gameplay: This game is pretty fun. While the designers may disagree, the fun is more about the debates and conversation than winning. Interestingly, my wife managed to literally get every single question wrong, which either means she leads a pretty good life, or she just stinks at this game.
The situations range from mildly uncomfortable to downright nasty. Suffice to say, if the name of the game doesn’t make it clear enough, YOU SHOULD NOT PLAY THIS WITH KIDS. You may not want to even play this with your parents without removing some cards!
One potential weakness to the ‘misery index’ definite right answer approach is that repeat plays could in theory allow someone to remember where the situations rank. I don’t think that kills the game, as this would still leave open opportunity to debate the validity of the scoring. I also think that eventually, you could leave the misery index behind and make house rules to allow a player to determine which answer is right. This would allow the rest of the participants to tailor their bad bad situation submissions to the person playing, which would keep the game fresh.
More importantly, you can easily adapt to play this game over video chat. You would read one person their situations and scores to make their ‘line of pain’ and then read them the scenario they have to play. Playing remotely has a minimal impact on the game because the player doesn’t see the card they have to place anyway. Or you can simply give them one scenario and then ask if the second is better or worse.
Final Thoughts: If you like games like Cards Against Humanity, you will like SHIT HAPPENS. Unlike some of those games, this game truly can be played with two players, though it is certainly geared towards playing with a fun group of friends… AND NOT KIDS.
While it is possible to start memorizing the misery index scores, there are enough cards to prevent that from happening for a while, especially if you mix in expansions (which use decimal points!). In any event, the game is less about who wins and more about the process. Can SHIT HAPPENS turn 2020 around? I guess anything is possible at this point!
Thank you to Goliath Games for providing review material for this post, and to Mary Higbe for her generous time for the interview.