You can play with as few as 3 people. There’s no upper limit, but the sweet spot is around 4-6 players. Many more than that, and it gets overwhelming and unwieldy.
Nominally, the object of the game is to score the most points, but points are as relevant in Otherfoot as they are in “Whose Line is it Anyway?”
- Prepare the cards. You can use small scraps of paper for the cards. If you’re feeling fancy, 3×5 index cards that have been cut in half seem to work best.
- Create the deck. Every player grabs a small stack of blank cards and starts writing. There are absolutely no rules about what can be written on a card, but some guidance on what constitutes a good card can be found here. When everyone’s satisfied with the number of cards that have been completed, the cards are shuffled together into one stack. You’ll need to start with enough cards to get through several rounds of play, so you should start with 10+ cards per person, the more the better.
- Get yourself set up. Once the deck has been created and shuffled together, every player draws five cards. Whoever calls dibs can start things off as the judge of the first round.
- The game begins! Games consist of several rounds, which go like this:
- Whoever’s taking the first turn as judge places a card from their hand, face up, in the center of the table, and reads it aloud.
- Every other player responds with a card from their own hand (also playing their cards face up and reading aloud). No need to take turns.
- The judge decides which card wins. The “best card” may somehow match the judge’s card, or finish a thought, or just sound strange in response to the card. This is totally subjective. If the judge doesn’t like any of the cards, he or she can declare the round a wash, and no points are awarded.
- The player who put down the winning card scores a “point,” awarded by claiming the judge’s original card as a trophy. The remaining cards are thrown into a discard pile.
- Each player draws another card; everyone should have five cards in their hand before the next round starts.
- Continue playing, with a new judge each round (usually just going clockwise around the table). You can play until all the cards are exhausted, or you can continue playing by shuffling the discards after all the cards in the deck have been used. You can add additional cards as you go, too—see “additional notes” below.
- When you’ve finished the game, each player counts up his or her “points” and gets about ten seconds of glory. The fun in this game, you’ve no doubt surmised by now, is in the human interaction, not the competition.
Additional notes on gameplay:
- Players can create additional cards at any time inspiration strikes, inserting their new card somewhere into the deck–or into the discard pile, depending on house rules.
- If you like, draw a picture on your card instead of writing. (Players will generally figure this out on their own whether or not they’re prompted.)
- If a card comes up multiple times and is consistently boring or difficult to use, you can either call for a vote to remove it from the deck, or just quietly get rid of it (again, depending on house rules).
- You might also take short breaks between games to create new cards, or remove cards that aren’t really working.
- Playing in a public space? If an onlooker passes by and wants to join in, tell them to make five or ten cards and shuffle them into the deck. Then they can join in.
The golden rule
Above all, remember this: the deck should be created from scratch every time you get together to play. You might be tempted to preserve your deck and “carry it over” for the next time you play. Resist this urge. The spark that defines Otherfoot is its spontaneous creative energy. You can re-use a few favorite cards from past decks if you want to, but keep the recycling to a minimum.
One of the best things about this game is its “in-the-moment” creativity. For a variety of reasons, it’s much less fun—and less funny—when you just recycle old ideas. When you re-use an old deck, you’ll find that the cards that had people losing their shit the first time around have somehow lost their sparkle.