Earlier this year I wrote an article for the DWP titled 5 Games that Kill Cards Against Humanity. If you read that then you already know some of the problems I have with the hit party game that took over game nights for several years. Well the success of CAH led to a swarm of copycats, and later, attempts to build off and improve the CAH model. Game of Ham by Bill S. Naim falls into the latter camp.
Game of HAM – HAM is an acronym for Hating All Mankind but the cover of the game features a pig holding a cooked ham – follows the CAH gameplay model where one person (the judge) plays what the game calls a Prompt card, and everyone else plays a Trick card. The judge chooses the Trick card they like best and that person wins the round/trick.
This is not a game for children, as the Prompts are very adult-themed, such as Bill Clinton’s most recent sex scandal involved ____, ____ and ____; with Tricks such as A twink orgy. So if your party-game attendants are not comfortable with racier topics this might not be the game for you. The version I got is called the Adult Set, so perhaps there is a planned family-friendly version of Game of HAM.
One of my complaints about CAH was that it never really ended. Game of HAM does try to solve that problem by adding a board that has a start and finish line. Note there are four, two-sided square boards, so you can mix-and-match them, making the game shorter, longer or just to add some variety.
Besides the Prompt and Trick cards, there are Colored cards that relate to the game board and give you one-time powers such as swapping out Trick cards or playing multiple off them on one Prompt.
Game of HAM is in many ways a souped-up and reformed CAH in an attempt to make it more of a game than an activity, which is both good, bad, and great. The bad part is the rule book: it’s 24 pages long (though it does come with a quick-start guide), which is too many when most of your players will likely be drinking alcoholic beverages. That being said the rule book does have optional and alternative ways to play the game, so if you are teaching the game you don’t need to go over all 24 pages each time you bring it out.
The good part is that using the boards gives the game a definite ending. The great part is that many of the Prompt cards are a bit more freeform than CAH. One of CAH’s problems is the prompt cards can be super specific, so much so that the first edition had a set of Canadian cards that replaced American cards. Game of HAM has several Judge Creates Prompts, and not in the blank-card way CAH offers (though HAM also has those). These are more directed, such as “What does ___’s favourite hobby include?” or “Describe ____ in one card.” So instead of mocking some random celebrity you can mock your friends…or a random celebrity.
Game of HAM also comes with a large amount of cards, which is good, but also means I did not get through them all so I can’t report if Game of HAM has similar issues with potentially insensitive material that CAH has been criticized for.
I would not go out on a limb and say Game of HAM is the best replacement for CAH out there, but it is a solid alternative if your game group still wants the CAH gameplay without actually playing CAH. Like CAH, the art of Game of HAM is not inspiring, though the iconography and text is clear and the quality of game materials is fine. The group I played with preferred just playing Game of HAM without using the game boards and additional rules.
Game of HAM is a humour, card-playing party game for 3 to 15-plus players that plays more than 30 minutes. It is designed by Bill S. Naim, who also did the art. It is published by Game of HAM LLC, who provided a copy for this article. You can access their website here.
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