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Matt Thrower
United Kingdom
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This review is for the UK version of the game, called absolute balderdash which (from the description and photos) is slightly different to the version presented here.

For those who haven't come across the original, the Balderdash series are party games in which the players attempt to deceieve each other by writing down false answers to obscure questions. One player then reads out all the answers, including the real one, and points are scored on the round based on who guessed right and how many people guessed each fake answer. Players move round a board the number of spaces according to the score and first one to the finish wins.

It requires at least 4 people to play well, and can be played with much larger numbers as it's suitable for team play. The game can be a long one, especially with lots of players but this is easy to fix: simply agree on an earlier finishing square than the "official" one. It has precious little impact on the game.

In the original game, all the questions were the definitions of unusual words. However in this version, there are a number of categories. The category to be chosen is determined by the category printed in the square that the leading piece occupies. Since it's not uncommon for a piece not to move during a turn, this means that the category can stay the same for several rounds. Some of the squares allow the player drawing the card to choose which category they want before drawing. The answers to all the categories are generally quite amusing, so the fake definitions tend to be as well, and it's from this that the game derives much of it's humour and appeal.

The other categories are films (hear the title, write a plot summary), initials (decide what they stand for), laws (finish the law, for example "In New England, it is illegal for ladies to ..." and people (hear a name, decide what they were famous for). The effectiveness of these is very variable. The words and laws work very well indeed. Films gets a mixed response: it's fun but it takes a long time since you end up writing much more than for the other categories. Initials sounds like a great idea but isn't, since it's too restrictive: it's hard to come up with plausible yet amusing answers. People suffers from the opposite problem: the name gives no clue at all so it's very difficult to guess.

Players take turns to be the card drawer, who picks up a card and reads the question printed on it for the appropriate category. He then hides the card in the box lid and waits for everyone to write down an answer. These are then collected and the card drawer reads them all out in whatever order they choose and the other players take turns to guess which one they think is the right answer. Players score a point for getting the right answer, and a point for someone guessing their fake answer. If no-one gets the right answer, the drawing player gets two points. Pawns are then advanced along the board one space for each point.

Some squares require the pawn to spin a spinner in the middle of the board which can advance or retard the pawn a few paces. We've always found this to be annoying, since it introduces a totally unnecessary random element into a non-random game. But some people might enjoy the luck factor.

Overall it's an awful lot more fun that this dry review is going to make it sound. The questions are well researched and very varied, and the answers are often more bizarre than most of the players can come up with! Games are usually very funny, especially with a little alcoholic lubrication, although it's still fun without! As I've mentioned, it can be a long game, but on several occasions I've know different groups demand to play again, even after a mammoth session of this game. That should give you some idea of it's appeal .
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