Funny or Die Game Review

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The Basics:

  • For ages 9 and up (publisher suggests 13+)
  • For  3 to 6 players
  • Variable game play length

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Survive by creating killer jokes

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek rejected!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek mixed!

Overview

Mel Brooks said “Life literally abounds in comedy if you just look around you.” Sometimes you have to look really hard to find the humor in things and humor is highly subjective. What I find to be laughable will make others frown in displeasure. For every person, there is a joke to be told and a joke to be hated. Often times, it’s the same joke. In this game, you write the jokes and hope the majority think it’s worth laughing at.

Funny or Die, published by Hasbro, is comprised of 247 cards (double-sided), 1 custom six-sided die, 60 paper “$1000” bills, and 12 Voting tokens (6 “Funny”, 6 “Die”). The cards are as thick as your average playing card and the custom six-sided die is made of solid plastic. The paper money is made of – well – paper, and is about as durable as your standard piece of printing paper.

Note that the game rules have a disclaimer that the cards depict “extreme stunts” and “mild nudity”. As far as the extreme stunts go, it’s just photos of people doing dumb things. For example, attempting to hit a flung TV with a baseball bat as it flies through the air. The “mild nudity” is there. Expect to be shocked if you dislike seeing overweight men’s bellies, a bit of cleavage, and some butt crack. Nothing to get concerned over, and all our Parent Geeks just rolled their eyes when they saw the cards. None of them asked for cards to be removed from play. However, if you should want to remove cards from the game, it WILL NOT impact the game play. There are 247 cards and you will NOT go through them all.

Game Set Up

Note: Prior to playing the game for the first time, the game’s owner will be required to affix 6 stickers to the customer six-sided die and remove the tokens from their cardboard frame.  A very simple and quick exercise, but plan your first game accordingly.

To set up the game, first take the cards and shuffle them. Deal out to each player 5 cards. Players should take their cards and keep them in a stack in front of them. Place the remaining deck of cards off to one side of the game playing area with the caption side facing down. This is the draw deck for the duration of the game.

Second, give each player 10 “$1000” bills, 1 “Funny” Vote token, and 1 “Die” Vote token.

That’s it for game set up. Determine which player should go first and begin.

Die Laughing or Just Die

Funny or Die is played in rounds with no set number of rounds per game. Each player will be the “lead” for a round. The lead changes each round and goes in turn order sequence. A typical game round is summarized here.

Step 1: Roll the Die

The lead player rolls the custom six-sided die to the middle of the playing area. The die value determines two aspect of game play for the current round.

  • The amount of money each player will need to pay to the middle of the playing area creating the round’s “pot” (the sum of money being wagered and competed for).
  • Which side of the “Community” cards are used during the round.

Step 2: Draw Community Cards

The lead player then draws 3 cards from the draw deck and places them in a row in the middle of the playing area. The side of the cards to be placed face-up was determined by the die roll value (camera icon represents the photo side and a speech bubble icon represents the caption side).

Step 3: Pay Up

Every player now pays the amount rolled by the die ($1000 to $4000) to the middle of the playing area to create the “pot”. If a player cannot pay the exact amount, they simply pay whatever they have left.

Step 4: Make a Funny

Starting with the lead player and continuing in turn order sequence, each player selects 1 card from their hand and places it to 1 of the 3 available “Community” cards in the middle of the playing area. If the “Community” cards show a photo, the players will play their cards with the caption side face-up. If the “Community” cards show captions, the players will play their cards with the photo side face-up.

Each player can only match 1 of their cards from their hand to 1 “Community” card. The goal is to create the funniest photo and caption pair. When the player does play a card, they are welcome to “sell” their joke to their opponents by explaining why it’s funny. Which, honestly, means it’s not that funny. Any joke you have to explain often falls flat. Some captions have blank lines that require the player to add their own special touch to complete the joke.

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Note that a single “Community” card can be used by multiple players in a round.

Step 5: Judgement

After all the players have placed a card to create a photo and caption pair, each player takes their “Funny” Vote token and their “Die” Vote token and places them, face-down, on any of their opponent’s cards. Players cannot vote for themselves. A player can also not place both tokens on the same photo and caption pair, which makes total sense, because the votes would cancel each other out.

Note that players cannot “sell” their jokes at this time. Players should place their tokens on the jokes they think are the best and the worst for this round, keeping in mind that a person’s definition of “funny” is highly subjective (in other words, there is no right or wrong selection when voting). Players must vote, even if they don’t think much of the jokes in play.

Step 6: Reveal

After each player has placed their Vote tokens, they are  flipped over by the lead player. Every “Die” Vote token cancels a “Funny” Vote token (and vice versa) on the photo and caption pairs. These Vote tokens should be removed. When completed, each photo and caption pair will either have nothing but “Funny”, “Die”, or no Vote tokens placed on them. The player who created a photo and caption pair with the most “Funny” Vote tokens wins the round and takes all the cash in the pot.

If there is a tie, the tied photo and caption pairs remain in the middle of the playing area and any other cards are removed. All players now take back their Vote tokens and revote.

Step 7: Cleanup

After the pot of cash has been claimed, all the cards in the middle of the playing area are collected and placed in a discard pile. All players retrieve their 1 “Funny” Vote token and 1 “Die” Vote token.

The game now continues with a new lead player.

Winning the Game

The game ends when one or more players are out of cash at the end of the round. All the players now count their remaining cash. The player with the most cash wins the game.

To learn more about Funny or Die, see the game’s web page.

Prediction

Before you ask, yes, this game is based off the comedy video website, Funny or Die.

This game has one flaw that is going to hold it back: it requires that each player have a sense of humor. I know a number of people who don’t and will be playing this game. What is or is not funny is based fully on a subjective point-of-view. For example, my 3 little geeks think that any joke with “poop” involved is the funniest thing on Earth. And, yes, I now know many, many, many poop jokes thanks to my kids.

That being said, the game will not suffer any negative criticism due to its complexity. This is a very simple game with easy rules. The most complex aspect of the game is attempting to gauge your audience’s level of humor. That and working really hard not to get frustrated with other players who obviously don’t know a good joke if it hit them in the face.

For the Child Geeks, I predict this game will get mixed results. If they play with just their peers, the game will get a thumbs up, but will most likely not do well if played with the family. For the Parent Geeks, I bet this game will be enjoyed. It has just the right mix of mindless game play and casual interaction that many Parent Geeks look forward to at dinner parties with friends while the kids are wrecking the house in another room. For the Gamer Geeks, I doubt very much this game will entertain them.

Note that Funny or Die does require its players to read. Oddly enough, they don’t need a sense of humor. Any Child Geek who cannot read the captions isn’t going to be able to play this game. After teaching it to my 9-year-old, I asked him his thoughts on the game so far.

“Looks like it could be fun. If I don’t laugh, does that mean you lose?” ~ Liam (age 9)

Sort of. Let’s see if this game makes killer jokes or just dies at the table.

Final Word

The Child Geeks, as I predicted, very much enjoyed the game with their peers and much less so with their Parent Geeks. According to one Child Geek, “I don’t like it when my parents don’t like my jokes.” Yeah, sad, but here’s the funny thing. If there were more Child Geeks than Parent Geeks, a Child Geek ALWAYS won the game. Always. The game also frustrated the Child Geeks, as they often times didn’t see how they could match any of their cards to a caption or a photo to create what they thought was funny. Even worse, they didn’t understand how some of the played cards by their opponents were even the slightest bit comical. In the end, the game frustrated the Child Geeks more times than entertaining them. It received a mixed bag of votes, with the older Child Geeks liking what the game was about and the Child Geeks not getting the majority of jokes.

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My oldest little geek contemplates where he should place his Vote tokens for the round

The Parent Geeks confirmed that they thought the game did somewhat well with their families. The older their children, the more entertaining the game was. With just their peers, Funny or Die was found to be entertaining, but it wasn’t all laughs. There were a number of plays where only a few chuckles were released and sometimes none at all. It’s hard to be funny all the time. Regardless, the Parent Geeks thought the game did an OK job. According to one Parent Geek, “This would be a fun game to play with my friends when they come over for dinner, but I don’t know if I would have much fun with the game if I played it with strangers.” When the game was put away all the Parent Geeks were still smiling, if not laughing. They voted to approve Funny or Die, finding it to be a casual game of promising hilarity that, at the very least, always made them smile.

The Gamer Geeks disliked this game. According to one Gamer Geek, “I’m not actually being funny in this game. I’m just attempting to make funny matches. That’s pretty stupid.” Another Gamer Geek who was a bit more evenhanded with his comments said, “This would make for an interesting game to play at parties, but not one I would ask for.” All the Gamer Geeks agreed that you were basically voting for the “dumbest” pairing instead of the wittiest. Only a few of the Gamer Geeks thought the game was good enough to bring out at their own parties, but not nearly enough to get the Gamer Geek vote of approval.

I personally found this game to be OK. Frankly speaking, it got old, especially when you’re playing the game with people who are not all that funny or witty to begin with. There is no magic formula to be found here and nothing in the way of strategy or tactics to be had that can be used to get the upper hand. You are always playing to your audience (the other players), which means your jokes need to be smart or exceedingly dumb. To what extreme you can push your jokes is based on what cards you have in your hand. I also found myself becoming frustrated when people didn’t pick my jokes because I KNEW my joke was better than the tripe being presented. Long story short, you should expect to see points go to players who create a joke you don’t find the least bit humorous. Then, get over it, because you are most likely not as witty as you think.

Clearly this is a game that will be either enjoyed or simply put to the side and forgotten. The level of enjoyment the game provides is going to be highly dependent on the people you play it with, which is a common characteristic of all Party games. Expect a great deal of humor if you are with humorous people and a pretty dry game if you are not. Either way, I guarantee a few chuckles at the very least.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner. Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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7 Responses to Funny or Die Game Review

  1. Pingback: Today in Board Games Issue #114 - Today in Board Games

  2. Annette says:

    One thing that should also be mentioned is that after every round, when the played cards are collected and set aside, all players pick another card from the deck to bring their number of cards back to 5. Otherwise you would never play more than 5 rounds. 🙂

    • Cyrus says:

      I honestly do not recall, Annette, as the game is very forgettable. I will say this: Funny or Die is not a game you want to last. Five rounds is more than enough.

  3. isaac becker says:

    i bought the game on a whim because it looked like it could be fun.
    ’twasn’t.
    then, looked on the internet for ideas to make it more interesting.
    found your review. agreed wholeheartedly.

    then, my son-in-law and i thought up some tweaks of the rules. played
    it on the weekend and – lo and behold – it was actually a lot of fun,
    even hilarious at times. here’s how we changed the rules:

    1) everyone starts with 5 cards, but only one card is put on the
    table.

    2) one person becomes the ‘judge’ and leaves the room.

    3) every other player (there’s no limit on number; we played with 8)
    matches a caption from their hand to the pic card on table.

    4) judge returns and places a ‘funny’ token on the one s/he deems
    funniest and a ‘die’ token on least funny. when playing with 6 or more
    players, there will be 2 ‘funny’s and 2 ‘die’ tokens placed.
    (once we played with 5 players and used 2 funny’s but only 1 die.)

    5) ‘funny’ caption stays on table with all other cards removed and
    placed at bottom of deck (when 2 ‘funny’s, ‘judge’ decides which of
    the 2 funny captions ‘plays on’). next turn people will have to match
    a pic to the caption; this fosters creativity, forcing people to think
    differently about the same caption (or pic, as will be the case after
    the next turn).

    6) whoever’s caption was NOT chosen (except for judge) takes another
    card from the deck to replenish his/her hand; whoever got a ‘die’
    token takes 2 cards. (‘funny’ people don’t pick up new cards, but it
    gets harder for them to win succeeding hands because they have less
    cards to choose from).

    7) next player (clockwise) becomes new ‘judge’ and leaves room, then
    comes back to judge pic cards that were put down to match the funny
    caption that played on.

    8) play continues until someone gets rid of all their cards (i.e. they
    have to be chosen ‘funny’ on last turn).

    * we didn’t use the money or the die, but presumably one or both could
    be incorporated relatively easily. for example, a person could get
    money each time they are chosen ‘funny’ (and lose when given ‘die’),
    so another way to win would be when they amass a certain amount of
    cash. the die could be used to decide the amount people get for each
    ‘funny’/’die’…

    • Cyrus says:

      An excellent game variant! I am very pleased to hear that you were able to make something out of this game and not regret your purchase. Games are meant to be played and enjoyed. If they fail to do so, then making them fun is always the right answer. That or dropping them off at your local Goodwill.

      Thank you for sharing, Isaac!

  4. Melissa Shipley says:

    What if you have a tie and 4 people are playing?

    • Cyrus says:

      Assuming by “tie” you mean by points earned at the end of the game, I don’t recall the rules saying how such a thing should be resolved. However, you can easily resolve the tie yourself by holding elimination rounds, where the loser of each round is out of the running until only 1 player is left. Or, go old school, and just have a slapping contest. Last one to cry wins!

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