Based on the website with the same name, Awkward Family Photos is a party game where you look at funny family photos and try to come up with clever/funny captions. Having never visited the website I didn’t have high expectations for the board game. Board games made based on comedy websites haven’t had the greatest track record (Funny or Die Card Game). Having played so many games in this party game genre, I didn’t really see Awkward Family Photos doing anything I hadn’t seen in many other games. After playing Awkward Family Photos it might not be perfect but it is better than I was expecting.
How to Play Awkward Family Photos
Choose which side of the board you are going to use. Use the deck of cards that match the side of the board you choose. Place the cards face down in the middle of the board. Every player takes an answer sheet and writes their name at the top. Every player also takes a set of chips of the same color. Every player rolls the die to see who will start the game as the roller.
Playing the Game
Players will take turns as the roller. The top photo is turned face up. The roller rolls the die and reads the corresponding prompt on the gameboard. All of the players other than the roller will write down an answer on their answer sheet. All of the answers will then be given to one player who will shuffle them and read them to the roller.
After hearing all of the answers the roller will first choose which answer they thought was the best. The roller will then try to guess which player provided each answer.
The results for the round are then determined. The player whose answer was chosen as the best gets to place one of their chips on the gameboard picture that matches the picture used for the round. If there is already a chip on that space, it is replaced by the new chip. The roller will then be able to place one of their chips on any open space if they matched enough of the answers to the players who provided them. In a four or five player game the roller has to match at least two of the answers. In a six player game the roller has to match at least three of the answers.
After determining the results for the round, the next round begins with the roller title passing to the next player clockwise.
End of Game
A player can win the game in two ways. If a player plays all five of their chips (at the same time) to the board they win the game. A player can also win by getting three of their chips in a row vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.
My Thoughts on Awkward Family Photos
As I have already mentioned, I didn’t have high expectations for Awkward Family Photos. It looked like a cheap cash in on the popularity of the website. It didn’t help that the game felt like almost every other party game that I have played. While the game is not perfect (which I will get to shortly), I was actually a little surprised by Awkward Family Photos. I thought the game was going to be terrible and yet it was a decent game. It will never be considered a fantastic game but you can have some fun with it if you like these type of games.
Like most party games it is not surprising that Awkward Family Photos is a simple game. You can teach the game to new players in minutes and I can’t see people having much trouble understanding how to play the game. The game has a recommended age of 13+ but I think it could work with younger children. I think the teenager age recommendation is mostly because younger children might have trouble coming up with captions for the images.
Just like with a lot of these type of games Awkward Family Photos is not going to be for everyone. It is not a game that is meant to be taken seriously. You play the game to have some fun and hopefully share some laughs with the rest of your group. The actual outcome of the game is less important than having a good time. If your group mostly consists of people who like strategic games, they aren’t going to like Awkward Family Photos. If you have the right group with some creative/funny people though you can actually have some fun with the game.
When you look at these type of party games, their success usually relies on the players being funny in the responses they provide. In a lot of these type of party games players provide any caption they want or play cards. Awkward Family Photos forces players to use a prompt though to write their responses. In some cases the prompts work pretty well which leads to some funny responses. One prompt our group liked in particular was what magazine would the photo appear on the front cover. This response lead to quite a few funny responses.
The problem is that quite a few of the prompts don’t work that well. They either only work for a couple photos or they don’t work at all. I think I would have a hard time ever coming up with a funny response for some of the prompts. These type of games are built on being funny so when you get a prompt that you can’t come up with anything funny for, the game really starts to drag. While I like some of the prompts, there are so many that don’t really work that I think it might be better to just ditch the prompts entirely and just let people write whatever caption they want for a given picture.
Other than the question prompts being kind of hit and miss, the other big problem with Awkward Family Photos is the “scoring” system. The scoring systems for most of these party games have never been great but Awkward Family Photos might have the worst. Most of these type of party games reward a point to the player who comes up with the best answer. This is present in Awkward Family Photos as well. Players can also score a point for guessing what response each player came up with. While not as popular as scoring for giving the best answer, this is present in some other games.
The one thing I don’t understand about the scoring is the Tic-Tac-Toe mechanics. I am really curious on how this mechanic came to be. Who thought adding a Tic-Tac-Toe mechanic to this type of party game was a good idea. It doesn’t make any sense and it actually hurts the game. Being able to win by getting three in a row can lead a player to victory because they were lucky rather than earning the most points. It would have just been easier to keep track of the points won by each player and whoever scores the most points wins the game.
Another issue I had with Awkward Family Photos is that it kind of needs a time limit. If there is no time limit all of the players could end up waiting a long time for one player who can’t come up with an answer. I wouldn’t enforce a strict time limit but there needs to be a point where you either submit the best answer you can come up with or don’t submit an answer at all. If you can’t think of an answer after a while it is unlikely that you will come up with a good answer at the last second anyways.
Finally I would say that the components are pretty average. As I have mentioned before the gameboard is kind of pointless. It is quite large and is only used for the “Tic-Tac-Toe” mechanics and to display the different prompts. Since I didn’t really care for either mechanic, the gameboard isn’t really even needed for the game. The cards are kind of hit and miss since some of the picture are funny while others aren’t. There are only 124 cards though so I don’t know how much replay value the game will have. After a couple games you are probably going to have to repeat cards.
Should You Buy Awkward Family Photos?
I personally wouldn’t say that Awkward Family Photos is a bad or good game. It has some good things but has plenty of issues as well. If you like Apples to Apples and Balderdash style party games you can get some enjoyment out of the game. There are opportunities for some funny responses if you have a creative group. There are quite a few situations though where you won’t be able to come up with a funny response. This is mostly due to a lot of the prompts not giving you much opportunity to be funny. Add in a strange scoring system that just doesn’t work and there are issues that prevent Awkward Family Photos from being as good as most other party games.
If you don’t care for party games, you will not like Awkward Family Photos. If you really like party games though there are some redeeming qualities for the game which could be improved with some rule tweaks. If you can get a really good deal on Awkward Family Photos it may be worth picking up Awkward Family Photos.