I somewhat feel that it’s a copout to review a game that’s been on store shelves since 1984 BUT recently, I’ve realized that just because it’s been out that long doesn’t mean that people have actually played it. I found out that three of my favorite game test monkeys had never played Balderdash. Jeez! They’re all shy of 30 (which means that the game has been out since BEFORE they started reading!) and they like and play games regularly, so how did they miss this one?! So here it is, a review of Balderdash for the rest of you who have overlooked game that’s been hanging around the game aisle since it was cool to have crimped hair and big bangs.
Balderdash is based on a parlor game called “The Dictionary Game” or “Fictionary” which was around long before big bangs, even bell-bottoms. The premise is simple, choose a word from the dictionary that isn’t in anyone’s vocabulary and ask everyone to make up a definition. Then one person reads all of the made up definitions as well as the real one. Players then guess which one they think is the real definition. In Balderdash, if someone votes for your made-up answer, you get a point. If you guess the correct definition you get two points. Three points are awarded to the reader if no one guesses the real answer OR to a player if their made up definition is really close to the real definition, but with words like “sniggle” (to catch eels by throwing bait into their hiding places) and “fackeltanz” (a torchlight parade), that never really happens.
In the past couple decades, Balderdash has been with multiple companies including Parker Brothers and Mattel, who currently has the license. Over that time Balderdash went from being just words, to having an expansion called “Beyond Bladerdash” that included people’s names, movie titles, funny laws and initials/acronyms in addition to the weird words. This apparently was a success, because the current game of Balderdash includes all the fun bits from “Beyond Bladerdash.” Personally, I’m glad because the initials/acronyms are my favorites. And just FYI, N.P.P.A. does not stand for “Nudist Petunia Planters Alliance” it actually is the “National Pickle Packers Association” but both of them make me laugh!
Anyway, if you haven’t played Balderdash find someone who has it and force them to host a game night. It’s best to play with 4 or more people and it does make you think – I’d almost say “be creative” — but don’t let this scare you, some of the stupidest answers are the funniest. There was one about a tabby cat alliance that caused tears there was so much laughing last time I played.
~$13 at Amazon and many more
2 to 6 (it says 2 or more, but it’s not great unless you have 4 and you can add more movers to play with 8.)
30-45 Minutes or more (but you can easily shorten the game – pick a new “finish” on the board)
Ages 12 and up