Party card games is a highly competitive space, with so many similar games and well known favorites like Cards Against Humanity. It can be tough to stand out and find an audience for your game. Stuff Happens is another entry in this ever-growing gaming genre, the PG-13 version of Sh*t Happens. I took at look at Stuff Happens to see how it stacks up against the other humor games on my shelf.
What piqued my interested with Stuff Happens was that there is no judge each round. We are all familiar with the same situation. You play a card so funny and so perfect for that round, and one of your friends comes up with the most random excuse to pick some other card. What!? No way, how could you not pick this? It happens in all the Apples to Apples humor party games, so the idea of avoiding the need for judgement was quite appealing. Instead players play against the game, so to speak, and their choice is either right or wrong.
All players are dealt 3 cards face up in front of them and ordered in ascending value. One player draws a card and reads some horrible event aloud. In turn order players have a chance to pick how bad that event is relative to the events in their lineup. If they are wrong, the next player has a chance to pick where the event fits in their lineup. If a player is correct, the card is added to their lineup. The first player with 10 cards in their lineup wins. Adding cards to you lineup brings you closer to victory, but also makes it harder to place future cards as the value gaps get smaller.
While having no judge was initially appealing, the card values can be a little strange at times and players instead gripe about how could that be worse than this. How is losing a finger less traumatic than your transmission breaking, or a movie spoiler worse than losing your job? Even similar cards can differ in value greatly. Completely losing your car is not as bad as one component breaking according to the game’s misery index. A shark attack and a shark bite also vastly differ in value, which can make it hard to make a reasonable guess sometimes.
The main problem with Stuff Happens is that even after playing the game once, you can easily ballpark cards you saw before. You might not remember the exact value, but you know whether it was on the high or low end of your timeline. The humor in the game mostly derives from the card illustrations or the ridiculous scenarios (e.g. razor blade in sock) and only sometimes from when cards relate to something that actually happened to a player. In general, I didn’t find it as funny as other humor games where groups actually burst out laughing at people’s cards. At least in other sorting games like Timelines, you might learn something new and interesting.
So how does Stuff Happens stack up against other humor party games? It was pretty mediocre, I have played much worse games and also much better ones. If this was at a board game bar, it would be fun for a couple games, but because it lacks replayability, I can’t recommend buying it yourself. The humor of the cards wears off much faster than other games, particularly when they are not used in any different combinations with one another. Stuff Happens may perhaps be a little more tame than the adult version of the game, but I think that version would still suffer from the same problems.