[Warning: the word “Shit” is going to appear in this review. It’s unavoidable. It’s in the name of the game.]
So which is worse: seeing your father naked, losing your phone in the toilet, wetting the bed daily, or getting the worst sunburn ever because you fell asleep on the beach? This might sound like the worst day ever, but it’s not. It’s the start of a hilarious game of Shit Happens, a card game for two or more players that takes all your petty annoyances throws in a few crazy scenarios, and turns it all into a what-if guessing game.
My favourite part of this game is the booklet. It contains such wonderful phrases as the “Lane of Pain” (your collected cards in order from bad to worse) and “Misery Index” (the objective rating written on each card). It also pokes fun at the typical instructions found in most card games: “we don’t care who deals; you’re grown-ass adults, you decide”. But the best part, in my opinion, is the detailed description of how they got their Misery Index numbers. The creators gave a list of all 200 scenarios (“even the moronic ones”) to a team of psychiatrists, psychologists, marriage counselors, social workers, and other experts. They rated them all in terms of short-term trauma and long-term emotional effects.
Shit Happens is the middle-of-the-road version of the game, sandwiched between the family-friendly Stuff Happens and the more risqué 50 Shades of Shit and Too Shitty For Work expansions. (One of which I will be reviewing later.) There is also the Full of Shit edition, which has the original 200 cards, plus 100 more.
The game itself is pretty simple to play. Each player starts out with three cards, which are all laid out on the table for everyone to see. Each person’s Lane of Pain is kept separate, and the goal is to keep earning new cards until someone has ten cards. After the deal, one person draws a card and reads the description out loud. Now you have to guess how shitty that situation would be. You don’t need the exact number, just where it fits among your cards. In a two-person game, if you don’t guess right, that’s it. You go on to the next card. If there are three or more players, that’s when things get interesting. Now the next person can try to steal the card by guessing where it goes in their Lane of Pain. The more players there are, the more strategy comes into play, because you can use your friends’ wrong guesses as clues. As people start earning cards, the game can become easier or more challenging, depending on the range of ratings you get.
The game provides a suggestion for guessing: assume the worst. For example, if you get the “phone in the toilet” card, don’t think that you are at home and can get it into a rice bath right away. Imagine the scummiest gas station toilet, before the flush. I’d also like to add one other piece of advice. I’m guessing there weren’t any doctors, nurses or paramedics on their team of experts. Because the ratings lean more towards mental trauma rather than physical damage.
I’d like to end this review with a quote from one of my friends. After playing several three player games, she said “this would probably be more fun if there were more people involved. Or maybe alcohol.”
Debra Savage has been a geek for a very long time. She still misses the vintage board games from her childhood, when she frequently lost at Scrabble to her older brother and invented House Rules with her sister. She has been a member of The USS Bonaventure, one of Edmonton’s oldest Science Fiction Societies, for decades, and can’t remember the year of her first convention. Her first love is reading and she honed her writing skills on weekly online fanfic challenges in the early 2000s.