We’ve all been amused (or outraged) by a “Karen” at some point. This game lets you walk in the shoes of a “Karen” by having you write (literally) reviews for products to try to trick your opponents into thinking it was a real review. Is the beach too sandy?
What’s in the box?
Format Games’s Karen comes with 24 gold stars, six star boards, six Karen review pads, one Karen face scoring pad, six adorable mini pencils, and three sets of challenge cards (What’s Being Reviewed; Fill in the Blanks; and Write the Review), plus an instruction booklet that includes a QR code so you can watch a demo online. I recommend watching the video, as well as reading the booklet, because the video is really helpful for understanding the game, but the instruction booklet is cleverly written, so it deserves attention, too.
TOP TIP: Keep the cardboard the stars come in so you don’t have to worry about counting them every time you put the game away or worry about them spilling all over the place.
How to play Format Games’s Karen Game
The set-up is easy! Each player (minimum of three) is given a star board, four gold stars, a review pad, and a pencil. Each player adds the four stars to their star board giving them a 5-star rating to begin the game. The challenge cards are set in the middle of the play area and you’re ready to go. A nice touch about the gold stars is that they’re yellow on both sides, so you can play them on either side.
The host begins the round by choosing a challenge card from any of the decks. The other players write their responses on their pad and the host writes the real response on their pad. The players give their answers to the host, who then reads them aloud. As each answer is announced, players guess which one is the real response. If a player guesses the real response correctly, they get one point. Players also get points for fooling their opponents into thinking their response is the real one. If a player writes down the real response as their guess, they get a point, but the host will only read that response once, to avoid giving the answer to the others. If two or more players guess the same response, that response is read only once, but each player gets a point if someone else chooses it. (You can see now why the video is so helpful!)
At the end of each round, hosting duties move to the next player. According to the written instructions, play moves to the right, but in the video, play moves clockwise, so you’ll just have to decide for yourselves. Play usually moves clockwise for us, so that’s what we chose.
Here are the three different types of cards. Remember that the goal is not necessarily to guess the real response on your answer pad, but to think of a response that will trick your opponents into thinking it is the real response. Save guessing the real response for when you are avoiding being tricked by your opponents!
TOP TIP: These are real reviews that were found online and cleaned up for this family game, BUT typos and grammatical errors were kept for the cards, so the host should definitely share those for added amusement!
What’s Being Reviewed Challenge Cards
The host reads the review and the players try to guess what’s being reviewed. For example: “What did you do to Santa?” (this is a real card). I won’t tell you the real answer, but you can imagine a multitude of guesses for this one.
Fill in the Blanks Challenge Cards
The cards include three pieces of text (aside from the card type): i) the type of review (for example, a toy review; a bar review; a game review); ii) The review itself, with a word or phrase left blank; iii) the real response (upside down and in red ink). Players have to guess what word or phrase is missing from the review. The host should tell the players what kind of review it is or the answers could be completely wild! For example, “The staff aren’t nice as they did not **** ****. They must be shut down” could be just about anywhere, so knowing that it was a local bar review helps narrow the answers down.
Write the Review Challenge Cards
There are two types of cards in this deck: Write the Review cards and Manager’s Response cards. Shuffle the cards together and randomly choose one. There are three pieces of text here: i) the type of card, which tells the players if they should write the review or give the manager’s response; ii) the product or service they have to review; and iii) the real response. I’ll give you an example of each: Write the Review – Social Media App; Manager’s Response – A complaint about being refused a table by a busy restaurant.
How to Win Format Games’s Karen Game
Every time a player gets a point, they put a mouth on their Karen face scoring pad. Each time a player completes five Karen faces, they get to remove a star from their star board. The first player to reach 1-star review level wins! Hearing everyone’s guesses is so funny, though, that, really, every wins just by playing.
TOP TIP: There is only one Karen face scoring pad and you need one for each play for each game. I recommend writing as lightly as possible and then erasing after the game, so you can use them multiple times.
Format Games’s Karen is for adults and older kids (14+). The box says it’s for three to ten players, but with only six playing sets, you’d have to play in teams for more than six players to play at one time. You could choose one host for the entire game and have six players playing individually, but that’s still just seven players. This is a fun addition to game nights or parties, with lots of laughter (and a touch of snark). The cards are double-sided, so you have twice as many play options.