This game came to my attention during Who’s Yer Con back in March of 2010. We met this woman at the con who was running this game regularly and offered to sell us a copy if we liked it. Initially I wasn’t sold, I really hate cheesy self describing names similar to the one this game has. It’s one of those pet peeves that rank right up there with describing your game as ‘innovative’ and unique.
This game, like most, is neither innovative or unique. In fact it’s one of hundreds of Uno clones on the market, however it is a very amusing variation. When others have asked for an explanation of this game, the premise can be summed up in one very short sentence, “It’s Uno on crack”. The game has all of the uno cards we have come to expect: a range of number cards, draw cards, skip cards, and reverse cards. The crack comes into play when you add in one or more of the 24 possible event cards into the deck.
So what do these 24 other card types add in? Speed elements where everyone plays straights of cards as fast as they can. Cards with quarky names like “this isn’t my card” that lets you immediately pass off the card when drawn. Very useful cards like “Icy Skip” that essentially let you duck when a draw comes to you, or equally infuriating for your opponents, stop cards that stop and reverse the drawing sequence. All of these cards add up to a game that is very uno like, but a lot more fun for adults.
The one really frustrating thing about this game is the rules. It’s a mom and pop game, made by some Mormons should the history interest you. However, because of this fact the rules are written in such a way as to be intimidating and round about for many players. What can take an hour of deciphering and frustration for a new player sitting down with the rules, can be easily explained and demonstrated in a short tutorial game. This leads me to believe that a more streamlined version of the rules is entirely possible.
This game also lends itself very well to house rules, much to the pleasure of some and the annoyance of others. You can easily choose to play with all or some of the 24 additional cards, although you’ll see no hint of that in the rules. You can also easily tweak the game mechanics to have drawing stack, which we prefer to play with, also an option not listed in the original rules.
Two rules stand out, and do set the TICG aside from others, “The Uno Call” and “Match” rules. The first one is just for sure silliness, but is fun. Whenever the first person gets down to a single card in their hand they get to make up what you say when you get down to one card, which everyone else must follow until the end of the game. During a game at Gen Con this year the favored uno call was “Nerd-gasm” however, I’ve also heard much more colorful terms used as well. The second rule, “Match”, allows anyone to call match and toss down a card if it is the same as the one you just threw. For example if you just played a green seven on the pile, anyone else at the table who has a green seven can call “match” and toss it on the pile. It doesn’t alter the turn order at all, just gets that card out of your hand. This keeps all players focused on the game at all times so that they can catch those matches.
My final word of praise for the TICG? It can play with a wide group of people. It plays just as good, if not better, with a group of 8 or 10, largely because of all the matching opportunities. With a small group of 4 or 5 your turn gets back around rather quickly, which is nice too.
Overall this is an amusing game. Certainly not a heavy hitter, but fun for a light gaming group or in a pick up situation. It can take an hour or more to get a game in though, so it’s not really a great “filler” game. But compared to other uno clones on the market, The Totally Insane Card Game is probably my favorite.
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