Crappy Birthday is a Party game from North Star Games. It comes in a square box designed to look like a birthday present. The game retails for just $14.99, so it would need to be pretty crappy indeed for you not to get your money’s worth out of it.
Each player takes five cards from the deck. I don’t bother shuffling as it would be a difficult task considering the cards. You really don’t need to, as once you make your way through the cards in gets progressively less fun.
You need to understand the intent of the game. It was designed to be bought to bring along to a party and give as a gift, rather than the traditional bottle of wine or some such. This is one of the reasons for the low price point. Fifteen bucks for a gift is nothing, and if you get an hour or two of fun out of it then it is well worth it. It wasn’t designed for replayability, more for an evening of fun.
After players draw their cards, someone is selected to be the gift receiver. We used a coaster to pass around to keep track of who the gift receiver is, which of course led me to think that this would make a good drinking game.
Drinking aside, everyone except the gift receiver looks at their hand of cards and secretly selects the gift that they believe would be the worst gift to give to the gift receiver. All of the selected cards are shuffled face down and spread out in front of the receiver face up, and then they select the one gift that they would hate the most. Whoever played that card gets one point and places it in a score pile next to them.
Every player draws back up to five cards and play then passes clockwise to the next person. The process is repeated until someone gets three points and is declared the winner, which I guess in this case is the person who is best at selecting crappy birthday presents.
Ok, no I’m just kidding. It’s really the person who got the lousiest cards and knows the other players best. You see, not all of the gifts would be considered crappy by any means. Some of them will actually be loved by certain people, so you really need to take into consideration the personality of the person you are picking a gift for.
For example, you’ve got five cards:
Running with the Bulls – Bring your Nikes
Colored Contact Lenses – Wear these at your next party
Scrapbooking Club – Meet with them once a week for a year
Snow Making Machine – Run every December, guarantees a white Christmas
Security Bot – Roams around the yard and zaps intruders
Special Note: You will notice that the additional text with each card makes a difference so make sure you read the whole card.
Which one would be the worst gift for Granny? Your teenage daughter? Your wife? As you can see, you will have different answers for each person. In fact, in some cases it would be far easier to pick the best gift for someone than the worst. It is natural to want to do this, I have seen it suggested on other websites and it makes sense to play a few games picking the worst and a few games picking the best, so go for it.
I’ll go this one better. If you want a little more strategy, and like to mix the game up, try this variant.
Play the game as usual, but each turn select one card as the crappiest gift for the gift receiver, and then select a second card that would make the best gift for someone at the table. Place this second gift in a stack next to you so that each player has a second stack of cards. Then draw two cards instead of one at the end of the turn.
Play until the first person reaches three points, then no one draws any more cards. Discard your hand and each player picks up the second stack of cards they have been building during the game.
This is your new hand of cards; don’t draw any more from the draw deck. Keep playing the game except that now you select the BEST gift to give the gift receiver. You will slowly run out of cards, and the person who has the most points when all of the cards are played wins the game. This allows you to strategize which cards to keep, who to play them on, and lets you recycle the cards in your hand faster during the first part of the game. It is very possible to end up with all cool gifts, so being able to cycle some of these out faster can be a big help.
The game is fun, it offers an evening of laughs, and it is inexpensive. It will have some longevity if you play it with different groups, but with the same people it loses its amusement factor after a couple of plays.
The game is great with a group of adults or older teens, but not really intended for kids. The subtleties of gift selection would be lost on most of them.
Overall a solid buy for its intended use, and a good time.