Don’t Judge Me: A party game you shouldn’t judge before you play

I’ll admit it. When I first saw the game Don’t Judge Me, I judged it by its cover. Which is to say, I read the rules and I thought I knew what I had on my hands: a good-looking but terrible game.

But I wanted to give it a fair shot. It sounded like the kind of game that was intended to be played by adults at a party, so I waited until a holiday get-together where I could observe such persons playing the game. Then, cautiously, I brought it out.

I was prepared for this game to suck. I was prepared to bring out other games to play after it sucked. I was prepared to take notes and write a bad review delineating the many facets of its suckage.

I was prepared for this game to bomb so hard I would have to start referring to my dining table as “the Bikini Atoll.”

However, the one thing that I wasn’t prepared for happened: this game was actually a hit!

Don’t Judge Me

Don’t Judge Me is a card game for at least three players from OniiChan Games. Every round of the game, one of the players acts as a judge. Two other players each draw one character card (for example, “nurse” or “secretary”). Then the two players alternate making statements about their character, such as, “This nurse doesn’t like to do math when preparing drugs for her patients, so she just assumes every pill is 100 milligrams.” After each player has made three statements, the judge decides which player’s character is the worst person.

It might not sound like it, but this game is tremendously fun. We were all laughing so much it hurt and didn’t want to stop playing. Everyone had fun hearing the hilarious characters that people came up with. Everyone had fun incorporating annoying things they’ve done or experienced into the characters. Everyone had fun riffing off other people’s descriptions and trying one up them.

Don’t Judge Me is obviously aiming for the same market as other adult-oriented party games like Cards Against Humanity or Midnight Outburst. However, Don’t Judge Me also has something common with party games like Balderdash or Snake Oil in that it is BYOJ: Bring Your Own Jokes. Unlike Cards Against HumanityDon’t Judge Me isn’t funny in and of itself. It merely provides a framework for the players to say funny things. This has a few important implications.

First, you need to play the game in an environment where everyone is feeling relaxed and chatty. We found that it was easier for players to make two statements per turn instead of three, and even players who weren’t feeling in touch with their creative side were able to come up with very funny descriptions by drawing on personal experience.

Also, because the game depends on your wittiness, the darkness or lightness of the humor in the game will vary significantly depending on the preferences and personalities of the players. This means that the game could actually be suitable for a very wide range of audiences—if not for how the rules are written.

The rules of the game contain extremely dark, offensive characters as examples. I don’t understand this design decision. It unnecessarily reduces the target audience of the game. Plus, I think it guides players in the wrong direction. It was very easy to describe characters who were beyond the pale—but ultimately less funny. We got the most laughs out of descriptions that were only sliiightly evil in a deviously passive aggressive way (for example, “This librarian waits to enter your returns in the system so you always get a late fee” or “This barista secretly gives regular coffee to people who order decaf”).


Police person, fire person, and mailman cards from the game.

This game looks good. I like the logo on the back of the cards. The blocky, abstracted, faceless pictures of the characters are perfect for jump-starting your thought process. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of racial diversity and some of the characters depicted may veer in the direction of inappropriate cliché (for example, of course the “nurse” is depicted as female and the “doctor” as male). But I appreciated that at least some of the characters weren’t obviously a specific gender, giving the players more freedom in their descriptions.


The game comes in clear cellophane, allowing you to see the card back and the Taylor Swi—I mean, “country singer” card.

The game does not come in a box, so you will need to find a different way to keep the cards together, such as a rubber band, hair tie, mysterious incantation, or sandwich baggie.


I appreciate the game’s consistent use of font sizes.

I have several quibbles with the game’s production. My copy of the game came with two “writer” character cards. Also, the game’s rules do not explicitly give guidance on how to rotate the game roles among the players. It’s easy to just go around in a circle, but more guidance on how to manage a large number of players would have been nice.

Good Guy Greg variant

OniiChan Games pointed out to me that a more family friendly variant of the game is describing characters who are the best instead of the worst—essentially Good Guy Greg descriptions instead of the Scumbag Steve ones you give in the basic game.

This should be officially included in the rules as it turned out to be an extremely fun alternative for adults, too. Everyone enjoyed joking about characters who were outrageously or unexpectedly breaking with stereotypes (for example, a chef at a foodie restaurant who actually makes satisfying portions or a mortician who sells caskets at cost).

Final thoughts

Don’t Judge Me isn’t a perfect game.

A rules rewrite would make the game better. Using family friendly examples would make this game playable by anyone.

More cards would also make the game better. One of the cards in the game says “friend” instead of a specific occupation and everyone wished there were other cards in this vein to open up new avenues for creativity (for example, “brother,” “aunt,” “roommate,” etc.).

But Don’t Judge Me has what counts: fun. Ever since we played, people have been talking about playing again and asking me if they can borrow it for their next party. In my judgment, that makes Don’t Judge Me a great game.

Note: A review copy of this game was provided by OniiChan Games.

Feast your eyelets on the Grommets and Hooks card game

Most of us have a junk drawer. When I was shopping for a desk for my home office, I specifically looked for one that didn’t have any drawers to prevent myself from starting another junk drawer. Junk drawers are the enemy and you must take them out before they even have a chance to sprout.

I haven’t been entirely successful in eradicating junk drawers from my life, though. I still have a giant junk drawer in my garage. It’s full of screws, weird extra bolts from Ikea furniture (I think everything is put together correctly?), and cast off washers I’ve found lying around (our garage door is, like, molting or something).

Sometimes you put too much in a junk drawer and it comes back to bite you. Have you ever been rummaging through your junk drawer, searching for a highlighter or a rubber band or a tiny tube of super glue, only to be stuck by a random fish hook you threw in there five years ago?

Are you tired of board games about ridiculous things like zombie apocalypses, spaceships with laser guns, and Lovecraftian abominations? Do you yearn for games that bring to mind everyday household dilemmas?

What if the sweat and trepidation of rummaging in that junk drawer, trying to pull things out without getting stuck by that fish hook, could be turned into a card game?

Well, don’t worry, because it has.

Grommets and Hooks

Grommets and Hooks is a card game for two to four players from OniiChan Games. Each player gets one turn. On your turn, you draw as many cards as you want from the deck, one at a time. If every card you draw is a grommet, you are safe. However, if you draw a hook, you are out of the game. Among the players who were not eliminated, the winner is the player who drew the most grommet cards.

I was expecting to hate this game but, I can’t lie, I actually had a bit of fun. There’s something absurdly delightful about flipping over a card and seeing a macro shot of a tiny piece of rubber—a nonsensical gamification of the experience of browsing a plumbing supplies catalog. You’ll find yourself recoiling as if you’ve been pricked whenever you draw a hook-exclamation-point. My new Pavlovian response is relief whenever I see a grommet.

I mean, a cynic would probably say that there’s not much of a game here. And there’s some truth to that. You only have one choice to make: how many cards to draw (and, if you’re the last player, you don’t even really have that—you have to either keep drawing until you have the most grommets or lose). But, you know, from a decisional perspective, that’s infinitely more of a game than some extremely popular games like Candy Land or the card game War. Those require literally zero exercise of free thought: you just go through the motions and see what happens.

This left me sitting and thinking for a quite a while. What’s more fun: a stripped-down, minimalist game like Grommets and Hooks where there are still decisions to make, or a dolled-up game with all the trimmings like Candy Land where there are no decisions at all? Is a game still a game if you can’t actually change anything? Are actions meaningful without consequences? Why wasn’t Captain Kirk happy living in the Nexus? Is Westworld fun if the robots can’t shoot back? Are rollercoasters exciting or are they just perfectly safe little trains with a lot of hype?


Many times you’ll flip over a card and think to yourself, “Hey, I’ve seen those little doodads before.”

The cards in Grommets and Hooks consist of pictures of grommets and hooks (plus words indicating which are which—in case you don’t know a rolled rim from a wacky worm). As far as I can tell, all of the cards are unique, so you get a bit of an education in the wide, wide world of grommets.


Grommets and Hooks did not come in a box. It was simply a pack of shrinkwrapped cards. However, the cellophane wrapping appeared to be very high quality. It was brittle and there was a hole in the end, making it easy to tear off.

I like the logo design on the back of the cards… unfortunately you can’t see it while the cards are in shrinkwrap.

The cards feel kind of papery, but they are thick, resilient, and shuffled easily.


There are some weird things going with the scoring. You get one point for winning the game. Presumably, you can play multiple times in a row and keep a running total of all the points to see who is the ultimate winner.

In the event of a tie, however, the rules specify that you get a partial point. For example, you get one third of a point if you are one of three players tied for a win. Calculating this out could quickly become difficult if you played multiple times in a row and different numbers of players tied each time. You could end up with a really weird score, like seven twelfths of a point. That’s an overly complex scoring system, but it does prove your math teacher right: you do need to know how to add fractions with different denominators.

What does it all mean

I’m still grappling with the idea behind Grommets and Hooks. The rule card doesn’t contain any background information, so there’s nothing to explain why you’re doing what you’re doing. Rummaging in a junk drawer was the only thing I could think of to explain the actions you take and the workings of the grommet and hook cards.

I think maybe this is something very rare: a Surrealist card game. Grommets and Hooks asks us to accept a world where grommets are good and hooks are bad for no logical reason. If we search for meaning in it, what we find only reflects our own desire for understanding.

Final thoughts

Do you have a passion for photographs of perforated plastic protective parts? If so, this is probably going to be game of the year for you.

For the rest of us? A big part of me is like, is there some sort of joke I’m missing here? Grommets and hooks? Why grommets and hooks?

This is the kind of card game that I would expect to see appear in a David Lynch movie. This is probably what they play inside The Black Lodge. There are alternating layers of simplicity, layers of familiarity, and layers that make no sense. The juxtaposition isn’t unpleasant, but it’s not going to hang everyone’s shower curtain, either.

Note: A review copy of this game was provided by OniiChan Games.