I Can’t Even with These Monsters from Level 99 Games is the spookiest addition to the I Can’t Even line of card games. The card games follow a single rule: the player with the highest score that is not an even number wins. In play, I Can’t Even has basic rules that new players can learn in less than a minute, but the eccentricities of each card will take repeated play to master. Even then, players may never know what to expect.
The basic game of I Can’t Even with These Monsters is straightforward. Players collect cards and go through three phases: Place two cards in front of themselves, one face up and one face down; draw a card from what an opponent has laid down; and bank cards – setting cards aside into the “bank” to be tabulated for scoring. The ability to draw from other players is an evolved form of passing, where players could get anything, to having several options to choose with some face-up cards or, for more daring players, perhaps a lucky draw from the face-down cards.
The real meat of I Can’t Even with These Monsters comes with each Monster card having a different value, often based on what is already in play. Some cards stack in value based on what players have in their own banks, such as the Blob earning more and more points for each other Blob around it or the Amalgam scoring a point for each different kind of Monster in the bank. The Invisible Monster works in reverse, scoring a great deal of points but losing them one at a time for each different kind of Monster. Other Monsters play upon the banks of other players, like the Vampire losing points for other Vampires on the table, while the Werewolf gains more. Still other cards are based on special conditions, like the Mummy, scoring the number of points based on the round, so later is better, or the Ghost, getting points for being face-down.
I Can’t Even with These Monsters is played in seven rounds with points added up at the end of each. Since the game is based on the original hands dealt, players will want to keep a particular eye on what cards have already been played. Some cards, like Vampire, might be worth more early in the game, while a Blob might earn many more points after a player works to collect them. Every player is likely to develop a unique strategy, but the objectively best move really depends on each round of play.
Players will have to be extra careful with their points as they come into the last rounds. With the winning condition being having an odd number, a tremendous even score is even worse than having a low score overall. Some players might rely on the luck aspect of the game to carry them through, but seasoned players will remember what is in the deck and plan accordingly.
I Can’t Even with These Monsters is a card game for two to six players aged 14 and up. It is a speedy game, lasting only about 15 minutes depending on how quickly players make up their minds about their next moves. With its strong balance of luck and strategy, it’s a great game for serious gamers as well as more leisurely ones, and most players will be eager to start again after a game ends.