Review: Loser!
Publisher: Cococo Games
Year: 2004
Tagline: The hilarious game that encourages finger pointing!

Cover is light green and just says Loser! in different back-colored letters

how we met

I stumbled upon Loser! during a particularly bountiful thrift harvest. It was a warm Friday that I had off work and spent cruising the greater Milwaukee area in search of games I don’t need. Loser! does not have the type of cover that I am normally attracted to, but you never know when you will find a diamond in the rough.

The back of the box indicates that this game will spice up any gathering and allow me to ask my friends questions like, “Do you own leather pants?” Sold.

how it plays

The object of Loser! is to NOT collect letters to spell out the word Loser! The first person to spell it out is the first loser, and you can decide if you want to continue play or not. This is a roll and move game where most of the spaces are letters from the word Loser! (the exclamation point counting as though it is one of the letters). Landing on one of these letters causes you to draw a card from the deck, read it aloud and take the letter or not depending upon which answer you give. If you land on a letter you already have, it is a safe space and nothing happens.

Overview of the board with cards in the middle

The board and our play

Other spaces on the board are CHALLENGE which allow you to draw a card, read it silently and choose another player to ask the question. If they lose then they must take any one letter they do not already have. If they win, nothing happens.

Letters spelling out Loser!

What the end looks like

Also SERVICE requires you to ask your fellow players if they need a beverage and fetch it immediately if they do.

Also ALL PLAY allows you to read the card aloud and all players must join you in answering the question and take any letter they don’t already have if required.

Play continues until one player is left without the word Loser! or you meet some other win criteria that you create, such as until the first loser happens.

how it went

I think a few eyes were rolled when we pulled out Loser! But judging this game by its cover is really just pre-gaming. Loser! is an inherently judgmental game. It lists out a thing and then calls you a loser or not based on your response. It is interesting to see where judgment is applied in 2004. Loser! takes a harsh view of the poor, the non-traditional, the unsafe, the cowardly, the messy, the drinkers, the junk food eaters, the list goes on and on. Let’s take a look at some of the cards.

Cards that say things like If you don't have internet access at home take a loser letter

I’m not sure if this is technophobe or elder shaming

Cards like if you've ever had a monster hickey also called a rosy then take a loser letter

Be honest, did you know that was called a Rosy?

Cards like if you currently belong to a cd club take a letter

If those last two did not indicate current they would be a guaranteed two letters for people our age

Cards that include one with smaller font saying if you need glasses or contacts to read it take a letter

That top one is just kind of mean

Cards like if you've ever been divorced take a letter

Some of these cards are definitely channeling Dr. Laura

The game is actually pretty similar to Family Reunion the game, but it plays better since you are using clear facts that may prompt you to tell stories from your life rather than someone else’s family photo. We did learn a bit about each other. A lot of it was from younger, sillier days when rock concerts and public indecency were more the norm. We learned that Bill was amongst a group that was asked to leave a venue once. Keri can still do the Macarena. John sometimes gets shooshed by strangers. I revealed myself to have had a ham radio license back in the day. We were all surprisingly able to come up with $20 cash. None of us have ever dumped anyone or been dumped via mail, email or fax.

Card saying if you ever dumped someone via mail fax or email then take a letter

Lest you doubt it was a question

The board and roll and move mechanic are unnecessary in this game. Sure it introduces an element of luck and may allow you to stay in the game longer by landing on safe spaces. But the game is fun because of the cards. After playing through once (Keri won) we played once more doing all ALL PLAYs. But even that led to a lot of rolling with nothing happening. John’s suggestion is to play it like HORSE and just take turns reading cards and take a letter if you are a loser. That is a much better way to play the game. If you want it to take longer, take turns being on the hot seat. For a shorter game just do ALL PLAY.

I looked up Loser! on Amazon just out of curiosity. Is it still being sold? How much? To my surprise I found a different, but almost exact same, game called Loser. This game is also a product of JM Games Inc. but is copyright 2001. I assume the questions are the same. Which makes sense because a lot of the technophobe questions are a better fit for 2001 than 2004. This Loser version states that you move ahead if you are deemed a loser, and the object is to be the last person to the end. So it’s an even worse version.

One of the sites I looked at listed Loser as 2004 also, which was just so confusing and led us to speculation around divorces and spite-publishing. But it appears Cococo Games licensed Loser from JM Games to take another pass at it a few years later. Based on their website, Cococo Games is now focused solely on Kings Cribbage, the King of all Cribbage games. No word on what happened to JM Games.

play or pass

Pass. Lately Bill has been encouraging me to separate the experience from the gameplay, which is difficult. But he’s right. You know I love my party games. Loser is a fun, simple party game. We played a couple of times because we enjoyed it, but it’s not really a special party game. And it is truly dated.

The only limit to the number of players is the amount of letters available, so if you use pencil and paper you can really open it up to a bigger group. If you are into that kind of thing.