What You Don’t Know: Conspiracy Theory Review
Conspiracy Theory, A Review
- # of Players: 3+
- Ages: 13+
- Designer: Steve Jackson
- Publisher: Steve Jackson Games
- Price Point: $29.99
They’re watching you. Oh yes, they are. You can’t see them, but they definitely see you. Everything you do, say and even think, they are taking it all down. And it’s not just you, they are watching everyone. You’re Pretty sure it’s the Illuminati, or maybe the Vatican. Maybe just the CIA… But then the CIA works for them, you are reasonably sure of that. And don’t even get started about your cat… always sneaking about at night…
Welcome to the world of Conspiracy Theory. A world much like our own, except that hidden agendas and organizations, are hiding everywhere, and everyone has dark secrets. Then again maybe it is just like our world… And just what are you going to do about it? The only thing you can, tell everyone around the table exactly what is going on out there, until they believe you… or until the Illuminati decides you’ve said enough.
What I Liked
- Much more family friendly than other party games of this kind
- You are encouraged to defend your answers
- The Headlines variant
What I Didn’t
- The base game is less than original
Playing the Game
The basic gameplay for Conspiracy Theory is simple. Each round one player assumes the role of the judge, who decides who provides the best answer to the phrase or question that they draw from the black deck. The other players select cards from their hand of white cards and try to convince the judge that they are presenting the best answer. Once everyone has presented their answer, the judge decides whose answer was the “best”, which usually results in rioting and looting… Or at least a good laugh. As detailed below, there are other play styles.
Conspiracy Theory is a game about convincing the judge that your answer to the phrase, or question, that they are presenting is the best answer, based on their opinion. So, knowing how the current judge thinks, or what they find funny or intriguing is a big help.
Revealing the Conspiracy…
Unlike in true-life conspiracies, there are no secrets in Conspiracy Theory. Players play their answers to the black cards one at a time, publicly. This means you cannot hide behind the cloak of anonymity, like many shadowy organizations and individuals. You have to come out and defend your answers, sell it to the judge. For instance, if you answer the black card “98% of all _____ fail safety testing”, with “The Power Companies”, you better be ready to give a full explanation for why you would think that. If you can’t, then maybe you should rethink your answer. If you can, then perhaps you can sell the judge on your way of seeing things… no matter how insane they sound to others.
If One Theory Isn’t Enough…
You are looking through your hand for a good answer to the black card just drawn. Nothing fits just right, but you have a couple of cards that if you could just play them together they would be perfect. Well, you can do that with conspiracy theory. Unlike Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity, Conspiracy Theory allows players to combine cards to create a single answer. This comes in handy if you have two mediocre answers, that would be much better paired together.
The Tabloids Got it Right… Kinda
Red cards change up how you play Conspiracy Theory, which helps to set it apart from other games of this type. There are two uses for the red cards. The first isn’t too impressive, simply giving an extra criterion for the judge to follow when judging players’ answers.
The second is a bit more intriguing, and a lot more fun. Instead of the judge drawing a single black card, and players attempting to use a card from their hand in response, the judge draws a red card, setting the tone for the players’ responses. Then the players each draw 3 black cards and select one. After this, they must craft, using their ten white cards and 1 black card, a conspiracy headline that follows the theme on the red card. In essence, the players become tabloid reporters trying to come up with the next big headline. This changes the game and offers the players a lot more freedom with their answers while limiting their focus. And some of the headlines can be… interesting to say the least.
Conspiracy Theory takes the mechanics of Cards Against Humanity, then puts a nice twist on it. Instead of being random phrases and words, you are presented with some laughable scenarios… or your worst suspicions. It all depends on if you believe that Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy, or that we didn’t land on the moon.
I especially loved the Headline variant, finding it to be a lot more entertaining and stimulating than the basic mode of play.
Now, a word of Caution: Conspiracy Theory is a party game, and as such is meant to be fun and entertaining. As such I would suggest not playing it with anyone who will take the content too seriously. I have a family member I cannot play this game with, without inciting World War Three.
I highly recommend Conspiracy Theory, and not just because of the brainwashing. It is fun, family friendly, and the different play styles keep it fresh.
You May Also Like
If you are looking for a little more Adult Humor, check out Cards Against Humanity.
Or check out Apples to Apples, if you want a game that is a bit more suited for a younger crowd.