Cards Against Humanity Murder Mystery: A Fun, Creative Storytelling Icebreaker

Cards against humanity2

By Sedora Tantraphol

Last week, #TeamMoonsail held our annual retreat at Think Space. To kick off a full day of reflection, visioning and bonding, we started off with a creative storytelling icebreaker: Cards Against Humanity Murder Mystery!

MSN Retreat 2016 icebreaker edited 950


The rules are simple:

  1. Each player gets a game board and 10 cards.
  1. Each player has 5-10 minutes to craft a narrative out of the cards. Select a victim, a perpetrator, and use the remaining 8 cards (clues) to solve the murder. Each player is allowed to trade in 1-2 cards if they truly don’t make any sense or are truly offensive – but part of the fun is to get creative with random story points!
  1. Once the cards are arranged face up in the respective order of your tale, flip them over so you can “reveal” the story as you share it by flipping over each card.
  1. At the end of the round, each player will share their (hilarious) story. You can choose to dub a “winner” for each round, or not.
  1. If playing a new round, deal 10 new cards to each player, and repeat steps 1-3!

Here’s an easy storytelling format to follow, if you choose:

  •        The victim is ______.
  •        At the crime scene, the first thing I noticed was _____.
  •        Eyewitnesses told me _____.
  •        Next, I discovered _____.
  •        (etc. for the rest of the clues)
  •        When I got to the last clue, it was obvious that the perpetrator was _____.

You could get fancy and tell the story from the perspective of the perpetrator, leaving clues and ending with the victim, or try other formats, as well!


This game is a great icebreaker because it’s hilarious, creative, fast, easy, and does a great job of loosening the team up. (What’s better than laughing about oompa loompas and funky fresh rhymes at 9:30 in the morning with your coworkers?) You’ll get to see a different side of your coworkers – and it leads to awesome inside jokes for the rest of the day! And, because you’re drawing from pre-set game cards, you can play as many rounds as you want – or add in similar (possibly more tame) cards from other games, or create your own!

katie playing game

Because each round is quick, it forces players to invent a story quickly. In our jobs, it can be easy to get caught up with crafting the perfect narrative and getting stuck on choosing the perfect words, but this exercise forces you to assess the pieces of the story and create your story arc quickly, and leave the detail finessing for later on.

This is a great lesson for communicators—sometimes it can help your creative process to try a different process, get a different perspective, and draw your creativity from a different source—and just have fun with it.

Thanks to Foursquare for the inspiration for this icebreaker, to our very own talented Emily Mata for creating these game boards for us, and to #TeamMoonsail for being the hilarious storytellers you all are!

For more on creative ways to hold a successful retreat, see our blog post from last year or follow our retreat board on Pinterest!

Have your own favorite icebreakers? Share them with us!