Okay, I’m not much of a charades player to start with. I only agreed to
play Hilarium at all to be a good sport. But there were some more outgoing
people in the group (none of us had played before), and none of us liked the
game. We all agreed on that.
While I was trying to listen to the rules (hint: there are shorter, more to
-the-point rules on the back of the rule book. Don’t torture yourselves
with the others) and then played, I couldn’t help but wonder if a bunch
of people at the board game company were bored and feeling particularly sadistic
when they were brainstorming this game. I think they were bored with the games
they’d been making and wanted to throw every element from every game they’d
ever heard of together—just to see whether people wou
ld actually buy and play
This game, therefore, is a bizarre mix of board game (you have Monopoly-type
money), gambling game (you have to “ante up”), card game (you get
cards with actions that you have to perform), and charades (but everyone acts
at once). But it’s much, much more confusing and disorderly than any of
the above—and there didn’t seem to be any particular reason for throwing
everything in together like that.
The rules are way too complicated to explain here, but everyone gets money
and cards listing things to act out. Everyone acts out the action listed
on each of his or her cards at the same time everyone else is doing the same
(e.g., “dog chasing its tail”—make sure you have enough room
for all this activity before you start). The goal is to act and simultaneously
check to see if someone else is acting out one of the actions you have on one
of your cards. At the end of each round, everyone owes or is owed money—depending
on how many times they’ve been able to discover that someone else had the
same action. The game ends when someone runs out of money.
It’s all way too complicated, and not in an intelligent strategy sort
of way—or even in a fun sort of way. There’s not even a proper chance to
laugh at all the stupid things everyone’s doing because you’re supposed
to be doing so much at the same time. And I have a feeling this game would be
exhausted fairly quickly—the cards have a limited number of actions, so
you’re likely to go through most of them quickly.
If the goal is hilarity, as the name seems to suggest, this game falls short.