Hilarium Review
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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.

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.



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