Rob Delaney's War Of Words

140 Shades Of Gray

Rob Delaney’s War Of Words is a strange retooling of Delaney’s profane, hypersexual Twitter feed.

By Steve Heisler • June 20, 2013

Twitter was the first so-called “social network” to actively encourage antisocial behavior. With something like Facebook or MySpace, friends are added through mutual agreement. Either you both follow each other, or nobody follows anyone. Twitter doesn’t require such reciprocation. I’m perfectly capable of seeing what Rob Delaney is up to without Delaney caring about my late-night TV live-tweeting. So following somebody on Twitter is a one-way exchange of social currency. Twitter empowers isolation, allowing you to send thoughts into the ether like an Illuminati theorist scribbling on his cabin walls.

Delaney, a stand-up comic with more than 850,000 Twitter followers, was one of the first people to make the medium feel inclusive. A few years ago, without a writing gig and nursing a stand-up career that had plateaued, Delaney found consolation in Twitter’s small “compose” window, tweeting multiple times a day like it was his job.

Soon, it practically became a job, providing a platform where Delaney could share his sexual proclivities or odd bursts of sass. (“Heading into the workweek with an extraordinarily well moisturized penis,” says one tweet. Another: “Game of Thrones? Not on my watch! This is a King of Queens household, thank you very much!”) His fanbase was entirely his own, and everyone who followed Delaney could feel like they belonged to a little club. The only prerequisite for entry is a willingness to gaze upon Delaney’s Twitter avatar, which depicts the hairy comic in a tight green Speedo.

Rob Delaney’s War Of Words effectively flips the bird to Delaney and his Twitter followers. This board game shoehorns Delaney’s tweets into awkward and confusing tasks. Like so many board games, there is a board, and you must reach the finish, but this race is largely irrelevant. You roll the die, move your piece, and do what it says on a card. The game might have you rewrite a Delaney tweet with your own hilarious Mad Libs-style word substitution. Or you might have to answer an icebreaker-style question tenuously based on a tweet’s subject matter.

It’s like finding the perfect bar, where the beer list is just right, the music’s not too loud, and your comfortable booth is next to a friendly and gregarious group of co-eds. Then the bartender promptly enforces a limbo contest. You have no choice but to sit back in horror as something that was perfectly fun is contorted into something “fun.”

Delaney’s involvement here is almost nil. My understanding is that the game’s publisher, All Things Equal, purchased the rights to his tweets, and that agreement ended his involvement with the final product. It shows, because the lightning in a bottle that led to Delaney’s success on Twitter is not present in the home-game edition.

Rob Delaney's War Of Words

Rather than sitting back and enjoying his tweets as they trickle into your feed, War Of Words has you actively participate in the phenomenon, to the point where you are trying to out-funny the funnyman. “I’ve convinced my son that our fat neighbor Terry is a superhero called ‘The Beefwalker,’” reads the tweet on one card you might draw from the deck. “The Beefwalker” is highlighted, which is a signal that the other players must write suggestions for what replaces “The Beefwalker” so that you can choose the best one. It’s Apples To Apples with leading statements.

That’s clunky. Another activity is downright awkward. “If you’re afraid of something, a good exercise is to write your fear on a piece of driftwood, then eat a pizza and shit yourself,” reads one card, again quoting Delaney. The card follows up with: “What is something you’re afraid of?” And again, everyone has to write down an answer so that one player can pick the “best” one. Now it’s Apples To Apples with a touch of group therapy.

The flaws in War Of Words run deeper than its attempts to invest you in a bunch of sentences you did not write. Delaney can be incredibly witty, but the assumption with Twitter is that you aren’t going to follow just one person. A Delaney tweet will be followed by someone else, maybe multiple people, giving you a breather before you back inside Delaney’s brain. There are no other writers in War Of Words, so it’s Delaney tweet after Delaney tweet until someone happens to make it to the finish line.

In those moments when Delaney’s own words are not available—namely for the “War Chest” cards that mirror Monopoly’s “Community Chest,” the folks at All Things Equal ape his writing style poorly. “There’s a rocket in your pocket. Good for you. Move ahead three spaces,” reads one such card. It’s only recognizable as a Delaney impression because there’s a photo of him next to it.

The only bright spots in War Of Words are the times when players are given as few freedoms as possible—when someone lands on one of the red “war of words” squares. In this two-player showdown, both players draw a Delaney tweet from the pile, and you each read your respective tweet out loud. Then the rest of the group decides who was the funniest. Much of this “war” comes down to luck of the draw, but there are a few aspects of the performance you can control. Goofy inflection, misplaced emphasis, and dramatic hand gestures are just a few of the techniques at your disposable. If you’re willing to ham it up, it’s a blast.

It seems counterintuitive that so much joy can be garnered from a “game” where you simply reading tweets from a card, but that’s essentially what makes Twitter so great: creativity within restrictions. You have only 140 characters to paint word pictures on Twitter, yet over time, you can conjure a persona seemingly out of thin air. Delaney has mastered this skill and built a community around it. War Of Words is a Franken-game where limits and camaraderie are supposed to be the last thing on your mind. Unfollow.

Rob Delaney’s War Of Words
Publisher: All Things Equal
Platform: Board game
Price: $25
Rating: 18+

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32 Responses to “140 Shades Of Gray”

  1. The_Helmaroc_King says:

    Platform: Board game

    Huh, I don’t remember this console being at E3. Was it at one of the indie booths?

  2. zerocrates says:

    Board game review, cool.

    It’s a shame this sucks, and in a way that it’s just sad to read about its generalized lameness. On the other hand, that a board game based on a licensed Twitter feed is crummy is probably a sign that all is right in the universe.

    • Dave Dalrymple says:

      Are any of these Internet-joke-based games actually playable? They seem to belong to a class of gifts that are glorified greeting cards, destined to be thrown out a week later. (See also, Internet-joke-based books.)

      • HobbesMkii says:

         There are more Internert-joke-based games? That’s horrible.

        • Dave Dalrymple says:

          “Awkward Family Photos” springs to mind. It’s a staple of those Calendar stores that appear in the malls around Christmas time.

        • Citric says:

          What could an Awkward Family Photos game even be? A camera and a pile of dated sweaters?

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          There are also the de-facto internet meme games like Cards Against Humanity, and (arguably) Smash Up and Munchkin. Nerds into boardgames eat that shit up. 

          And I’ve seen iOS app based boardgames, like Angry Birds, Temple Run, and Words with Friends (!?), Though I guess those are a slightly different category. 

          But boardgames are awesome! I still think Gameological should run more boardgame reviews, but preferably ones that are… uh, good. Hell, there are so many good boardgames that already exist that people outside of the hobby don’t know about, you could have a recurring feature of interesting boardgames that either are regarded as classics, or have a cool gimmick, or whatever. I’d love that kind of thing. 

        • Dave Dalrymple says:

          @Douchetoevsky:disqus : I’d love to see Primers on various board games, whether they’re fairly recent like Carcassonne, classics like Mouse Trap, or ancient like Pente. 

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        I’m glad that, so far, almost all internet meme-related media have failed.  (A “Shit My Dad Says” TV show?  Really, TV?)

        • HobbesMkii says:

          Well, no, not really, because it was prime-time broadcast and they can’t say “Shit” before safe harbor.

        • neodocT says:

           I for one am looking forward to “Grumpy Cat: The Movie”.

        • fieldafar says:

          @neodocT:disqus I don’t know if you’re joking or not, but:

  3. fieldafar says:

    I think I’ll stick with the Twitter account, then. At least it won’t cost me $25.

  4. The_Misanthrope says:

    So did they buy up his tweets with the idea of the game already in mind?  Or did they get his tweets and then, after exploring other options, decide to turn it into a game?  I thought the agreed-upon tweet-to-other-media thing is either a sitcom or a New Yorker cartoon. 

    I’m generally in favor of unusual springboards for game ideas, but you actually have to go somewhere with it.  I suppose they figured his Twitter fanbase would be a good customer base.

  5. Kilzor says:

    So, if you think about it, most Twitter humor is just a one person version of Cards Against Humanity.  Total Keanu “Whoa” moment.

  6. NakedSnake says:

    Oh no!!!! A limbo contest!!!!

    • His_Space_Holiness says:

      Looks like this bar’s promotions have…


      …reached a new low.


  7. Cornell_University says:

    I’m close to launching my twitter feed that will continually reiterate the story of the time I was returning a pair of pants, but slipped in mud and ruined them.  The phone, I can only assume, will be filthy with offers to buy it for boardgame purposes.

  8. Kyle O'Reilly says:

    Fuckin’ Delaney.  There’s a weird backlash against Delaney in a lot of the comedy scenes around the country where people feel he rose to fame on his twitter feed and doesn’t have the actual chops to back it up when he’s doing standup. The Jimmy Kimmel tape of him bombing that disappeared from the internet only exacerbated this debate.  I’m not on either side really, but I’m definitely in the camp of who the fuck wants a board game of tweets?

    Steve seemed to hit this on the head that this is more of a cash-grab at his current online-popularity then something anyone who wants to have fun would do.  Now if they released a game of Mary Charlene’s tweets…

    • HobbesMkii says:

      I actually don’t find the tweets that funny to begin with, but comedy is as subjective as any other art, I guess.

      • Kyle O'Reilly says:

         He’s kind of a one trick pony with “tweet obscene things at celebrity twitter accounts” and he’s really more indicative of the bandwagoning effect that accounts have wherein someone see that an account has lots of followers so they assume it must be good and follow, repeat ad nauseum.  But there are lots of legitimately funny twitter accounts out there, don’t let Delaney ruin it for you!

  9. boardgameguy says:

    whoa! an actual board game review. did this come about because they sent a promo copy? or Steve just really likes Delaney and bought it on a whim, then decided he wanted a reimbursement?

  10. blacksabbath128 says:

    The funny thing about this asshole selling his tweets and then getting his board game reviewed on this site is that he’s made SEVERAL hacky “lol adults who play video games are loser nerd virgins” tweets.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      How will the gaming community ever recover from such vicious barbs! Several times you say! *GASP*

      • blacksabbath128 says:

        Chill, douchebag. I was just pointing out the irony of a dude making hacky jokes about gamers having the dumb monetization of his tweets being reviewed on a video game website. Oh, and fuck you very much.

  11. Citric says:

     I’m going to put on my old man pants and say I am eagerly anticipating the day that Twitter dies.

  12. Effigy_Power says:

    I am having some awful flashbacks of “Words with Friends – The Boardgame”. Mind you, I would have loved to sit in on the marketing meeting in which this atrocity was sanctioned.

  13. Matt Radecki says:

    This seems like the type of game #teens would play after smoking some #weed.  #KONY2012

  14. Chris Hansen says:

    “It’s like finding the perfect bar, where the beer list is just right, the music’s not too loud, and your comfortable booth is next to a friendly and gregarious group of co-eds. Then the bartender promptly enforces a limbo contest. You have no choice but to sit back in horror as something that was perfectly fun is contorted into something ‘fun.’Best fucking part. I sure hope Gameological Society paid for the copy of the game.