Karen: The Game of One Star Reviews – Review
By Richard Jones
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
- 300 playing cards over three categories
- Six player note pads
- Six star boards
- Six pencils
- 24 gold stars
- One Karen face scoring pad
Suitable for three or more players
For ages 14 years and over
Average time per game: 45-90 minutes
The name Karen is used a lot in our house.
When my daughters Isla and Evelyn get told off or nagged by their mum Rachel, they generally call her ‘a Karen’.
Then, when it’s my turn to dish out the orders, I get called ‘a Nigel’ which, according to them, is the male equivalent.
Over the past few years, the name Karen has become slang term for an obnoxious, entitled, middle-aged woman who uses her privilege to get her own way, or police other people’s behaviours.
The subject of countless memes, a stereotypical Karen has a blonde bob haircut, and asks to speak to retail and restaurant managers to voice her complaints and make demands.
One man who hasn’t exactly helped boost the much-maligned name’s popularity is TV presenter and Radio 1 DJ Matt Edmondson, the designer of a new board game based on the world’s Karens.
That said, after the game was released in 2022, Matt did say that he’d pay 100 people £42.44 (the cost of altering a name via deed poll) to legally change their names to Karen, amid news that it’s on its way out.
“Karen is a beautiful name that deserves to live on for generations,” he said.
“The majority of people called Karen are not Karens, unless they complain about the game Karen, in which case they may find themselves inhabiting both definitions.”
Karen, created by Matt and his brother-in-law, businessman Laurence Emmett’s company Format Games, challenges players to sneak their own fake complaints in among hilarious real one-star reviews found online.
The aim is to trick other players into believing that your creation is a real complaint made against hotels, restaurants, products or places, and that you’re the real Karen.
The game isn’t about getting the right answer – it’s about coming up with the funniest suggestions possible.
Players take turns as the host, setting a challenge for the other players, which involves creating their own fake reviews.
There are three categories to choose from: ‘Fill in the Blanks’, where players are read out a review with a word or words missing; ‘What’s Being Reviewed, where the host reads out the whole review and players have to guess what is being reviewed; and finally, the ‘Write the Review’ category.
The host reads out the review or the product to be reviewed, and write the product, the missing words, or the review on a sheet of paper.
Meanwhile, everyone else makes up a something that sounds plausible.
The host then reads out the all the written answers, and whoever votes for the real answer scores a point, while whoever’s fake answer receives a vote also gets a point.
Players start with five stars on their scoring star boards. The aim of the game is to lose four of your stars and be the first player with only one star left.
You need five points to be able to remove a star and you mark them off by drawing a disappointed mouth on the Karens at the top of the pads.
The instructions for Karen are set out on sheet in an entertaining way.
Although there is a lot to get through and take in, it’s broken down into sections so everyone will soon cotton on.
In the three packs of cards, we found the ‘Fill in the Blanks’ challenges to be the best. They were snappier and it seemed easier to fool your opponents, although the ‘Write the Review’ section allows you to be more imaginative.
The scoring system did seem a tad overblown, and I wasn’t sure the stars, points and unhappy faces were all necessary.
Although they are probably included to get everyone into the swing of being a Karen, the scoring could have been simpler and the box smaller, turning it into a brilliant space-saving travel game.
There are 300 double-sided cards to go at, meaning the game should last a while.
Although Karen is jokingly subtitled ‘The Game of One-star Reviews’, it is certainly a lot better than that.
It’s bound to be a bit controversial (especially with people called Karen), but it has a great concept, and is perfect for families with teenagers and the dinner party crowd.
We’ve had a few hours’ fun playing it, and unlike the people featured in the game, we had no complaints.
For more information on Karen, RRP £22.99, go to asmodee.co.uk