How to Play

Quick Summary

So Many Problems™ is a social party game for 2 to 8 players which lasts about 30 to 45 minutes.

Each player gets a farfetched Problem and five possibly-helpful story Elements. They each pick three of their five Elements to use as they improvise and share a hilarious solution to their Problem.

Three of each player’s Elements were secretly contributed by other players, and then shuffled with two more random Elements. The other players want you to use the Elements they contributed in your solution, but you want to use the random ones!

Players earn one point for each Element they contributed to another player if it was used in a solution. Each random Element they used in their own solution is worth a point, too.

After three rounds of Problems, the player with the most points wins!

 Actual Instructions 

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Basic Setup

 Shuffle the Problem card deck and the Element card deck, and place both decks within reach of all players.

 Pick some players to read the Theme cards aloud to the group. Place the Themes face-up on the table for easy reference.

 Choose a random side for the Clock card, and place it within view of all players.

 The Clock is not used in a 4-player game.

 These instructions use a “Deluxe Box” product, and cover 3 to 8 players. For 2 or 9+ players, click here.

Round Steps

 Each player draws a Problem from the deck, reads it aloud, and places it face-up in front of them.

 Each player draws a hand of three Elements from the deck, and secretly decides which one to give face-down to each of the three players in the direction displayed on the Clock: clockwise or counter‑clockwise.

 In a 4-player game, one Element goes to each of the three other players. For a 3-player game, one Element goes to each of the other two players, and the third Element goes to the player in the direction displayed on the Clock.

 Players each add two random face-down Elements from the deck to the three face-down Elements they received, and shuffle the five together.

 Each player secretly looks at their five Elements, and chooses three to use in an improvised solution to their Problem.

 Players reveal their three chosen Elements and share their ingenious, hilarious, and wacky solution stories.

Round Scoring

 Players retrieve each Element that they gave to another player which was used in a solution, and add it to their Score Pile. Reveal all unused Elements as well, to help players remember what they contributed.

 Each random Element from the deck that a player used in their own solution is also added to their Score Pile.

 Flip the Clock to its other side.

 Move each player’s Problem and two unused Elements to the discard areas next to the decks, and start the second or third round.

End of Game

 After the third round, each player counts the number of Elements in their Score Pile. The player with the most Elements wins!

2-Player Setup

 Shuffle the Problem deck and the Element deck, and place both within reach of both players.

 Players alternate reading a Theme card aloud. Place the Themes face-up on the table for easy reference.

 Each player draws three Problems from the deck, reads all of them aloud, and places them face-up in front of them.

 Both players draw a hand of three Elements from the deck, and secretly decide which one to place face-down near each of the other player’s three Problems.

 Repeat the draw-and-place process two more times. There will be three face-down Elements for each Problem.

Round Steps

 Each player selects one of the other player’s Problems, and secretly looks at its three face-down Elements (to remember what they contributed). Then they shuffle those three with two random face-down Elements from the deck, and hand all five back to the other player.

 Each player secretly looks at these five Elements, and chooses three to use in an improvised solution to their Problem which was selected by the other player.

 Both players reveal their three chosen Elements and share their ingenious, hilarious, and wacky solution stories.

Round Scoring

 Players retrieve each Element that they gave to the other player which was used in its solution, and add it to their Score Pile.

 Each random Element from the deck that a player used in their own solution is also added to their Score Pile.

 Move each player’s Problem and two unused Elements to the discard areas next to the decks, and start the second or third round.

End of Game

 After the third round, each player counts the number of Elements in their Score Pile. The player with the most Elements wins!

9 or More Players

 Any number of players can be accommodated by adding more cards, and selecting the number of rounds played. The math is:

 1 Problem per player, per round.

 5 Elements per player, per round.

 1 Trophy per player, per round. (if used)

 1 Action per player. (if used, but not recommended for 7+ players)

 For reference, a “Deluxe Box” product contains at least 4 Themes, 64 Problems, 120 Elements, 24 Trophies, 8 Actions, 1 Clock, and instructions.

 That’s enough to play two rounds with 9 to 12 players.

 Contents of other products, like “Packs,” vary.

Suggestions

 Due to the expanding time needed for players to share their brief solutions, we think the game plays best with 4 to 6. Here are some alternate ways to accomplish that with a large group:

 Divide into smaller groups. After the first round in each group, note each player’s current score, and then swap all of the Problems, Elements, and Trophies that a group saw with another group’s. Draw any remaining cards in the decks before shuffling and recycling the swapped cards inside the group that received them. You can even swap a few players between groups to mix things up.

 Form teams of 2 or more people who act together as 1 player in the game. A team improvises their story by selecting one-by-one from the five Elements, not knowing what comes next. When sharing their solution story, the first member of the team tells it until they utilize their first Element, then the next person on the team through the second Element, and the next person finishes the story.

 If you host a giant game of So Many Problems, take some pictures and let us know!

 Advanced Additions 

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Why to Add Trophies

 The Trophy cards are a fun way to push players’ imaginations. They are great to add to your game once your group has gotten the hang of improvising solutions with unexpected story Elements.

 Each Trophy awards a player a bonus point for building a special motif or feeling into a solution.

How to Add Trophies

 During setup, shuffle the Trophy card deck, and put it within reach of all players.

 After reading their Problem aloud, each player draws a Trophy and reads its title aloud, which tells players what trait it will reward.

 The other text on the Trophy is helpful but mostly flavorful, typically relating to its associated Theme.

 After players share their solutions, they each evaluate which other solution best met the criteria of the Trophy that they drew at the start of the turn, and award it to that player. Multiple Trophies can be awarded to the same player in one round.

 Trophies are added to a player’s score pile, just like Elements, and counted with them at the end of the game.

Insights

 Games with 3 or more players can use Trophies, but we recommend them for 4 to 8 players. With 9+ players, it gets pretty hard to keep track of every other player’s solution.

 Adding Trophies can be overwhelming for new players, so we recommend waiting until your players have each completed a game first, or at least a round or two.

 Trophies are a good way to inject novelty if a play group has become quite familiar with each other’s play styles. They encourage players to sometimes use a certain Element for a motif, even if they believe it was probably contributed by another player.

Why to Add Actions

 The Action cards come in a variety of types, and are perfect for experienced groups. They add unexpected twists, challenges, and mini-games to the play experience.

 You can mix different Action cards to create suspense and add a range of wild outcomes to what would otherwise be possible.

How to Add Actions

 During setup, shuffle the Action card deck, and put it within reach of all players.

 Immediately before round scoring, if any player used Elements from three different Themes in their solution, they may draw a secret Action. If that player already had an Action, they must discard one of the two before continuing.

 A player keeps their secret Action until they use it.

 Every different type of Action has a different effect, and specific directions or restrictions for its use. Check out the existing types below.

 Challenge Flag 

 Games with 3 or more players can add the Challenge Flags. These require voting between different players’ competing ideas, so they work best among a more familiar group that’s socially comfortable with passing, prompting, and accepting this kind of subjective judgement.

 Immediately after a player shares their solution, another player may announce and reveal a Challenge Flag. The challenger takes the two unused and unrevealed Elements from the original player, and quickly improvises a solution to the original player’s Problem.

 A Challenge Flag can only be used if the challenger has a card in their score pile. Their solution must be mostly different from the original player’s, and cannot add any imagined things that are significantly similar to the three Elements which were originally used.

 After the challenger shares their solution, all other players (except the original player) vote simultaneously on which solution would better solve the Problem by pointing at the winner. If a voting player believes the challenger’s solution violated the requirements, they should vote for the original player.

 The winning player takes one card from the losing player’s score pile and adds it to their own. If the loser has no cards in their score pile, or the vote is tied, nothing happens.

Product Info

  • 3 - 8 Players
  • Variants for 1, 2, & 9+ Players
  • 30 - 45 Minutes
  • Ages 13+

Stats for games played with a Deluxe Box product.

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Join In Games, Problematic Cards, their stylized logos, the vented arrow, the combined exclamation and question mark, “Design. Develop. Play. Join In it all.”, and “the party game for people with problems” are all trademarks of Join In Games.