Saturday, September 30, 2023

The Misery Index Made Me Miserable

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While everyone is trapped inside, we could all use a few laughs. If game shows or reality television is your jam, I have a weird kind of show to introduce you too, and a game that was inspired by the show. The name of both the game and the TBS tv show is The Misery Index, the latter inspired by an earlier card game called Shit Happens. Basically, a game turned into a TV show and then that show got turned into a game.

The about section on TBS’s website says this about the show: “The Misery Index will feature two teams, each with one contestant and two Impractical Jokers. Teams will compete against each other by attempting to rate hilarious and miserable real-life events on a scale of 1-100 based on the “Misery Index,”. The show featured the cast of the hit tv show called Impractical Jokers and is hosted by the amazing Jameela Jamil (Tahani from The Good Place). Okay, enough about the TV show. Let’s talk about the card game, produced by the company behind Shit Happens, Games Adults Play.

Sadly, the card game does not come with Jameela Jamil

The titular “misery index” is the ranking system in the game that is based on how psychologists rated stories from across the globe. The three categories used to judge are Physical Pain, Emotional Trauma, and Long-Term Psychological impact. If you have any sort of trauma or suffer from any mental illness, I would recommend having someone screen the game before you play because some of the cards are a bit touchy if you are a survivor of trauma. The game touches on financial hardships, sexual harassment in the workplace, adultery, sending inappropriate texts to family, and a whole lot of ableism. Honestly, it’s a lot like Cards Against Humanity in its total lack of tact or social awareness. I was very off-put while playing this, as both a survivor and as someone who recently lost some hearing ability.

I played The Misery Index with my fiance and roommate, and I wouldn’t play this game with family thanks to its basis in uncomfortable or awkward situations. That 14+ is not just a suggestion. I played the game and it was interesting, feeling like a social experiment to see how people would react or see how they rated things. It was very simple to learn and teach. The instructions are in a little booklet that is only 6 little squares of text that you can read in about two minutes. At the start of the game, you draw three cards and place them in numerical order. This will be your “misery lane” and all the cards you collect will go into this place. The objective of the game is to place the card read off to you by the other player in between the numbers on the card between the miserable events. If you get it correctly, then you add the card to your Misery lane. The game is played over three rounds, with each round getting more difficult and each player moving from round to round at a different pace. The way you win the game is to be the first player to 12 cards in your misery lane, at that time the game then ends.

You feel uncomfortable yet?

The gameplay is very simple. If you don’t guess correctly then the card is discarded faced up and you wait until the next turn until you guess again. Once you get 8 cards in your misery lane, you move onto round two. Round two is played differently because you are asked to place three cards in order from least awful to worst of the three by staying out loud what you think the order is. The other players still continue to play in round one until they advance by getting 8 cards. Once someone at the table collects 11 cards, then you move onto round three. In round three you are read off a card by another player and you have to then place the card within a ten-point range of the actual score based on the misery index. Once you have done this, the first person who gets the twelfth card then you are the winner.

The Misery index is pretty easy to play and understand, but it wasn’t my kind of game. I can see how some people may like it, but it just wasn’t for me. It felt like a cash grab to me. A simple game made to be played a handful of times and then put away or donated. It doesn’t have much replayability because as you get familiar with the cards you will know where to place them. If this is a game that you would like to play or even a show you would enjoy, I think it would be ideal for someone with a dark sense of humor. If that is you, I hope you enjoy the game!

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You can pick up the game at Target or your friendly local game store, where it retails for about $17.99. You can also pick up the original game Shit Happens, and its various expansions, on Amazon.

Have you played The Misery Index? Was it high or low on your “misery lane?” Sound off in the comments!

Images via Games Adults Play and Goliath Games

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  • Victoria Mann

    Victoria Mann is a former Paralegal who left the devouring world of law to pursue a 7-year successful tabletop game career and currently wears many hats at White Wizard Games and is a fierce defender of justice and love. Her passions include her dogs Apollo and Athena, reading as often as possible, playing games, watching Netflix, chatting with friends or working as much as possible because she literally can't be stopped and wants to do ALL of the things.

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