Negativity, Creativity, and Hilarity With ‘Stipulations’

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Stipulations Family Game

I love playing games. The problem with my friends and family, however, is finding a game that everyone can enjoy. I have a group of friends who can go down the hardcore roleplaying rabbit hole with me, but my family is totally disinterested. On the other hand, my family is certainly willing to try new games that don’t always have name-brand recognition like Clue, but for irregular gamers, time commitment, learning curve, and age-appropriateness are always factors to consider. Basically, what I’m saying is it is hard to find a game that gamers and non-gamers of almost any age can enjoy together. Thank goodness there’s Stipulations!

Although it enjoyed a successful Kickstarter campaign, I hadn’t heard about the game until it came across the GeekDad desk a few weeks ago. Created by Dustin Bluhm and produced by Black Light Games, Stipulations is a party game that surely draws inspiration from another celebrated game, Say Anything, which boasts a “Party Game of the Year” label. Similar to Say Anything, Stipulations is a 4-8 player game which uses white boards and dry erase markers to record players’ answers with a judge awarding points for the best one. Unique to Stipulations, however, is the main concept of the game–taking the wind out of someone’s sails.

Hot Pockets Stipulation
This stipulation will rain on anyone’s parade. Photo credit: Preston Burt

Ever had that one friend who has to ruin your good news by pointing out a disappointing caveat? You know the one. Well, this game is not only perfect for those “Debbie Downers,” but for almost anyone! In Stipulations, a single player draws a card and makes an exciting announcement from one of the card’s four categories: Superpowers, Occupations, Lifetime Supplies, and Fulfilled Dreams. The other players then let their negativity shine by writing a stipulation or condition to limit the announcement and make it less desirable. For example, a player could announce that they fulfilled their dream by discovering alien life, but other players could list such a stipulations as “but the aliens developed an entire religion around Keeping up with the Kardashians.” Or perhaps you announce that you won a lifetime supply of Hot Pockets™, only to learn it was “only for an experimental new flavor: beef with toothpaste.” The person who made the announcement awards points to what they consider the least-desirable stipulation, and another point is awarded based on randomly drawn bonus card criteria.

Game cards and answers for Stipulations

Stipulations is probably the only game where creativity and practicality can both produce hilarious laughter! I’ll be honest, there were some topics where I struggled to think of something witty, but in those instances my fellow players picked up the slack and made us all laugh. While it took almost every ounce of my being to keep my mind out of the gutter, the open-ended nature of this game means players can make the game as dirty or as squeaky-clean as they want and still have fun.

I like that the rules sheet for this game can be read and understood in less than five minutes, and picking up the game is quick–even for beginners. Gameplay certainly won’t drag out for hours on end as long as players utilize the timer included in the box and stick to the two rounds suggested. My first game with four players playing two rounds only took twenty minutes. Also, included are some suggestions for remixed rules variations in case you feel you need to mix it up a bit. Honestly, my only real critique of the game is that the dry erase boards don’t wipe away easily using the enclosed pen-topper erasers (a wet paper towel does the trick, however).

The game is suggested for ages 13 and up, but I feel that my 10-year-old could muster up some pretty decent responses. Also, the game can be played with anywhere from four to more than eight players, meaning this game is perfect for an intimate family gathering, or a large, noisy bunch of friends or coworkers. Lastly, the multiple choice nature of the cards means each game will be different, and it will be quite some time before you exhaust all of your options. (Don’t worry, there’s a NSFW expansion version if you do!) Overall, Stipulations earns an A+ in simplicity, variety, and, most importantly, fun!

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this game.

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