The riotous classic Chez Geek from Steve Jackson Games is back in its most complete form, Chez Geek House Party Edition. Since its beginning in 1999, Chez Geek has been born into many bodies from Chez Goth to Chez Cthulhu to the guerilla-based Chez Guevera. Chez Geek itself had two add-ons, Slack Attack and Block Party, both of which are included in the House Party edition box set that shows what a Friday night can be.
To win Chez Geek is to meet one’s “slack goal,” much like in a real-life Friday night. Each player receives a Job card such as “Bike Messenger,” “Corporate Drone,” or “Slacker” that is listed with a Free Time and an Income. These determine how many cards a player may play per turn. The Free Time is the number of cards that may be played, while the Income gives a maximum for the Cost spent. While the best things in life may be free, there is a lot of cool stuff to be bought with money.
Players take turns laying Life cards, which come in the form of green Person cards, blue Thing cards, and red Activities. Each of these has a different Slack ranking, showing how much slacking a player earns for putting the cards into play. Persons like Lottie the cat give a Slack of 1, while a Frozen Dinner item costs more with more Slack, and Sleep is an activity with plenty of Slack and no cost.
Orange Whenever cards make the game all the more interesting. They can be played at any time, even an opponent’s turn, giving bonuses, blocks, or even making attacks. Call in Sick gives extra Free Time, Sci-Fi Drinking Game stops actions from anyone who has played a Booze card, and Burglar causes the victim to lose cards in play, potentially devastating someone who might have been within reach of victory.
In addition to its solid mechanic with straightforward rules and plenty of room for strategy based on one’s cards, Chez Geek is hilarious. It makes clear references to everyday life, poking fun at the nastiness of work or glorifying things we so often overlook, like Gummy Worms. Every card comes with a bottom quote that ups the funny ante to laughable proportions. They fit flawlessly along John Kovalic’s cartoony style famous from Dork Tower.
Chez Geek is a game for two to five players ages 13 and up, perhaps a little older for some of the content involved, such as grown-up activities and chemical abuse. Play takes about one hour, though the uproarious laughter that comes from the cards may take longer. It is a great party game and always more fun with more people.