Card Sharks from Endless Games is the official board game of the revival game show from ABC, now headed by Joel McHale with his suave wit. Contestants on the show answer questions and make predictions on the outcomes of card flips, and every turn is gripped with tension. The tabletop version brings the same thrills and spills home for a raucous time of light play.
In Card Sharks, one player serves as the “host” to read questions. While McHaleness is not a requirement, this is a good way for players who do not want the pressure of making guesses to still engage with the game, allowing for a perfect low-pressure party activity. The other players cut the deck to go first in the Main Round. Here, the players lay out seven cards face down and race to see who can reveal them first. The trick is simply to be a good guesser.
In the Main Round, players answer questions to be in “control” of revealing their cards. The host asks for a guess on the number of people responding one way to a survey question. Questions refer to a number 1 to 100, such as “We asked 100 third graders: will your best friend still be your best friend when you’re grown-ups” or “What percent of current female U.S. senators were once Girl Scouts?” The first player takes a guess at the number, while the second simply must guess whether the actual answer is higher or lower.
The winner of the question then turns back to the facedown cards to guess whether the next one is higher or lower. A right answer means they can keep going. A wrong one causes a discard and a new toss-up question. Play can go back and forth with players freezing guesses to swap cards, but at the fifth toss-up question, the game goes to sudden death. Players then guess their remaining cards, and any missed guess means their opponent wins outright.
Card Sharks takes a turn with the bonus Money Round – literally, as the board flips over. With $10,000 in chips, the player deals out seven new facedown cards. One at a time, the player bets whether the next card will be higher or lower. The strain builds as the bets come in, and players have a chance to work their way up to $640,000 total.
While a good deal of Card Sharks may be luck, there is quite a bit of strategy as well. A good knowledge of sociology, pop culture, and psychology will be beneficial in the toss-up questions. Playing to the odds when guessing higher or lower on the next card is not as simple as being below or above seven since the numbers change with every newly revealed card. Of course, there is always something to be said for going with one’s gut.
Card Sharks is a party game for three or more players aged 14 and up. Games move quickly, lasting about half an hour, and are energetic as turns change frequently. With more than three players, the action takes place in teams. This becomes a completely new dynamic since each group will need to come to a consensus for answers. Players will laugh and shriek together as they take the leap of making that guess.