Updated: Oct 25, 2020
Designed and published by Eric Williams, House Rules is described as a 'Battle Royale' game where everyone is attacking everyone else. It's a light, tongue-in-cheek game with humorous cards and an invitation to players to add in their own funny card texts.
The game takes 3–6 players and each is dealt five weapon cards and two rule cards. Each plays a weapon card to the table as their defence, and other players will try to play their other cards (numbered weapon cards and modifiers) to try to beat the defences. The victor of each contest takes the cards and these represent victory points at the end of the game (ie: after three combat rounds).
It is the rule cards that give House Rules its name and which bring to life what would otherwise be a quite mechanical game. Of the two rule cards drawn, each player has to choose one to play, discarding the other. Players can at any time in the game make up their own rule, write it on their blank 'house rules' card and put that forward as a rule for the round. If the rule gains the approval of at least one other player, then it is adopted for the round. There are three (and only three) rules in operation each round, so any remaining slots are taken from the shuffled rule cards. This all means that, when playing with more than three, there will be players whose rules don't get used.
Though the idea of making game-breaking rules might put you in mind of law-passing games like Matthias Cramer's Lancaster (Queen Games), House Rules is very different. Even without the home-made 'house rules', the rule cards in this game can be disarmingly chaotic, making House Rules a lively and entertaining party game. They include cards forcing players to swap hands, cards that add Texas Hold'em poker rules to the combat, as well as cards that introduce 'silly' elements to the game (for example, requiring an attack weapon's name to be read out loud or the attack will fail).
At Board's Eye View, we found the supplied rule cards varied and wacky enough without our having to accept the invitation to create our own, but the facility to create your own rule cards using a wipeable pen does of course add to the game's replayability.
House Rules isn't a game to be taken too seriously but it's a game you can have some fun with, especially when played with five or six.